BUS | The 3 R’s of Success in the HVAC Industry
July, 21st 2017 Comments Views
By Mike Fredricks and Bob Maisel
Kids are sent off to school to learn the 3 R’s: reading, writing and ‘rithmatic, yet when partnering with many of the country’s leading HVAC organizations, success in the highly competitive HVAC industry is largely based on a different trio of R’s: rates, reputation, and relationships.
Given that the busy and profitable summer season is in full force, it would be instructive and illuminating to explore each one.
Successful HVAC contractors view rates differently than their struggling counterparts: it’s not just about giving customers a competitive price, but it’s also about providing them with plenty of options to get the solutions they want. And that’s where working with financing partners can make a transformative difference.
According to Jim Probst, president of Phoenix-based George Brazil, the benefits of working with a reliable, reputable and professional financing provider aren’t limited to a transaction -- they flow and extend across the entire organization. More advanced providers tend to be more able to ensure that their process integrates well into your sale systems so that the sales team and technicians can seamlessly offer the option for a great customer experience.
“If you don’t have a financing provider, you have to get one,” stated Probst “The easier one you find to use, the more it will get used and the more effective it will be. Tickets will go up. Sales will go up. Customers will be happier, and they’ll be better informed to make better decisions. The entire chain benefits, from consumers to technicians to company leadership to manufacturers.”
Whereas prime financing providers like EnerBank, Synchrony or Wells Fargo enable customers with credit scores above 680 to make a major purchase like an HVAC unit, second look financing providers, such as Fortiva Retail Credit, enable HVAC contractors to serve customers who are denied funding by primary lenders because they have impaired credit (such as a FICO score between 550 and 670). As such, sales reps can recommend that a customer who was declined financing apply for second look financing instead of turning away nurtured, qualified and ready-to-buy customers -- including those who may need an HVAC system for health reasons as well as comfort goals. If the customer agrees with this sensible advice, the application process for a leading second look providers is easy, streamlined and renders a decision right away. This speed factor is vital, because any lingering delays between offering financing and obtaining approval can lead to embarrassed customers -- and ultimately, to lost sales.
“If you give customers a price point they can’t hit, it’s not acceptable service for us to say ‘go get the money.’ Instead, we tell customers that we have multiple financing options to help them out,” commented Richard Clarke, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Florida-based Del-Air. “Really, financing is a way to help our customers borrow for the future, so they can live well and in comfort today.”
While standing out for all of the right reasons is important for success in every industry, it’s a matter of survival in the HVAC space where unhappy customers -- regardless of what has made them unhappy -- can be nothing short of vindictive. While the web can be a platform for honest information and civilized discourse, it can also be a venue for some folks to get carried away -- to put things mildly.
However, HVAC contractors that consistently do the right things the right way -- that is, they stay the course where others take short-cuts, refuse to compromise on quality and workmanship when it’s easy or expedient to do so, and always remember that tomorrow’s success flows from today’s decisions -- don’t spend anxious days and sleepless nights bracing for reputation damage. On the contrary, their reputation is as rock solid as their work, and their growing roster of delighted customers is ample proof.
Successful HVAC contractors know that engaging customers is never about aggressively pushing a sale -- it’s always about building authentic relationships. After all, customers need and deserve to have their questions answered honestly, thoroughly and intelligently. This can’t and won’t happen if they feel intimidated, inundated or overwhelmed.
What’s more, at the end of a guided and consultative sales process, successful HVAC contractors know that they can’t lose. If a customer chooses to move forward into a business engagement, they’ll do so confidently, willingly and happily -- which means they’re well on the way to becoming a loyal fan and brand ambassador. Or, if they choose not to make a purchase, then they simply weren’t a good fit, or the timing wasn’t right for them -- and if so, there’s a good chance they’ll sign-up in the future.
Of course, successful HVAC contractors are just as accomplished building internal relationships with their talented, motivated and engaged employees, as well as with their roster of vendors, suppliers and other value-added partners.
A Final Word
Reputation, relationships and rates: when HVAC contractors rely on these core aspects to build their foundation -- and drive their vision -- then success is part of their DNA. It’s not a question of if they’ll thrive, but it’s a matter of how much, how fast, and how brilliantly.
About the Authors
Michael Fredricks, SVP of Business Development, and Bob Maisel, RVP of Business Development, represent Fortiva Retail Credit, the only second look financing program owned by a publicly traded company with decades of experience servicing credit-challenged consumers (issued by Mid America Bank and Trust Company). Fredricks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Maisel can be reached at email@example.com.