Three contractors held court at one of the many panel discussions during the three-day conference. Attendees of “Marketing & Selling From Experience” got some inside tips from Greg Jannone, Jim Patterson, and Paul Pollets. Here are some excerpts from their seminar.
He is actively involved in residential and light commercial radiant floor heating, and has been a past Top Honors winner in the Radiant Panel Association (RPA) “System Showcase.”
Jannone followed his father’s footsteps into the plumbing business. “I wanted to be like Dad and do what Dad did.” Jannone eventually “became fascinated” with radiant heating and spent a lot of time learning the technology.
“I didn’t see a future in plumbing because it was so price-driven, and the quality and care were just not there,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘What can I do to be different from my competitors — to be a step above?’”
One of the first sales tool he used was turning in company profiles whenever he made a proposal. He wanted customers to know who they were dealing with. He also began taking pictures of all of his projects, compiling a portfolio which kept growing and growing.
“We used pictures from our jobs and reproduced them for the sides of our trucks,” he said. “Our truck advertising is very important and radiant heating plays a prominent role.”
He also uses home shows to market his company. “We started out by doing all of the local shows, then narrowed it down to two or three that gave us the best results. We get a real good return from a show, as well as good exposure.”
Patterson said his company started bringing residential radiant heating into the commercial market, which eventually led to the spin-off company and a branching out into the high-end residential market.
He added that Orchard Valley’s employees like the new market. “Now that we are into radiant heat, I couldn’t get my plumbers to work on a toilet if I doubled their rate.”
He likes to think of his company as the “comfort experts,” and lists four factors of radiant comfort that he sells to customers:
“We try to sell customers a package of components that combine these factors — selling comfort,” Patterson said.
In fact, Pollets won a website design award from Inc. magazine in the category of small businesses. The site address is www.advancedradiant.com.
Pollets spent most of his business career on the East Coast, and when he uprooted and moved to the Seattle, WA area, he had to adapt to a new way of doing business. “The unique nature of the Seattle area is that there are a lot of ‘techies,’ people who work for companies like Microsoft and Adobe, and who do their purchasing through the Internet.”
With this in mind, Pollets decided to spend a great deal of time and money on developing a website that would showcase his company’s projects and keep visitors online for more than a few seconds.
“I spent 300 hours locked in my partner’s [Sheldon Balberman’s] house developing an Internet strategy with him,” Pollets said. “Now, 70% of our business comes from the Internet. After three years, we hit $1 million in sales with a 20% net profit after taxes — all with three trucks and three mechanics.”
Pollets offered some advice for dealing with prospective customers:
Look for more coverage of the “Radiant Heating Conference and Trade Show 2000” in next week’s issue of The News.