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Seminars can be part of customer relations.

Companies conduct seminars for a variety of reasons. For some, it's a way to develop new business or gain recognition as an expert in their field.

At Castle Oil Corporation, seminars are part of the relationships we develop with our customers. While our business is to provide a quality product, we also believe we have an obligation to assist our customers in getting the most benefit from the product we sell to them.

In conjunction with this, we have developed a series of seminars describing equipment maintenance and government regulations. In this way, we help our customers have their equipment run efficiently, resulting in savings in fuel oil costs, and reducing repair expenditures. Furthermore, proper maintenance extends the useful life of equipment. In our seminars, we describe the daily, weekly and annual maintenance requirements of heating systems.

Furthermore, we explain the various government requirements and regulations instituted in the past decade. Owners, managing agents and superintendents need to understand their responsibilities in such areas as tank regulations, spill prevention and boiler inspections.

In addition to helping our customers reduce costs and increase their knowledge of the regulations, we learn a lot from the discussions about our customers' concerns and the ways we can better serve them.

Conducting a seminar

From experience, we've developed a few key guidelines that we follow to organize our seminars:

*Customize the seminar to the audience. Deal with the areas that are of the most interest to our customers.

*Stay focused on the topic and don't bring in extraneous information.

*Use interesting and informative visuals.

*Try to create an informal setting that encourages dialogue between the speakers and attendees.

*Distribute an information package at the end of the presentation.

Why have a seminar

Like many companies, we have printed material describing proper equipment maintenance and government regulations. Additionally, our staff of experts is on call if problems arise. But, we've found through experience that meeting with people face-to-face, explaining maintenance procedures and government regulations and answering questions is the best teaching method.

The Format

Conducting Castle's seminars are a supervisor from our service department, the experts in the maintenance and repair of heating systems, and an account executive from our sales department. Using a slide program of charts and photographs, we describe proper maintenance procedures and how to comply with government regulations.

We designed a format that gives us flexibility since the seminars are given in a variety of locations: Customers' offices or board roams, at Castle's headquarters or at one of our terminals, where the seminar is combined with a tour of the facility.

The subject matter varies with the audiences. If we are speaking primarily to superintendents and maintenance personnel, we focus on the hands-on details. We not only tell them when a strainer has to be checked and cleaned, we go through the steps of cleaning. For managing agents and owners, we go into less detail on these matters, and, instead, we focus more on the various government regulations, permit requirements and inspections.

At the end of the seminar, each participant receives an information package containing detailed information and charts about the topics discussed. We also give each attendee a special certificate noting their participation in the seminar.

A Win-Win Situation

We find that seminars are a win-win situation.

Attendees say the sessions give them a better understanding of how to operate and maintain their systems and of their responsibilities to comply with government regulations.

We've learned how we can help improve our service to our customers. While our goal is to inform, we also learn a great deal from our customers.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Career Development; Castle Oil Corp.
Author:Romano, Louis
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Aug 18, 1993
Previous Article:BOMA/NY: 'the power of teamwork.' (Building Owners and Managers Association of New York) (Career Development) (Column)
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