One small box can change a life: A fact known well to women who receive engagement rings and Pandora from tales of old. Neither of these may interest HVAC distributors, but perhaps a small white, rectangular box with a silver apple emblazoned on the side would interest them. This is not an editorial singing the praises of Apple. You have my word no one will say, "All hail Steve Jobs...may he rest in peace." Having been a smartphone owner for two years and newly becoming an Apple iPhone 4s owner, however, has taught me a few things that distributors could find helpful in building positive relationships with their customers.


This lesson is two parts, and the first means exactly what the title reads. There are many pieces of hardware, software, and apps available to the HVAC distributor to ease their business processes. Some never purchase the technologically advanced equipment, but those that do can find that taking the time to unpack and implement a new piece of technology can be cumbersome. Some technology has quick, simple learning curves, but many require new processes and procedures. With the purchase of any technology, the excitement has the possibility of wearing off before the equipment ever makes it out of the box. The thrill was in the purchase, the pain was in the implementation. Once a decision has been made to purchase, then a commitment to implement must be made as well. Otherwise the purchase is a waste. Luckily for me, the setup of my new iPhone took only a few minutes after I removed it from the packaging.

The second part of this lesson stresses the importance of looking at technology not only for what it is designed to do, but also what it is capable of doing. Take the Xbox Kinect for example. It was designed to measure and interpret motion for video game play. Researchers have taken the technology and are enhancing and reapplying it to medical fields, physical therapy, and a host of concepts that the original designers didn't intend.

The same is happening in the app store. Apple has certain products with specific parameters, but thousands of developers are finding new ways to make iPhones and their apps do interesting things. The iPhone wasn't designed to be a flashlight, but with a simple app it can become one.

Don't be afraid to throw the manual out and apply a technology purchase in a creative and new way. Distributors might be amazed with what they come up with and how it changes their business.


There is nothing more disappointing than a product that doesn't deliver what it says it can. It stands to reason that this principle goes for businesses as well. After downloading the TED app and watching one of the TED talks on my new iPhone I was impressed. The app delivered above and beyond my expectations, and I'm looking forward to engaging that app again.

On the other side of that coin, I downloaded a Marvel Super Hero app that had great graphics, and a seemingly simple interface. Who wouldn't want a chance to join the Avengers and fight Marvel's villains? The app was mildly clumsy, but that was forgivable because of the nice features. After signing up, giving my email address, and walking through the training part of the game, it suddenly wanted me to head to some website and get a special code to continue. That was less than amusing,  and although I intend to give it one more chance, I have a bad taste in my mouth and am concerned that continuing with the effort to play this game is a waste of time.

Which experience is true for your customers when they engage your business and its practices? Are you a distributor that delivers what is promised? Building relationships through positive experiences can be a large part of a distributor's business. If the interactions are clumsy and filled with errors, the customer may give the company another try, but chances are they will move on. Providing a positive experience the first time and consistently afterwards could be the key to building positive customer relationships.