Sears adds array of home services

Sears, Roebuck, probably the original purveyor of do-it-yourself mercandise for everybody, is going to let a number of its customers off the hook. It is quitely turning toward the idea of doing-it-for-you.

In many metropolitan areas across the country, the giant merchandiser is retailing these home-related services direct to its old and prospective new customers:

* Clean your carpets (furniture moved before and after cleaning).

* Repair your plumbing (drain and sewer service a specialty).

* Texture-coat your house (modern alternative to painting).

* Clean your draperies (we take them down and rehang).

* Inspect your premises for termites, eliminate pests (certified real estate inspection certificate).

* Install terrazo-type flooring (clean, maintenance-free).

* Plan and lay out burglar or fire alarm systems, or both.

This new direction has little connection with Sears installation or preventive maintenance services, which have been a part of Sears we-service-what-we-sell precept for a long time. Too, Sears retail stores almost since inception have sold fencing, washers, plumbing equipment, car engines, and other merchandise on a completely installed basis.

The new tack involves something different --ations done by licensed contractors under the Sears name and guarantee, according to state and local codes, ordinances, and regulations. Service-slanted offerings are not being advertised either in Sears retail flyers or newspaper ads nor in its present catalogs. These are being publicized in stand-alone, periodical display ads, featuring only one of these services at a time, and in smallish display-type ads in Yellow Pages directories. Some are also featured in boldface listings in telephone directory white pages. In most cases, where the use of an "outside" contractor is necessary, the authorized contractor license number is shown.

Unlike many of the nonretail services which have come to be associated with Sears (Sears Rent-a-Car, Sporting Event Tickets, Allstate Motor Club, etc.), the new we-do-it-for-you offerings are tied to Sears retail store or group-area operations. Local retail units usually arrange installers' contracts, monitor all jobs, and handle much of the paper work to completion. Installers are generally paid by Sears and customers' total payments go directly to Sears -- in cash or to be carried on some type of Sears account.

Many of the new D-I-F-Y services, like outside house-texturing, qualify for Sears' 5-year home modernization credit plan: 60 equal payments, which include finance charges (at this writing) of about 14 percent.

Chain store competitors of Sears are just watching the D-I-F-Y experiment for the moment. Neither J. C. Penney nor Montgomery Ward is contracting home-related services of this type on any noticeable scale.

Merchandising analysts indicate the Sears reach-out plan could be a new plus for the profit-weak retailer. The we-do-it-for-you concept could be running parallel, but unheralded, to a rising consumer demand for these kinds o f services.

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