Our One-of-a-Kind Mouse Trap Grows Each Day

Customers find new ways to reinvent a company’s mousetrap. Do you often find novel uses for that everyday item and want to share this new knowledge with your family and friends? At Zircon, as more customers became familiar with our products and our brand name grew, our customers have been eager to tell us about the outcome of their DIY projects, small and large and, sometimes, uncommon jobs that they think our technologies are suited/successful for (like finding a hamster!).

Whenever we think of designing or marketing a new tool, we go back to a basic question, and ask over and over, “What tools do people really need to get common jobs completed in an efficient, cost effective way?” It’s a simple question, but the answers are often complex. The path can be challenging, as product and manufacturing decisions require vision, expertise, and experience. And yes, there is a bit of luck, too.

Fortunately, today’s consumers are demanding more sustainable and sensible products rather than throw-away and sometimes unnecessary products. It’s apparent that a DIY “can do” attitude is growing and ever evolving in our society. As with technological innovation, consumers perceptions are evolving and this is a good thing. Therefore, Zircon continues to explore new product ideas that will help DIYers get their jobs done right. This product life cycle helps improve the homes you live in as well as your quality of life.

For additional insights, visit the blog, “A Surprisingly Better Mouse Trap” and also engage with us on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month for #diytrends.

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For more information, make sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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A Surprisingly Better Mouse Trap

Since the beginning of time, man has unfailingly invented devices to improve his life and enable him to move forward. For a caveman, just having the basic tools to sustain life and put food on the table was fundamental to survival. Wait, did cavemen even have tables?

After the basics were in place and working, that essential device was often improved upon – it was made better, faster and less expensively. It was then marketed, sold and eventually reinvented. This comprises the product cycle from cradle to grave.

Time is money, and technology and innovation are all about saving us time. The tech industry is inventing and reinventing new ways of communication and process, but it’s also making devices and products smaller, faster, and more powerful everyday.

As an example, consider the history of the telephone. The telephone, more than any common tool I can think of, has gone through an extraordinary transformation, from a land line to mobile phone to smart phone. I can also recall the first time I saw a personal computer in a private home in the mid-1970s. At the time, I would have never dreamed that one day, I’d be carrying a PC/communicator around in my pocket that would be a thousand times more powerful than that original PC and wireless to boot!

Innovation has also given us instant communication channels that can put critical knowledge right at your fingertips. Armed with the right information, the average person can now handle jobs that only an expert could handle in the past. Welcome to the DIY (do-it-yourself) culture.

We are DIY advocates. Zircon manufactures DIY tools for the homeowner and professionals alike. Since the early-1970s, Zircon stud finders, scanners, and other tools, have progressed to match the latest technological advances much like the telephone or the PC. Although stud finders don’t need satellites to enable their operation, they have made a significant impact by providing DIYers with reliable, accurate, and quality tools – tools that homeowners can effectively use to get their DIY jobs done right, saving time and money in the process.

For additional insights, visit the blog, “Our One-of-a-Kind Mouse Trap Grows Each Day” and also engage with us on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month for #diytrends.

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For more information, make sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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A Battery is a Battery is a Battery

I thought I would talk about an important and frequent issue that concerns many DIYers: Power and Power tools.

As we know, power is supplied to tools by common 110V AC from the wall or from batteries.

We’ve recently seen major advances in battery technology. Specifically, rechargeable lithium-ion battery improvements have provided cordless usage on many common DIY tools. When’s the last time you remember using an AC corded drill for a common household task? And, the power pack lithium batteries are often interchangeable between different tool types.

However, let’s not forget the good ole closed cell alkaline disposable battery. These power cells have existed and have been part of our lives since, well, forever.

When buying a common disposable battery, DIYers have a choice to either pick up the bargain “no name” brand or the big brand name battery. My advice… Don’t skimp.

I have found that there are very few things that will drive a customer to the edge of despair faster than his or her stud finder not working correctly when needed. A very high percentage of the time, all it comes down to is an old or weak battery. While answering customer service calls at Zircon, I often hear “But it’s a good battery! I tested it on a volt meter!”

Some devices, such as smoke detectors or remote garage door openers draw a slow current from closed cell batteries. A fresh new battery can last a year or two. However, other battery powered devices draw a substantial amount of current from the same battery and hence, won’t last as long. Also, devices such as a stud finder, won’t accurately operate with a weak or border-line battery.

