Contractors are experiencing Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) success in businesses of all types, sizes, and locations. In late 2006, C.C. Dickson Co., a wholesale HVAC/R supplier with headquarters in Rock Hill, SC and locations in nine states, launched a new, complete IAQ program for their contractors called Dickson Aire. Dickson Aire packages an IAQ monitoring system, customer reports, training, ongoing support, an equipment solutions lineup, and lead generation in an integrated, turnkey program. The contractors who’ve signed on so far are selling significantly more IAQ-related equipment solutions than before the program – in fact, the total purchases of IAQ products by the 50+ contractors in the program were nearly $1 million in 2007, an increase of 70% over 2006.
“We’ve seen that size of market is not a factor when it comes to IAQ program success,” says Jon Perry, president of C.C. Dickson Co. Our customers serve a wide variety of markets. We have some in large cities, some in smaller cities, and some in predominantly rural areas. Contractors from all these segments have been successful.”
In addition to revenue and profit growth, another major benefit to a focused IAQ program is that contractors are less susceptible to large seasonal swings in their business. Perry adds, “Contractors are taking more control of their businesses by leveling out the load throughout the year.”
Hot Start with Distributor IAQ Program
Tuck & Howell is a family-owned heating and air business based in Duncan, SC, a town with a population of 3,000 and median home value of $113,000. Recently celebrating its 40th year in business, they’ve had an interest in indoor air quality for years – as IAQ manager Matthew Tapp puts it, “To us, HVAC is indoor air quality. We see it as a necessity.”
Even so, Tuck & Howell didn’t put an IAQ program into place until just a few months ago – November 2007 – when they signed on to the Dickson Aire program and quickly put its principles into action.
According to Tapp, Tuck & Howell saw an immediate positive impact. In just four months they’ve had many inquiries for IAQ assessments from their planned maintenance agreement customers alone, and are planning to expand the program to grow their IAQ team.
“We’re a lot further along than we ever anticipated,” says Tapp. “We’ve already had several big $5000-$7500 sales directly attributed to testing IAQ in homes, and we’ve just gotten started.”
Tuck & Howell never takes shortcuts to achieve growth. “We want to show our customers that in the heating and air business, we care about their indoor air and are willing to take care of their problems. It’s not just about selling them something.”
In addition to the increase in overall average sales and total closes, Tapp is seeing long-time Tuck & Howell customers who’ve never signed on for a maintenance agreement now doing so, thanks to a new Tuck & Howell offer that includes yearly IAQ home testing as part of the agreement.
“IAQ sells maintenance, and maintenance sells IAQ,” says Tapp.
Energy savings through IAQ solutions is yet another early promising benefit to Tuck & Howell’s new IAQ program.
“The energy feature in the IAQ reports is bigtime for us,” says Tapp. “We have people asking about it. They’ve heard that we can tell them how much they might save if they make certain changes, such as high efficiency systems, and a lot of people are interested. We’re having many conversations about energy efficiency these days.”
Long-Time IAQ Pros, New Shot in the Arm
AAA Heating and Cooling in Portland, OR has had an IAQ department since 1961. They know the field and they’ve been succeeding with it for decades.
Five years ago, the management of AAA Heating and Cooling decided to take their program to a new level. By arming their sales team with independent third-party analysis and recommendations for their customers, the IAQ monitoring program has helped them to uncover a new field of business.
“It has been a huge benefit to us,” says John Rodarte, commercial IAQ program manager at AAA. “The formalized IAQ program has provided a significant boost to our reputation and awareness level in the community. We probably add a minimum of 300 new customers per year because of IAQ.”
Growth at Every Turn
Larry Grimm, HVAC supervisor at family- owned Neffsville Plumbing and Heating in Lititz, PA, has seen strong results with the company’s near-year-old IAQ program. “When I place an IAQ monitor in home, 90% of the time I come away with a sale,” says Grimm. Average sales are up, too.
“IAQ has bumped our overall average sale almost $700 per job,” says Grimm. “I’ve been in the business 37 years, and I’ve got plenty of experience and testimonials to share. But it doesn’t compare with having the IAQ test readings right there in a report. Those reports are fantastic. It gives us credibility and it gives our customers peace of mind. It does a lot for our reputation.”
With a total staff of 21 people, familyowned Neffsville consider themselves a small company – but with what they’ve seen happen with IAQ so far, they’re planning to expand and develop a department dedicated to IAQ.
“Business is good overall, but compared to other areas, IAQ is really moving,” says Grimm. “We know we need to crawl before we walk, but based on what we’ve seen so far, we are expecting very good things with IAQ.”
There’s more to your business, and IAQ in particular, than revenue growth potential and strong margins. Many contractors have improved the health, safety, and comfort of their customers through discovering and fixing a problem with the home’s indoor air environment. HVAC professionals all over the country have been able to improve the quality of life of their customers as a direct result of adopting an IAQ testing and monitoring program.
That being said, you are running a business. And if the business doesn’t succeed, you won’t be solving homeowners’ problems. So, at the end of the day, it comes back to improving profitability.
There’s a saying: “The rising tide raises all boats.” With more industry focus on IAQ, everybody wins: You, your customers, and the HVAC profession as a whole. So don’t miss the tide. Whether you’re new to IAQ or already have a program in place but want to take it to the next level, all you need to know, at heart, is the “secret” common to every IAQ success story: Commitment to an IAQ plan followed by putting the plan into action.
One thing all these successful IAQ contractors have in common is that they’re all using the HomeAdvice Program to grow their IAQ business.
Spring is almost here. It’s the best possible time to kick start that IAQ program. Get your IAQ plan together, train your people, and take advantage of any help your vendors can give you.
The how-to is out there for you; the support is out there for you. Leverage it and make the next IAQ success, your story.
| EDITOR’S NOTE: |
This is the final installment of a five-part series of indoor air quality (IAQ) business “how-to” articles. Part I (CB, Sept. 2006, p. 64) explained why now is the time for the HVAC industry to capitalize on the IAQ market. Part II (CB, Nov. 2006, p. 58) outlined how to start and build your IAQ business. Part III (CB, Feb. 2007, p. 54) walked through the steps to take IAQ to market; Part IV (CB, Aug. 2007, p. 76) spelled out strategies for IAQ sales success.