When Should HVAC Contractors Bring On a Full-Time Marketing Manager?
It’s not about the size of the business; it’s about the needs of the business.
Running an HVAC company without technicians is impossible. Hence the industry is buzzing to find and train more technicians. One position that’s not causing as much frenzied chatter, however, is the marketing manager. Marketing is often left to the front desk operator or whoever is available, creative enough, and capable of clear communication. Sometimes, it’s farmed out to the neighborhood kid down the street who is a social media whiz. Not all contractors focus on hiring a marketing manager, but the consequences of that could result in lost revenue, potential brand damage, and a list of other unfortunate events.
One of the primary reasons for HVAC contractors to hire a marketing manager is to ensure their companies convey consistent messages to their customers. Without consistency, HVAC companies can be at risk of not only confusing customers, but also devaluing their voices as professional home services experts.
“A marketing manager is someone who is in a leadership position,” said Steve Saunders, CEO at Tempo Partners Inc. in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. “They have sufficient knowledge to be able to set the stage for who the company is and who the company wishes to be.”
Not only do marketing managers create consistency and value in the company message, but they also differentiate the business in its local marketplace.
“Many companies can repair and replace HVAC equipment, but marketing is the key to winning more opportunities than your competition to speak with homeowners looking for these services,” said Marc Tannenbaum, president of Attic Systems, Seymour, Connecticut. “A marketing manager will help focus the HVAC contractor on getting as many leads as possible. Working alongside the sales and call center managers, the marketing manager can ensure that all sales ‘slots’ are filled.”
He further explained that to calculate the weekly slots available, contractors should multiply the number of calls a technician can make per week by the number of technicians in the company. For example, three technicians who make 12 calls per week would create 36 slots.
“Each one of these slots has the potential to generate revenue for the company, and not filling a slot has a direct impact on profits,” said Tannenbaum. “If the HVAC call center converts 80 percent of leads to appointments, then the marketing manager must generate 45 leads every week to maximize the revenue generating potential of the company.”
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PERSON
Maki Heating and Air Conditioning in Auburn, California, increased revenue by 56 percent year over year since Debbie Dahl, president of the company, hired a marketing manager.
“A marketing manager drives excitement in the company and keeps things from becoming boring,” Dahl said. “They also track what marketing is working and should be continued and what needs to be changed.”
According to Dahl, that last point about tracking what is working is key. She explained that return on investment (ROI) is important to understand as a marketing manager and that tracking individual marketing is easier to accomplish with a marketing manager equipped with excellent tools, like tracking software.
“I have someone on my staff 100 percent focused on making the phone ring and understanding how to generate business when demand is not there,” said Dahl.
Choosing the right person to market a company is not an easy task.
Dahl said that she always keeps her eyes open, looking for good recruits when she is out to dinner, shopping, attending social events, etc.
“As with any position that needs to be filled, it’s important to never brush off any applicant,” she said. “Always — and I can’t stress this enough — always make time to interview. There is nothing more important.”
Saunders is a firm believer that marketing managers aren’t born — they are made.
“Given training and direction, a lot of people can do a good job of delivering quality marketing,” he said. “I think that problems come when senior leadership abdicates responsibility for setting the direction of the company to the marketing manager.”
Tannenbaum said that whether a company has a marketing manager or not, it should still have a marketing system and procedures in place.
“It is easier to find someone to simply help execute the process and report against weekly and monthly goals,” he said. “Newly graduated marketing students are good candidates for companies with good marketing systems and procedures in place.”
WHEN DO WE GET ONE?
HVAC companies don’t have to be a certain size in order to benefit from a marketing manager. In fact, when hiring a marketing manager for the first time, some contractors will bring on the new hire as a part-time employee. As the company grows, the marketing manager position grows into a full-time position.
“Because of the importance of leads, many owners hold onto the marketing function and will have the size of their company dictate that they should look to hire a marketing manager,” Tannenbaum said.
This happens mainly because the owners have not created a system or process to follow that would allow the new marketing manager to achieve the same results, he said.
Publication date: 4/1/2019