Dealer groups are offering training, tools, partnerships, and communication avenues for the purpose of helping their respective members in transitioning the consumer to the higher SEER market.

International Service Leadership (ISL), for instance, said it has been focusing on helping contractors understand their business, train their staff, and improve industry standards. According to ISL president Milt Baum, one of the ways the dealer group is helping to promote the 13 SEER market today is by offering basic technical skills training to everyone in the contractor's organization.

"This is part of the ISL Certification Program," noted Baum. "All positions in the contractor's business now have training and career paths that will define industry standards."

AirTime 500 said it continues to educate its members - period. This means it has not zeroed in on creating 13 SEER-specific courses. "It's really been a nonissue," said AirTime 500 president Terry Nicholson, referring to 13 SEER training. "Our members are enjoying one of the best years of sales ever and the 13 SEER topic has been a nonissue."

Nicholson said the group is currently focusing on an advertising campaign regarding new technological advancements.

"And people are not just buying 13 SEER units," he said. "Many sales are 14-plus SEER. It always comes down to education."


According to ISL, some of the classes it offers that deal specifically with understanding 13 SEER benefits in today's market include:

  • "Universal HVAC Technical Self Study": According to ISL, this class was designed to help everyone in a contracting company understand the basic technical aspects of the industry. The class is presented online, as a self-study class, through ISL's exclusive member-only Web domain, "so that everyone can be brought up to speed quickly to understand basic technical aspects of the residential HVAC business," explained Baum.

  • "Comfort Advisor I - Encouragement Sales": The entire ISL sales training process is specifically geared towards educating today's consumer to make informed buying decisions and giving choices back to the customer.

    "Comfort advisors are trained in a comprehensive sales process designed to fully explain all of the options available to a customer," said Baum. "The sales process includes a technical assessment of the customer's current system to determine energy efficiency. After completing heating and cooling load calculations, cost comparisons are shared with the customer to support and explain energy savings associated with higher SEER ratings."

  • "Comfort Advisor II - Technical Skills": ISL said it believes technical training for sales is the right thing to do for the customer, the sales team, and the technicians who have to install, maintain, and work on systems that are sold. It said this class is designed as a second level to further teach comfort advisors the technical skills to accurately analyze and measure equipment and residences.

    "Comfort advisors are given tools to assist with educating consumers in SEER ratings," explained Baum. "This class focuses on more in-depth training on technical calculations used to perform an analysis of the customer's needs."

  • "Technician Communications": ISL said it tries to help teach technicians how to communicate effectively with the customer and continue building the relationships "that are the cornerstone of the residential HVAC contractor's business." "Technicians are taught how to turn over replacement sales leads, using ISL's Encouragement Sales process, designed to help with the customer's decision-making process and define equipment standards to the customer," said Baum.

  • "Business Management I": This class is designed to teach basic key performance measurements of the profitability of a contractor's business. In this class, successful business performance standards are shared. According to Baum, ISL teaches its members, owners, and managers how to properly price service, maintenance, and replacement jobs to cover all SEER unit equipment costs and target desired profit.


    In addition to classes, ISL said its preferred partnerships help keep members informed. In this setup, ISL partners with equipment manufacturers in its preferred vendor program to educate its members on the advancements and benefits of the latest equipment available. Information offered through manufacturers and links to additional technical and product-specific training are passed on to the membership through the IntraNet, ISL's Web domain, exclusively for members. Preferred providers also attend ISL conferences to showcase their latest equipment, assist in training sessions, and form lasting relationships.

    In regard to communications, ISL said its ClimateCare Canadian members now join forces to share their experiences and help with technical training at breakout sessions held at ISL conferences. Baum said ISL promotes sharing its members' experiences, thoughts, and ideas through networking within the membership. Conferences are designed to allow time to develop member relationships and share experiences.

    Meanwhile, the ISL Phoenix Board is designed to provide an open forum chat room exclusively for ISL members. Members are encouraged to openly share ideas, ask for feedback, pose questions, and discuss challenges. The ISL IntraNet stores training tools, processes, marketing ideas, vendor information, training, and more.

    "Thus far, no significant issues have been brought forth regarding the 13 SEER changes," noted Baum.


    The need for education has been great for AirTime 500's Success Academy. According to Nicholson, it has been a record year for participation in the association's "Mastery of the Sales" class for residential contractors.

    "The sophisticated contractor who knows how to market and sell, thrives. And, the contractor who thinks price is the only driving point continues to struggle," summarized Nicholson. "The sophisticated contractor who saw the 13 SEER mandate as an opportunity, thrived. And, the contractor who sat around complaining how tough it was going to be, found it was tough."

    Publication date: 09/25/2006