Right up to the very last session, there was full attendance at this year’s National Comfort Institute Inc.’s (NCI’s) Summit Conference. In its 16th year, the conference hosted nearly 200 contractors, preferred partners, and industry participants at the Wyndham Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida. The three days of events included workshops, seminars, networking, exhibits, and a host of opportunities to participate in the sharing of ideas and best practices. Everything centered on the theme “High-Performance Sales and Delivery Cycle.”

“For many attendees, Summit is not just another conference; it’s a place to get re-energized and refocused on their mission,” said Dominick Guarino, chairman and CEO of NCI. “It’s the only event in our industry that is completely focused on the high-performance approach to HVAC.”



The kernel of this year’s conference focused on five workshops taught by performance-based contractors. Michael Hartman of Thomas E. Clark Inc. in Silver Spring, Maryland, and David Richardson of NCI instructed the audience on how to “Generate High-Quality Leads with Performance Testing.” According to these instructors, when done correctly, a few simple tests will generate high-quality leads with virtually no competition and high conversion rates.

Nancy McKeraghan of Canco Climate Care in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, and David Holt of NCI addressed on how to “Turn High-Performance Leads into Appointments.” This session showed how to create a front-line office team that consistently produces a “wow” experience for customers.

Michael Hyde of Hyde’s Air Conditioning in Indio, California, and Rob Falke of NCI took attendees through “Performance-Based Selling in 12 Steps, from Test to Proposal.” This session was interactive and hands-on as class participants were walked step-by-step through a performance-based sales visit.

“The Handoff Can Make All the Difference,” according to Dawn Vickers-Mroczek of GV’s Heating and Cooling in Glenview, Illinois, and John Puryear of NCI. Together, they instructed contractors how a sales team and installation team can better communicate and work together to produce complete high-performance system installations.

After attending this session, Michael Greany, HVAC service manager at All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical in Ontario, California, said that the takeaways had an immediate impact on the way his company does business.

“Upon returning to All Pro, we instantly implemented a staging area for the individual jobs, and a morning huddle with the install supervisor,” he explained. “We are revising our install folder to include more specifically a ‘what the customer was promised’ form. This will prove to make things run smoother for our teams.”

“Selling High-Performance Maintenance Agreements,” led by Jim Ball of Ball Heating and Air Conditioning in Biloxi, Mississippi, and Tom Johnson of NCI, focused on ways to turn the service team into cash-generating machines through the implementation of strong, performance-based maintenance agreement programs. Each instructor shared their tips and personal experiences on this subject.

“Virtually everyone attended every general session and workshop, even many vendor partners,” said Guarino. “Few contractors skipped a single session. Our attendees did not see this Summit as an excuse to kick back in Orlando. They were very committed to learning.”



Surrounding the workshops were idea meetings, general sessions, and new features like “Ask the Coaches.” Moderated by Guarino, five coaches fielded questions about sales, marketing, and customer service topics. The panelists included Drew Cameron, president, HVAC Sellutions Inc.; Brigham Dickinson, trainer and coach, Power Selling Pros; David Holt, director of Business Training and Coaching, NCI; Dennis Mondul, consultant, HVAC Contractor Solutions; and Tom Piscitelli, sales coach, TRUST® Training and Consulting.

General session keynote speaker Jennifer Bagley is the founder of the 12 Step Roadmap to Achieve Accelerated Results and the CEO of CI Web Group, an HVAC digital marketing agency. During her presentation, Bagley emphasized that when hungry for results to get ahead, contractors need to have the right tools and a plan to make that hunger a reality.

“When accelerated results becomes a reality, communication skills and abilities are elevated at every level,” she said. “This is achieved with the presence of a system that produces clarity and focus, and the ability to execute.”

The idea meetings and unofficial peer groups Greany participated in sent him home with answers to the seminar questions he always has after learning about new systems and ideas from the instructional material.

“By working with an unofficial peer group, I get to ask these questions and have a face to go with the name,” he said. “More so, I get a personal connection of someone to learn from, which has, multiple times, directly led to implementation of a process with accountability. This leads to revenue and profit.”



For the past 13 years, during the Summit, NCI hands out several awards to high-performance contractors from around the country — the highest honor is the Chairman’s Award. It recognizes a contractor who is a strong supporter and implementer of NCI tactics. Ron Getzschman of Getzschman Heating LLC in Fremont, Nebraska, was awarded this honor for 2019.

NCI also awarded Goodman Mfg. Co. its Preferred Partners Award.

“We assemble products from steel, aluminum, and copper, but you, the contractors, are the ones who bring them to life,” said Saturo Akama, president of Goodman, upon accepting the award.

Three Contractor of the Year awards were presented (based on company size) to Punbar LLC, Houston; GV’s Heating and Cooling Inc.; and Control Point Mechanical, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

The organization further recognized individuals for their contributions to the Performance-Based Contracting™ industry. The David Debien Award for Technical Excellence was given to Michael Greany, All Pro Plumbing and Heating, Air, and Electrical, Ontario, Canada; Jim Ball of Ball Heating and Air Conditioning, Biloxi, Mississippi, received the John Garofalo Implementation Excellence Award; Michael Davis of Davis Services Inc., Spartanburg, South Carolina, received the Scott Johnson Training Excellence Award; and Corey Osborn of Getszchman Heating received the High-Performance Sales Excellence Award.



Now that NCI Summit 2019 is in the record books, the question is, “What’s next?” For attendees headed back to the day-to-day hustle and bustle, NCI is offering the Summit Trailblazer Coaching program.

“Many companies attending this year enrolled in the program, which has become a great bridge between Summits,” said Guarino. “In this program, the contractors meet each month in an online session with NCI coaches to work on a 20-step plan to move their companies forward.”

As for NCI, it will continue to support its contractors and also begin planning for next year’s Summit. According to Guarino, NCI is examining the feedback from this year and is already planning to include more hands-on training with working systems and more one-on-one role-playing events.

“We already have most of this year’s exhibitors and sponsors recommitted for 2020,” he said. “There will be a strong emphasis on performance-based selling and lead generation from service. We will also expand networking time, which was a top request.”


Performance-Based Contracting Trends

Dominick Guarino, chairman and CEO of the National Comfort Institute (NCI), explained three future trends contractors will likely see in regard to performance-based contracting.

  1. Consumers are increasingly recognizing what it means to hire a high-performance HVAC contractor. Consumer education will continue to grow with more and better online content. More contractors are learning that education is key.
  2. Manufacturers will truly support and encourage contractors who test and improve systems, rather than just slapping in equipment and hoping for the best. There is an increase in understanding the importance of this with a few manufacturers. He believes once they get it, others will follow.
  3. Government and utilities will also increase their understanding of the reasons for so many failed energy efficiency programs over the past three decades. Once they learn that installed system performance must be measured and cannot be deemed, they will see performance-based contracting in both residential and commercial HVAC as the path to help them achieve their energy goals.

Source: Dominick Guarino, chairman and CEO of National Comfort Institute Inc.


Publication date: 6/17/2019

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