It’s a new year. What are you going to do different in 2012 to get better results than 2011? After all, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. If you want to get more, here’s half a dozen easy actions you can take to improve your marketing and expand your offering.
In 2010, the Service Roundtable received first place in the Comfortech Product Showcase Awards. This made us an award winning company. In 2011, we were ranked #43 in the Aggie 100 companies. The Service Nation Alliance was a first place winner in the 2011 Comfortech Product Showcase Awards. Now, we’re a winner of multiple awards. How did it happen? We entered. So can you.
Enter every contest you run across. Here’s a secret. Many of these have surprisingly few entrants. The first time you win one, you become “an award winning contractor.” Win a national contest and you become, “a nationally recognized, award winning contractor.”
Once you become an award winning contractor, you will always be an award winning contractor. A Miss America is always a Miss America, even if she is not the current Miss America. But to win a contest, you must enter a contest.
Looking for a contest to enter? Try the Quality Home Comfort Awards through Contracting Business.
Remember, when you win, you’ve got to tell people about it. Otherwise, you’re winking in the dark. You know what you’re doing, but no one else does. So tell your customers, send out press releases to the local media, put it on your website, literature, and trucks.
Air Conditioning Alarms
Copper theft is on the rise. Based on a low pressure switch that sounds an audible alarm or triggers a security system alarm, Jackson Systems put together an air conditioning alarm system. It’s perfect to offer to commercial accounts, especially in less than stellar parts of town. It’s also good to offer to all of your customers whenever air conditioning copper thefts make the news.
You can also create your own alarm. Scott Thompson from the Lee Thompson Company explained on the Service Roundtable:
“We had all the condenser coils (6 units total) stolen from a large retail chain store last month. After the new units were installed, we added ‘Tee' connectors at the service connections and put in a screw-on, low pressure ‘peanut' type switch. We then had the stores alarm company hook up their alarm system to our low pressure switches. The next time these units are cut into by the vandals, the low pressure switch will open their contacts and send an alarm to the alarm company to let them know what's going on, so they can call the police.”
Why offer an air conditioning alarm? You’re likely to be one of the only contractors in town who offer one. This is something to talk about it and can help open doors with commercial service customers.
The nation’s electrical generating capacity is becoming strained. We are not adding much in the way of baseline generation and may even see net capacity reductions as new rules from the EPA take older coal plants off line. The result will be more blackouts due to storms and extreme weather. Each blackout represents an opportunity to sell standby generators. This is a natural product extension for HVAC contractors. The generators can be sold separately or bundled on replacements.
The average size of a Rotary Club in the U.S. is 49 members. Join a service club, such as Rotary, and you will likely interact with 48 community centers of influence while you eat lunch and perform the occasional community service activity. When people ask the local banker for the name of a good contractor, who will he recommend? If the only contractor is the fellow Rotarian, who do you think? The average number of friends a Facebook user has is 130. Community centers of influence tend to be better connected than average, but using the Facebook number, 130 X 48 results in a potential 1,040 people with first hand recommendations for your company. Join Lions for lunch on a different day, Kiwanis on another, Optimist for breakfast, get involved with the Chamber of Commerce, join an alumni group, and join a leads club and/or networking group.
Is it a lot? Yes, but it can easily result in thousands of people enjoying first hand recommendations for you and your company. The time is less than you think. Most service clubs and networking groups meet over breakfast or lunch. You have to eat anyway. Why not eat with people who can help your business?
Grow by Acquisition
Many technicians start contracting companies because they want independence and control, they want the ability to practice craftsmanship, and they want to make more money. Some build relatively large companies and some do not. Many smaller operators are quite content with their companies. Others, however, find that rather than running a business, the business is running them. Instead of more control and time, they are under the constant control of government reporting and the time required for accounting and paperwork drains the more time than they ever imagined. Finally, they are making less money working for themselves than they would working for you.
These contractors do not own a company. They own a job. And, they see no way out. But you can offer them a way out. You can offer them a way to make more money, have more time, fewer hassles, receive more than they ever thought possible for their business. You buy their business and they go to work for you.
Offer to buy them for a percent of future sales from their customers, letting them keep and dispose of their old trucks, tools, and inventory. This is a pay as you go approach. If the customer list doesn’t pan out, you’re won’t pay. Still, the contractors you buy get more money for their company than they could hope for otherwise. Everyone wins.
Solar PV makes a natural add-on for HVAC contractors. With turnkey products that can be assembled in sections, solar provides you an opportunity to return to the customer to add one or two panels each year. It’s an opportunity for a recurring installation revenue stream.
Even if your customers opt out of solar (for now), by presenting it, you are differentiating your company and generating calls. If the homeowner declines to buy the solar panels today, but still purchases a high efficiency air conditioner, you’re still ahead of the game.
If you liked these tips, they come directly from the Service Roundtable’s HVAC Marketing Toolbox App for the iPhone and Android devices. Download the app for many more marketing tips.
Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable , an Internet based contractor alliance that provides a huge library of downloadable sales, marketing, and business tools; an online support network of other contractors and consultants; and cash rebates for parts, equipment, and supplies from our free buying group. Subscribe to his free Comanche Marketing newsletter at www.ComancheMarketing.com. For a free tour of the site or to get your free copy of “87 Ways to Get More Out of Your Next Home Show,” call toll free 877.262.3341.