Turning Liability Into Opportunity

ORLANDO, Fla. - HVAC contractors and IAQ specialists have one thing in common: they have an audience that is just waiting to welcome them with open arms. Why? Because people are becoming more aware of indoor air quality (IAQ) problems and are seeking experts to advise them on the best ways to keep their indoor environments comfortable and healthy.

That was the gist of the message given by Rich Finigan, president of Advance Look Building Inspections and Environmental Services. Finigan was speaking to attendees of his seminar at the recent IAQA-AmIAQ-IESO 2005 Unification Conference in Orlando.

Finigan spoke candidly about ways that people in IAQ-related businesses can take advantage of the current IAQ "craze," and he began his presentation with a word of caution. "The moment you walk into a home and say that you are a professional, you open yourself up to liability," he said.

Rich Finigan talks with attendees to his seminar on marketing a company using liability as an opportunity.

Marketing Your Business

Finigan said that the first question that IAQ experts should ask themselves is: Whom do I market my services to?

"The construction industry and architects are creating many of the problems we are in the business to resolve," he added. "Why not market our services to preventing moisture problems before they become a problem?"

One way of marketing yourself is by making yourself appear to be the expert in your community. Finigan suggested getting published in the community newspaper, such as an ask the expert column. It is also a good idea to learn about writing press releases and finding out whom to send them to. Another way to show off your knowledge of an IAQ subject is to have your articles published in an industry trade magazine, e.g., The NEWS.

Good sources for product information are brochures and newsletters from manufacturers. Finigan emphasized that it is important to have the professional looking printed materials as handouts, which can be modified to include a business' name and address, including contact information.

If you use a newsletter to communicate with customers, it's a good idea to include excerpts from IAQ articles, to help emphasize your selling points. A few quotes from sources like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) lend credibility, too.

The ultimate goal is to become the local IAQ expert and to "eventually expand the size of your community," Finigan said.

Here's another hint: keep your message short. The attention span of listeners is shrinking to less than two minutes in what Finigan nicknames "a microwave society." Long dissertations about causes and cures for poor IAQ can turn off a customer as fast as an unprofessional presentation.

Connecting With The Customer

Printed materials and well-verbalized presentations aren't always the hook that will catch a customer's attention. They may have a specific IAQ problem that must be addressed, e.g., an asthmatic child. And if a contractor or IAQ specialist doesn't understand the customer's needs, all of the marketing in the world is not going to help make the sale.

He suggested three important ways to keep connected with customers:

  • Always have a contract with your customer.

  • Develop a network of experts who will enhance your credibility.

  • Don't disappoint your customer.

    In summarizing the session, Finigan advised, "If you are out there conducting business, put in writing what you are going to do. Clearly identify the limitations of what you are going to do. Take your integrity and good standards and use them as your calling card."

    Publication date: 10/31/2005

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