ACHRNEWS

AirTime 500 Confronts Contractor Marketplace

February 20, 2002
NEW ORLEANS, LA — More than 440 AirTime 500 members gathered recently for the organization’s expo, which was held at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans Convention Center.

The four-day event covered a number of training and management issues, including the changing role of some large specialty stores.

Jim Abrams, cofounder of AirTime 500, opened the expo with a warning.

“Lowe’s and Home Depot do not bode well for the independent contractor or their relationships with suppliers,” he said.

Abrams further explained that Home Depot currently owns 20% of the home remodeling and service market and plans to capture 20% from heating, cooling, carpet installation, and other service industries. To further complicate the issue, there are significantly more independent contractors this year than six years ago. According to Abrams, this leaves independents and large companies scrambling for a shrinking percentage of the market share.

Abrams asserted that today’s independent contractors are unwittingly subsidizing their competitors with every dollar spent with vendors who have joint-venture partnerships with large consolidators.

“We’re going to give you ways to shake up Home Depot’s plan,” said Abrams.

To combat the consolidators, AirTime 500 has a few plans of its own. The first is to harness group buying potential.

Mike Robinson, director of AirTime 500’s vendor incentive program, said that software is currently being finalized for a new order procurement program.

BuyMax™ will allow contractor members to purchase equipment from AirTime 500 preferred vendors via the Internet. The program is expected to begin in spring 2002, with member enrollment slated to start Sept. 30.

AirTime 500 would also like to form a lobbying group to represent independent contractors in Washington, DC. Abrams called for volunteers to head up an educational legislative arm of 5,000 to 10,000 contractor members to represent the needs of the independent contractor in 2002-2003.

MANAGEMENT & MARKETING

Abrams also announced that a new program called Master Council would be launched in September 2002. The program will look to recruit business people to consult and mentor independent contractor members beyond hvac. Master Council will only be open to qualified members of AirTime 500 and sister organization Plumbers’ Success International.

“We’re looking to bring in new blood from outside of our industry for the benefit of independent contractors rather than inbred relationships where this person trained that person and so on,” said Abrams.

The organization will also introduce the Phoenix Program, which will aim to give members who are not reaching their fullest potential more one-on-one attention. Struggling contractors will receive instruction on which programs to implement on a month-to-month basis, according to Abrams.

Finally, John Young, cofounder of AirTime 500, introduced “Mega Boost Your Marketing.” Young shared with members how they can achieve market dominance using direct mail letters available through their membership. He reported members’ recent success with Victory Village™, a marketing campaign launched last October, which the organization claims helps member contractors increase customer awareness in their communities until they’ve dominated their market share.

Publication date: 02/25/2002