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    8 Self-Destructive Myths HVAC Contractors Tell Themselves, Pt.1

    Sept. 28, 2018
    Based on his 35 years in the HVAC industry, here are Matt Michel's top eight self-destructive myths contractors tell themselves. Part 1 of 2

    HVAC is a great industry, especially on the residential service and replacement side.  Literally thousands of contractors have become self-made millionaires keeping people cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather.  Sadly, for every self-made millionaire in the industry, there are dozens who fall short.  Why?  Most shoot themselves in the foot.

    Based on my 35 years in the industry, here are the top eight self-destructive myths contractors tell themselves.

    1. No One Can Teach Me Anything

    Some contractors not only don’t know what they don’t know, they are closed to discovering what they don’t know.  They stay wrapped in a cocoon of their comfortable old ways so they can avoid the discomfort of change.  Refusing to learn is refusing to improve. 

    No harm, no foul, right?  The problem is the world around you is improving.  Sometimes it is hard to recognize all of the ways the world is getting better due to the persistent, negative drumbeat of the media and talking heads. Yet, it is better. 

    There is more wealth, better incomes, and improved contracting practices.  If you miss out on the last item, chances are good you’re missing out on the first two. 

    If you do nothing else, mix with fellow contractors and see if you can learn what they’ve learned.  Next month’s Service World Expo (www.ServiceWorldExpo.com) is a great place to start.

    2. 'It’s Different Here'

    Ask any industry consultant, trainer, or territory manager and the chance is excellent they can cite examples where one contractor in a market will complain about the woeful conditions of the local economy, prospect base, or labor force. Meanwhile another, very similar contractor will express that it’s never been so good.

    Claiming 'it’s different here' is the excuse of the lazy. I know. I’ve been guilty. When I worked at a manufacturer’s corporate offices I would get frustrated when people in the divisions would tell me, I didn’t understand what it was like in the field.  Eventually, I got transferred to the field. When someone from corporate asked about a performance shortfall or wanted me to do something I didn’t want to do, I said, “You don’t understand what it’s like out here in the field.”  It was the easy excuse that couldn’t be countered.

    It’s not different here. It’s only different between the ears of the contractor. Hiding behind this excuse is hiding from opportunities.

    3. People Won’t Pay

    People will pay for things they want. They will pay a premium. If price was everything, Wal-Mart and Hyundai would rule the world.  Ruth’s Chris and Nordstrom’s would have failed years ago.  Engagement rings would be cubic zirconias. There would be no such thing as high efficiency.

    When a contractor believes people will not pay, he will not charge enough. Fail to charge enough and you operate on the margins. As a result, the contractor has trouble paying for things himself and thinks everyone else must be in similar circumstances.  

    People will pay for what they want, though they might have trouble affording it.  This is why every retail operation leads with financing for expensive purchases. 

    Break the cycle by charging more for a month.  Offer payments on every change out.  See what happens.

    4. Successful Contractors Must Have Cheated

    One of the nation’s best contractors was stunned to learn that a group of his competitors were pooling their meager resources to take out ads proclaiming him to be a crook.  This is ludicrous to anyone who knows the guy.  He just absorbs information like a sponge, takes risks, and executes.  As a result, his business has skyrocketed, while theirs floundered.

    Why do contractors insist on believing the best of the breed in their markets are corrupt?  Because doing otherwise means facing the harsh reality that the other guy’s success could be yours.  Don’t envy successful contractors.  Emulate them. 

    Try something really radical.  Call the most successful contractor in town and ask him to lunch.  Successful people tend to be sharing, caring, and helpful.  They had help in their journey and welcome the opportunity to help others.  Remember, when you point a finger at someone else, three fingers are pointed back at you.


    Improve your business and yourself by attending the Service World Expo October 10-12 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.  At Service World, you will learn from and interact with the industry’s best practitioners in the business of contracting.  You will also attend the industry’s most innovative and fun trade show.  Visit www.ServiceWorldExpo.com or call 844.742.3970 for more information.