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'Old' Ideas Ring True

Aug. 14, 2014
Looking through some of the oldest editions of Contracting Business, I find that so many articles by great contractor writers still ring true with wisdom and good advice.

Have you seen our posts on vintage HVACR advertising? We've been showing you some of our oldest advertising (links are below) as a way to bring attention to's 70th Anniversary, and to illustrate how products have changed over the years. It's been fun to see the old advertising styles, and how the products have changed for the better.

But while looking through our old bound volumes, I was also impressed by the rock-solid advice provided by our editorial predecessors from the '40s, '50s, and '60s.

These guys wrote endlessly and in an informed style about what it takes to succeed, during the days of huge and heavy dial telephones, key-punching, typewriters, and radio dispatching.

A few examples:
"Stop Losing Your Shirt," March, 1952: "All too many refrigeration men handle their accounts receivable on an 'out of sight, out of mind' basis, and let them get completely out of hand simply because they don't keep a close month-to-month check on these accounts. As a result, the greater percentage of these heavy accounts receivable frequently end up as a total loss, even though the dealer contractor has struggled through a tangled and seemingly enless morass of lawsuits, liens, etc."

"It's the Little Things That Count," November, 1952:"Service, in its fullest sense, doesn't begin and end with the repair of a broken compressor. A serviceman may know all there is to know about the technical aspects of his trade, and yet be a definite liability to his employer because he fails to render his services, however excellent mechanically, in a manner which creates customer good will."

"Beat That Seasonal Slump," June, 1960: "Need a good list of residential air conditioning prospects? Atlas-Butler Cooling & Heating, Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, needed one, and got it. The firm participated in a city wide merchants' promotion campaign. Today its prospect list is overflowing."

(And what do you know: the article says the housewife was the primary target for air conditioning sales!)

FUN FACT: We especially appreciate this article, because Atlas-Butler has remained successful to this day. The company now owned and operated by Mark Swepston was our 2007 Residential Contractor of the Year.

"Off-Season Selling Makes Dollars and Sense," November, 1960: "The off-season buyer is looking for two things: a better price, and a better installation than he can get when crews are busy during the rush season. If you can assure him he'll get these two things from you, you will be well on your way to closing the deal."

You get the point. While there are definitely many new ideas out there — especially with the influence of social media and the Internet — service, smart financial management, good marketing, training, and so many other basics are still the things that keep a business in business.

What 'old' ideas are you finding have kept your company thriving? Let me know in the comments section, when you 'got a minute.'