Bob Wilkins
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The installation process, the steps an HVACR company takes from the time a replacement job is sold until it is completely finished, can be a nightmare for some contractors. Many companies search for, but never find, a good way to go about the process, never really having a clear vision of how it should be done in order to be most efficient.

At the recent International Service Leadership (ISL) conference, Bob Wilkins introduced members to a process designed to provide stability to the installation process. He termed it "standardized installation," or "kitting."

According to Wilkins, the system allows a contractor to sell customers exactly what they desire and what is in their best interest, completely automates the parts and equipment database and replacement pricing system, and places kit collation in the hands of the vendor.

"If your company is now pulling parts from inventory, has a large parts warehouse, is kitting in-house, or is warehousing equipment, this system will reduce the cost of such systems by eliminating the need for excessive inventory and warehouse management," said Wilkins, who went, step-by-step, through the association's proprietary process with members during the two-day conference.

Steps To Follow

Without disclosing every proprietary detail, these are the 10 steps to standardizing installations:

1. Prepare by instructing the company correctly.

2. Learn to create equipment and parts kits with the install team.

3. Create a kit for everything your business installs.

4. Implement a kit database. Set a start date.

5. Negotiate with and set up vendors.

6. Update replacement pricing.

7. Teach all sales team members how the process works.

8. Implement the standardizing installations process.

9. Ensure quality control.

10. Review and make adjustments as needed.

At the heart of standardizing are kits. Kits, per Wilkins, are nothing more than the "pieces" needed for a job, packaged or boxed together.

"When you purchase a desk or other piece of furniture that needs assembly, the primary materials are packaged together. Likewise, all screws, bolts and miscellaneous parts are usually packaged together in small bags," notes the proprietary book handed out to members.

"The first step to putting the furniture together is to see what parts there are and group them by like items, in preparation for assembly. Creating kits for HVAC is exactly the same concept."

In other words, it must be decided exactly what parts are needed for the installation. Therefore, the process calls for deconstructing an installation for each and every product that a contractor sells, in order to create a kit for each type of installation performed. After deciding what the installation involves, a contractor can then analyze the parts needed to install the product and create parts kits.

In ISL's case, it recommended offering four categories of equipment to customers: basic, deluxe, premium, and supreme. Each category of equipment is supposed to have a distinct price and feature differences designed to appeal to different groups of buyers throughout the marketplace. Wilkins did note that each of these categories has one equipment kit.

In regard to step 7, Todd Lavery, general manager at Wilkins Mechanical Services, noted the goal here is to train the sales team to sell what the installation department has already deemed to be the perfect installation. This means describing the way categories work and how they are different than before.

"It's important to have the entire company on the same page, in order for this to work," said Lavery.

For more information, contact ISL at 800-585-4452.

Publication date: 05/16/2005