109 Things I Learned at Mechanical Systems Week- Part 1

Whew! Mechanical Systems Week is over. The week was great… Great for networking. Great for product/service sourcing. Great for learning. Here are a few of the things I learned.

Both the Service Roundtable and Mechanical Systems Week ran “Tweetstreams” during Mechanical Systems Week under the hashtags #SRNAT and #MECHSYSWK2012, respectively. The Service Roundtable’s included meetings before and after MSW.

The following are from my Tweets at Mechanical Systems Week (and yes, I already knew SOME of them, but I didn’t know ALL of them)…

1. Find out what your customers really want. Find out what they’re into, their hobbies, their interests, etc. Learn how to communicate to them in their language.

2. Your brand is one of the few things you can control. Don’t let an employee, associate, or other third party become your brand, because once you do, you lose control.

3. Make your trash and trinkets useful to your customers. Contractors report good results from putting their logo, message, and phone number on items like reusable grocery bags, koozies, and so on.

4. Radio Disney used the term “Pixie Dust” to refer to something that’s low cost, but a little extra, a little magical, and a lot memorable. Anyone can create their own flavor of Pixie Dust to stand out with customers.

5. One contractor’s Pixie Dust was meat rubs his technicians made. These were packaged and branded with the company logo. The techs then gave out their own rubs on service calls.

6. Hire college kids to knock on doors during the summer and offer to place stickers on furnaces with emergency information and a discount if the homeowner doesn’t already have a relationship with a contractor.

7. A great form of Pixie Dust is a grocery list pad with a magnet on the back. Pad no more than 25 sheets. Make the last two items on the grocery list the number to call to get additional grocery lists and a reminder to schedule maintenance service.

8. CSRs should create such a “Wow” experience the customer doesn’t want to call anyone else.

9. One role of the CSR is to get customers talking. Another is to show empathy. The purpose is to get the caller to like and trust the CSR.

10. A safety program results in an 80% drop in claims among contractors and reduced worker’s compensation payments.

11. People about to retire are the most apt to invest in a new comfort system.

12. One homeowner in five reports major energy efficiency problems.

13. One homeowner in five reports IAQ problems.

14. The Energy Star brand is recognized by homeowners and may be HVAC’s strongest consumer brand.

15. Thirteen percent of homeowners started spot heating and cooling in their homes due to comfort problems.

16. Consumers who do not own a service agreement are three times more likely to experience a breakdown than service agreement owners according to consumer research.

17. The Internet is not a replacement for other sources of information about equipment replacements (e.g., asking a friend or neighbor). It is a supplement.

18. Too many technicians repair first and ask no questions about replacing now, later, or ever.

19. At least half of all contractors have inappropriate truck signage.

20. One homeowner out of two reports an uncomfortable home and utility bills that are too high.

21. If you cannot become a manager, hire one!

22. One of the best ways to start a meeting at 8:00 a.m. is with Jake & Elwood Blues… The Blues Brothers!

23. Internet search is not always purely text based. Grammar (i.e., sentences) trumps lists of words with Google.

24. On your website create a SEO who, what, and where statement.

25. People search in singular so use singular over plural on your website (e.g., repair, not repairs).

26. Support Google Places categories for local search.

27. Making the cut with Google involves hitting the right keywords.

28. The Internet is designed to be used by the blind, so you can label images. Browsers read the labels.

29. Link swapping is negated by search engines.

30. The search engine rules are changing at a geometric pace.

31. Google penalizes links without some connection to your industry or community.

32. Follow Google's webmaster guidelines!

33. For email delivery, you are judged by the other companies using your web host - if other companies using your host service spam, you are more likely to be considered a spammer and blocked.

34. Watch your URL. “Joe’s AC Heat” becomes “JoesACheat.com.”

35. If you work from your home, hide your home address in Google Places.

36. The importance of online reviews cannot be stressed enough.

37. Only reviewers can remove a review. If you get a negative review, respond to it positively and try to resolve the problem. Do not react with anger.

38. Based on FTC rulings, you cannot give a gift to someone for writing a review. Be careful. This could get expensive.

39. It takes eight good reviews to counter one bad one.

40. Local Pay Per Click (PPC) is different than national PPC. Different rules and practices apply.

41. PPC is a bid system so more competition makes it more expensive.

42. Google is, or will be taking the average time people spend on your site into account for PPC rankings.

43. The past is prologue with PPC. Past click thru rates for your campaigns & keywords affects your PPC ranking & costs.

44. For PPC tracking use short & simple web forms & phone tracking numbers.

45. In PPC use misspellings and plurals.

46. When designing your PPC campaign, kill negative keywords like "auto" for air conditioning.

47. Get rid of irrelevant keywords for PPC.

48. Bid on your own company name for PPC.

49. Pay more for exact PPC matches.

50. Use multiple PPC landing pages for each keyword group.

51. Landing pages make the greatest difference in converting a click to a call.

52. AdWords was specifically designed for small business.

53. One contractor reported good success blogging for “The Patch,” a local online newspaper that’s in many markets.

54. Contractors are enjoying success from targeted ‘specials of the week’ through Facebook.

55. To bump your Twitter usage, tie your tweets to your Facebook posts automatically.

Stay tuned for Part-2 in the next Hotmail newsletter.

Learn More at the Get & Keep Customers Roadshow. This half day seminar is coming to Chicago (10/9), Milwaukee (10/10), Boston (10/16), Hartford (10/17), Cleveland (10/23), Columbus (10/24), and Pittsburgh (10/25). It’s coming to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, St Louis, and Kansas City in November. The seminar runs from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and includes lunch. Speakers and topics include • Matt Michel on “4 Dozen Simple Ways to Get and Keep Customers,” Brigham Dickenson on “How Your CSRs Can Close More Calls,” Jeremy Lowe on “Pricing Strategies to Boost the Bottom Line,” Jeff Evans on “Creating HVAC Customers for Life,” and Dave Moore on “New HVAC Technology That Will Make You Lots of Money.” For each location, up to 10 contactors can attend FREE if you mention CB Hotmail when you call to register! Call 877.262.3341.

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