At the same time, more than a few corporate heads talked about CleanEffectsâ„¢, Trane's answer to providing whole-house air cleaning. According to the company, it has developed the technology that removes more airborne allergies "than any other air cleaning system."
During the three-day event, company officials also revealed how much marketing support was going to be available to its distributors and dealers, noting it was going to spend 10 times more than ever before in network TV commercials and consumer magazine print advertising in 2006. In fact, it plans to spend as much in national advertising in March next year as what the company spent in 2003 and 2004 combined.
The media blitz will revolve around CleanEffects, which the company said removes 99.98 percent of allergens from the air that passes through the system, "making it more effective than even the best HEPA filter and 100 times more effective than a standard 1-inch filter."
And, it is more than happy to tell the public that CleanEffects has been performance-verified in tests conducted by Environmental Health and Engineering Inc., and reviewed by professors of the Harvard School of Public Health.
In the big mix, there were also general sessions regarding a renewed warranty program and processes, a detailed account of the company's new learning resources department and its future efforts, plus more marketing developments, including the introduction of new literature and brochures, all designed to help the contractor and distributor enlighten their respective customers.
There was even a visit from Chan Galbato, president of Home Depot, who was happy to point out that the two companies could improve on their partnership.
And, oh yeah - did we say Trane talked about CleanEffects?
Without a doubt, its new air filtration system was the center of attention at the meeting. "Unleash The Power" was the extravaganza's overall theme.
"Only Trane and you will have the solutions for the customer," Dale Green, vice president of marketing/sales, informed the attentive gathering.
"Clean air is the best lead generator," he said. "You have to ask if they want clean air."
The Trane marketing department created, among other items, a slick leave-behind brochure, "Quality is in the air."
It walks the homeowner through the many options Trane has to offer. Groundwater stressed that better in-home selling will be needed in 2006 and beyond, and that providing the customer with "consumer friendly" information produces results.
According to the company's research, a verbal-only quote may produce a $3,000 sale, but if literature is left behind for the consumer to review, it turns into a $3,700 sale.
"We know it [literature] will drive closure rates. This will make us better than the rest," said Groundwater. "To own the sales process, we must execute. This will require a renewed commitment."
To help the distributors' and dealers' cause, Trane will be getting the word out to the public regarding its products. The national media blitz for CleanEffects begins in March of next year. Within six weeks, 86 percent of its target audience will have seen the promotions, according to Lauri Crawford, brand marketing manager.
"We will reach 95 percent of people ages 35-64," she said. "We are going to clean the air about clean air."
With over 30 million homes having at least one allergy sufferer in the household, Trane believes CleanEffects will strike a nerve - and its marketing program will target that audience. "We will teach consumers why they need to up-grade," said Groundwater.
Groundwater also announced a renewed commitment to training. Heading the new learning services department is Jerriann Massey, who was hired to put together Web-based courses for distributors and dealers, in addition to other duties. The company will invest $1 million in training in 2006.
"Knowledge is power, but only if you use it. Learning is the goal," said Massey. "We plan to provide the courses you want for your dealers, so that we can help you seal that deal."
In the near future, distributors will have the option of providing customized coverage, there will be improvements in billing procedures, and data will be made available concerning warranty coverage. Trane believes the moves will make the claim process more streamlined, increase productivity, and provide a competitive advantage.
"The power is ours. The opportunity is ours," said Dave Pannier, president of Residential Systems. "The window of opportunity for 2016 is the next six months. Our next six months will dictate our next decade."
"You can generate additional revenue and profit on each job by offering this system," said Arnholt, at the company's 2006 Marketing and Product Extravaganza, held recently. "Market research shows consumers will pay for better, cleaner air."
According to the company, the new system is effective in trapping allergens down to .3 microns. If it is installed into a system that features a variable-speed fan motor and a thermostat with a built-in humidity sensor, the company said a homeowner would also be able to kill dust mites by keeping the air below 50 percent relative humidity.
"Consumers want whole-house solutions," said Trane's Dale Green. "We can provide them this."
According to the company, clean air delivery rate is recognized by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a fair and objective measure. The rating is based on a typical, three-ton, whole-house heating and cooling system, and stand-alone air cleaning appliance. CleanEffects rates at 1,200, compared to a whole-house electronic air cleaner at 660, it said.
There is also no replacement filter required. It can be cleaned with a household vacuum.
- Mark Skaer
Since 2002, Green pointed out that the relationship with Home Depot has produced 800,000 confirmed appointments for Trane distributors and dealers. All totaled, this equates into $600 million in revenues.
"We think the partnership can grow," stated Chan Galbato, president of Home Depot.
According to his figures, 167 Home Depot stores are doing over $300,000 in annual revenue, selling Trane comfort systems. However, just two stores are doing over $1 million. "We can do a heck of a lot more," Galbato said.
Last year Home Depot introduced Everstar, a competitive product line, which Galbato admitted strained the relationship between Home Depot and Trane, not to mention Trane's distributors and dealers. At the meeting, he noted that the agreement with Goodman, which produced the Everstar brand, would not be renewed in 2006.
"We will work towards extending the Trane-Home Depot agreement," said Galbato.
- Mark Skaer
Publication date: 09/26/2005