If HVAC Dealerships Were More Like Car Dealerships …

I just read Angela Harris’ commentary about the ugly girl mentality [“Avoid Ugly Girl Mentality, Change Industry Emphasis,” March 12, 2012]. Reading about the technical prowess needed to be a good technician brought to mind a similar highly trained technician who repairs cars or trucks for a dealership. As a young man, I wanted to be an auto mechanic, but never did I see myself as a furnace installer.

As a former salesman, territory manager, sales manager, or whatever you want to call an HVAC distributor rep, I watched many very capable techs jump from installing and repairing systems for a dealer, to trying to do the same thing, but run their own company at the same time.

I am not familiar with many car/truck dealership owners who started as a technician, then split off and started their own dealership. I know it’s probably been done, but rarely, especially in comparison to HVAC dealerships.

Why is that?

Maybe it’s because the manufacturers and distributors make it too easy for the techs to purchase equipment on their own. Can you imagine Ford selling a new F250 to a technician from Hometown Ford, for him to resale it? Yet it’s done every day in our industry.

What’s that you say? Apples and oranges? Not really. Yes, there’s potentially more dollars involved in auto dealerships, but mainly it’s that the vehicle sellers put much more importance on the ability of the boss to run a dealership. The franchise goes to a trained business person. He can then hire his trained techs.

Maybe if owning an HVAC dealership was tougher to come by, more of them (dealerships) would grow bigger and last longer. This would provide for a more stable working arena for the techs. Then perhaps more young folks would see it as an industry they want to work in.

Jim Smith
Product Management Services

Publication date: 05/14/2012