I received lots of feedback from the last Hotmail article about a contracting company that has sustained a 90% closing rate over the last decade. The reason for the unprecedented sales success is the company’s practice of engaging every customer in very simple HVAC system testing and diagnostics. Let’s take a closer look at this simplified testing and what it can do for your customers.
Low Priced Boxes
Equipment is equipment is equipment. Before we talk about testing, let’s get real about equipment replacement sales. There is little to no difference between one furnace and another. Government regulations have succeeded in making them all mostly the same.
So, if your approach to your customer is still focused around your chosen equipment brand and equipment efficiency ratings, consider this the reason your closing rates aren’t where you want them to be. The day has come to move beyond equipment brand and lowest price.
This testing and teaching sales approach enables you to deliver your unique brand of custom comfort products. Manufacturer relationships and brands still have a critical role in your business model, but are far less important to your customer than they were in the past.
Air conditioning and heating systems are highly complex and technical. So, the worst thing you can do is to try to explain its intricacies to your customer. What we have discovered works best is to show them the results of how it works. This is done with some simple testing and teaching.
More contractors have learned to start with some basic tests and focus that time teaching instead of testing. As soon as the customer makes a decision to buy, the tools are set down and a scope of work and price can be immediately discussed.
We have been surprised that many successful contractors are spending 75% less time testing, a little more time teaching and sales percentages and customer satisfaction has increased.
The Basic Performance Tests
Here are a few classic performance tests that will delight your customers and eliminate competition:
• Ask for the most uncomfortable room in the house.
• Estimate the required airflow needed for that room and teach your customer how many “buckets of air” the room needs to be comfortable. Do not use the initials CFM, it is way too technical.
• Explain that if too little airflow is delivered into the room, it will be hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
• Hand the balancing hood to your customer and have them measure the buckets of air being delivered into the room.
• Typically the room will need 150 buckets of air and the customer will measure below 50 buckets of air.
You have just enabled your customer to see air and the cause of their discomfort for the very first time. They will ask if you can fix this problem. Assure them you can and the job is yours. Determine a scope of work to upgrade the duct system with the equipment replacement, create a proposal, and sell the job.
• Read the equipment nameplate and find the fan’s rated total external static pressure.
• Share the number with your customer. Remove the decimal and inches of water column from the conversation. If a rating is .50” w.c., simplify the number to 50.
• Explain to the customer that this number is like blood pressure, 50 equals 120 over 80, or as high as the system’s pressure should test. Any higher is like high blood pressure and is bad.
• Using a Magnehelic® Gauge, (an analog manometer) measure the system’s operating static pressure.
• Typically if the fan is rated at 50, the measured pressure will be near the national average of 82 (.82” w.c.) Share with the customer that this equals a blood pressure of 200 over 133. In other words, it would be time for a long hospital visit.
Once again, you are helping your customer to see an invisible defect they have been paying for in lost comfort and dollars for years. The change out and the duct upgrades are yours.
A One Hour Live Infomercial
One of my sons is a high-level marketing guru. I love to talk marketing and sales with him. I once explained how an HVAC testing and teaching sales call works and he loved it. He declared, “What you guys are doing is delivering a live one-hour infomercial! My clients would kill for the chance to offer such a powerful and direct message to their customers.” I now consider each sales call to be a unique and wonderful opportunity.
You can spend your time trying to gain credibility from external forces such as the EPA, some national energy report or an equipment brand. Or you can bring a very personal learning experience to your customer about THEIR system, THEIR comfort and issues unique to THEIR home. Guess which type of presentation your customer would be most interested in?
The goal of your “infomercial” is to create an experience that fully empowers your customers to make an informed decision based on new knowledge.
When you enable your customers to discover why they have been uncomfortable, unsafe, and paying excessive utility costs, they clearly see that you are the only one they want to do business with.
The decision to buy is an emotional event that comes from how your customer feels about you and your product. The testing and teaching infomercial produces those essential feelings. These can’t be faked. Such feelings are a result of gracious and selfless teaching and by providing a warm and easy experience for your customers to learn about their system so they can decide what to buy.
Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute -- an HVAC-based training company and membership organization. If you're an HVAC contractor or technician interested in free procedures to measure static pressure or use an air balancing hood, contact Doc at [email protected] or call him at 800-633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at nationalcomfortinstitute.com for free information, articles, and downloads.