The MultiScanner i520 uses a 9-Volt battery and features two stud scan modes, metal scan, and a dedicated AC scan mode.

The MultiScanner i520 requires a 9-Volt battery and features two stud scan modes, metal scan, and a dedicated AC scan mode.

Often, most folks do not think about the quality of the battery they place inside an important tool needed for a critical task. “Hey, if the battery works in the remote control, it’s good, right?” Answer: Sometimes, it will work in your stud finder, but not always.

Do yourself a huge favor. When you need to use a closed cell disposable battery powered tool, buy a new brand name battery with an extended expiration date. It seems like the most obvious thing. But believe me, it’s not. Your blood pressure (and your doctor) will thank you.

To learn more about how your battery is performing, visit my blog, “How is Your Battery?”. Join me the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month at 11 am PST for Zircon’s #diytrends Twitter  chat. Engage, learn and share!

For more information, make sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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You Can’t Wrestle with a Wall

Walls are us. We’re in the business of dealing with walls. We don’t design them nor do we build them, but we work with walls in every imaginable way from the inside out.

Walls are diverse. Although some walls are figurative, our walls are tangible. You have them inside your house and may even have one surrounding your home. A wall is a structure that provides security, privacy and a sense of real well-being.

Walls hide secrets. Walls are composed of three main components: 1) An internal frame, 2) Materials designed to exist within the frame, and 3) A flat, stable covering that holds the interior materials in place. Although a completed wall may not be highly interesting, it is insightful to contemplate what is inside the wall. Without building it yourself, the wall holds many secrets.

Walls in our homes are solid. You can’t see into them which makes it difficult to identify where the studs, pipes, or AC wiring may be located. If the wall had a clear Plexiglass cover, you could peer inside. However, because our walls are covered, a stud finder or scanner is a necessary tool and one such as the Zircon® MultiScanner i520 is an excellent choice, especially for finding vertical studs behind the wall.

The MultiScanner i520 features two stud scan modes, metal scan, and a dedicated AC scan mode.

The MultiScanner i520 features two stud scan modes, metal scan, and a dedicated AC scan mode.

But what about all other types of walls? From brick walls to cement walls to the relatively new ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms), most of the walls around us are structures composed of multiple materials. This is the case with your home’s exterior wall. How do we see into these types of walls? The answer: It’s not easy. It often requires sophisticated devices to detect or see into the wall. And, unfortunately, sometimes these tools are cost prohibitive for the average homeowner.

The good news is that Zircon’s engineers and product specialists are working to close the gap by constantly innovating and developing affordable tools that both DIYers and professionals alike can use to see into and through complex wall structures. Our goal is to place indispensable tools in the hands of tool enthusiasts worldwide. So while you can’t wrestle with a wall metaphorically, technology and innovation are your partners to unmasking the walls’ secrets and ultimately being the master of what’s behind your walls.

Want to know more about your walls? Read our popular blog “A Wall is a Wall is a Wall“. For more insider tips, visit www.zircon.com, like our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

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The Real World of Customer Service

What is Zircon in the Real World? My role, this blog, and my overall philosophy reflect one thing…the customer experience. I live by the motto, the customer is always right. In each diverse customer situation, it is important to listen, understand, and defer to the customer’s point of view whenever possible. The goal is to assist the customer and help solve the issue in a timely, personable, and efficient manner. How is this accomplished?

Here are five steps to customer centricity.

Step 1. Develop rapport & provide empathy. Where is the customer coming from? What is the individual’s perspective? Rather than insisting on being right which is counterproductive, establish a bond with the customer. It’s fair to say that no one particularly likes to call a customer support line and DIYers often contact us as a last resort. Customers are often frustrated and tired from working on the issue by the time I first talk to them. I am genuinely interested in helping customers in a friendly and knowledgeable manner. We both want to have a positive outcome – an amiable resolution. There is an old acumen: You have two ears and one mouth. I listen carefully and offer a lifeline.

Step 2Identify the problem. What is the main issue? During this customer analysis, determine the user’s tool understanding and the complexity of the problem. A weekend DIYer may have an easier issue to identify than a professional contractor. During this stage, ask probing questions (non-yes/no) to get to the root of the situation.

