Mental Ownership

Research shows that mental imagery influences consumer experiences while creating the want to buy. Most of this research conducted by psychiatrists and marketing firms are focused on “imagery vividness”. They use powerful and clear images in marketing campaigns so customers envision themselves owning the advertised product. This is known as mental ownership. Although the consumer may not physically own the product yet, mental ownership strongly predicts attachment, which significantly increases intentions towards getting the mere-mentally owned product or service to an actual purchase. 

For example, phrases such as “Yes, I can see myself driving that car” indicates that mental imagery of ownership is present in the consumers’ mind. It shows that consumers use their imagination to decide on what to buy. Several studies show that the more vivid and strong mental imagery is, the more a positive attitude toward a product or service improves.

Although the HVAC and plumbing industries may not be as glamorous as a car purchase, we can still effectively use mental ownership to influence our customer’s buying decisions. This is not a slick persuasive sales technique, but sharing the benefits of being happily involved with our main products, accessories, and services with the homeowner.

Many salespeople in our industry already do this through a sales system that they have been taught to use or learned on their own. Yet, most technicians aren’t comfortable with a “sales process” and don’t want to sell in the first place. So, I would like to address mental ownership as it applies to a service or maintenance call, and those salespeople that may not use this imagery can learn from this as well.    

Let’s look at three criteria that need to be met for mental ownership to occur and to be an influencer.  

Customers Must Feel

First, for a homeowner to be able to develop a sense of mental ownership, they must feel or experience an image that is presented by the technician on a call. Just passing out literature or a line card of products and services does not help create images of mental ownership. People develop a sense of mental ownership if they visually see a problem or feel a need, and the price for the solution meets the value presented.

Create the Need

Painting the picture with visuals such as meter readings, showing the dirt in the system or worn part, using videos, pictures, water test, etc. creates powerful mental images of a problem or a need for an accessory product. Talking to the homeowner about issues with their equipment and relating it to everyday imagery such as overpaying the utility company and family allergies will create mental ownership. Mental images are then able to come to one’s mind spontaneously or naturally since in most cases, their family’s health and budget are easy to imagine. Mental ownership considerations and consequences impact everyday life and differentiating between what they don’t have and should have is a routine thought process in consumers’ minds.

Cause and Effect

Powerful visuals and explanations of the cause and effect of maintenance and service issues must be able to influence how consumers feel and behave toward your product or solution. Mental ownership significantly influences how consumers feel about and behave toward an owned object. You create a want and need with proper communication during a call. 


When your technicians are on service and maintenance calls, there initially is no actual ownership by the homeowner of any piece of new equipment, surge protector, water treatment, IAQ products, etc. because the need has yet to be discovered. Once evidence of a challenge in the system is discovered, or the age may suggest replacement vs. repairing of the equipment, then mental ownership helps the homeowner want to buy. But that picture has to be painted by the technician. There may be a great need for some or all of these products, and creating mental ownership within the homeowner’s mind will lead to getting them happily involved with the products that we offer. 

Mental ownership is defined as a sense of ownership for a factually not owned product. The phrase ‘a sense of ownership’ denotes that mental ownership is more than merely imagining a situation of possession. It requires a shift in the person’s reference point. A homeowner’s initial reference point when the call begins is that the technician is going to fix the problem or perform the required maintenance. They do not typically think of accessories or replacing the system. With that said, a technician can’t just begin the call with, “Hi, would you like to buy a UV light for $1,200?” because there has been no shift in the homeowner’s reference point to create mental ownership of an IAQ concern.    

Research shows that vivid mental imagery about an object leads to mental ownership, which, in turn, leads to the typical consequences of actual ownership. Meaning if communicated correctly by the technician, the homeowner will shift their point of reference from, “just fix it”, to “I can see myself owning that new piece of equipment and experiencing those advantages.”

