Psssst ... I've Got a Secret

May 15, 2005
I know the last secret in the HVAC industry. Wanna hear it? There aint no secrets. Thats it. Are you disappointed? Well, its the truth. There are no silver

I know the last secret in the HVAC industry. Wanna hear it? There ain’t no secrets. That’s it. Are you disappointed? Well, it’s the truth. There are no silver bullets. There are no magic beans. There is no secret sauce. Here’s a rundown of how little is secret in this industry:

There Are No Operational Secrets. Few contractors bother to keep operational tricks a secret. Why? Unless you’re a single truck operator, it’s pointless to try. As soon as your undertech quits for an extra dollar an hour from a competitor, the secret’s out.

Fortunately, most operational secrets aren’t that significant. You don’t lose a competitive advantage if your competitor figures out your double secret shelving system or super duper inventory control technique. When someone does come up with a really important operational innovation like flat rate pricing, he sells it, la Frank Blau and Jim Kimmons.

There Are No Marketing Secrets™ The second you launch your secret marketing campaign, it’s no longer a secret. If your marketing reaches the public, it also reaches your competitors.

There Are No Sales Secrets. Develop a winning, cutting-edge sales approach and it won’t stay secret for long. Some customers will tell your competitors why you were selected. Others will share your proposal and pricing for a slight discount from a lower bid contractor.

No Secrets And Few Innovations. There simply are no secrets. There aren’t even many new ideas. Trace most HVAC innovations back to their roots and you’ll find people like Ron Smith
(residential) or Preston Bond (commercial).

Success doesn’t come from knowledge, but its application. In a word, it’s execution.

The biggest and the best contractors know this. They act like successful football coaches who hold coaching clinics every year. Just because Norm Chow tells you how his offense works doesn’t mean you can replicate his results.

It’s execution that makes the difference. As a result, successful contractors have little to fear when they share what they know with others. By sharing, they lose little and may gain much.

hen you share information with someone, you also learn from him. Even if the guy has nothing to offer, you can still gain. The guy who does everything wrong can always serve as a bad example.

Selling Success Secret Sauce. If there are no secrets and few new ideas, why do so many sell success secret sauce to contractors? It’s simple. Lots of contractors buy it. Contractors buy because they’re looking for the easy answer, instant success.

‘hough the information, the techniques, the solutions, the answers may be readily available from a variety of sources (e.g., HVAC Comfortech and ontracting Business, ust to name a few), many contractors happily pay a premium for the reassurance that comes from an industry expert who declares with conviction that this direct mail letter, this display ad, this yellow pages ad absolutely, positively will drive salesc “Our secret sauce is the answer, says the expert. Just add dollars. Your troubles will be over.”

While your troubles may not end, the secret sauce probably will drive sales. It will generate more business than you would otherwise earn.

Doing something, anything almost always yields better results than doing nothing. If you need to pay a premium for the same scoop that Contracting Business gives for free, it’s still money well spent if making the investment compels you to act. Without action, the smallest investment is too much.

Though the secret sauce contractors buy may lack secret ingredients, the ingredients are still good. Repackaged Ron Smith is still Ron Smith. Adherence to the methods Ron pioneered at Modern Air Conditioning and Service America have helped thousands of contractors prosper. Thousands more have benefited indirectly as others have further refined and repackaged Ron’s basic residential service and replacement model. The same can be said for the commercial service and retrofit program Preston Bond pioneered.

In the end, even the best program is no good without execution. No matter how brashly it’s presented, the chance of success without execution is zero. And execution is hard work.

Hard work? Wait-a-sec. Given the quest so many undertake for the magic answer, maybe the fact that success requires from hard work is the last secret in HVAC.

Matt Michel is CEO of the Internet based Service Roundtable, HVAC’s largest private contractor group. Matt says the Roundtable, at $50 a month, is an affordable forum for sharing and content delivery. Check it out at