Step 3. Communicate the potential solutions. After reviewing the challenge, offer solutions. Often, offering step-by-step instructions and referencing a web page or YouTube video can be very helpful. At Zircon, we also offer an Interactive Support Center available online 24/7. This provides a timely aid for customers during non-business hours.

Step 4. Follow-up. You may often hear of the customer’s issue for the first time via social media or a third party site. Via Facebook, Twitter, or your other social media sites, offer to contact the person or have the individual contact you. Provide a link to a potential solution. Make sure to constantly review and offer suggestions via online sites, such as Amazon.com or Yelp.com.

Step 5. Establish a customer survey. Customers have a rightful expectation of good customer service before, during, and after a sale. With our around-the-clock lifestyle, customers crave real-time solutions and should have instaneous access to information. Thriving manufacturers understand how important timely customer service is within the global marketplace. When a knowledgeable and personable customer support channel is available, this expands the company’s engagement with customers. Customers often uncover vital ways to improve a business, grow customer satisfaction, and increase efficiencies.

Customers decide how to rate the quality of the customer experience and will often voice negative remarks via public forums to voice their concerns. They are also likely to tell several friends of positive experiences which are often the best form of customer endorsement.

It’s all in a day’s work, and it makes my job compelling and rewarding.

Is the customer right? Maybe or maybe not. What’s important is that the customer is always treated as a unique individual and that customer service personnel, listen without prejudice or a pre-conceived mindset. Although this can be difficult at times, no one said customer service is an easy job. Customer service is a profession with very little room for doubt about who is #1. Exceeding the customer’s expectations each and every time is the paramount goal.  And that’s, in a nutshell, Zircon in the Real World.

For more insights on customers, please view our blog, “Product Innovation, The Customer is Always Right“, visit www.zircon.com, like our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

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Tools for Nostalgia

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My Dad, Stanley Arthur.

My Father was a career Navy man and “tool guy”. When you’re on a ship in the middle of an ocean, you’d better have complete knowledge of all working systems and be able to repair them fast. Obviously, your life, and all of your shipmates’ lives depend upon it.

His last job was being the go-to handyman at his condominium complex. Everyone knew my Dad. He could fix just about anything that could go wrong within the building. Most men from the Greatest Generation were self-sufficient when it came to fixing what was broken and they knew their tools inside and out. DIY was not an established category or a distinction in the mid-twentieth century because it was a normal everyday occurrence. I have the pleasure of helping these men and women from my desk, quite often today.

I loved my Father’s tools and I inherited them when he passed away. No one else in my family wanted the tools. I still have them. There are basic items: hammers, screwdrivers, saws, chisels, levels, and such. He had electronic tools, but nothing digital. They came along after his time. I have a feeling he would have loved stud finders although he never owned one. He would have thought they were better than sliced bread.

I see a whole new generation of Do-It-Yourselfers. I believe that the New Age of Communication (the Internet) has enabled this long prolonged pursuit. You see many DIY ideas everywhere on social media sites. They spark imagination, enable and encourage people to, DIY. It’s not only about saving money although that’s a benefit. It’s about the creativity, the challenge, and the accomplishment. Entrepeneurial DIYers are even establishing new businesses and are growing existing businesses. It’s a business renaissance.

It’s great to see all this from where I sit. We have an excellent view of new trends and growth in the DIY world. Everything old isn’t necessarily new again. It’s just different and the spirit from former generations is still there. After all, the founder of Zircon is a tool guy and a DIYer. Older products often still work and time has proven how useful good tools are whether they’re electronic in nature or otherwise.

The world today is a bigger and more complex place compared to my Father’s world. It’s nice to see people today finding enjoyment and satisfaction from their DIY accomplishments. My Dad loved it, and he’d still love it if he was still here today.

Do you have a personal DIY story that you would like to share? I would love to hear from you. Check out our Product Innovation blog for other customer insights. Please follow us on Twitter or visit our Zircon Facebook page.

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DIY Progress is Everlasting

The online DIY community continues to prosper because companies invent, produce, and distribute useful products, information, and resources that save users time, money, and frustration. Via social media networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and more, companies cater to knowledge-thirsty DIYers with instructions, advice, how-to’s, and shortcuts designed specifically for them.

