Nov. 9, 2012
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 opportunities do ‘Baby Boomers’ present to an HVAC business?

A: If you attended Mechanical Systems WEEK in Schaumburg, IL, you heard Jason Dorsey —The Gen Y Guy —speak on ways to succeed with four generations currently in the work place: “Traditionals,” “Baby Boomers,” “Generation X”, and Generation Y.”

Jason’s theme helped those of us who are not Gen Y, better understand training needs for our Gen Y employees, and helped us better understand their points of reference. I wanted this article to help the Gen Y group in your companies better understand why they should know more about the Baby Boomer generation. As important as it is for us to embrace them in our businesses, it’s critical that they better understand other age groups, especially the “Baby Boomers.”

By sheer force of our numbers, “Baby Boomers” — those born between 1946 and 1964 — have changed not only the U.S., but the whole world. Take a few minutes to consider Baby Boomers’ impact on your business. Think, especially about the first half of the group — those born closer to 1946, 40 million persons strong). They’re close to or at retirement age, they still want convenience and comfort, and can still pay for the best your company can offer.

Baby Boomers:

1. Are associated with “privilege and affluence.” We control over 80% of personal financial assets, and more than 50% of discretionary spending.

2. Genuinely expect our world to improve with time, and are willing to keep working to achieve that improvement. Four in 10 have delayed or will delay retirement, and one fourth say they’ll never quit working. Boomers account for 80% of the travel industry, and three fourths of the prescription drug business.

3. Boomers are 46 to 69 years old. Most Baby Boomers are currently in their peak earning years

4. Experienced major changes in employment. During their careers, business shifted from a work force “cradle to grave” philosophy, with full pension programs, to LBOs, 401Ks, and mass layoffs (termed “downsizing”).

5. Avoid planning for death, and instead remain focused on personal comfort while living.

6. Comprise a large part of your potential business. Almost half (45%) of homeowners are 45 through 64 and a full fifth (22%) are homeowners who are 55 to 64.

7. Don’t want existing comfort in their homes to be merely “fixed.” When they must buy new central equipment, they want more and better equipment.

8. Want certified, trustworthy technicians, from contractors they have knowledge of, and they want to be sold.

9. Want expert consultants who’ll quickly, in terms we understand, help us visualize what’s possible in our home.

10. Want our expert consultant to understand that when we say, “Not now,” that we are really saying, “tell us about it again in the future.”

If almost half of all homeowners are Baby Boomers, and you know who they are, and what we might want, will you:

A. Tell your technicians to simply replace “what’s broke” and get in four houses in their 18-hour day?

B. Tell your technician to schedule an appointment between the homeowner and you or your sales force?

C. Forward personal observations of what the homeowner may want by seeing working table fans, room humidifiers, portable or room/window working air conditioners/heaters, etc. when they call you or your sales force?

D. Fix the system one more time, though you/they know the fix will probably not last through the season?

E. Discuss upgrades and ancillary products in which the customer might have interest?

G. You do none of the above. You let your technician work it out on his/her own, with no training on how to market to and talk with the homeowner.

Consider the chart shown above. It displays answers from a recent survey among more than 2,000 homeowners who recently purchased central comfort equipment. Many, even most HVAC contractors in the real world, can’t be called consultants, though homeowners want them to be.

Are you and your company’s professionals serving as true comfort consultants to customers from every generational group?

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].