In late May 2003, the HVAC Advanced Product Division of Mitsubishi Electric kicked off a series of contractor meetings aimed at developing closer customer-vendor relationships. The theme, “Realizing Increased Profitability with Ductless Split Technology,” targeted potential contractor customer/partners with the idea of helping them to grow their businesses by offering air conditioning solutions in traditionally non-air conditioning markets. “Personalized air conditioning will revolutionize the business,” explained Bud Nordello, Northeast regional manager for Mitsubishi Electric, to a group of more than 30 dealers, during his presentation of what Mitsubishi has dubbed their Diamond Dealer program. “The objective,” he continued, is to cultivate business by increasing the awareness to consumers on the advantages of ductless comfort systems. We want develop dealers to help us raise that awareness.” Quoting a homeowner survey conducted by Contracting Business magazine in 2002, there are about 83 million single family homes in the U.S., 53% of which have comfort problems. These problems, according to the survey are hot and cold spots in the home. Nordello told his contractor in audience that that represented 43.9 million homes that were eligible for ductless systems. He also pointed out that there are approximately 6,000 window air conditioning units and 500,000 packaged units sold annually. “This leaves residential HVAC contractors 50.4 million opportunities to sell ductless systems – an overall opportunity worth $153 billion. To help contractors break into this market, Mitsubishi plans to make a considerable push in the residential consumer market. Nordello said that less than 5 of consumers are currently aware they have other options, besides buying window units. Mitsubishi is buying advertising time on radio, television, cable, in newspapers and magazines, and in e-newsletters. One of their test markets was Boston and raised the level of consciousness to 15% -- a huge potential market just waiting to be plucked. In addition to advertising, the company, which claims to always been a large proponent of training, has dedicated funding for their Diamond Dealer program. According to Nordello, diamond dealers represent the contractors that Mitsubishi has partnered with. Diamond dealers are supported with current sales materials, extensive brand and product advertising, technical support and information, and training – lots of training. All of the company’s promotion and advertising is geared to drive traffic to their website (www.mrslim.com). Consumers can find any of the company’s product literature, a dealer locator, support bulletins, and a feedback forum. According to Nordello, the site receives in excess of 60 leads per day, without any advertising. Nordello told contractors that Mitsubishi ran a test television ad in four states last year that brought in 10,000 leads with a 75% close ratio. “Nearly half of those leads asked that a sales representative call them. This is how Mitsubishi is working to raise awareness of the opportunities ductless systems offer to consumers. “All leads are sent directly to our on-board diamond dealers,” he says. “Those 60 leads more than double when a targeted ad campaign hits a specific target market.” Besides lead generation and training, diamond dealers also receive co-op advertising dollars, sales help, and preferred positioning in the contractor referral program (based on training). Nordello closed the session by talking about the profit potential of selling ductless equipment. “The Mr. Slim series has been redesigned to make it easier to install, service, and maintain. Plus Mitsubishi has reduced its price by 30% making it competitive with traditional ducted systems. “This is our call to action. Let us help you help your customers so they won’t spend their money on window air conditioning units. Take advantage of the technology, the training, and the profitability.” To learn more about the Diamond Dealer Program, go to http://www.3diamondstore.com/training/diamondalliance.asp Or contact your local Mitsubishi training manager or distributor.