Educate Your Customers on the Importance of Garage Safety

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By Dan Nixa

Over the past 20 years, the garage has evolved to fit the ever-changing lifestyles of homeowners, and so too have the means of accessing it. Thousands of professional dealers make their living servicing and installing garage door opener units as the automatic opener, once considered a personal luxury, has become a necessity due to the convenience, security and safety it provides.

However, like many of today’s home appliances and devices, big strides have been made in technology and safety, as well as the way openers are manufactured and installed. Each and every enhancement to these residential units provides installing and merchandising dealers an opportunity to create another touch point with their current and potential customer base.

Here are a few ideas to help you drum up residential replacement business by educating homeowners on how to ensure their garage door openers are as safe as possible, up to speed on the latest options and ready for any season.

Two Decades Is Too Long!

It has been 20 years since all automatic openers manufactured for the United States were mandated to include non-contact safety reversing devices, commonly referred to as photoelectric eyes. Yet there are still thousands of older residential openers still being used today without this safety component. While many of us often adhere to the idea that, “if it ain’t broke, why fix it” for many of our household devices, when it comes to the largest and heaviest access point in the home—the garage door—it’s important for dealers to alert their customers to the technological, safety and security enhancements over the last 20 years and the advantages of replacement.

While replacing a perfectly good working opener could be a barrier for many homeowners, dealers are encouraged to highlight the 20-year anniversary of the pre-1993 mandate and offer to perform a safety check on their next service call. Any opener hitting its 20th birthday is most likely not equipped with photo eyes and, therefore, still relying on the impact-reversing system. This is an opportunity for dealers to help their customers understand the importance of updating their garage door openers to those with photo eyes. Consider performing a version of this test during your next service call.

Maintenance. Show your customers how to keep the garage door properly maintained and functioning safely by ensuring all moving parts of the door are clean and lubricated including the steel rollers.

Balance. Show them how to check the door’s balance. First, start with the door closed and pull the opener release mechanism so you can maneuver the door by hand. If the door is balanced (properly spring-loaded and running freely on its tracks), they should be able to lift the door smoothly without much effort and it should stay open about three or four feet above the floor.

Photo eyes. This visual demonstration will help clarify how photo eyes perform and why they’re important. Roll a sports ball such as a basketball or soccer ball across the threshold of the door as it’s closing. Inform your customers that once the invisible laser beam between the two photo-eye sensors is broken by an obstruction (in this case, the ball crossing the invisible beam), the door reverses automatically, preventing contact with the object and avoiding any potential injury.

The 6-inch rule. If customers do have an updated opener (after 1993) with photos eyes, they should not be installed higher than 6 inches above the garage floor. If the eyes are installed higher, a person or pet could get under the beam and not be detected.

Sensitive technology. Show your customers how to test the door’s sensitivity by placing a 2-inch thick piece of wood in the path of the door before closing it. If the garage door doesn’t automatically reverse and retract back to the open position, then the opener needs to be adjusted. Inform your customers of the benefits of testing this sensitivity every month.

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