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Looking Positive in the Spring

April 20, 2009
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Butch Welsch

OK. We have all had our opportunity to cry through the winter about how bad everything is in the economy and the effects it has had and is having on our businesses. We have (hopefully) made a lot of changes within our organization to make sure that we will still be around in the next several months and years.

Now spring is here and it’s time to quit crying and get out there and turn our businesses successful again. I know it’s not going to be easy, but we have an awful lot going for us - despite all of the negatives. So for about the next 600 words, more or less, let’s think positive and turn our minds to getting ourselves back on the right track.



STIMULUS PACKAGE

For starters, there is a part of the stimulus package that is out there for our customers. While many other businesses, such as windows and insulation, are competing for the same dollars we are, our results are more immediate for the customer and should be something we can sell. Don’t overlook this opportunity, as the public is very anxious to get their part of the dollars that are being thrown around.

Manufacturers are aware of the economy we are dealing in, and the ones I have seen have increased their rebates and programs to help us overcome everything that’s out there. Get with your manufacturer and make sure he is giving you all he can to help you sell in this market. Rebates and financing programs are two of the areas that I feel the public is looking for at this time.

A number of manufacturers have decided to provide longer parts warranties. While that whole subject could be the topic for a full column, I’ll just state that I think from the contractor’s standpoint, longer warranties are not beneficial. And for the subject of this column, I personally don’t believe that warranties are the button that is going to turn on buyers at this time.

We, as sellers, have to pay very close attention in this rapidly changing market, so that we really know what the hot buttons are for our buyers. I believe providing the very best value, with financial terms within which the buyer can operate, are the things our buyers are looking for right now.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Further good news for us is the fact that with fewer people moving, and even fewer moving into new homes, the average age of furnaces and air conditioners is getting older. This means more opportunities for us. We know that while there are some things in the home people may operate without, the furnace and air conditioner are pretty much a necessity and not a luxury.

The key for us is that even though we may have had to reduce our staff, we still must be there to provide exceptional service. Right now, with all of the negative things with which the public is dealing, the very last thing they need to deal with is poor service.

I’m reminded of the many large national corporations who have cut thousands of staff from their payrolls. The last time I had any dealings with most of those companies their service was already atrocious. I can only imagine what it must be with a thousand fewer employees.

This is where we have a chance to shine. We can control the level of service we provide. We can watch it on a daily basis and make sure that the level of our service has not decreased.

So here is our opportunity with spring arriving. Make sure your service is better than ever, use all of the tools like rebates and tax credits that are available to you, and remember to take a positive attitude with you, both when dealing with your employees as well as your customers.

We have had enough negativity, while the economy as a whole may not be ready to turn around, with the tools that are available to us, there is no reason at all why we can’t be successful in 2009.

Publication date: 04/20/2009
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