11 Winter Marketing Tips

The nights are growing long. The air is growing cold. Furnace sales are about to heat up. While most contractors wait for the customer to call and give them a shot at a change out sale, others are finding ways to make unique offers and finding ways to transform the run of the mill service call into a larger sale. Here are eleven tactics you can employ to stand out from the pack.

1. Note Room Heaters. Tell your technicians to be on the look out for the presence of room heaters. Room heaters are sign of an air balance problem. When you see them in homes and in office buildings, ask the customer why a room heater is necessary. When the customer mentions drafts or cold conditions in the room, seize upon the opportunity to discuss air balance adjustments to even out the temperature.

2. Check Insulation. When outside ambient temperatures are cooler, it makes it easy to measure insulation using a non-contact infrared thermometer. It’s impossible to make a poorly insulated room comfortable. Thus, arm your technicians with infrared thermometers to measure temperatures on both sides of an exterior wall and the temperature on an internal wall. Using curves supplied by Professional Equipment or other sources, a technician can quickly estimate the R-value of the insulation. Consider marketing free insulation checks using non-destructive infrared technology as a special seasonal offer. You might use it as a lead generator or you might include it with all service calls.

3. Establish a Relationship With An Insulation Subcontractor. Once you discover an insulation problem, the customer will look to you to solve the problem. Negotiate pricing with an insulation subcontractor in advance so you can arm your technicians with flat rate prices for adding insulation (e.g., a base cost, plus a cost by the square foot for wall insulation and by the cubic foot for blown-in insulation).

4. Offer Outlet & Wall Switch Insulation Gaskets. Small dollar items add up. Since exterior wall outlets are a source of outside air infiltration, offer the installation of outlet insulators as an add-on service with all service calls. Price these at two or three dollars per outlet where furniture does not need to be moved. Most contractors see this as a minor revenue opportunity that’s not worth the effort. In reality, it’s pure gross profit that’s there for the taking.

5. Bundle Carbon Monoxide Detectors on All Furnace Sales. Customers are concerned about carbon monoxide, so buy hard wired and plug-in carbon monoxide detectors in bulk. Place one near the furnace and place others in strategic locations throughout the house. To enhance the value of your premium furnace offering and keep costs low for your budget offering, limit the carbon monoxide detectors to high end furnaces.

6. Wrap a Furnace. If you live in the part of the country where furnaces are installed in basements and visible to homeowners, offer a furnace covered with wood grain contact paper or some other wrap for a premium. Although customers may not buy this particular furnace, they might call you to find out more if you market it (remember, no one else in town is likely offer one). Put one on display at home shows and give your salespeople pictures of the furnace. Don’t be surprised if some people pay an extra couple of hundred dollars for the aesthetic benefits.

7. Keep Electric Space Heaters as Rental Units and Loaners. Inconvenience your customers as little as possible. If your installation crews get backed up, don’t lose a sale over timing. Offer customers space heaters to use, until a repair is made or a furnace is installed. Keep a few on your trucks and with your salespeople. If you want to cover your bases, ask the customer sign a rental agreement in case the customer elects to use another contractor.

8. Offer the Gift of Comfort. Christmas is approaching and Baby Boomers often struggle to find gifts for parents, who seem to have everything and need nothing. Offer gift certificates for humidifiers, UV lights, and air cleaners.

9. Bundle a Water Heater With Furnace Replacements. Add greater value to furnace replacements by throwing in a water heater. Water heaters are relatively low cost commodity items that can quickly and easily be installed with a furnace replacement. The life span of a water heater is usually less than that of a furnace. If the customer needs a new furnace and hasn’t replaced their water heater recently, it’s probably due. By offering the water heater with the furnace, you give the customer peace of mind of replacing two appliances at once.

10. Inform Customers About Winter Humidity. When air is heated, relative humidity plummets. Heating air from 32F with 65% relative humidity to 72F lowers humidity to levels below the Sahara Desert. This causes sinuses to dry out and crack, making them more susceptible to winter colds, damages wood furniture as the moisture migrates from the wood to the surround dry air, and threatens electronic equipment through static electricity. Give your technicians hygrometers to present customers with a report of the indoor humidity levels as a part of all service calls, leading to the sale of duct mounted central humidifiers.

11. Offer Dual Fuel. Address heat pump complaints with a dual fuel option. In heat pump country, one of the biggest complaints about the product is that it blows “cold air.” Offer a dual fuel option where a gas furnace can provides warmer air whenever the temperature drops below a balance point measured by an outdoor thermostat and the heat pump provides a steadier, mellow heat during milder temperatures. Not only are customers benefiting from increased comfort, they are using each heating method when it is most efficient, reducing their utility bills. This can even be presented as a “hybrid” heating method.

Do you have a few good ideas? Share them with me. Shoot an email to [email protected].

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable, HVAC’s largest business alliance. SPECIAL FOR CB HOTMAIL READERS: Click Here between now and December 15, 2010 to try the Service Roundtable for one month for HALF PRICE. That’s one month for $25. Try it for a month. If you don’t like it, quit. If you want a free tour of the site, call toll free 877.262.3341 and ask for a site tour.

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