Help Customers Discover the Right Comfort System

[Editor’s note: This letter is in response to John Hall’s July 21 column.]

John Hall is one of our industry’s best journalists, so I believe his recent editorial “Price is Going to Sell Today, Not Cost Savings,” was written to get our attention and not share his insight. Many of the points made were not only incorrect but also dangerous. Contractors who take the column’s advice to, “get off your pedestal and start selling to the price shoppers” are taking their first slide on the slippery slope to business failure.

Cash flow isn’t the lifeblood of business unless it’s positive. “Taking a temporary hit on your margins” is a sure way for any business to start bleeding to death.

Americans don’t “just want something to keep them cool and warm to replace a system that can no longer be bandaged.” As long as we can get parts, a good technician can keep any HVAC system running forever, that’s not the point. Consumers continually want to improve our lives, and the best way to do it is by improving our comfort. People buy comfort systems to be comfortable, not save money on their energy bill; if they did; we’d be out of business because the best energy savings is off.

We’re not selling laptop computers that “will be deeply discounted within a year and become a technological dinosaur,” we’re selling improved health, a better night’s sleep, peace of mind, enjoyable lifestyle, and a way to help pay for everything by lowering ever-increasing energy bills. We just need to let buyers know it.

There are folks struggling to make ends meet, but if we take the price-is-king-now approach, we’ll prejudge buyers and do us both a terrible disservice. We must work in every customer’s best interest, discover all their problems, and customize a solution that best meets their needs. If they can’t afford it, we can always remove benefits to lower the price.

A recentACHR NEWSfinancing Webinar offered several ways to help buyers who have maxed out their “credit cards and simply cannot float another loan.”

It’s impossible to consistently sell to price buyers because some fool is always willing to lose more money on the job than you.

Energy is on the top of everyone’s mind. Buyers do want to “hear phases like payback or future cost savings.” We need to let buyers know whether they buy high-efficiency or not, they’re choosing their energy bills for the next 20 years.

People who always buy the lowest price are always disloyal. It’s impossible to build a successful business on disloyal customers.

Even in tough times, most buyers will spend less in other areas in order to buy the things most important to their families. Instead of selling price, contractors need to consistently use a sales process that helps buyers discover how the right comfort system provides more benefits than anything else they can buy with the same money.

Only rich folk can afford cheap air conditioning.

Steve Howard
The ACT Group Inc.

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Publication date:09/15/2008