One of my wife's favorite expressions is, "It's a double-A world." She is referring to AA batteries. It seems that 95 percent of the gadgets we use run on AA batteries - from toys to cameras to phones. AA batteries are one of life's necessities, kind of like a set of socket wrenches or cordless drill for a mechanic.

I bet every one of the people in your business has a necessity for their job, be it the customer service representative, office manager, salesperson, project manager, service technician, sheet metal worker, or installer. Did you ever stop to think about the items you can't do without?

In my line of business, I need (among other things) a small handheld tape recorder (AA batteries), digital camera (many AA batteries), cell phone (rechargeable battery), laptop computer (rechargeable battery), phone for my home office (AA batteries), and cocktail stirrer (manual).

In other words, I need a lot of battery power to get me through the day. Luckily I invested in an inexpensive battery recharger last year and it has been a lifesaver. I rotate my AA batteries in and out of the recharger (mostly for use in my battery-guzzling digital camera) and I avoid the cost of continually buying more new batteries. The rechargeable batteries are more expensive to purchase but save money in the long run.

What Is Your Necessity?

I bet if you think long enough, you can probably tie in one of your necessities to some type of energy source.

There is no doubt that we all depend on electricity to power up our homes and businesses. Unless you believe in Amish living (the simpler life and not a bad option) or your home runs on a gas generator, you are very dependent on electricity.

When the power goes out - as it has for millions of Floridians lately - life as we know it shuts down and bare-bones existence begins. Unless you have all of your rechargeable batteries charged up or an ample supply of fresh batteries, you know you can't keep the flashlights, laptops, or iPods going for an unlimited amount of time.

Your dispatcher needs batteries in the two-way radios; your technician needs batteries for his flashlight, to see in the dark crawlspace; and you all need gasoline to get to work.

OK, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know - so what is my point?

Comfort Is A Necessity

Now put yourself in your customers' shoes. What is their most important necessity? I think we can all agree that an energy source ranks right up there near the top. We can also agree that food and shelter make the top-five list. I would add safety to that list.

That makes four out of five necessities. Now let's add the fifth: comfort. That's where you come in.

Don't you think people are happiest and able to go about their business in the most efficient way when they are comfortable? How many people have a hard time working when they are too hot or too cold? How many have a hard time sleeping under the same circumstances? How many arguments could have been prevented if both parties were not irritated by the heat or cold?

The point is, the services and products you provide are important to the necessities of life. If you never lose that perspective, you should be able to instill the importance of comfort in the minds of your employees and especially, your customers.

Think of the HVACR equipment you sell and service as the AA batteries of life. Everything works a lot better with it than without it.

John R. Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 248-244-1294, 248-786-1390 (fax), or

Publication date: 09/20/2004