I can see the wheels spinning in most of your heads now. “Well, that all sounds plausible, but it also sounds like you’re asking my technicians to sell, and they don’t like to sell!” While that may be true, when we survey technicians across the country and ask, “By a show of hands, how many of you became a technician to sell things?” Overwhelming, no hands are raised. Then when asked, “Why did you become a technician?” The overwhelming answer is, “To fix things and service the customer.” When a technician understands mental ownership, they find that it revolves around fixing, servicing, and doing what is in the best interest of the homeowner. And they see evidence of these “fixes” every day, yet they may not know how and when to communicate these concerns and solutions during the call. 

We have a saying in our company concerning sales: “Sales is the transfer of your belief to someone else, and the reward is money.” That assumes that the technician “believes” in the product and services that they represent. Then has the passion and ability to “transfer” this belief to the homeowner by showing visual evidence of an equipment concern. Through routine and thorough evaluations of an HVAC or plumbing system, technicians discover worn parts, dirty systems, chlorine in the water, hard water, and other conditions. These affect the performance of the plumbing and HVAC systems, and may even create health concerns. So, showing the homeowner these discoveries and professionally explaining the consequences of doing nothing creates a vivid image in the homeowner’s mind (mental ownership) that in many cases will result in actual sales. This creates ownership of a product that is a beneficial permanent fix!

When conducting technician “How and When” IAQ communication training, my team and I explain that the “fix it” mentally comes with the responsibility to fix the current issue at hand. Also, the responsibility to prevent it from happening in the future. Future homeowner concerns include controlling utility overpayments and possible health concerns aggravated by indoor air and water contaminants. All of which can be handled with regularly scheduled maintenance, proper service, and the advantages of accessory products. 

Although the vast majority of technicians do not think of themselves as being in sales, they collect money every day in exchange for replacement parts and services. That is sales! So, we use S.A.L.E.S. as an acronym to make a point to technicians about sales vs. service. Within the word SALES service resides:

Service All Legitimate Expectations Sincerely. Meaning that part of their job description is to Service (what they were hired to do) All (not some or only those that they feel are important) Legitimate (honestly and ethically) Expectations (what is expected from the company and the homeowner for proper diagnoses and suggestions) Sincerely (with passion and the belief that what they are doing and suggesting is in the best interest of the homeowner.


Steve Mores is the Vice President of Training and Sales at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Why Money Won’t Solve All Your Problems

“Money, money, money, money, money. Some people got to have it, yeah, some people really need it.” – The O’Jays

Money is so very powerful.

As a poor child growing up in Mississippi, I fantasized about money. I looked at my friends that had it and imagined that their life must be perfect. Like many without money, I believed that it would solve all of my problems.

I had thoughts like, “If I were rich, then I could buy my mom a home, and she would be happy.” “My dad and mom could make it work if I had money.” “If I were rich, then I wouldn’t be judged by my friends for my old clothes.”

These are the thoughts of a young person obsessed with the idea that money would fix things. These thoughts turned into action, and I went to work at the tender age of 11. I was determined to make money. And, I did.

By the age of 25, I made a very high six-figure income. Yet, I still had problems. And I still had obsessions about money.

This brings us to the first issue of profitability when you haven’t addressed your heart problems:


The Obsession of Money Produces False Hope

Those that don’t have money put their hope in it. “If I just had some, then all my problems would be solved.” Unfortunately, that’s not true.

If you’ve got problems, and you get money, then you just get more problems!

When you don’t address the heart issues in your life, the pursuit of money becomes corrupted. Instead of money being a tool that you can use and enjoy, you become the tool of money.

Here is a little quiz you can give yourself to check your head when it comes to money:


The Five Questions of Money Obsession

  1. Am I preoccupied with the pursuit of it?
  2. Am I envious of others who have it?
  3. Is my personal value measured by dollars?
  4. Do I believe money alone makes me happy?
  5. Do I continually want more money?

These questions will lead you to the next problem.


The Obsession of Money Produces Hoarding

Hoarding is when you go from being thrifty to stingy. You can tell when a person is hoarding money when they do the following:

  • Stop enjoying the benefits of money
  • Quit building relationships with money
  • Stop giving to things that can’t give back

Hoarding is a terrible by-product of money obsession. It creates extreme unhappiness and loneliness in the hoarder.


The Obsession Produces Short Term Benefits

The money will come and go. The great thing about money is that you can always get more of it. And while getting that big windfall feels great, it will never be as good as the powerful relationships in your life.

