By participating in the VIP program, contractors receive the following perks:
• Free customizable listing on www.knightheatingboiler.com, which can include storefront pictures, company logos, and a description of available services or company mission statement to personalize the listing.
• A dedicated Website that consumers can easily access for additional information on the Knight and its expansive product line.
• Co-op advertising.
• The Knightly Newsletter, a monthly newsletter from Lochinvar World Headquarters concerning product updates, new releases, Knight VIP Contractor Showcases, and tips from technical service experts.
• Opportunity to win VIP trips based on Knight sales.
“I like the VIP program a lot,” said Douglass Rammell of Three Peaks Plumbing, Tetonia, Idaho. “It provides us a means to keep track of our purchases as well as a fun way to promote our craftsmanship.”
Some contractors felt that the quality of the Knight boilers was enough reason to sell them and they didn’t necessarily need an incentive program like VIP to motivate them. Still, they think the perks are nice.
“The VIP program does not affect our business greatly,” said Houston Wright of R&H Mechanical, Eagle, Colo. “However, this year R&H did enter the VIP installation contest, resulting in prizes as well as advertising.”
Paul Rohrs of Biggerstaff Radiant Solutions, Lincoln, Neb., also believes in the quality of the products and added, “The VIP program doesn’t necessarily influence my buying decisions because I think it is a quality product worth selling. The concept of a spiff program is nice and most contractors enjoy receiving wearables or other items.”
Rammell agreed. “I have installed many other products that try to offer incentives but none have matched what we have received from Lochinvar,” he said.
“It seemed like it was every two weeks we were getting shirts, hats, coats, gift cards, and rebates. I felt like they were aware of our efforts in installing their products.”
Beyond the incentives and the quality lies another reason why contractors choose to sell products like the Knight: support. “Manufacturers’ support of their products influence us,” said Gary Harper of Excel Mechanical Co. Inc., Des Moines, Iowa. “And programs do not influence our buying decisions. Products and their reliability do.”
Rohrs said that loyalty and the competitive spirit also should be considered when choosing what products to sell. “Incentives should not aid in selling product,” he said. “Manufacturing quality products that are competitive in the market should be the goal. There is also a lot to be said about Lochinvar being a privately held and U.S.-based boiler manufacturer.”
THE PRODUCT SELLS ITSELFSince VIP program incentives are nice but not the end-all for buying decisions, what do contractors feel are the best reasons for selling Knight boilers? Rammell, who has installed Lochinvar products for two years, said that serviceability is very important.
“I think the best features have got to be the display that can be read easily without a manual translating codes and errors,” he said. “This is important to the customer because they feel that they can diagnose most of the problems without learning a new language.”
Harper has sold Lochinvar products for 30 years and said that, in theory, the Knight boiler should last a lifetime, which really impresses him. “It has a stainless steel heat exchanger,” he said. “As for efficiency, it is one of the best in the industry.”
Rohrs said one of the best features of the Knight is its 100 equivalent feet for venting. “If you can’t get the vent out correctly for the homeowner, you are going to have issues.”
THE BUSINESS SIDEHaving a popular product to sell and supporting it with incentives and best-selling features are two reasons why Lochinvar contractors stay loyal to their products. But sharing business tools is the third leg of this three-legged stool that completes the entire package.
The Website itself is a selling tool, enabling consumers to find information about products before using the dealer locator feature to find a contractor in their own geographical area. For contractors, support products such as product literature are valuable business tools, too.
“The product manuals and sales tools are accessible and endless,” said Rammell. “I have also had good luck with the promotion items that are available.”
Rohrs said, “I have used their literature before for fliers and small mailing projects.”
Harper said that some of these business tools are good for any small business starting out, but he was very frank when it came to describing how manufacturers like Lochinvar can help the most. “The most important thing for our business growth is for manufacturers to not compete against us - and not to sell to anyone at the same price they sell to us,” he said.