Recognition is a key component in any business, whether it is recognition of a business owner for the work he or she does in the community or an employee who exhibits outstanding job performance. Having that recognition is very important, but knowing how to use it is just as important for business owners who seek a marketing edge.
For HVACR contractors who look for every way to increase bottom line profitability, winning an award and standing out amongst their peers can mean untold numbers of customer referrals as well as employee recruits. These awards come in many forms, from “Dealer of the Year,” awarded to sales volume leaders to “Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year.”
There is also the “Best Contractor to Work For,” an annualNEWS’ contest to determine the best contractors to work for in North America, as nominated by their employees and selected byNEWS’ editors.
In the past, winners of this contest have used the award in their employee recruitment efforts as well as in advertising to consumers. Some use the name of the award in their promotional materials and on their Websites. The bottom line is this: this award (or any award) can be a useful tool to show people that you are a great place to work for and to do business with.
“We put the award on our letterhead and envelopes,” said Ed Blum of A.O. Reed & Co., San Diego, Calif., a 2007 Best Contractor. “It’s on all our outgoing e-mails. Our salespeople use it when cold calling. For instance, if a customer is reluctant to set up an appointment to discuss a maintenance agreement our employees will say ‘we have been voted the best contractor to work for byACHR NEWS,wouldn’t you a least like to talk with a company like that?’ ”
MARKETING/RECRUITING TOOLFormer winner Jerry Hurwitz of J&J Air Conditioning, San Jose, Calif., is a big believer in marketing and said that winning an award is important because it then becomes an integral part of an HVACR contractor’s overall marketing strategy.
“Marketing is like throwing a wide net and you hope some part of it catches a fish,” he said. “For me, winning awards has been something that we use in our marketing materials and on our Web page. Our guys are proud of them and prospective employees notice it and mention it.”
Hurwitz added that his business has also won a “Commercial Contractor of the Year” award and a training award.
RoseAnn Cyngier was a Best Contractor winner for her business, Cyngier Heating & Air Conditioning of Cleveland. She has won several awards including Carrier Distinguished Dealer and Top Ten Woman Business Owner. She knows how awards have helped market her business.
“The awards are very important as they increase our credibility in the community,” Cyngier said. “People who don’t know us, even if they recognize the name, can now associate a strong positive image with our company.”
GETTING MARKETING MILEAGERuss Donnici, owner of Mechanical Air Service Inc., San Jose, Calif., said he has gotten a lot of marketing mileage out of his Best Contractor award.
“We have the award on our Website and we use it during home shows (a handout), during in-home environmental system presentations, and in commercial project presentations,” he said.
“Most clients want to do business with companies that pay a living wage; provide outstanding benefits, training, and career opportunities. Most clients realize that happy employees do a better job and provide a higher level of service. Clients also realize that technology is constantly changing and a major commitment to training has a direct material benefit to them as a client or potential client.”
Gary Marowske, owner of Flame Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Warren, Mich., and winner of awards from Bryant and Lennox, said the Best Contractor award has been very important to his business and he uses it in his marketing via press releases, advertising, and word-of-mouth. “We have gotten very positive feedback,” he said.
Donnici agrees. “Clients have mentioned the awards really set us apart from the competition. They particularly like the aspects mentioned in the Best Contractor to Work for award that relate to employees, industry training opportunities, our commitment to our community as well as our industry.”
Besides a positive impact on customers, an award can be a good recruiting tool. New recruits have a lot of choices today, and many usually follow the money trail through several job changes during their working careers. The goal of many employers is to not only attract the best but keep the best.
“We have a great company but winning any award boosts the morale of employees and has a positive effect on potential new hires,” said Blum. “Everyone wants to work for a winner. We end up with better quality employees proud to work for a winner. All of these lead to a positive financial impact on our bottom line.”
Cyngier noted that with so much negative news today, including unemployment and layoffs, it is a breath of fresh air to be an award-winning company that promotes a positive atmosphere. “Our employees take pride in working here and the recognition does more than just help us feel good (which in itself is wonderful),” she said. “People seek to find positive points of information about others as they are hit so hard by continuing negative points of information by certain segments of the media.”
Brian Nalley of Northside Heating & Cooling, Benton, Ark., balanced out the importance of winning awards by saying that while it is great to be a Best Contractor, his marketing has had to include all different approaches. “There is no silver bullet in marketing,” Nalley said. “Steady drops fill the bucket. Little things done right over a long time work better than a big bang that doesn’t last. Awards are good but are only part of the equation. We must do right with each person that calls on us.”
THE BOTTOM LINE?When it is all said and done, does being an award-winning contractor have a positive effect on the business’s bottom line? Cyngier isn’t sure but she knows it can’t hurt.
“Can we measure the bottom line exactly?” she asked. “No, but at Cyngier Heating and Air Conditioning here in Cleveland, we know the Best Contractor award has helped us in sales, selection of a service provider, and in boosting employee hiring and retention.”
Hurwitz said, “I would say that it is hard to measure how the awards have helped my bottom line, but I am sure that it helps in subtle ways.”
Donnici is more convinced that awards have helped his bottom line. “It absolutely has a positive impact on our business,” he said. “It helps us earn more business; and having committed well-trained employees improves our quality, keeps customers happy, and increases our profits. Clients want to do business with winners and those committed to their employees, community, and improving their industry and not solely focused on profits.”
If you would like to be nominated forThe NEWS’“Best Contractor to Work For,” ask an employee to visit bestcontractor.achrnews.com and fill out the online nomination form. Deadline for entries is Nov. 14.