Over the course of 2012, this space will identify opportunities within customers’ homes that you may not have observed in the past. The opportunities are based on a recent homeowner survey conducted by Decision Analyst, Inc.
Q: What kind of opportunities do early spring “emergency” calls bring to the HVAC contractor?
A: It’s 2012, and planning has begun for the summer selling season. For some HVAC contractors, service maintenance or clean-and-check plans and programs will handle much of your early season business. For others, you begin as you have in the past, with other means of finding the business that make you successful.
In recent years, almost half of the reasons contractors were invited into the homeowner’s home was to inspect the system, clean it, and ready the home for another season. That will more than likely remain the leading way contractors and homeowners will meet in the home again this year, but after several years of “bad times,” be prepared for more emergency calls and non-emergency fix-it calls in your area.
Emergency calls come with the first change in the weather, and force long hours, ill tempers at times, and a general hysteria in and around the home and the work place. You can expect more work hours for yourselves and for those working with you, and you can expect some real exchanges with real homeowners.
Some will be cowed by the emergency and their lack of knowledge and funding. Some will be noisy, and hard to deal with. Some will . . . well, you know better than I do.
As you prepare for this part of the business which could be a large portion of early season calls for some of you, spend a few minutes preparing ways you will help each personality better prepare for their soon to be realized real life “emergency.”
Think about it. Many still don’t know anything about an industry that has changed significantly (products, laws, treatments, etc.) while others have new avenues to be informed or ill informed using neighbors, other contractors, and the internet.
What makes working with this group so very difficult is their stress. They’re not themselves, and as you try to talk with them (something you’re not especially excited about), you know their comprehension and decision making will be lacking.
Within the next few hours, they’re going to make a major decision. They will spend thousands of dollars, for a product they know little about, from a contractor they don’t know. They only have you in the home because they got a real person on the phone, and were able to make an appointment for your time.
Most emergency call homeowners will only invite one contractor in. Almost two thirds of all homeowners who don’t use the Internet to research their purchase decision (many emergency callers) will not call for a second bid. If you made in the home you’ve made the sale.
How do you make it into more homes, and take the time to help them, and your company, with the right product for the homeowner (who can’t think straight and may really want to end their dilemma with the least expensive first cost)?
Consider the preparation of "scenario" papers. Make sure they’re simply written. Give the homeowner reasons to buy and alternatives. Do their homework for them. Then, make sure you’re prepared to walk them through the process and help them with a gentle but firm close. Remember the emergency work will be there briefly. Your technicians must be able to consult rapidly and get to their next home.
- List the cost of energy and the forecasts for energy costs in your region
- Identify any rebates, discounts, and other incentives for alternative products
- Display documents from a third source that identifies the value of the product you will be selling
- Make sure you give them purchase alternatives, with something that outlines the outcome of their decision for the alternative they choose.
- Let them know you are up on all of the new alternatives for their home comfort and don’t forget to share upgrades they may wish to know about.
One common complaint from homeowners after the sale – the contractor didn’t tell me about zoning, humidification, dehumidification, IAQ, duct work, and other possibilities that would improve my home and monthly costs and home comfort. Yeah, I know — this will come from the homeowner who initially pleaded with you to fix it quickly for the lowest first cost.
Remember that in your area, this year, there will be more emergency work. True preparation will make that part of the business more tolerable and more successful in the short and long term, for you and for your homeowner customer.
Decision Analyst’s American Home Comfort Study of homeowners explores what customers look for in HVAC contractors. To learn more about this study, or to purchase it, contact Garry, at [email protected].