In the July 31 issue of The NEWS, legislation editor, Samantha Sine, examined the value of “fringe” items in the HVACR industry.
Fringe items are accessory items HVACR contractors can offer on top of traditional HVAC products and services, such as doorbells, security cameras, deadbolt locks, smart home hubs, etc.
Based on her reporting, contractors tend to either be all-in or all-out.
For example, Chad Baumann, sales and marketing manager, Baumann and DeGroot Heating and Cooling, Holland, Michigan, believes fringe items are likely the next step in heating and cooling. Rich Morgan, president, Magic Touch Mechanical, Mesa, Arizona, deemed upselling technology not the next big thing, but the now big thing.
On the other side of the fence is Rob Minnick, CEO and president, Minnick’s Inc., Laurel, Maryland, who believes contractors’ plates are full enough, stating, “There are many other items contractors already need to focus on. These new items won’t solve the health, comfort, and safety issues that should be addressed first.”
Steve Moon, president, Moon Services Inc., Elkton, Maryland, agreed, stating, “We are having a tough time upselling anything outside the realm of HVAC. The pushback is that techs don’t want to be a salesman.”
As a 35-year-old magazine editor, and an admitted technology addict, I tend to side with Baumann and Morgan. At the very least, techs should at least mention that these items are available. Start with a smart thermostat. Sell customers on its intelligent, geofencing (if applicable) features. From there, mention that they should pair it with an Amazon Echo Show. With the Show, customers can simply ask Alexa to turn their thermostat up, down, or off. Sell the Show on its 7-inch touchscreen and ability to inform homeowners of the local weather forecast, traffic, and latest news as well as allow them to view movies via Amazon Prime or stream music from a number of providers, including Sirius XM and Spotify.
Additionally, the Show’s screen can be linked to a smart doorbell, which allows homeowners to view who’s at the door before answering it. The doorbell is a great function for those who vacation a lot and would like to keep a close eye on their front doors.
Those with deeper pockets may consider a security system, which may also be tethered to the Show. The list goes on and on.
Once you’ve installed one piece of technology in a consumer’s home, you’ve instantly become their techie. They’ll call you every time a new piece of technology catches their eye.
This shouldn’t require a great deal of training as most consumers are installing these devices on their own. Every tech should be able to install a door handle or door bell, hang a security camera, and you all better well know how to properly install a thermostat. The network/IT side of it is quite simple and can typically be taught or learned in 30 minutes or less.
According to a new market research report by marketsandmarkets.com, the home automation system market was valued at $39.93 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $79.57 billion by 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.3 percent during the forecast period.
I’m with Baumann and Morgan. Serve me up a piece of that pie.