During the dealer preview meeting, Trane representatives wore leather flight jackets, khaki pants, and captain’s hats similar to those worn by pilots during World War II to introduce a new sales incentive program: XL Squadron. The new program will reward contractors for selling the manufacturer’s XL 1800 air conditioner and heat pump.
Although the bomber pilot attire certainly grabbed everyone’s attention, the “Team Trane Breaking Through” theme took center stage and best described the company’s plans to excel in areas of customer service, product technology, and dealer training.
Tom Ginnever, manager of the Heartland Dealer Sales Office, announced that the company’s goal is to double its sales within the next five years. The company plans to reach that goal largely by using the Internet and other tools to cater to the needs of contractors and homeowners.
Here are a few of the highlights from this year’s meeting.
The Trane Extranet, as the new model is called, will allow contractors to access product and technical support information, check equipment availability and pricing, estimate cost savings for customers, and check the status of orders.
Initially, service technicians will be able to download and print out instructional modules for any repair job before they head out to a jobsite. Ultimately they will be able to access service instructions and other information from any location via a cordless web link.
The program is currently in the pilot phase. Trane expects to implement the initial phases of the Extranet before April of this year.
Offer financing as a payment option, said Mike Holtman, retail finance manager for American Standard Financial Services.
The key is to offer payment options early in a sales presentation and allow the consumer to take control of choosing the payment method. When given the opportunity, most consumers will choose a “six months same as cash” type of arrangement instead of paying cash, says Holtman.
Besides, when customers pay with credit, they’re more likely to buy a higher quality (and therefore more expensive) system.
The company is staffing offices throughout the country with “inside sales specialists” who will assume some of the customer service duties that territory managers now handle.
Currently, Trane’s territory managers travel so much that it can be difficult for contractors to reach them, the company explained. Inside sales specialists will help alleviate that problem.
Ginnever concluded the meeting by announcing that Trane plans to change the way it does business to capture and retain the increasingly sophisticated consumers in the marketplace.
“For us to boldly stand up here and tell you that we’re going to double our business without changing is not possible. We’re going to have to change.”
According to Rich Kynion, a Heartland dealer territory manager, many contractors go into a consumer’s home with a preconceived idea of the type of system they’re going to sell, rather than building a system based on the consumer’s needs.
The training session showed contractors that by allowing homeowners to participate in the design of a system, they are more likely to spend additional funds for higher quality equipment and servicing.
They will also be more likely to view the contractor as a partner in the decision-making process, rather than someone who tried to sell them something.
Trane contracts with The ACT Group to provide training specifically tailored to its dealers and offers sessions year-round throughout the country.
The biggest mistake that Garver sees is that contractors are simply not advertising enough to be effective. The key, Garver said, is to establish a budget and then develop a consistent advertising program based on that budget.
She recommended that contractors devote 3% to 5% of residential sales and 1% of commercial sales to their advertising budgets as a base.
Garver also offered these tips for more effective advertising:
By advertising on a consistent basis, contractors can predispose potential clients to like them, and can earn more profits by selling based on their merits, rather than low prices.