Relationships provide long-term benefits and happiness. People obsessed with money are worried about who wants theirs. This fear prevents a deep connection with people. It limits relationships and relationships are what bring a real long-term benefit.


How to Control Money Obsession

The first step in controlling your money obsession is to deal with your heart issues. Money is not the issue; it’s some deep hurt in your past. I recommend talking to a spiritual leader, or a counselor about your pain and get on the path of healing.

The second step in controlling your money obsession is to throw a big party and invite lots of people! Go all out. Buy the best food and drinks. Get a band. Have some fun and build some relationships!

The third step is to give some of that money to charity. If you are obsessed with money, then this step is going to really hurt! 🙂 Though, it will only hurt for a small time. And that pain you’re feeling is the obsession fighting to stay alive. Keep giving until the pain disappears, and it is replaced with the joy of doing good.

When this happens, you will now possess money instead of it possessing you.

Todd Liles is the founder of Service Excellence Training.


Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

2020 Trends – We Need to Be Aware!

Written by Lynn Wise

As 2019 comes to a close and every email, radio station, and podcast reviews the top lists of 2019, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There is even a list of the best lists for 2019. 

But when we look forward to 2020, when we read the business predictions and trends, it can be just as nerve-wracking. It doesn’t take many articles to see that they contradict each other. However, there are some consistencies to notice that I feel are relevant for 2020. An important note: the trends below are suitable for all industries, not just the home services field. But they are definitely appropriate for ours, and I think they are important to discuss.

Customer service, Customer service, Customer service.

Customers demand more personalization, increased levels of service, ease of communication, and extended accessibility. Automation continues to influence this area of our business and makes it critical for the ongoing development and training of your staff. Something to remember: don’t forget your current customers. Find unique ways to thank your customer base and references while you keep your company top of mind.

User Reviews will become even more relevant.

People are more hesitant to work with or purchase from a company that has no reviews. Remember I mentioned to not forget your current customers? Reviews are one of the most inexpensive ways to market your business. Marketing trends show that quality over quantity prevails with more engaging, relevant information. Think whitepapers, case studies, and in-depth customer reviews. 

The use of the Gig economy and remote workers will rise.  

Virtual, remote, distributed—These terms are used interchangeably, as there are only slight differences. The same with Gig economy and freelance. I know your first thought on this is, “This won’t work for us.” Don’t just think about your techs. I know one company that uses a delivery service to transport parts and supplies to his techs on site. It alleviates disruptions for his techs, charges per delivery, and he took a vehicle off the road; a reduction in insurance, vehicle wear, etc. You don’t need someone physically in your office to make happy calls, schedule SLA’s, or handle other office tasks. Being open to using remote or freelance workers also allows you to work with the best and brightest.

Cybersecurity is a major concern. 

The threat of cyberattacks on mid to small businesses will rise. Email phishing, software vulnerabilities, communications through social media platforms, and a rise in SMS texting attacks make your companies information increasingly vulnerable. If you don’t have a cybersecurity plan in place, I highly recommend you implement one. The FBI recently updated their PSA on Cybersecurity Best Practices to give you some basic guidelines.

For our specific industry, smart homes, hiring and retaining top talent, and increased concerns over water and air quality will again be top of mind. Being on the front lines, you are the first to see the impact of these issues and how they drive your customer’s buying habits. What are we forgetting? What other trends and topics do you feel has the biggest impact on our industry for 2020?

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Are You Great Yet?

Written by Rodney Koop

How many of you have seen “man on the street” type interviews where someone like Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, or Conan O’Bryan would go out on the street with a microphone and ask what should have been simple questions? Typically, they take them out of a fifth or sixth grade civics, history, or maybe math book.

Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Who runs the executive branch of government?
  2. What is the name of the Vice President?
  3. How many members are there on the Supreme Court?

I’m sure they don’t show everyone that is asked a question because some of them may act strange, look strange, or horror of horrors: get all the answers right. But the ones they show are people that should easily know the answer.

Actually, anyone who finished eighth grade should know every answer. So why don’t they?