When you combine easy to find company advice with affordable, quality DIY products, the results are astounding – DIYers are empowered to learn and help themselves. Fortunately, this continuous DIY movement is right in line with a slowly changing paradigm shift in consumer purchase behaviors.

Previously, in the 1950’s, hardware products were built to last a lifetime, and they could be fixed, if necessary. These tools could be bequeathed and handed down to children and grandchildren. However, in the last decade or so, many products do not have the same quality and often break easily. We have become a disposable society. When products break, they are discarded and a new tool is purchased to replace the one disposed of. The empowering news is that DIYers no longer share the same “new is always best” philosophy. From television shows, such as Flea Market Flip which turns old relics into refurbished furniture, to renewable energy projects, society is now focused on both individual and environmental well being.

Green thinking is in. We recycle and upcycle rather than so easily trash unused items at landfills. We embrace “save the ocean” campaigns and look for ways to do more with less. We can no longer mindlessly throw out useful items just because they may need a minor fix or are old. We are now a community who can reinvent, re-engineer, and reuse. Additionally, higher quality products are also produced now and are made to last for longer periods of time. At Zircon, we have embraced this quality philosophy since our inception – with some customers who rely upon their original StudSensor stud finder from yesteryear – and still works!

It’s great how our perception of the environment is reverting back to simpler times. Or maybe we can call this evolution? Whatever the correct terminology, the DIY community is now empowered to want lasting, quality products and to also repair items as needed by using the online resources available to them 24/7. To be successful, manufacturers must also comply with the new tentaments of DIY satisfaction. Quality. Sustainability. Progress. Or should I say, DIY progress is everlasting!

Please click into my blog, “Tools for Nostalgia” for more insights. For more information, make sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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Reset, Renew, Rejuvenate in 2015

It’s a new year. For every forward-thinking company, new challenging goals and initiatives are right before them. What we should know about life, whether at home or at work, is that we can expect change. So, we brainstorm ideas. We devise plans. We execute and move forward.

Zircon in the Real World is all about our customers. It’s all about the experiences of people who buy and work with our products. For all the success stories, and sometimes not so successful stories I hear, there can usually be a new take or perspective that I hadn’t considered. Ideas are often hatched when I work with “out-of-the-box” scenarios from our end users. And sometimes these experiences even lead to new product or service ideas that may not have taken form otherwise.

MetalliScanner MT 6 metal detectorOn numerous occasions last year, the same customer called advising that he wanted to use his Zircon metal scanning tools to help him find… gold! Although he was referring to little tiny specs of gold, it was real gold nonetheless, and based on his accounts, his use of the Zircon metal scanner served him quite well. He proclaimed our scanner outperformed an eight hundred dollar metal scanner designed specifically for this task. I’m not here to confirm whether this is true or not. But what an idea it was! Romantic thoughts of a new 49er gold rush spun in my head for about a day. Then, reality set in.

It’s quite possible that our less expensive metal scanner can detect specs of gold. However, Zircon tools (and our business) are not designed for gold-finding purposes, nor is it a direction we’ll probably move in. But it still sounds, and is, very cool.

You never know where that next great idea is going to originate from. It pays to be open to new ideas. It may come from collective brainstorming and planning. It may come from a chance encounter on the street or while you’re relaxing on vacation. A good idea is a good idea. When you can turn it into a great business idea, then you have something extra special. Many successful businesses originated from a garage or even around the kitchen table. Many, like Zircon, began from humble beginnings. That’s right. Zircon introduced the original electronic StudSensor™ stud finder decades ago and what was once just an idea materialized into a company that designs, manufactures, and ships stud finders worldwide. What may seem like a farfetched idea can become THE next big thing.

The start of a new year can be a good time to reset, renew and rejuvenate your business or your life. Keep your antenna up and your mind open. Who knows what great things can be achieved in 2015 and beyond…

For more information, make sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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The Dog Ate My StudSensor!

dog chewIt never occurred to me that a stud finder would make a terrific chew toy for an overzealous family pet. Stranger things have happened, but in all my years as a customer service manager, I thought I’d heard it all.

Usually when we get a StudSensor back in pieces, or significantly damaged, it’s because the stud finder met with some kind of human consequence. The car backed over it. It fell off a ladder. It was left out in the rain. A dog using a stud finder as a favorite chew toy? This was a new one, even for me. The tool was immediately replaced for the owner. I assume the family dog has a new, more appropriate, chew toy to gnaw on now.

