NEW LENOX, Ill. — Contractors entering the home of a potential residential customer always hope talk will turn to the quality and the value of the products being considered for installation. The fear is that conversation will start and end with the customer saying, “What’s the cheapest thing you can install?”

While the mechanical expertise of the contractor is of paramount concern, skill in salesmanship is often critical. That’s why many experts argue that the HVACR industry should pay as much attention to sales presentations as it does technical training and business advice.

A fairly recent component for in-home presentations is The Electronic Consultant, a software program from Adtek Software Co. of Toluca, Ill.

“This was born out of the necessity to differentiate the HVAC contractor who wants to sell high-efficiency equipment from the contractor who tries to be the lowest bidder,” said Adtek President Jerry Faw, who himself was a contractor for 30 years before forming Adtek five years ago.

The technology is superior to other types of electronic presentations, asserted Faw. The contractor arriving at the potential customer’s home can take a picture of the exterior of the home with a digital camera and plug that picture into the cover of the proposal on the laptop computer—an extra personalized touch that may start to tip the scale toward what the contractor has to offer.

The contractor is also able to incorporate photographs, graphics, and text specific to his or her place of business. The company logo, along with pictures of the building, trucks, and service techs at work can be added.

The program incorporates a customer needs survey that can help the contractor determine the specific equipment needed to meet the desires of the consumer. For example, if the survey shows the homeowner is sincerely concerned about indoor air quality, the software can detail the actual equipment the contractor carries that addresses IAQ issues.

Accepted industry standards are built into the system, said Faw, so whole-house load calculations can be done. The customer is able to see that the equipment sizing is based on methods from an impartial, respected third party, and not the result of an estimate hastily sketched out on a piece of paper.

Faw said the result is a professional-looking proposal, complete with details in terms of equipment and costs, which can be printed out on site and given to the customer. The software also allows the contractor to get a good profit analysis of a potential job.

On hand at Munch’s Supply in New Lenox, Ill., to talk about the latest in high-tech in-home sales presentations are (from left) Raymond Kelly and Jerry Faw of Adtek Software Co. and Bob Munch and Keith Kramer of Munch’s.

The Supply House Route

Adtek’s Faw first approached American Standard Corp. with the concept because of what he saw as the manufacturer’s emphasis on quality products. That led to Faw starting to make contact with American Standard distributors as a way to reach contractors.

One such distributor is Munch’s Supply Co. Inc., headquartered in New Lenox, Ill., in the southwest Chicago suburbs. The wholesaler has six locations and serves much of Northern Illinois and Northwestern Indiana.

Bob Munch saw the concept at a distributors’ meeting. “We felt one of the biggest challenges was to get the dealers to ‘up-sell’ — to promote better products,” he said. “This looked like something that could help do that.”

Employees from Munch’s Supply then worked with Adtek to present the concept to many of Munch’s 240 American Standard dealers. Keith Kramer, Munch’s sales manager, traced the reasoning process this way: “American Standard has premiere products. But a lot of competitors out there are dealing only with price. So how do we convince homeowners to buy American Standard because it is better quality? This [Electronic Consultant] is a fantastic presentation of the products and the contractor.” A contractor’s investment includes both the software and a training program.

So far, Kramer estimates about 10 percent of its American Standard dealers have signed on to the program. The process is a challenging one because many contractors prefer to avoid taking laptops on sales calls. But advocates of the system contend that a byproduct of the new technology is that it is easy to use, with a point and click format requiring very little typing.

So just as potential end users need convincing that high-quality products in the long run are the better investment, so too do some contractors need convincing that the latest in computer technology can go a long way to selling those higher-quality products.

One who has been convinced is Mark Bushell of Tamarack Heating & Cooling of Plainfield, Ill. “I recently completed a review of my company’s sales and found that since I have been using the Electronic Consultant, my closing ratio has improved and my average sale price is up,” he said. “I am selling more high-efficiency equipment and accessories, which has improved my bottom line. The software allows me to make a complete presentation in just one trip, saving me valuable time to make more presentations. The homeowner will give me the extra time I need for a complete presentation, since they understand I can do it all in one trip.”

For more information, contact Adtek at 815-452-2345 or Munch’s Supply can be reached at 815-723-1111 or

Publication date: 06/09/2003