Oh, and by the way, I’m not saying that success in life rests on knowing answers to simple questions, but had they cared about their education, engaged their brains in school, and made a conscious choice to learn, then it’s very likely that simple questions would come easily.

And here is the big disclaimer for us adults: our brains are overloaded; our brain cells are at capacity, so to learn more, we have to “forget” a few things.

I have often said that the first state-level test you take for a skilled trade has mostly easy questions. I taught exam prep for electrical licensing for 20 years at the local college. And I would tell the students that the basic journeyman test will ask questions like this:

  1. What color is a red wire nut? A. Red

Students would laugh and think I was kidding. I wasn’t kidding; what I meant was that if you are working in a trade, then the basic questions are just that basic. They aren’t meant to test your IQ; they are meant to see if you have worked in the trade.

Another example back in my day was this:

  1. What size screw is used to secure the cover of a 4 square junction box? This is meant to determine if you have worked for the 4,000 hours required to qualify for the exam.

The answer for you non-electricians is #8/32 screw. But I’m surprised that I haven’t forgotten that by now because it has been a while if you know what I mean.

So, have you stopped learning yet? Have you given up on learning yet? Or can you still cram a little more in that gray matter?

I recently attended a very expensive conference with a “think-tank” group of very high-level executives. And I didn’t even know such a thing existed, really, but my daughter, who is always looking for extreme learning opportunities, signed me up and paid the enormous fee.

I had been thinking about my life, “I can now spend more time traveling with my wife,” and we do, but I thought, “Why should I go to work? I’ve worked long enough; I’ll just take it easy and let my kids do the work.” Most of you don’t have nine kids, so you don’t know how wonderful it is when they work hard in your business to make your life easy. Well, only six work in family businesses; the rest have rebelled from making my life easy.

Anyway, when I saw the cost of the conference and the level of executives that were attending and agreeing to spend one-on-one time with me, I decided I should take this seriously. So, I began to meditate on what attitude I should go with. I understand that unless your attitude is right, you won’t learn anything. Having nine kids taught me that as well.

Finally, I came to a decision. I would go with the attitude that at 64 years old, maybe I wasn’t done yet. Maybe God invested in me more than He was getting in return. I began to think that if God had truly infused me with the seeds of greatness, well, maybe it was time to water those seeds and see what would grow. So, my attitude was, “What is the destiny for my life that I have not even had the eyes to see?” In other words, I wanted my eyes opened; my mind expanded; I wanted to know what is possible that I formerly thought was impossible. Where is the greatness in me that lays dormant because I let it lay there?

How about you? Many of you have already done great things; many have had great success. Most of it through hard work, I’ll bet. A friend of mine won the lottery in Georgia several years ago; something like half a million dollars. He was working for a plumbing company and decided he would take that half a million dollars and start his own plumbing company.

How would you have liked to have had half a million dollars when you started your company?

Those of you who have owned service companies for as long as I have probably think as I do. I am glad I did not have a half a million to start because I would have blown through it long before I made the big mistakes that cost every bit of that. In fact, I would have loved to win the lottery just about 10 years after starting my business because that’s when I was most desperate.

Starting with money or not, you still have to learn, don’t you? And learning comes from struggle, failure, and disappointment.

The great thing about contracting is that those disappointments come, and they come to teach.

So, what is left for you? What would you do if you knew you could? If your eyes were opened to opportunities to leap ahead in your destiny, would you do it? Would you take the opportunity? Would you do what it takes to get there?

I attended that conference with a destiny attitude. And I soon realized that I had been getting lazy in life, learning, and my vision for the future. I came away having had my eyes opened to opportunities that were there all the time, but now I could not only see them, but I could also see that it was possible to begin the phase in my life that begins to create a legacy.

Are you ready for your legacy? Will your grandkids have something to talk about? Will the future look back and ponder at how in the world you accomplished great things?

You have everything you need. You have a powerful learning tool. Turn it on.

Pricing enthusiast Rodney Koop is the founder and CEO of The New Flat Rate, a home service menu-selling system designed to put profit directly into the hands of plumbing, electrical, and HVAC contractors.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!