Increase your HVAC Clients and Outperform Your Competitors in North Carolina
Marketing is the lifeblood of your business. Without marketing there can be no prospects, no appointments and no projects. Marketing is what makes the register ring. In order to be truly successful in the HVAC business in North Carolina , you must be a marketing expert. You can be average at everything else, but if you use marketing, you will make a ton of money.
The sad truth is that 90% of heating and air conditioning contractors do not understand basic HVAC marketing concepts. The average HVAC contractor in North Carolina looks at what others in the industry are doing, and copies it. That would work if the items copied were successful. But often times, the HVAC marketing tools copied do not work.
Search Engine Optimization for HVAC Contractors
What are your company's goods and services worth? How do you separate your high quality, professional company from the competitors low price strategies?
In any business, having the lowest prices does not always translate into the best value for the money. The heating and cooling business is no different. There are always going to be lower price mentalities out there. The low price companies frequently have new faces associated with them, due to business failure associated with the strategy.
The way to combat lower priced competitors lies in building the value of your company. There are several ways to build value. No single way will build value by itself. Value is built into the fabric of the company. Value building is a concept; a way of thinking and doing every process in the business.
Value building examples include company image, employee impressions upon customers, building, vehicle, and employee appearance. Clean vehicles, company uniforms and professional appearance will go a long way with customers.
Do what you say you will do. If you offer 24 hour service, deliver it. If you schedule an appointment at a given time, be there a few minutes early. If circumstances beyond your control will cause you to be late, call as soon as you know and let the customer have the option of re-scheduling.
If your heating and cooling company is licensed and insured, promote these facts. Your low price HVAC competitors may not be able to produce these items if challenged. Promote your service technicians and office employees skills and qualifications. Well trained professionals in a skilled trade cost more and earn more than unskilled laborers.
Treat customers with respect. This begins with answering the phone. Your office staff will likely create the very first real impression on your customers. If this task goes badly, you may have already lost the customer.
Field personnel are the face of the company. These employees are on the front lines and are face to face with your customers. They should be professionally dressed, groomed, and should respect customer property, such as taking care when parking, wearing shoe covers in the home, and being polite to the customers.
Many heating and cooling companies do not train their employees in interacting with customers. Proper training in this area will create a professional way of doing business.
Buy professional products and HVAC service parts. Do not take short cuts on cheap, low quality parts. Buy better air filter products. Become more than the a/c guy. Become the indoor air expert. Better quality parts last longer, and will support a good service warranty program. Yes, these parts will cost more to purchase, but you are building value. Remember?
Take pictures of previous work and build photo albums to share with new customers. Be proud of your previous accomplishments. Have simple professional brochures, and business cards to represent your business and employees.
Follow up after a visit with your customer. Let them know you care about them. It can be as simple as a short telephone call, or a thank you card.
Honor your warranties. If you say you will replace a defective part in a certain time frame, then do it. No questions asked.
Building value into your heating and cooling business is the culture of the business. Everything in the business must be born of this culture. If this culture is promoted every day, your company will be around for a long time, and you will see many low price competitors come and go.
HVAC Marketing Company
Even while you creatively imitate others, remember that it's also important to be different. Distinguish your HVAC business from all the rest. Make your enterprise special in the eyes of your customer or client. That is the goal I want you to pursue.
How do you get your business differentiated? By creating a Unique Selling Proposition - or USP.
A USP is that distinct and appealing idea that sets you and your business, or practice, favorably apart from every other generic competitor. The long-term marketing and operational successes I help you achieve will, ultimately, be helped or hurt by the USP you decide upon.
The possibilities for building a USP are unlimited. It's best, however, to adopt a USP that dynamically addresses an obvious void in the marketplace that you can honestly fill. Beware: It's actually counter-productive to adopt a USP if you cannot fulfill the promise.
It's no surprise then that most HVAC businesses, lacking a USP, merely get by. Their failure rate is high, their owners are apathetic, and they get only a small share of the potential business. But other than a possible convenient location, why should they get much patronage if they fail to offer any appealing promise, unique feature or special service?
