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A Service Story

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Can You Hear Me Knocking?

Sept. 24, 2023
Just about everyone's HVAC needs maintenance, badly. I'd point that out in a nonchalant way.

Here are two self-generated techniques that I've done in 37 states in all kinds of neighborhoods, from high-end homes to high-crime areas, to generate both service and replacement sales. They involve knocking on the doors of strangers, so you'd be advised to make sure that's legal in your market area.

Service/Replacement Sales

I've done this in areas where we weren't doing any work (Sundays were great days). I'd knock on a door. Once the homeowner could see me, I'd take a step back. When they opened the door, I'd hold out my company ID and say, "Hello. I'm with an air conditioning and heating company. We're working up the street at (Customer's Name) house. While I'm in the neighborhood, I'm just offering to do a quick visual inspection of everyone's heating and cooling system for free. It's short, it's non-invasive, and I'm also in a position to answer any questions you might have about your home's heating and cooling system."

That's it! The whole thing took less than a minute and I've got 100 doors I can knock on, so there is absolutely no stress or nervousness on my part. They either want to talk to me or they don't. It almost doesn't make any difference to me. 

It didn't take long for me to realize that anyone who wanted me to look over their system was having issues with it. It might not be cooling properly, they might have a room that doesn't heat or cool properly, they night have been having service or reliability issues.

Having said that, you wouldn't believe how receptive people were to the concept. Most people wanted me to look at their equipment. We usually started at the condensing unit, where I'd record the make, model, and serial number. 

It didn't take long for me to realize that anyone who wanted me to look over their system was having issues with it. It might not be cooling properly, they might have a room that doesn't heat or cool properly, they night have been having service or reliability issues.

Just about everyone's HVAC needs maintenance, badly. I'd point that out in a nonchalant way. They'd ask how much that costs, and I'd frequently get them on service agreement on-the-spot.

We'd usually head inside to look at their heating equipment, and it usually looked as bad the their condensing unit. If they were in a cold climate and didn't have a humidifier, we'd talk about that. 

When I looked inside a furnace, I might ask, "Anybody here get sick a lot or have a lot of sinus issues?" Most households have at least one person with chronic sinus trouble, and it's frequently the entire family. I'd tell them, "I can see why." We'd talk about the necessity of keeping it clean and what was available in Indoor Air Quality. 

It was very common for people to ask, "How much is a new one?" I carried my equipment pricing with me, and I'd just open it up and show them their options. Usually, there was no sales pitch or anything.

Sometimes they bought new equipment right on the spot, but more often than not, they did get the service agreement. That meant a technician would go out there to see this customer who was already having issues, already had a relationship with me, and already knew my prices. All it took was for the tech to recommend replacing the equipment before sinking any more money into it for them to want me back out there to formalize the paperwork.

Whether they bought the service agreement or not, I always left them with a few handy promotional items, such a shopping lists and/or pot holders, and made it a positive experience. There were times when people I'd met a year prior just to happened to call the shop while I was there making a follow-up visit. 

Not only did this technique pay off financially, it was fun and, since I was parking my car and just walking for the next few hours, I was working very efficiently. 

To be clear, I did not spend all day, even an hour, in any one home. If we did everything I mentioned in the paragraphs above, I was in and out of there in about 20 minutes. 

This also works quite well in commercial. The very first time I tried this in commercial, I "accidentally" sold a walk-in cooler.

Add-on Air Conditioning

Even today, there are plenty of homeowners living without central air conditioning. Why, in this day and age, would anyone in a warm climate not have central air conditioning? Can I tell you? It's because they don't know how affordable it is. They don't know that they can usually get it installed with no down payment, often even a delay on when their first payment starts, and that whatever they pay to add central air conditioning will automatically add to the value of the home, so they'll get all their money back when they sell the home. 

I sold "add-on" air conditioning door-to-door. I traveled the country and did this just about everywhere I went for several years. I have witnesses.

For this technique, I looked for what I call "upper lower-class" neighborhoods. I'd approach any home that had two things:

1.  At least one window air conditioner

2.  A newer car. 

I'd carry a clipboard, a tape measure, and a flashlight. 

When someone answered my knock on the door, I'd hold out my company ID and say, "I hope I'm not bothering you. I'm with an air conditioning company. 

"I'm just letting people know that I've arranged for financing for anyone in this neighborhood who wants to add central air conditioning with no down payment and just about any size payment you want. 

"It takes me about five minutes to measure your home from the outside. Then I can at least give you a rough idea of what your payment would be. If it sounds like something you'd like to pursue, I'll step inside, and work out the details with you. 

I usually had to replace the furnace and improve or replace the ductwork to make the air conditioning run properly. 

"Would you like me to take the five minutes to measure your home and at least let you know what it would take to get rid of those old window shakers, that anyone could just rip out and climb right in, and get you some nice high-efficiency air conditioning?" 

The first day I did this was a Sunday, and I sold $30,000. I turned in the paperwork on Monday and every one of those sales was rejected due to poor credit. However, I wrote $29,000 on Monday, and every bit of that was accepted. 

I usually had to replace the furnace and improve or replace the ductwork to make the air conditioning run properly. 

Most of the homes required an upgraded electrical service to at least 100 amps. I partnered with electrical service contractors to subcontract that out, and made additional money on that.

I also partnered with insulation companies and subcontracted that out, and of course, made money on that as well.

Charlie Greer was voted Favorite Industry Sales Trainer and HVAC Consultant-of-the-Year. He's also a member of the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame. For info on Charlie's services, go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com. Email your comments on this column or your sales questions to [email protected].

About the Author

Charlie Greer | Owner

Charlie Greer was voted “Favorite Industry Sales Trainer” in 2019 and is the creator of “Tec Daddy’s Service Technician Survival School on DVD,” the video training course that provides you with a year’s worth of weekly sales meetings. For more information on Charlie’s products and services, go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com or call 1-800-963-HVAC (4822). Email your comments or sales questions to [email protected].