Hero
David Richardson/NCI
Interior Hvac Diagram
David Richardson/NCI
If you know what to look for, a visual inspection provides clues to unsafe operation. It's never good for one package unit to exhaust into the economizer of an adjacent unit.
National Comfort Institute
Before you jump on the heat pump bashing bandwagon, look at your duct installation practices first.
Contracting Business/Kelly L Faloon
Ahr2023 Succession
Waeel Quettene/iStock/GettyImagesPlus
French Fries 5f7735e472352

Would You Like Equipment with That?

Oct. 2, 2020
Equipment only provides the solutions when it is installed by and with other system ingredients, namely skill, innovation and creativity as well as components needed for the job.

We’re all familiar with the famous McDonalds' employee happy question, “Would you like fries with that?” So, what would it mean if you said to your customer, “Would you like equipment with that?” If all you sell is labor and replacement equipment, does this parallel a job at McDonald's? McDonald's is a great place to begin your career, but if you’re ready to do more than flip burgers, offer your customers more than a brand and model of equipment.

The big secret is to offer solutions that ensure your installed system performs well. That means more than only swapping equipment. You bring the steak or seafood, the most satisfying part of the meal. Equipment becomes the fries or, better yet, the baked potato.

Your customer needs both meat and potatoes. But remember, you also provide many more ingredients and services that make up a grand meal. Let’s take a look at how your contribution as the HVAC system builder should be the main meal with equipment as a tasty side dish.

Define Your Product
Is equipment your product? No. It is built, boxed, and shipped by someone else. Your customer can buy it online and get it delivered to their front door. It is a product that can do nothing without installation. 

Step back and look with new eyes at your product. Read your past proposals, if it's primarily about equipment, you have discounted the worth of all the ingredients you bring to the installed system.

Read your past proposals, if it's primarily about equipment, you have discounted the worth of all the ingredients you bring to the installed system.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ll always sell equipment and maintain strong relationships with our distributors and manufacturers. Manufactured HVAC equipment is important to our success. Besides, what good is a system without operating equipment? We may even just swap equipment when conditions demand it.

So, let’s describe YOUR product. Imagine three boxes to represent what you include when you offer your customers a well-performing system.

Box Number One
It's the biggest box but it’s very light. It is chock full of creativity, original ideas, testing, diagnostics, and custom solutions. You create these things to solve your customer’s problems. These items bring the highest price and greatest value to your customer who is excited and willing to pay for them.   

For example, you quiet their noisy return grille, double the airflow in the upstairs office, add insulation to the ducts servicing their man cave so it finally heats and cools properly. You add capacity to the duct system, rebuild an air filter system, and lower static pressure by 50%. This increases airflow to meet system specifications.

The value within Box Number One is what you do to deliver solutions your customers want.

The value within Box Number One is what you do to deliver solutions your customers want. This installation has little competition; many of your competitors can’t find, diagnose, devise, or verify a resolution for the above-mentioned hidden system defects.

Outside this big box are all those that deliver it. The office staff who manage and generate the business, receive customer correspondence, and activate your salespeople, inventory department, installers, service techs, and many others who contribute to YOUR final product.

Box Number One is filled with brainpower that creates and builds your custom products. Such creativity is born from the culture of your company. It is a gift that you reveal and build for each customer. It is the primary value and item of highest worth to those you serve. This is your product.

Box Number Two
The mid-size box is full of parts. A portion of your product includes and components made by someone else. These components include electrical pieces, some plumbing parts, a flue pipe, condensate drain materials, and a thermostat. It also includes specific duct components and installation accessories, boots, grilles, and dampers.  

Is this your product? No. If your customer could comprehend and identify what to buy, all these are available on Amazon. And what good would it do them? Instructions to make an installed system perform well aren’t available online.

What brings these items value are the ingredients in Box Number One 

Box Number Three
Box Three contains heating and cooling equipment. But it’s the items in Box One that determines the type, size, and kind of equipment to install as components of the overall HVAC system, ensuring it performs well. 

Equipment only provides the solutions when it is installed by and with the system ingredients in Box One and Two. Then it has value to your customer.

Equipment only provides the solutions when it is installed by and with the system ingredients in Box One and Two. Then it has value to your customer.

Only when the equipment is installed according to published design and specifications can the published equipment energy efficiency and capacity be realized by your customers. After the installed system is tested, then you must be sure to adjust, balance, and commission it properly.

When Equipment is Your Product
Many contracting companies believe by installing replacement equipment they are entitled to markup the cost of equipment, parts, and labor. Then they sell that equipment for the going street price.  

Unfortunately, what they believe comes true. 

When Installed System Performance is Your Product
Your company moves to a higher level above the typical HVAC company when you elevate it by offering so much more than equipment replacement only. Your culture improves, shop talk is more engaging, techs find purpose, and team members build careers. Closing rates climb, customer loyalty becomes permanent, and profits naturally soar.

There is little competition in this area of our industry. Primarily because creating and delivering the kind of systems your customers want is difficult and requires constant commitment, learning, and creativity.  Many of you want to provide your customers with a better product. Slow down on your next equipment replacement call and offer more. You will receive more and so will your customers.

Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute, Inc., an HVAC-based training company and membership organization. To learn more about “Would You Like Equipment with That? Visit   https://www.gotosummit.com. Or, contact Doc at ncilink.com/ContactMe or call him at 800-633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at nationalcomfortinstitute.com for free information, articles, and downloads.