From A to Z: The Best of Tom McCart From the Service Roundtable, Part 1

Feb. 1, 2006
Tom McCarts life was full of firsts. He was the first salesperson to sell $1 million of residential replacement sales in the HVAC industry. His accomplishment

Tom McCart’s life was full of firsts. He was the first salesperson to sell $1 million of residential replacement sales in the HVAC industry. His accomplishment is stunning when one considers that Tom made it in a one-season market, Ft. Myers, FL, and he did it nearly 20 years ago.

Tom was the first person to be named to Service America’s Million Dollar Club. He was the first recipient of Contracting Business magazine’s Thomas R. “Doc” Rusk Award for industry leadership. He was the first recipient of the Service Roundtable’s Servant Leader Award.

As word of Tom’s sales accomplishments became known, he fielded so many calls for help from salespeople and contractors that he started training others full time. From sales training, he proceeded to general contractor consulting. Over the years, Tom has impacted the lives of literally thousands of contractors.

The HVAC industry was stunned a few years ago to learn that Tom was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a progressively degenerative neurological disorder that eventually took his life. The industry mourned Tom’s passing in 2004.

From the Service Roundtable’s inception, Tom was a Consult & Coach Partner. Despite being wheelchair bound, Tom was able to reach out to contractors and continue to offer his advice, thoughts and input through the Service Roundtable and the HVAC.Roundtable discussion list. In his 100-odd posts, he left a rich legacy, captured in the Service Roundtable’s archived knowledge base. This series will share some of his best posts to the HVAC.Roundtable, arranged in alphabetical order by topic.

Some of Tom’s posts were lengthy. Other times, he would throw off a sentence or two as an aside that’s worth thinking about separately. His posts ranged from the very practical to the philosophical. As you read this series, it may seem as if Tom is speaking to you directly. He probably was. Act on his suggestions, prodding, and recommendations. Make changes. Improve your business. That’s the best way to preserve his legacy.

ALS took a toll on Tom physically. It took a toll on his family financially and emotionally. Tom’s business has survived. Please support Tom’s survivors and his legacy by purchasing his books or attending No Secrets training ( You’ll see a rich return on your investment.

Now, get ready for Tom McCart’s insights on everything in the HVAC industry from A to Z, as we kick off this new series.


Advertising is too often done the way we used to hunt deer in Eastern Kentucky: Walk up to the edge of the woods, shoot into the woods, cross your fingers, and hope something runs into the bullet.

After Hours Service
As service contractors, we all have a choice of how to market our companies. If you don't want to provide emergency service, DON'T DO IT. If you feel after hours service is something you can and want to provide then DO IT!

No one can dictate to you how to run your business.

However, ultimately it is the customer who will choose who he/she does business with. It always has been and always will be their right to choose.

I think it is terrible that the customer does not know if you do or not, upfront!

If you don't provide after hours service, state it in your marketing and advertising. If you don't offer after hours service, make sure you are providing exceptional service to the degree your customers loyalty is not in question.
If you do provide after hours service, tell this to your customers. Also, if you have requirements for after hours service, state what they are.

The average customer costs about $350 to generate. Are you going to chase him/her away with lip-service?
One thing you don’t want to hear is a former customer telling you, "Hey, you didn't tell me you don't have after hours service!"

After the Close

It’s my belief that the sales relationship doesn’t end with a signed proposal. Closing the sale is the end of the beginning of a very long relationship . . . if we do our job. Closing is the least important part of selling — it’s simply the scorecard for everything you have done up to the point.

Attendance Problems

Is this problem addressed in your employee policy manual?

Is the problem addressed in job descriptions?

Do you have a policy manual?

Are all employees required to read and sign it?

Do all employees have job descriptions outlining their job function, duties and qualifications, as well as what qualification they will need for advancement?

If it is a breech of company policy, it must have a consequence or the policy will have no teeth. Then you will begin working for the employees who choose not to follow company policy!

Employees will respect your guidelines if they know and understand them. Is it only management's job set and enforce company policy? Why not organize an employee review board and let them help decide?

Too many of us accept mediocre employee standards. Not shaving everyday, filthy work shoes, poor grooming habits, dirty uniforms, dirty fingernails, dirty trucks, disorganized trucks, improper tools, and tools in poor repair lead to low self-esteem. You don't have to accept this, just as you don't have to accept poor paperwork, tardiness, disrespect, or poor performance. Some contractors would be better off to downsize sales, reduce their staff, and upsize profitability and management systems so they could have some fun building their company.

A long-time contributor to Contracting Business, Tom McCart was HVAC’s first million dollar residential retail salesperson. Tom died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease on Jun 10, 2004. During his final years, Tom was an active participant on the HVAC Roundtable as a Service Roundtable Consult & Coach Partner. For more information about the Service Roundtable, including a FREE e-book on service company marketing, visit, call Liz Patrick at 877/262-3341, or e-mail [email protected].

You can also purchase “From the Sky Up, the Tom McCart Story on DVD,” or any of Tom’s seven sales, marketing, and management manuals, at All proceeds from the sales of Tom McCart’s products go to Tom’s estate to help his survivors pay Tom’s medical and long-term care expenses.

Matt Michel is president of the Service Roundtable (, an organization dedicated to helping contractors prosper. Matt is also the publisher of Comanche Marketing, a free marketing e-zine. Subscriptions are available at You can contact him directly at [email protected]. Or send your comments to Contracting Business at [email protected].