Q: Can I make my business more successful by "listening" to the market?
A: As I read one of my manager's reviews of another employee, I wondered what HVAC company employees who receive performance reviews tend to do with the information.
As small business owners, your own "performance review" doesn't come from a single person; it comes from the market in which you've chosen to compete.
Do you receive the market's reaction to your work in an instructive, constructive, destructive, or benign way? The instructions that can help you succeed are there for all to see. Are you going to review those instructions, especially now, as the heating season has begun?
The market is telling all of us something. During the 2010 HVAC Comfortech, a colleague, Ken Reese, and I presented information on the service call from the homeowner's perspective.
In the past 12 months, 48% of all HVAC service calls were maintenance calls; 30% were emergency service calls; and 20% of all service calls were for necessary, non-emergency service (such as adding refrigerant). They were calls you could schedule based on what your technicians were doing at the time.
Were half of your homeowner calls clean and checks or service agreement calls? If half of your business is maintaining your customer's systems, what are you doing to keep them as customers?
Are you and your technical staff serving as the "consultants" they hired you to be? Have you made sure that their house won't be one of those "in-season" emergency service calls that you may be too busy to get to when the breakdown occurs? Do you make the money needed through this effort to keep you growing? What are you doing to stay connected to your maintenance customers? Are you sending seasonal mailings, and email posts of pending weather changes, such as preparing for the first freeze?
Emergency calls are almost money in the bank if you can get a technician to the customers' homes. But are you staffed to get to them? Do you have employees that are ready, willing, and able to handle this business in a constructive way? Do you encourage these customers to remember you? Do you mine this group for other services?
Listen to the market, and take your performance review seriously.
For more on this topic, visit http://bit.ly/uptononhvacmarket
Garry Upton, of Decision Analyst, Inc., Arlington, TX, shares his interpretation of Decision Analyst’s American Home Comfort Study of homeowners, and explores what customers look for in HVAC contractors. To learn more about this study, or to purchase it, contact Garry at [email protected].