As the COVID-19 inquiries from contractors come in, I am struck by the variety of ways that contractors position themselves as far as IAQ challenges and solutions during the outbreak. And they go from one extreme to another:
- With all this media attention, MAYBE I should get into IAQ…
- I’m going to exploit this opportunity to MY advantage… (yes sadly a few)
- This subject is too sensitive, so I’m going to stop marketing IAQ until it is over…
- How can I best service my clients with the IAQ products that we have been promoting for years during these unprecedented times?
Let’s imagine for a moment that this COVID-19 outbreak never happened.
How would you handle promoting IAQ with your clients then? Maybe think about it? Exploit the opportunity? Stop doing it? Or continue to train your team on Best Practices in promoting IAQ?
Hopefully, the answer is obvious!
I believe that the answer to either scenario, with or without COVID-19, should be the same.
We will eventually get through this Covid-19 pandemic, and although things will get back to normal, the need awareness for IAQ products will have heightened substantially. Currently, due to social distancing and consumers’ concerns about letting service techs in their homes, we have had to change the way we work a call and adjust for the present times. This includes communicating more with our clients via email. Through our CSRs and dispatchers, it’s informing them of what action you are taking within your organization to abide by the CDC recommendations on how to keep your employees and your clients as safe as possible.
Currently, the IAQ conversation can still be had, yet we should abide by the six-foot social distancing rule and other CDC recommendations, while in the home as it relates to any conversation a technician may have with the homeowner at different stages of the call. Soon, after the dust settles, we should get back to Best Practices as they relate to the service call and IAQ. Best Practices is a general term that is used in all industries that address many functions within an organization. So, many times I have been asked to be more specific. To that end, I’d like to share one of the many success stories we receive that produced excellent results from learning IAQ Best Practice from the technician standpoint.
Don, my IAQ Training Rep. in Wisconsin, shared this specific success story with me that happened before the COVID-19 pandemic. My team and I are constantly sharing success stories from the field and this one is from an email that Don sent to me detailing a recent success that he had with a “naysayer” technician.
During an onsite training where the contractors IAQ numbers were down 20%, I started by asking the team what was happening in the field that was causing the drop in sales. According to all the techs, the biggest objection for the homeowner was the price. Specifically, one tech was hung up on it. So, I asked him to explain how he was getting the homeowner involved in the call. He used a lot of pictures and technical information, yet never brought the homeowner to the furnace. He only sold two of our PMACs (Polarized Media Air Cleaners) in the past two months. So, I showed them all what they should be doing on every call to boost their confidence and increase success. With this best practice, we have experienced a 96% success rate in giving the homeowner a full presentation at the homeowner’s kitchen table.
I tell techs while I’m on ride-alongs after training that after the meet and greet, it all starts at the thermostat with the transition question: “Mrs. Jones, as I’m going through your system, if I find anything that affects the performance of your equipment or the health and safety of your family, would you like me to share that with you or just fix it?” 99% say they would like me to share my findings with them.
(Most of you have heard of this transition question asked in different ways. Yet, we find that most technicians don’t use it and it is a very important part of the process.)
We start the maintenance, and I have the technician complete their full tune-up and get all their technical readings for their system report. Once that is done, I have them pull the blower wheel completely out. I clean three fins on the blower wheel the best I can to show the homeowner the contrast between clean and the blower wheel’s current condition. I then get the homeowner to join me at the furnace to discuss my concerns. I show them the pictures in our Consumer’s Handbook that show a filthy blower wheel compared to a perfectly clean image of one. Showing the homeowner the current condition of their blower wheel and comparing it to the images, I then ask the homeowner, “If I give this clean blower wheel a rating of 10 (the clean image) and I give the dirty one a rating of zero, how would you rate yours?” Whatever they rate their own, I agree with them and then educate the homeowner on how the current condition of their blower wheel is affecting the performance of their equipment and is causing them to overpay the utility company. (By the way, when the homeowner gives a number, rating the condition of their blower wheel, they take ownership that there is a problem.) This statement is supported by the EPA and Texas A&M studies that I bring to their attention. “Mrs. Jones, as you can see, your blower wheel is accumulating dirt buildup and that motor is designed to work at peak efficiency when it is completely clean. If it is heavier from that dirt, then can we agree it is working harder than it is designed for? If that motor is working harder, what do you think is happening to your utility bill? Going up?” They usually agree. Then I do the same with the secondary heat exchanger and cooling coil with a visual inspection with the homeowner. “If there was a blanket on either of them, then that motor could be working 2x and even 3x harder than it’s designed for. If that motor is working 3x harder, what are the chances that the motor is going to fail prematurely? The reason that this is happening is the current filter you are using is allowing all this dirt to pass through the filter and effecting the most expensive appliance that you have in your home. If I could show you a little better filter than the one you are currently using and guarantee this never happens again, is that okay with you?”
With that example and role play with the team, I then asked the “naysayer” technician to commit to me that he would do this on every call for the next week. Well, he did, and he sold seven PMACs the first week and six the second week. The crazy thing about this story is that after the meeting, I met with the owner to discuss spiffs and his current pricing on our IAQ products. Based on this conversation, he raised his price by $100.00 before the technicians went out on their calls. So, it shows how effective and how important it is to follow a process that will create success for the techs and the company while benefiting the client.
Thanks, Don, for sharing that story so that I can share it with others!
It’s not the price, it’s the process, and it is the right thing to do for your clients.
Take the time now to examine what your IAQ Best Practice process will be for your team, and get expert advice on how to improve and polish it.
Encourage your team to use it every time, on every call, and hold them accountable to the process.
This IAQ Best Practice scenario should be implemented not because of the COVID-19 pandemic, rather despite it!
Steve Mores is the Vice President of Training and Sales at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions
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