During a recent trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I was struck by the coaching prowess of Vince Lombardi. Considered the greatest professional football coach of all time, Lombardi never suffered a losing season. What if Lombardi was a contractor?
Lombardi was famous for building success football teams by focusing on the fundamentals. He said that the team that blocked and tackled better usually won the game. What is blocking and tackling for HVAC?
The Right Price Presented the Right Way
I recently talked with a contractor who said he had so much work he was turning away business, but was still not making any money. It seemed obvious that he needed to raise prices. He said he could not because he worked in rural markets and his customers had trouble accepting $105 per hour (he clearly needed to raise prices).
It is true that customers struggle to understand what it costs to position a fully stocked truck at their house with a well-trained technician, backed by a solid company with full insurance. They would also struggle to understand the hourly rate being charged at a quick oil change company or the local barbershop if they stopped and calculated it, but they do not because the oil change company and the barber present a fixed price for the work. Contractors should as well.
A flat rate pricing system enables contractors to change what is needed to make a profit. Pricing for profit and presenting a fixed price are both fundamental.
Look the Part
The two most visible elements of a service company are trucks and techs. These determine the image of the company. They help set expectations for professionalism, pricing, and the overall level of service.
Most trucks in the industry are white vans. What does one white van look like? It looks like every other white van. It looks like an advertising opportunity missed. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, a service vehicle receives 30 to 70 thousandexposures a day, every day. Take advantage of this by investing in larger vans with bigger billboards and wrapping them. Once they are wrapped, keep them clean. People assume clean, professional appearing trucks equates with clean, professional service.
If the advertising opportunity is not enough, avoiding the white van creep factor should be. I’ve learned that many women refer to white vans as abduction vans. Seriously. They will avoid parking next to one in a retail parking lot. This means a white van evokes a serious shudder factor. Do you want that associated with your company?
Technicians in the HVAC industry are skilled mechanics who have to understand electricity, refrigeration, and mechanics. They must be good with their hands and good with their heads. It is a profession worthy of respect. Yet, most technicians start the day looking like they spent the night dumpster diving, causing the benefits from professional image created by your well-wrapped trucks to evaporate. It also creates its own shudder factor and causes your techs to be perceived as less trustworthy.
Your technicians are the public face of your company. When face-to-face with the customer, they are your company. What do you want your company to look like? How about well-groomed? How about uniformed? How about clean?
The Service Nation Alliance conducts comprehensive surveys of members’ customers bi-annually. Consistently, the most frequently mentioned concern about field service personnel in general is poor grooming. Put a barber chair in your training room and pay someone to be available to cut hair one or two days a week. Or, work a deal with a local barber shop. Then, require everyone to shower every morning. If you pay to keep trucks clean, consider paying to keep techs groomed.
Provide uniforms. Require shirts to be tucked in. If you are going to allow caps, make sure they are company caps, not manufacturer gimmie caps or NFL team caps. It should be about your company.
Clean, wrapped trucks are fundamental. Clean, uniformed technicians are also fundamental.
Over the years in speeches and presentations, I’ve literally asked more than ten thousand contractors whether they belong to a service club like Rotary, Lion’s, Optimists, Kiwanis, or Civitan. About one out of thirty raise their hands. Yet, there are companies with more than $5 million in residential service and replacement sales who do virtually no advertising because the company owner is involved in a service club, the chamber of commerce, leads groups, alumni groups, and any other networking opportunity available.
Through your personal efforts alone, you can influence the centers of influence in your community. These are the people others turn to for recommendations. Networking is not a waste of time. It is business development. You are not too busy. Many of the meetings are over breakfast or lunch. If you, as company leader, are not going to be the cheerleader-in-chief for your organization, who will? Networking is fundamental.
As Lombardi might say, "gentlemen, these are the fundamentals."
These are what you must execute as the price of success. Are you willing to pay the price?
If you want to be more successful, surround yourself with successful people. Join the Service Roundtable (www.ServiceRoundtable.com) and team up with the most successful contractors in the industry. Learn. Grow. Succeed. Call 877.262.3341 for more information.