LAS VEGAS, NV - At the Paris Hotel here, The Trane Company recently brought together its top dealers for the 2000 Trane Comfort Specialist Conference.

The program was kicked off by Dave Pannier, president of Trane’s Unitary Products Group. He noted that it was just two years ago that the Comfort Specialist dealer program was introduced. At this second annual conference, almost 1,000 people were in attendance.

Pannier referred to the program as “a grass roots dealer effort” that is based on total customer satisfaction. The company’s plan is to offer premium comfort systems sold and installed by premium dealers.

“Trane has a passion for growth,” he stated, and is making major investments in product programs for the residential and light commercial markets.

Talking Sears, Home depot

Discussing the Sears-Trane relationship, Pannier said that Sears approached Trane to get a well-known brand name and become a national dealer for the company. The reasons given for the alliance with Sears are:

  • Its customers are fiercely loyal.
  • It takes a value-added approach.
  • It has 500 in-house sales professionals.
  • It has a policy of satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.
  • Explaining the Home Depot relationship, Pannier called it a “very positive program.” An hvac equipment display is set up in the store. Interested shoppers phone a call center. Sales leads then go to that area’s Trane Comfort Specialist dealer. The dealer closes the sale and installs the system. The consumer pays Home Depot, which in turn pays the dealer.

    “Both of these initiatives are creative ways to attain our goals,” said Pannier.

    Trust, Training, Technology

    Dale Green, vice president, residential sales and marketing, Unitary Products Group, stated that the Comfort Specialist program “exists to provide consumers with a dealer they can trust.” He added, “You reaffirm our brand promise.”

    He said that the minimum customer satisfaction score has been raised from 75 to 80 points. To score more points, a dealer can participate in NATE certification training.

    Trane is training its sales force in how to assist dealers, and has a website program to help dealers in developing their own website.

    Jim Bierkamp, vice president, e-business, talked about the strategic use of technology to streamline business activities. He related that the company’s ComfortSite speeds the equipment and parts order entry process for dealers and also processes extended warranties. Dealer 1,000 recently registered on the site.

    Internet leads are channeled to Comfort Specialists. For service techs, real-time help is available online.

    Pannier then introduced Fred Poses, chairman and ceo of parent American Standard Companies. Poses said that the firm is “figuring out how we can make this partnership better.”

    The company is working to improve materials management. This area is “a wonderful opportunity to raise our profitability,” stated Poses. Applying six-sigma methods, he said, is helping to eliminate defects throughout the process from taking the order to delivering the product.

    Dealers then had a choice of several seminars to attend (see related stories on pages 16 and 18).

    Publication date: 12/18/2000