Contractors Need to Sell Health, Efficiency

March 17, 2008
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Larry Taylor, of Air Rite Air Conditioning, talks with an ACCA attendee after Taylor’s workshop “Selling Air: Marketing HVAC as a Service, Not a Box.”

Larry Taylor does not just want fellow contractors to think outside the box, he wants them to throw the box away. That was the message Taylor, owner of AirRite Air Conditioning Co., Fort Worth, Texas, delivered at his workshop titled “Selling Air: Marketing HVAC as a Service, Not a Box” at the 2008 ACCA Annual Conference and Indoor Air Expo.

Taylor explained that while quality was the buzzword 20 years ago, comfort is the buzzword of today.

“How many of you are contractors? How many of you are in the business of providing health, safety, comfort, and energy efficiency for your customers? Some of you are talking out of both sides of your mouth, aren’t you?” Taylor said.

Taylor does not understand why a lot of contractors sell 13 SEER as a high-efficiency system when actually it is the lowest efficiency a customer can buy. Taylor believes contractors need to change their mindset.

“What is high efficiency? Go down to one of your favorite appliance stores. What is 80 percent of the product they sell? It is the middle product. What are we doing wrong? Our industry, 80 percent of the stuff we sell is the bottom of the line. In reality, it is the lowest efficiency we can buy,” Taylor said.

“We have to change our mindset. If we think 13 SEER is high, do we really know what is high efficiency? If contractors think 13 SEER is high efficiency, then what do they consider IAQ to be?”

Taylor preaches that contractors need to sell health, safety, comfort, and energy efficiency, rather than just selling equipment. He drags equipment along as the accessory to the sale.

And in Taylor’s mind, there is plenty of business to be had. He referenced a study that showed in the United States, 5.1 million dwellings have excess humidity problems, 3.8 million dwellings had respiratory ailments, while 4.2 million dwellings had both.

“We are talking about 8.9 million dwellings. How many of them are in your neighborhood? That is 10 percent of the homes in America. How would you like to have 10 percent of the market? Anybody be offended by having 10 percent of the market? The market is just waiting for us to come get it,” Taylor said.



THE HOUSE AS A PUZZLE

According to Taylor, when selling to a customer, contractors need to view the house as a puzzle. As such, it is important for contractors to take the pieces apart and dump them on the table. They can then sit with the customer and talk about putting their house back together. Contractors should put packages together to help put that puzzle back again. The No. 1 benefit of selling this way is that it reduces the stress level for the customer.

Contractors also need to remember that it is not about the house, it is about the people in the house.

Taylor believes it is important for contractors to sell quality of life - and to sell it at a premium price.

“Don’t be afraid to charge for your knowledge,” Taylor said. “When you call up your attorney to ask him a question, does he apologize for the price he charges? What does he do? He starts the clock. They are not afraid to charge for their knowledge.”

Finally, Taylor told the attendees the biggest upside to doing business this way - not many other contractors do it this way. The first one into the marketplace with these ideas becomes the benchmark against which everything else is measured. Everybody else in the market becomes an imitator. And Taylor points out that it is a lot harder to overcome the leader in the market than to come out first and be the leader/standard that everyone else is measured against.

“How many of your contractor competitors out there are in the business of fixing houses? There are a lot less guys doing this whole-house work than there are contractors in the Yellow Pages,” Taylor said.

And Taylor had one other nugget of Texas wisdom when discussing the little problems that can come up in a business.

“How many of you have been bitten by an elephant lately? How many have been bitten by a mosquito? It is the little things that hurt.”

Publication Date: 03/17/2008

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