The large crowd of dealers certainly seemed to appreciate the various presentations, particularly the humorous video segments featuring Gidick and “Dave Lennox” traveling across the United States and Canada in a motor home. The Road to Success tour will be making its way across the country through the end of March.
NEW PRODUCTSOne of the reasons why dealers are so interested in attending the Road to Success meetings is the emphasis on the many new products that Lennox has added to its lineup. Dealers listened intently to a lengthy presentation on SunSource, the solar ready HVAC system that appeals to green customers looking to reduce their energy bills. As Gidick noted, this last year has been incredibly exciting, as over 1,000 dealers are now trained in the design and installation of SunSource systems.
Several different contracting firms attested to the fact that SunSource has been beneficial for their companies, including Stark Air, Dallas. The company learned about all the solar requirements and incentives and elected to do their own installs, instead of partnering with local solar installers. According to the company, their comfort advisers listen to customers and offer SunSource when they get the right cues.
Lennox offers numerous training aids to help contractors get up to speed on SunSource, including a 30-minute online sales training module and two hours of online technical training modules. The manufacturer added that SunSource is a good way for contractors to set themselves apart from the competition.
The many new heating products that were launched by Lennox in 2010 were also emphasized, including the SL280V two-stage, variable-speed furnace; the SLP98V high-efficiency furnace featuring Precise Comfort™ technology; the ML193 and ML180 entry-level furnaces; and the EL195 add-on/replacement high-efficiency furnaces.
Dealers were also interested in learning of the other new heating products that will be launched later in 2011, including the SL280V furnace that is icomfort enabled; the ML180e 80 percent efficient system that features constant torque; the EL195 high-efficiency system that features constant torque and 95 percent AFUE; and the EL280 Elite two-stage furnace, which can be used with a one- or two-stage thermostat.
COOLING CHALLENGEAs for cooling products, Bill Cunningham, cooling product manager, and Natalie Hunter, cooling product specialist, acknowledged that 2011 may present new challenges, given that the federal tax credits have been decreased. “2011 will be different but not hard,” said Cunningham. “And let’s face it, tax credits established bad behavior.”
As Hunter noted, “With the reduction in tax credits and some of the local rebates, it is going to be imperative that contractors commit to kicking the habit of selling on rebates. 2011 will present contractors with a new challenge: How do you continue to sell high-margin products? How do you stay profitable?”
The good news, added Cunningham, is that in the United States, the tax credits are not going away entirely, they’ve just been reduced significantly. “2011 will require contractors to sell products based on features and benefits and not just a predetermined efficiency mark.”
Some of the features and benefits contractors should focus on include quiet products that are energy efficient. For example, the new Dave Lennox Signature Collection XC/XP21 is 13 times quieter than a standard air conditioner and features an efficiency rating of 20-plus SEER. The new XC17/XP17 is also quiet, coming in at 62 dB, and features efficiencies up to 18 SEER. Both products are SunSource solar ready.
Customers are also interested in better air quality, noted Hunter, which is why Lennox introduced an enhanced PureAir™ air purification system, which is carbon activated, reduces VOCs up to 20 percent faster, and eliminates ozone. When absolute control of humidification in a home is a must, the new HC steam humidifier is an excellent choice, said Cunningham.
“Evaporative humidifiers can dump up to 85 percent of water down the drain. The Lennox steam humidifier uses electrode heating technology to generate steam, using almost all the water to humidify the home, providing some of the best humidification capacities in the industry.”
IAQ is important to homeowners, said Hunter, which is why Lennox has invested so much in its broad line of products. As a result, Lennox is a single source supplier that offers comfort, efficiency, and clean air.
THE BUSINESS ENDWhile new products were widely discussed at the meeting, emphasis was also placed on how contractors should position themselves in order to increase sales in 2011. A presentation was given regarding advertising and marketing that covered the pros and cons of direct mail, digital/mobile advertising, social media, and search engine marketing. Contractors were informed that customers often suffer from media clutter; that is, on any given day, the average customer will be exposed to almost 3,000 media messages, will pay attention to 50, and will positively remember four.
Bill Carlson, retail national accounts manager, discussed the recent updates on DaveNet - the website for Lennox dealers. “DaveNet is more than a website. It includes valuable information on training, marketing, sales, ordering, equipment, parts, warranties, and accounting. Contractors should make sure DaveNet is on every desk at work.”
Bonnie Maupin, marketing manager at HVAC Learning Solutions, and Mike Moore, director of training and development, urged contractors to think about how they can position themselves as being the one and only contractor that customers want to do business with. This can be accomplished, they said, by committing to developing employees skills; making sure the entire staff has the ability to articulate the company vision and value proposition; branding the company as a community leader; providing customer solutions that are different than the competition; and delighting the customer.
As Moore noted, “By being a good servant-leader, contractors create a compelling place for people to work.”
This crowd of Lennox dealers was definitely upbeat as the meeting ended, anxious to get back to work in order to sell new products, create a great place to work, and delight their customers.