With inflation being a hot topic, Modernize Home Services, a provider of marketing services for contractors, conducted a survey of more than 500 homeowners considering home improvement projects — including HVAC.
To explain what the survey showed, The ACHR NEWS talked with Gregg Hicks, vice president of Modernize Home Services.
ACHR NEWS: What is the general mindset of the average homeowner these days in regards to inflation and the economy?
HICKS: Homeowners are stressed. In our recent survey, 61% of homeowners said their level of stress was either “more than I can even handle” or “tough to manage.” And 57% cite different examples of price increases as the major factors contributing to their stress.
ACHR NEWS: How does that change the sales process HVAC contractors should be implementing at the kitchen table?
HICKS: When contractors meet with a homeowner, they might encounter more friction and hesitancy than usual. They should address this with empathy and understanding to build trust and favor with the homeowner. Be transparent about the cost of materials, supplies, fuel, and labor. Openness about pricing helps homeowners make the best decision for their homes and budgets.
ACHR NEWS: Is the finance option now much more appealing to homeowners?
HICKS: Homeowners’ interest in financing their projects remains high, year-over-year. Our survey shows that 80% of homeowners seeking HVAC repairs/replacements would like to finance part, if not all, of their project.
ACHR NEWS: During COVID, homeowners were motivated to invest in their homes. Is this still the case?
HICKS: Our survey shows that 50% of homeowners plan to pursue additional home improvement projects in the next six months — an increase from 38% in 2021. The biggest barrier is cost, cited by 69% of homeowners. But regardless, most homeowners are not shopping for new heating or air conditioning systems because they want to. It’s because they need to. Our survey shows that the majority (58%) of homeowners in need of HVAC contractors are turning to Modernize Home Services to repair or replace damage to their unit. And 23% are ready to hire immediately.
ACHR NEWS: Is there any special marketing HVAC contractors should do considering inflation and the economy?
HICKS: Meet the homeowner where they are spending time. Our survey shows that 34% of homeowners find HVAC contractors using online sources, including Google and social media. Update your social media pages with before-and-after photos, then link to them in your ads and website. Post how-to articles on your website and quick tips on your social media to assert yourself as an expert. Partnering with third-party sites helps, too — 26% of homeowners in need of HVAC contractors turn to sites like Modernize for research.
ACHR NEWS: How are the rising energy costs affecting the replace versus repair question that homeowners need to ask themselves?
HICKS: Twenty-seven percent of homeowners in need of HVAC contractors are also looking to save money on utility bills. This means the motivation to replace instead of repair does exist. If a homeowner replaces their current heating and cooling equipment with higher efficiency systems, they can save money in the long run. Mentioning how energy-efficient equipment can eventually pay for itself over time should be a part of the sales pitch.
ACHR NEWS: Is the current economic climate making renewable energy more appealing to homeowners?
HICKS: Absolutely. With costs as high as they are right now, paired with concerns of a looming recession, homeowners want to save money where they can. And that is what renewable energy offers, despite the high upfront cost of a new system.
ACHR NEWS: When the economy is in a downturn, does that make DIY more appealing to homeowners? Does that affect HVAC?
HICKS: Yes, homeowners tend to take on more DIY projects during economic downturns. But as I mentioned before, our data shows that most homeowners needing HVAC repair/replacement need it immediately. If a homeowner’s cooling system goes out in the beginning of August, they cannot waste time doing it themselves. They realize that a complete system overhaul is a project that professionals should do.