In September of 1962, Hanna-Barbera unveiled to the world their dream of what our future could look like. George Jetson worked a grueling one-hour day, two total hours a week, pushing basically one big button. The family meals consisted of whichever food pill they chose, and all the housework was done by a robot maid with a sassy attitude.
Although the creators set this show hundreds of years in the future, here we are less than 60 years later, and the technology to make life push-button simple is quickly becoming normal in most households.
So what does that teach us about how we must now relate to our market? Well, one word is mainly driving today’s sales demand: convenience.
Netflix has 148 million subscribers — more than the number of total households in the entire U.S. Why? They’ve made entertainment convenient by offering shows on demand that are commercial-free and pause-able. People have connected to smart watches, TVs, vacuum cleaners, garage doors, etc. — even full-home assistants with everything linked and communicating. What does all this smart technology offer? The homeowner is required to think less as the devices learn to think for them. Luckily, we do serve in a timeless trade, and while services may change, people will always want to feel comfortable in their homes. However, they now want that comfort experience to be quicker, easier, and smarter. That’s an unavoidable reality, and to be quite honest, it’s a dangerous reality for a lot of people in our industry.
Far too many contractors are resistant to change, refusing to evolve and use some of the new tools they have at their fingertips.
According to statista.com, 95 percent of consumers use the internet when researching local services, but only 1 in 10 in-home contractors keep their online presence up-to-date; 72 percent of consumers expect some type of instant online communication with a business; and the global smart home market is forecasted to reach $53 billion by 2022.
The HVAC industry is made up of largely blue-collar types, and sometimes that can work against us.
But I’m not just talking about if your opinion of social media is that it’s a huge waste of time or you’re scared all of this connectivity will evolve into SKYNET from “Terminator.”
The reality is, if you’re fighting against technology, it’s a battle you’ll lose in your wallet.
Is it vitally important for your business to have a nice-looking website that’s easy to navigate? Yes, that’s crucial in today’s market. If you don’t have an active social media presence, are you missing a key audience? Yes. And if you’re reluctant to jump into offering new technology like smart thermostats, intuitive HVAC systems, or even possibly installing video doorbells, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of business.
And if you’re difficult to work with or seem behind the times, your prospects are already Googling other options. This is our market now, so buckle up.
Listen, this doesn’t have to be news that makes you drop your head and feel less like George Jetson and more like Fred Flintstone, but a change of mindset must happen.
We tend to avoid things we don’t understand and stick with our routines, but what if contractors in the 1900s had never embraced power tools because their grandfathers did everything by hand?
New technology might take an initial investment of your time to understand, but it also has the magical capabilities of making life more convenient for you as well … if you quit fighting it. So, here are a few simple steps:
- Always be a student. You might have been working on HVAC units for several decades now, but there’s always more to learn. Go to the trade shows, stay connected with other contractors, see what’s hot and what’s developing in your world. It’ll pay off.
- Listen to your customers. If you do it correctly, you can poll your customer base to see what services or features they might want you to add to your offering. Honest feedback is often blunt, so be prepared to hear if your website stinks, but at least you’ll know what to fix.
This polling also minimizes some of the risk of jumping into something and investing in new technology that your area might not be ready for just yet.
- Automation is your friend. As technology advances, there are a lot of things we can put on autopilot. Chat boxes with “bots” can field questions while giving the impression that you are available 24/7.
There are some phenomenal CRM and dispatching programs out there that track all your daily processes. And Hudson Ink can even give you some solutions to fully automate your marketing with new software. While your customers don’t directly see how some of these programs work, they will quickly see the benefits. Check out what can be done hands-free.
- Look for new opportunities. Don’t be afraid to talk with people who can help. Honeywell, Nest, and other companies are looking for contractors everywhere to go into homes to install these smart devices. They’ll even book the appointments for you.
You might not clear much on the front end, but it gets you into a home where you can connect and offer more services to a lead you didn’t have to pay for.
It can be intimidating learning to use new tools to grow your business, but you just might find these modern conveniences free you up to focus on other things that need your attention.
In an industry where we could always use an extra set of hands, you can have your own version of Rosie the Robot at your service.
I’m not promising you a one-hour work day, but with a little technological help in the right places, you’ll meet the growing demand of your market and maybe still be able to kick your feet up a little more.
Publication date: 5/6/2019