What Will You Do to Gain an Edge?

Jan. 1, 2010
There's a lot of change afoot. But the fact is, there's always a lot of change afoot. From technology to legislation, to environmental consciousness,

There's a lot of change afoot. But the fact is, there's always a lot of change afoot. From technology to legislation, to environmental consciousness, to business management, change roils through our lives every moment of every day. Some changes are big, some small. And it impacts us whether we think so or not.

So, do you embrace change or ignore it? In the world of business, your actions (or lack of actions) can give you or your competitors the edge. With the current cascade of change that ripples our world, what will you do to gain that edge?

In our 2010 construction outlook "A Split Decision", economist Ken Simonson predicts a slight uptick in residential construction which bodes well for our industry. He calls it a “partial recovery,” and goes into details as to why that is happening, He also sees this glimmer as potential to spur increases in retail construction.

However, commercial new contruction is a different matter. Simonson is calling this year, “Far from a Perfect 10,” but does see some slight improvements.

But it's not all about construction. The service and replacement markets have been the backbone of the HVACR industry for decades and, though they took a hit in the last two years, we could see some positive movement in 2010. In fact, my good friend Alan Givens, chief executive officer of Parrish Services, Inc., Manassas, VA believes that 2010 could be one of the best years ever.


He sees the move to R-410A refrigerant as a positive thing. More importantly, he sees the end of the stimulus tax credit on December 31, 2010 as a huge incentive for homeowners to act on the replacement of their existing comfort systems this year. Right now 97% of Parrish Heating sales use tax credit incentives for geothermal systems.

Givens said he feels that not enough contractors are taking advantage of the push towards renewables.

“Many HVAC contractors think, for example, that weatherization is only about insulation, when it includes duct sealing, insulation, as well as replacing heating, air and hot water systems.”

Givens explains that HVAC contractors stand to play a major role in promoting global energy efficiency, and therefore need to be more proactive and innovative in their business approach.

Talk about a lot of change. Givens is an example of someone who embraces change and makes it work for him, not against him. That's how he gains an edge.

Others are looking at helping to reduce energy use in the home and in the marketplace as a niche for their businesses. Some do this by becoming HERS rated, others focus more on retrofitting duct systems and making mechanical system components work more efficiently together, as a whole house system.

Others are improving service offerings. Terms like customer retention, satisfaction, team building, etc., aren't new, but there's new emphasis on training and hiring people who understand these concepts. They know how to communicate with customers to help solve comfort problems.

Some are marketing their service agreements to help keep existing equipment working at peak performance levels. Others are investing in other technologies like geothermal and solar.

Others are taking time to learn more about social networking as a way to learn, to market, and to communicate. It's no longer a rare event to see contractor blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter messaging. Online sites like HVAC-Talk.com continue to thrive and more contractors are finding the help and advice they need through such media.

Some are mixing and matching all of these things and more to gain an edge, to grow, to be successfully ahead of circumstances that are beyond their ability to control.

So what are you doing to gain an edge? I'd like to build a list of the best ideas to gain a edge in 2010 and publish it in the next few months. Send me your thoughts either by email at letterscontractingbusiness.com, Tweet me @msweil, private message me on HVAC-talk.com, or share your comments on our Face Book page (http://bit.ly/7oYaxs). Let's make 2010 an awesome year.