Would you want to patronize a firm that's just "there," with no unique benefit, no incredible prices, no especially comforting counsel or guarantee? Or would you prefer a firm that offers you the broadest selection in the country? Or one with every item marked up less than half the margin other competitors charge?
The point is to focus on the one niche, need or gap that is most sorely lacking, provided you can keep the promise you make!
You can even create hybrid USPs - combinations that integrate one marketing gap with another. Before you decide on a USP, though, be sure you can always deliver that USP through your organization.
If you decide your USP is that your company offers the broadest selection of products or services "instantly available" or "always in stock," but in reality you stock six out of 25 items and only a few of each item, then you're falling down on the essence of your USP, and your marketing will probably fail.
If you don't honestly believe you can deliver on your USP, pick another one to build your business on. Just be sure it's unique and that you can fulfill it.
Remember, the USP is the nucleus around which you will build your success, fame, and wealth, so you better be able to state it. Whenever a customer needs the type of product or service you sell, your USP should bring your company immediately to mind. Also you must reduce your USP to its sinewy bare essence.
Try It. With paper and pen, prepare a one-paragraph statement of your new USP. Ruthlessly edit away the generalities, and tenaciously focus on the crispest, clearest, most specific promise you could possibly hold out. Then, rework it and hack away the excess verbiage until you have a clearly apparent Unique Selling Proposition a customer can immediately seize upon. And then, integrate your USP into every marketing aspect of your business.
Let's say you run display-type ads, and your USP is that you have better selection and follow-up service than any other competitor. There are several ways to integrate these qualities into your ads. For example: State the selection USP in the ad headline:
"We Always Have 168 different Widgets in No Less than 12 Different Sizes and 10 Desirable Colors, in price ranges from $6 to $600."
Or, if good service at an affordable price is your USP, use this as a model:
"ABC Tree Trimmers will trim and maintain your trees and shrubs six times a year, once every two months, and all it costs you is $16 a month, billed quarterly."
By now you should have the general idea that how important your USP is and you need to carefully integrate it into the headline and body copy of every ad you run. And in every direct-mail piece you send out.
When your salespeople call on prospects, everything they say should clearly reinforce your USP. They should explain the USP to the customer in a clear, concise statement. For example:
"Hello, Mr. Prospect. I know your time is short, so I'll get right to the point. Your company manufactures widgets. You buy steel and copper from a competitor. You're currently paying $100 a ton for steel and $75 a ton for copper, of which you waste roughly 25%. My firm will sell you a higher grade steel and a higher alloy copper for $95 and $69 a ton, respectively, freight prepaid, which saves you an extra $3 a ton. Plus, we'll guarantee our metal will produce a waste factor of 15% or less, and we'll replace any wasted coverage, free. One last point, Mr. Prospect. It could be important. We'll furnish you with 50; 20-gauge titanium rivets and cap assemblies free with every 10 tons of steel you order this month. May I have your order?"
Throughout the sales pitch, your sales reps should refer to the USP benefits or advantages.
Don't try and merely have your salespeople "wing it". Be sure they can clearly and powerfully express your USP in 60 seconds (the oral equivalent of a written paragraph), and then compellingly state how it benefits the prospect.
When an old, tired company or profession adopts a powerful, new, and appealing USP, it gives new life, new excitement, new interest and new appeal to the marketing plan. You're suddenly different, instead of just being another interloper preying on customers you've trapped into hearing your sales pitch! Now you're on the customer's side.
Don't forget my earlier advice. Don't adopt a USP that you can't deliver. Also, analyze the market potential of various USP positions in terms of volume, profits and repeat business.
For example, the highest marketing niche may be in the exclusive, expensive USP, but the biggest money may be made in the discount-volume USP. There's a place for both, but if you try to ride two horses, you'll probably bite the dust. Remember too, that your USP is giving advice, assistance and superior service; it can't stop with mere sales rhetoric.
Sit down and write a synopsis of your USP for your staff, how you're trying to carry it out. The entire company must adhere to the USP. Talk to your staff, write scripts, hold contests, and reward people who distinguish themselves in promoting your USP. Set an example so that your staff can see the USP in action.
