Selling Dotcom-Style Isn¿t for Everyone

I just read Collen Essman¿s Feedback letter, ¿Devil¿s Advocate.com,¿ Sept. 4, 2000, and wondered why she wasn¿t generating more online sales. I visited her website and found it to be professionally done and easy to use.

I concluded that what is happening here is that her company is very specialized in supplying mainly refrigeration gauge sets and components. In our organization, service techs provide their own gauges and only replace them every few years. When they do buy new ones, it is generally something they pick up at the wholesale house simply due to habit and convenience.

I think that to be successful as a dotcom that sells online, you need a product that has broad appeal to a mass of end-users. My company has maintained a website for several years and sells nothing online. It mainly gives us additional credibility.

Randy Mead Control Technologies, Inc. South Burlington, VT

It¿s Simple Economics

I feel that I must respond to Mr. Gallagher¿s letter ¿Hvac Social Science¿ in the Sept. 11 issue of The News.It is obvious that Mr. Gallagher has never been through the Florida licensing process. It is easier for someone to become a nurse in the state of Florida than to become a licensed air conditioning contractor. When I look at the process, I often wonder if this is not a device to restrain trade rather than ensure quality air conditioning contractors. I agree with Mr. Gallagher in all other aspects of his letter. I think we must look at the other side of the problem. Since we are in a market-driven society, it is important to realize that economics is a big part of the problem with the shortage of good technicians. For years, the vast majority of air conditioning contractors have had the attitude that ¿If the employee doesn¿t like the way I treat him or pay him, I¿ll just hire someone else that will.¿ There has been an abundance of air conditioning technicians in the field and the law of supply and demand was working with that premise. That economic theory is still working, but not the way contractors would like. After years of taking advantage of this glut of technicians, the well has dried up. Many technicians have gotten out of the industry and gone to other higher paying, better benefits, and lower labor-intensive jobs. In the process, the next generation has seen this and wants no part of the air conditioning trade. The answer to the problem is simple. You must treat your employees like any other overhead item. If the costs of their services increase, then you must make business decisions to meet the increase. It¿s just like buying supplies. The cost of refrigerant has increased 300% in the past several years. Because of this, do you as a contractor still charge the 1960s price of $10/lb for R-12? (If you could even get it.) Of course not. Then why do you still want to pay service technicians 1960s wages? You put the increases of your equipment, overhead, fuel, and supplies in your pricing structure. Why not put the increases of your labor overhead in that price structure as well? When you start paying professional wages, you will get professional employees.

Paul James Arthur Former Teacher/Now Owner Port Charlotte, FL

Publication date: 10/02/2000