About 200 contractors and HVACR professionals gathered for the 2nd Annual National HVACR Residential Marketing & Sales Forum, which allowed attendees insight into the top contracting companies in the country.

The program took on a new format this year, putting seven of the leading contractor executives in one room to share with attendees sales and marketing approaches that have resulted in significant growth for their companies.

Led by industry veteran Larry Taylor as moderator, the panel-style event was aimed to engage the audience with panelists offering suggestions and solutions to real-world HVACR business problems.

“Many contractors look at their successful peers and wonder, ‘How do we get to where they are?’ ” noted Kevin Holland, ACCA’s vice president of business operations and membership.

“So we opened up the conversation with this year’s forum. We put the people who know with the people who want to know, and the business strategies and solutions instantly started circulating. It was industry networking at its best.”

The two-day event launched with keynote speaker Don Hutson, an expert in pushing sales teams to their peak performance. He explored with participants the nuts-and-bolts behind properly motivating a team, including communication techniques that result in the most effective level of coaching.

Tim Cropp and Andrew Oser of regional powerhouse Cropp Metcalfe shared their secrets in solution-based selling, offering up their company’s actual data to show how this approach has helped the company grow. “I encourage presentations like this that have concrete data and step-by-step action plans that can be adopted by companies and adapted to specific needs,” said attendee Henry Temchin.

Paul Hobaica of Phoenix-based Hobaica Services spoke of the importance of maintaining a positive working environment in his presentation, Marketing to Your Employees. Even if the concept of making your employees your No. 1 customer has been kicked around in the past, attendees reported getting a lot of value out of having the inside peek to how Hobaica implemented this philosophy in his company. “Many of the ideas are not new to me, but I really appreciate how Hobaica has implemented and executed them,” said attendee Steven Clark.

Also on the agenda was Ray Isaac and Joe Krueger of Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning, who spoke about coaching employees into a professional sales process; Robert Wilkos and Tim Welch of Peaden Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing, who presented their approach to service agreements; Jamie Gerdsen of Apollo Heating & Cooling, who took attendees through an outside-the-box evaluation of their own companies; and John Waldorf of Estes Heating & Cooling, who explored the ways in which contractors can make sales and marketing culture change within their organizations.

The revamped forum was popular among attendees. “The format - having industry leaders share their reasons for success - was the best I have ever attended,” said Dwight Aitken of Gunthers Comfort Air.

“This is one of the most valuable conferences I have ever attended,” agreed Mary Church of Church Plumbing and Heating Inc. “I find great value in business owners and managers speaking from personal experience.”

The forum is made possible thanks to ACCA’s 2010 Corporate Partners: Federated Insurance, Carrier, Lennox, Mitsubishi Electric, Jackson Systems, Emerson Climate Technologies, Rheem, Goodman, NATE,The NEWS, and WaterFurnace. Additional event sponsors were: Mitsubishi Electric, C5, Wrightsoft, Dynamic Air Quality Solutions, Comfort Institute, and Jackson Systems.

Publication date:04/12/2010