ZION, Ill. - If you want to talk about IAQ with Dennis Wierzbicki, chief operating officer of Mid-Way Supply Inc., you may want to change your lexicon. The company has shifted its focus to Indoor Environmental Quality.
“One of the things we’ve done is change it to IEQ,” he said. This includes anything that affects the indoor environment. “Ensure what you have installed is working at peak efficiency,” Wierzbicki advised contractors. “You can save customers money by tuning up their systems, making sure whatever you have is operating efficiently. You can save homeowners a substantial amount of money.”
His scope goes beyond the box, or even the ventilation system. “The ‘system’ is the home. It breathes.” The goal for contractors, he said “is to learn how to make customers’ environments better and save them money. The enlightened HVAC contractor can sit down and talk about these things.”
When he says the house, he means the whole thing. “Some contractors partner with window suppliers; some offer the products themselves, integrating insulation services,” Wierzbicki said. “The HVAC contractor is functioning as the consultant to the homeowner.”
IEQ TRAININGWhen it comes to selling more traditional IEQ products and services, Wierzbicki finds contractors need to be reminded of a few things.
“One of the challenges is getting dealers to recognize how much homeowners trust them, and getting them to offer these products,” he said. “They are in their home more often than any other professional, and that is a huge advantage.
“Our feedback from homeowners,” he said, “is that they would appreciate a broader offering. They’re hearing about windows, solar, radiant, and there is confusion. The HVAC contractor can pull all that together.” And their indoor air quality, he pointed out, is often up to five times worse than the outdoor air quality.
According to Wierzbicki, effectively selling these products requires a change in mindset on the part of dealers. Mid-Way says it trains its dealers to step outside of the traditional heating and cooling sales pitch, and talk to customers about the quality of their indoor air and how to improve it.
Dealers also are prompted to bring air monitors and conduct IEQ audits, so customers can “see” what issues might be lurking in their homes. This customer education process then continues with dealers offering counsel on IEQ products so homeowners can make smart decisions.
At what point should a contractor bring out the air monitors? “It depends on the sensitivity of the homeowner,” said Wierzbicki, “and whether they have any health problems or obvious home problems.” These customers tend to have a higher awareness of IEQ and will be more receptive to the topic.
“Some will be less aware of that,” he said. Nevertheless, once the data is gathered, the contractor can come back with it and present options. “Some folks are keenly aware of IAQ,” said Wierzbicki. “If you have that service, it would come out whether they have awareness.”
However, don’t offer solutions without being educated on your offerings. “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
Mid-Way Supply offers a variety of HVAC and business management courses at its Elk Grove Village, Ill., training facility. For more information, visit www.mid-waysupply.com.
Publication date: 07/19/2010