ACHRNEWS

Web-Based Program Offers Contractors Customization and Standardization

December 27, 2010
Southern Air, Palatka, Fla., used Excel for many years to prepare price books, but it took hours to keep it current.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Christine Crane, president and CEO of Enterprise Selling Solutions Inc. recently introduced us to ACquotePro, a real-time, web-based selling tool that is said to allow contractors to quickly create customized proposals for every job, no matter the size. Contractors input their costs, desired profits, and financing needs, and the program figures out the rest.

“This software is a service program designed specifically for a/c contractors,” Crane said. “Our mission is to improve the efficiency and productivity of a/c contractors across the U.S.,” she continued. It can provide real-time proposals, database tracking, and dashboard reporting for sales management.

She presented the following scenario: “Say your comfort specialist is in the field. He or she sells a system, and it’s ready to be installed. The proposal status is recorded in the program as a ‘won’ proposal. Then your ACquotePro account will send you an e-mail with a list of equipment, parts, materials, and services to be performed.

“All parts and materials are loaded through the computer and combined into templates,” Crane explained. Clients also use the program for IAQ solutions, and the homeowner can understand that there is more than the box available.

In a way, it standardizes the quality of a contractor’s installations, but it also improves their ability to customize them. “There’s a balance between structure and flexibility.” It improves overall installation quality, Crane said, because “all the information doesn’t get lost in translation and all services get performed as sold.

“The job goes in faster, as sold, and you have a leg up on your competition. While other companies are busy writing up instructions to their staff, your comfort consultant is on his/her way to the next call.” The entire process becomes more efficient.

CONTRACTORS' EXPERIENCES

Casey Caison, owner/general manager of Southern Air, Palatka, Fla., said he had used Microsoft Excel for many years to prepare price books, but “it took hours and hours of my time to keep up with it. There were always equipment changes, price changes, program changes, rebates, etc., that required me to constantly rebuild our price books.”

With ACquotePro, “I have several different brands of equipment and accessories, all with current pricing, that allows us to offer many more choices to our customers than I could keep up with previously.” This allows the contractor to offer combinations of products and services that are “pretty much limitless,” he said.

“We can offer up to four different options of the same brand with different models; up to four different options with each option; a different brand and/or efficiency; up to four different brand options of 13-, 14-, 15-, 16-, 17-, or 18-SEER equipment; etc. It also allows my comfort advisor the flexibility to add, delete, or change equipment, accessories, and services on the fly, and print a detailed, professional proposal with only the retail pricing displayed.”

The dashboard function allows Caison quick views of sales activity from a device like a smart phone, “whenever and from wherever I am,” and he can make sure comfort advisors follow up on open proposals. “I also like being able to get involved with my comfort advisors, when I feel it’s necessary, while they are at the customer’s home, and make adjustments to a proposal myself from wherever I am.” Then the comfort advisor can immediately view and print the proposal.

He said he gains confidence from the fact that the web-based application’s information is always current, “and everyone in the company is seeing the same information without having to run from computer to computer with a zip drive, trying to keep everyone synched.” Also, the system can e-mail won proposals to anyone in the office Caison chooses, “so they can begin staging the job,” which he says is “a tremendous time saver.”

Among several benefits, ACquotePro keeps its data updated automatically.

The icing on the cake, he said, “is that an average HVAC guy like me can figure it out, make it work, and use it without even the need for a user’s manual.”

Jamie L. Harper, comfort specialist with St. Johns Pure Air Specialists Inc., St. Johns, Fla., has been using the program for the past five months. “The program is phenomenal and now that I have started using it, I will never be able to go back to quoting jobs the old way again!

“I have been in this trade for 10 years and have even owned my own HVAC company, which I had purchased another HVAC quoting program for,” she continued. ACquotePro “literally took minutes to learn. A proposal that used to take me 10-20 minutes to generate now only takes me 3-5 minutes.”

Each customer can quickly receive a professional-looking proposal instead of a hastily handwritten estimate, she said, and it also gives the customer options. “In the past it was hard to generate a proposal to give to a customer that gave them so many options, that was not confusing or frustrating,” Harper said. “Now I can give my customers up to four different options to choose from.”

Each option is listed in its own column, he said, that not only shows a picture of the product, but also gives a written description. “This allows for the consumer to not have to try and remember everything you may have told them during your meeting with them.”

She also appreciates that it generates paperless proposals. “After you’re done generating it, you e-mail it directly from the program to the customer. When they are ready to select one of the options, all they have to do is reply to the e-mail stating what they would like you to do. The program will even send the customer reminders.

“The program has been well thought out and put together with both the contractor and consumer in mind,” Harper said. “In my opinion, this product will revolutionize the way contractors in general propose work to their customers.”

Snyder Heating and Air Conditioning, Jacksonville, Fla., has been using three-part paper proposals for the past 36 years. The new program “has taken our company to the next level of professionalism,” said Ed Miller, vice president.

It allows consumers to make educated decisions on the type of system that is right for them, by looking at the comparisons together on one page. And “it doesn’t matter the brand of equipment because ACquotePro is not something the equipment manufacturers are selling us,” said Miller.

“Each time you open the system you see a proposal status pie chart that will keep you informed of each Comfort Consultant’s leads, so you know which ones have been won, lost, or still open,” he said. “This has made it much easier when a homeowner calls in the office to schedule an installation. The installation manager can print a copy of the proposal right then and is ready to install.” There is no more waiting for the estimator to get to the office with a copy of the proposal.

Its speed and ease of use have had combined benefits. “I can send out a proposal in about five minutes that has four options for the homeowner to review. Some customers might be shopping price and others may be shopping value, but that is no longer our decision,” Miller said. “They may ask what I think is their best option, but they can never say I didn’t give them all their options.”

For more information, visit www.acquotepro.com.

Publication date: 12/27/2010