How can you ensure that you are in the hearts and minds of your customers after the sale? Here are a few good approaches:
Immediately following a sale, write, call or visit your customers. During this follow-up effort, see that the customers feel important and special, and that their initial purchases are "resold." Repeat your USP and remind the customers how it helped them make their purchasing decision. Reassure customers about their wise decisions.
A post-purchase follow-up incorporating the essence of your USP is vital, regardless of how frequently you "back-end" or resell to that customer. You enhance the customer's loyalty and value to your business by following up after the sale
Good marketing requires that you give customers rational reasons for their emotional buying decision. There is a formula for success, and the USP, my dear friends, is truly an integral part of that formula.
Depending on the business offer frequent special promotions to your customers by mail, telephone or in person. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and personally acknowledged. By offering specially priced deals or first choice, you endear yourself to them. At the same time, you enhance your customers' perception of your Unique Selling Proposition.
If your USP is service, your preferred promotions will be service-based rather than price-based. Give them extended service -- for instance, a special offer of your basic service, or one year of free consulting or assistance not normally given.
Also, don't underestimate the profit potential inherent in special offers. Acquiring first-time customers usually costs a small fortune. Space ads have to reach tens of thousands of readers to produce a few hundred customers, so it may cost you $10 or more to acquire a customer.
But once you satisfactorily deliver your product or service and have a core customer base, you can continuously rework and resell at a very modest cost per sale. When you have a list of customers who have already shown their willingness to spend money on your products or services, it costs very little to go to them with additional special offers.
If you have 10,000 customers, it will probably cost $3,000 to mail them a letter. (At best, that same $3,000 for display advertising would probably generate only 100 new customers at a cost of $30 per customer.) Calling all 10,000 prospects on the phone would take five telephone sales people about a month. If they were on salary, that might cost you about $10,000 (for that month) or only about $1.00 a contact.
If broad choice is your USP, have a customer-service representative contact your customers to see if everything is satisfactory. If everything is not, offer to replace, repair or correct the product or service. Your customer-service people should know just as much about available choices and options as your salespeople. Give them reasonable authority to replace, repair or reinstall if there is any dissatisfaction. Make them aware that their jobs depend on ensuring that the promise behind your USP is fulfilled. They should prove that the USP is real and that the entire company is enthusiastically committed to doing whatever it takes fulfill the USP promise.
Anyone in your employ who does not, cannot, or will not promote your USP should be immediately replaced with someone who can and will. Your real wealth comes from repeat or residual business, which will only happen if every aspect of your business is a continuous extension of your USP.
You can send a personal thank-you note to your customers. You can send a gift or a gift certificate. You can send items to correspond with holidays: A box of candy on Valentine's Day; a poinsettia, a turkey or ham at Christmas; a birthday card -- the possibilities are many. If you add up the customer's value in future business or repeat sales, you can probably justify a sizable investment in his or her goodwill. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and feel they are special.
You should even integrate your USP into every contact with dissatisfied customers!
Whenever someone asks for a refund, replacement, or adjustment, instead of resenting the fact that you have to give back money, use that opportunity to reconvey the essence of your USP -- either in person or by letter. If you have an exchange department, instruct that staff to courteously and sincerely reiterate your firm's USP, and assure the dissatisfied customer of the firm's commitment to offer more service, greater selection, better guarantees or whatever. Then, if you issue credit or a check, include a prepared letter expressing your deep commitment to your USP, and apologizing for any inconvenience, disappointment or dissatisfaction. With every refund, send a letter expressing disappointment that you did not fulfill the customer's expectations.
Then ask the dissatisfied customer to please give you another chance to make good! You can offer your customers discount certificate, a special bonus, or some other preferential treatment that shows unhappy customers you want their business back, that you appreciate them.
Above everything else, never, ever lose track of the fact that USP is all about the customers. It is not about me, you, the company or the profession. Don't make the mistake of aggrandizing your business. Instead, help your customer or client do some aggrandizing.
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