Homeowners don’t want to purchase new equipment. A new heating and air conditioning system is the last thing they are thinking about. HVAC is out of sight and out of mind until it breaks — but when it stops working, they want it repaired ASAP. Sure, a new system would be great, and even consumers can get excited about the buying process. But they want it fixed if at all possible.
I like to compare the HVAC maintenance, service, and replacement process to dating. You have a goal when you enter a relationship. HVAC business owners ultimately want to replace systems. That’s where the money is, but that’s not what your customer wants. So, we have to follow the correct path through service and maintenance to get to the promised land.
It all starts with the first contact with the new customer. It’s typically a service call for a broken air conditioner or furnace, or it could even be a proactive homeowner that is looking for routine maintenance. So, how do we begin to nurture the relationship between the homeowner and contractor?
Step 1: Establish “Trust” at the Beginning
Let them know you are there to take care of them and their needs. Engage with the customer and involve them in the repair or maintenance visit. Show them that you and your company are the experts, and they made the right choice by contacting you. If they trust you at the beginning, you will gain a customer for life.
Step 2: Put Your Arms Around Them and Don’t Let Go
Make sure they only think about you when they need heating and air conditioning services. Here’s how to keep your company front of mind:
- Company stickers or decals on the thermostat, furnace/air handler, and outdoor unit.
- Leave swag gifts when you visit their home or business (Travel mugs, kid’s toys, pens, notepads, etc.)
- Keep in contact with your customer: newsletters, social media, emails, text messages
Step 3: Communicate With Them about Your Relationship
Homeowners want you to repair their system. They want to know you are taking care of them, and you genuinely care about their best interest. They still want the relationship, but they do not want to invest the money in a new heating and air system until it is absolutely necessary. Remember, it is our job to educate and lead them down the path.
Let’s look at some examples of how to involve your customer and prepare them for the system replacement:
- Show them how the contactor is starting to pit
- Test the capacitor and show the homeowner the low microfarad reading
- Remind them they’ve had multiple repairs over the last couple of years
- They will be more comfortable, save money on energy bills, and have peace of mind that their system will not breakdown
If you advertise for changeouts, your company may become just a number to the homeowner. They are looking for a low-cost provider to replace their heating and air system. Price is much less of an objection for a customer you have been servicing for years. They trust and value your services, since you have been nurturing the relationship over time. Now, you have gained value with your customer. But solely advertising for equipment replacements could lead to lower closing rates, lower margins, less loyal customers, and lower total job price.
If we work hard at building relationships with our customers, your company will win over time. There are no quick fixes or magic bullets to succeed in this business. It takes hard work. Build your business through maintenance and service, and you will get those equipment replacement jobs and at a higher margin.