Summers is vice president of the Comfort Institute, Bellingham, Wash. He explored the complex problem and some solutions with an audience of Chicago-area contractors during a half-day seminar in Hoffman Estates.
Part of the purpose of the seminar, he told the contractors, was to "pull you away from a reaction business based on the weather to a problem-solving business."
In light of aggressive competition in the service sector from utilities and retailers, Summers urged a value-added approach that went so far as "prequalifying your potential customers and eliminating the guy that wants the cheapest price."
He said that process should not be too daunting, considering the number of people willing to take a pass on the lowest price.
"When I looked at the parking lot of this hotel this morning, I didn't see any [low-cost] KIAs. So, most people don't shop price. Unfortunately, the low price does get jobs because, to homeowners, you [contractors] are all the same."
Summers suggested that contractors stress their uniqueness and value by offering "whole-house health-and-comfort checkups" that would include such aspects as infiltration rates and load calculations. He encouraged charging appropriately for such services.
"Sell your proposals. Don't give them away. In that way you will find the value buyers and torpedo the competition." He contended that such an approach leads to more sales and the potential for service contracts.
Whole-House MythsSummers' session included a range of myths in the whole-house concept, such as:
For more information on the Comfort Institute and its services to contractors, visit www.comfort-institute.org.
Publication date: 01/24/2005