The Contractors’ Secret Weapon

HVAC contractors have a secret weapon, and they may not even recognize it. What is it? It’s their supplier. That’s right, their supplier of products, parts, and supplies. Along with their employees, their supplier is their most valuable asset and best chance for success.

Contractors would be out of business without quality suppliers and, equally so, suppliers would be gone without the contractors. Suppliers come in many forms and sizes. There are mom and pop organizations all the way to major manufacturers that supply the air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration equipment as well as parts, pieces, and supplies. These suppliers provide everything the contractor needs to sell and service their customers.

In today’s business climate, the supplier is more important than ever before. First of all, suppliers provide the equipment that the contractor sells, thus providing the bulk of the profits for the contractor’s business. But suppliers go far beyond that in their support of the contractors. The warranty support of the product also offers the contractor limited liability in the products that they sell. Many suppliers go well beyond the standard parts warranty that is published. Service support from suppliers is critical to the contractor. Most suppliers have technical assistance that ranges from telephone support to actual factory representatives that go to the jobsite to offer assistance to fix the problems. What would a contractor do if this support was not available and the contractor could not fix a problem? This is one area where a supplier really wears the white hat.

Most contractors are not experts in every single area of our trade. The suppliers offer tremendous resources and experience that the contractors can draw on. Manufacturers employ top professionals in engineering, application, design, marketing, sales, service, business management, training, human resources, and much more. These resources are available to con-tractors that have relationships with their suppliers. Usually, these resources are free. That’s right, I said free. It is so important that contractors realize that if they have a close working relationship with a major supplier, they have access to all these resources. They are theirs for the asking.

Many suppliers will partner with their customers to help them be successful. After all, most suppliers do not sell directly to consumers; they are not your competitors. If they do compete with you, you might consider a new supplier.

Let me give you an example of the things that York International will do for a contractor. We will consult with any engineer or architect on the dealers’ behalf. We have technical advisors that will train the dealer’s technicians. They will also help solve any service issue either on the phone or at the jobsite. We have marketing experts that will develop and implement sales, advertising, and marketing programs for the dealers. We directly implement advertising programs on their behalf, including lead generation for the dealers.

We stock the equipment, parts, and supplies that the dealer needs. We offer credit and generous terms, as well as stocking programs and other financial support. We work hard to maintain a brand image that is very well known and respected that the dealer can be associated with. We have a staff of friendly people that are ready to handle any question or issue that the dealer has.

Suppliers value their contractor/dealer customers. They do all these things to serve them. The whole point is to be a valuable resource and help contractors/dealers be successful. The truly successful contractors/dealers will maintain close relationships with their key suppliers. They will maintain loyalty to the supplier so that when they need the resources of the supplier, they will be there.

Simply put, the supplier is the contractor/dealer’s secret weapon. The supplier can be the important partner that a dealer needs to be successful. All they have to do is learn what their supplier can do for them and then let them do it.

David DeLancett, Philadelphia Branch Manager, York International, Phoenixville, PA

Publication date: 09/09/2002