I recently spent some time with a good friend in Indianapolis, Aaron York. He owns York Quality Air, a business he has owned in Indy for several decades. Aaron was the service manager for the same company I worked at “back in the day.” He and I shared the same passions for this business; we like to help folks feel better and enjoy their comfortable homes.

So my wife and I visited with him, took a tour of his building, caught up on all the news, and had an excellent meal together. As we talked he asked me how my business was doing. I told him we were blessed, it had been a very good year, and that we are really enjoying this part of our lives. I told him either my wife, May, or one of my sons traveled with me most of the time, so it wasn’t lonely like it would be if I was on the road alone.

I asked him how his business was, he said excellent. I expected nothing less; Aaron had always had a firm grasp on what the service and replacement sectors of our industry needed. He told me a great story about a friend who had asked him to look at a filter for his home.

Aaron found out the man’s son had serious asthma (like there is not serious asthma!), and he hoped that there was an answer for him. So Aaron went to work. I’m not going to bore you with all that he did, but he solved the problem. When he was finished, the family was more comfortable and the son has not had a bad day in months. The father was thrilled. He called Aaron and told him that the system he installed was ... priceless!


That got us to talking. Aaron asked me what the best question was to ask a customer. We agreed the question is “What is your health worth?” That is a question that begs the answer - priceless. We cannot put a number on health. If you have your health, you have everything.

How can we use this in our business? Well, for starters, let’s think outside the box.

By that I mean we must look at more than a new box in the basement or attic, we must look at the entire home. The envelope, ductwork, grilles, registers, everything. We need to run a load to see what size equipment is needed. Check out the ductwork, insulation, attic and crawlspace.

Then we need to ask the people living there lots of questions, all kinds of questions. See if they have allergies, asthma, breathing problems of any kind. Are there drafty rooms, cold or hot rooms, stuffy rooms, areas of the home they are not using anymore? You get the drift.

Then you have the right to put together a prescription for comfort in the home. As we know, prescription without diagnosis is malpractice. So we can’t guess; we must be certain in what we are suggesting for their home.

Now, if the customers say they can’t afford it, they have the right to buy what they want. Not necessarily what they need, but it is their home, so they can do what they want.

Don’t get married to the perfect solution, unless you are paying for it. They may do more or less than what you suggest, just don’t take it personally.

Let’s go back to the “can’t afford it” thing. If we come home tonight, and the heating system is broken, it is not a big deal. We may even have a furnace in the garage that we can install that evening. If not, we can probably call the distributor we work with, get a couple of techs to come over, and get ‘er done.

The typical customer has a different opportunity facing them. First, they don’t know who to call for help. So they spend precious time trying to get someone after hours. And they certainly did not plan on this happening. Heating and air conditioning systems don’t break down at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning when it is 70°F outside. They break when it is 98° or 15°. The end result is that many people now have a financial opportunity facing them.

My whole point is that we must offer financing on every job. In fact, we need to have more than one type of financing, since we have no idea what sort of situation the customer is in.

Many have damaged credit, less than perfect financial records, or may have had to declare bankruptcy. The person who declared bankruptcy a few years ago still deserves to be warm and cool in their home. Get a financing package put together for your customers. It will raise your closure rates, increase the average ticket, and help the customers buy what they need and want.


Now, back to the magic question. If the customer says “too much,” ask them how much their health is worth.

OK, you need to practice that; it needs to come over less threatening. But the result will still be the same.

When we ask them the health question, if they are honest, the answer will be that they can’t put a price on it. You really can’t. If you are not feeling well, it shows. If you do feel well, you are more productive, more efficient, less tired, just able to function at a higher level.

So try asking them the HQ (health question), it will pay dividends. I do hope you had a great first part of the year, it’s now time to focus on this year’s goals, see where you are versus where you wanted to be.

You do have this year’s goals in place, don’t you? If not, sit down with a trusted friend, put some ideas on paper. Review them, use a common sense test, share them with the company employees, and start to work on them now.

Thanks, we’ll talk later.

Publication Date:07/30/2007