LAS VEGAS - The AirTime 500 HVAC contractors group recently kicked off the first of three summer "Legends Profit Days," seminars designed to attract new members to the group. The event consisted of a unique series of product demonstrations and speeches from company founders.

What makes these summer sessions unique is that these will be the final three recruitment meetings. After the last session, scheduled to take place Aug. 19-20 in Chicago, AirTime 500 will close its membership. The next scheduled meeting is Aug. 5-6 in Baltimore.

According to Jim Abrams, president and chief executive officer of VenVest Inc., parent company of AirTime 500, the move to close membership signals the beginning of a focused effort on other VenVest efforts, namely the initial public offering (IPO) of One Hour® Air Conditioning & Heating.

"We are fulfilling membership so we can focus all of our efforts on giving independent contractors an even greater competitive advantage," said Abrams.

In Search Of Profits

Abrams began the seminars by asking attendees how they view profitability.

"If you are in business, you are in business to make a profit," he said. "Why would you make the effort if you don't earn a profit?"

He said the key to being successful is having knowledge and information - plain and simple - with a little bit of elbow grease thrown in.

"There is no magic bullet. There is simply a lot of hard work and knowledge involved," he said.

Abrams noted that the future of HVACR will be represented by some important changes, namely the influence of retail and the Internet. Those areas will impact HVACR contractors in a way that they haven't in the past.

For example, consumers can now buy complete HVAC systems via the "big box" retail stores and through the Internet.

Abrams noted five distinct opportunities for contractors today:

1. They can "go it alone."

2. They can join a contractor group.

3. They can buy a franchise.

4. They can sell or merge their business.

5. They can leave the industry.

Marketing, Business Tips

John Young, chief innovation officer at VenVest, talked about how contractors can market their businesses. He said the basic purpose of marketing is to "sell more stuff to more people more often for more money."

According to Young, there are three types of customers: actual, inactive, and nonactive. The actual customers are those who have made a purchase within the last year and ones that businesses need to market to on a regular basis.

Young said that many marketing campaigns, unfortunately, are aimed at nonactive customers, those who might live in an apartment or townhouse, for example, and who will never be a customer.

"Logic says that you focus your resources on what will give you the greatest return," he said.

"And you should know the difference between a customer and a client. A customer is someone you sell to. A client is someone you protect and nurture."

Final speaker Terry Nicholson, senior vice president of VenVest, spoke about having the ability to make changes and improving the financial outlook of a business. He said the first thing to do is "departmentalize" a business.

"It is important to understand financial percentages of each department and how they relate to the overall financial picture of the company," said Nicholson.

"Unless you understand all key aspects of your business, your business will suffer. That includes earning a decent wage as an owner." With a little tongue-in-cheek, he added, "Every time you earn $200,000 on $1 million in sales, it is a good thing."

Nicholson said business owners and managers should understand three basic keys to running a company: recruiting the right people, training them, and managing them.

His presentation also included a list of reasons why prospective members should join AirTime 500, including a rebate program that allows members to get a percentage back from their equipment purchases. Nicholson said that one member bought a new Jaguar with the rebate money, joking, "Every new Jaguar helps."

Sidebar: Tech Talk Seminars Offer Unique Demonstrations

LAS VEGAS - One of the unique features at the recent "Legends Profit Days" event was Tech Talk Seminars, a series of informative seminars, which highlighted some of the business-building tools offered by AirTime 500.

Eight different vendors had the opportunity to discuss their products and services in a 15-minute presentation, part of an informal tabletop expo.

Terry Nicholson, senior vice president of VenVest, said these tools "will allow you to offer a greater level of service to your cherished clients, as well as create additional revenue streams for your business. Ultimately they'll let you improve the quality of homeowners' lives and allow your business to accelerate to new levels of success."

The following products and services were showcased:

  • Nature's Home® - Indoor air quality products.

  • Casey®, Personal Home Technician - HVAC equipment monitor.

  • National Institute for Service Techniciansâ„¢ - Correspondence and hands-on training.

  • Barnett® - HVAC parts-equipment distributor.

  • Bullseye Precision Targetingâ„¢ E-Marketing - An e-mail marketing system.

  • Xenon® - Private label HVAC equipment.

  • The Inspector Heat Exchanger Camera - Heat exchanger inspection equipment.

  • Talking Thermostatâ„¢ - Programmable "talking" thermostat.

    Publication date: 07/25/2005