As I think about this most recent situation, I’m intrigued at how funny and interesting customer interactions can be and how working directly with our customers create memorable stories worth sharing.

Replacing a Zircon tool for a customer is not difficult. But what can be a a challenge is witnessing a customer’s frustration when things don’t work out with a new tool purchase. When the phone rings or an email comes in from a customer, more often than not, his thought is that he spent his money on an item that isn’t working and feels cheated. We, however, are more than thrilled that the customer is giving us the opportunity to resolve their situation–be a hero for them. Often, we are successful. We listen, sympathize, and then reach a solution or a good work-around that is satisfactory to both parties. It’s usually a simple solution that is the key. These days, there is a world wide web of information at our fingertips. The ubiquitous smart phone that everyone has in his pocket is a great thing, but it’s also a curse in some ways.  Sometimes, these devices take away the incentive for human contact. You’d think it would make things easier, but it’s not always the case. Most people enjoy the opportunity to help other people, even if they’re strangers. I’m in the business of helping people, but it still never fails to amaze me how generous the average guy on the street is when you ask him for his help.

When I speak with our customers, I make sure I’m smiling. I introduce myself and make sure that my first words are welcoming. It works. Human interaction. Despite the issue, when you call any customer service help desk line, try to give the person on the phone a chance to help you. Information is wonderful. The internet has opened up the world for us in many ways. However, it will never replace personal human interaction. Whether your dog ate your brand new gadget, or you just can’t figure out what’s wrong with it, there is someone who is willing and able to help you. Give them a chance. You may be surprised to learn that even after your new device succumbed to an unlikely encounter, it may still work – or at the very least, there is a solution in mind for you.

Sometimes we don’t just save frustration, but help with bigger issues. Please take a look at our blog, “We’re on a Boat”. We love to hear how great customer service can help you. Join me the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month at 11 am PST for Zircon’s #diytrends Twitter  chat. Engage, learn and share!

For more information, make sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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Buy Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hi. My name is Tom… and I am an impulse buyer. I love to buy things. Specifically, I love to buy tools. I can’t stroll through a Home Depot or Lowe’s store without buying something that just “calls to me.” It doesn’t matter if it is a small ticket item or a large one—I just have to have it. I may start out shopping for something specific, but when that unexpected item catches my eye – Game over! People rush into buying things, whether it’s a television, laptop, or outfit, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the purchase meets the customer’s expectations, but then, sometimes it doesn’t.

Every day, I speak to new owners that are “over the moon” about their new tool, as well as customers who are frustrated because their great new purchase just isn’t working the way they thought it would or they just can’t figure out how to properly use their tool. This frustration is evident on retailers’ and manufacturers’ user review websites. Customers write about very positive experiences or when they are extremely dissatisfied. There is usually very little grey area. When a customer spends time and energy to write about a new purchase, it’s usually either 100% fantastic or the worst thing he/she ever spent their money on. So, a potential buyer of the same product who reads the product reviews while standing in the store aisle, is left to wonder who or what is right. Perhaps you’ve been in this position before. Is the product the right choice or not? HH icon (2)

You may not know this, but great companies, namely a manufacturer like Zircon, want you to love the products that they design, manufacture, test, and market. Companies provide important information on the product and package, such as their website, a QR code you can scan for additional information, and information via online social media channels. Manufacturers arm customers with up-to-date product specifications, instructions, and, FAQs. These helpful hints, data, and information are designed to help you purchase not just what you want, but the right product based on your needs.

So, if you’re like me, during your next impulse buy, make it a smarter one. Please visit the website, scan the QR code, call customer support, email, and engage on-line. Ask questions and get the answers so that when you buy that next product, you can be confident that you made the “best” impulse buy. At Zircon, you can rest assured that whether it’s before or after the sale, we’ll be here to assist you, so you can get the most out of your new Zircon tool. And that’s a win/win for all.

We know that the customer is always right and invite you to read more via our Product Innovation blog.

Our customer service product experts are available to answer your questions at 1-800-245-9265 Mon – Fri, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. PST. You can also visit www.zircon.com.

Join me the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month at 11 am PST for Zircon’s #diytrends Twitter  chat. Engage, learn and share! Be sure to follow us at Twitter, like us on Facebook, or visit www.zircon.com for the latest product news.

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