Last month, we talked about how New Year's resolutions can be a benefit if we really make an effort to do what we say we're going to do. As I did in my last column, I'm going to give you several suggestions for resolutions.

I hope you will prioritize them in the order you feel is best for you and your business and plan to do one per month. To begin implementation of each will only take about an hour. I really believe that if you do each of these things, your business will be improved significantly.

Key Resolutions

The two suggestions from the previous column were to set up a long-range planning meeting for your company to plan your course over the next three to five years and, second, to look at your physical facility and make sure it is as clean and up to date as is practical. The other suggestions are as follows:

  • Set up in-house training sessions. Call on your equipment suppliers to provide technical and sales training. Have a course on the importance of people skills for all of your people, emphasizing the importance of the customer to your business.

  • Sell maintenance agreements. Sales of maintenance agreements should be an important year-round function of your service department. E-mail me at the address below and I'll send you the sign-up forms we use. Meet with your service techs and emphasize the benefits to the customer and to them regarding maintenance agreements. Offer a small spiff (we use $10) for each one sold. Include the office force in the spiff.

  • Provide maintenance agreements for charity auctions. Nearly every church and social group holds some type of an affair with an auction. Make it known that you are willing to provide two maintenance agreements for the organization to auction off. Not only will you be getting two new customers, you will receive exceptional PR within the organization.

  • Hold a surprise truck inspection. Bring all of your trucks in one day and make a personal visual inspection of the insides and outsides. You will be amazed. This is the time to make sure there are no bumper stickers, that service trucks have the correct inventory, the exterior of the trucks provides the image you want to provide, etc.

  • Review your pricing. Many of our costs have a way of sneaking up on us. Make it a point to review your costs and price structure at least once a year.

    Although it's wise to make some phone calls to see what your competitors are charging, the bottom line is you have to charge an amount that allows you to be profitable. Remember, especially in service, the customers would rather pay X amount for good service than half of X for bad service. So charge what you need to charge to provide quality service at a profit.

  • Review your image. Take a look at all of your printed materials, advertising, etc., to determine if they are projecting the image of your company you want to project. It's a good idea to review all of these pieces annually.

  • Develop a lead generation sheet. Use the sheet to track where your leads come from and what happens to those leads. You can develop your own, or e-mail me for a copy of ours. This is simple to set up but will provide you with invaluable information.

  • Get involved! Sit down and pick out one organization where you feel it will be beneficial if you become involved. This can be an industry association like the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA) or the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), the Home Builders Association (if you're in new construction), your Better Business Bureau, or your local chamber of commerce. There are many, many ways to become involved in your industry and community, any of which can be extremely beneficial to your business. But don't just join. Pick an organization in which you have enough interest that you will get involved and participate. The old saying that you get out of something what you put into it is very true regarding association participation.

    OK, I Can't Count

    I know, this article only lists 10 suggestions, and I said implement one per month. However, there are going to be two months this year when your business is so good you won't have time for a resolution. That's why there are only 10.

    I strongly urge you to keep this list and really do one a month and see how much benefit you gain.

    Guest columnist Butch Welsch operates Welsch Heating & Cooling in St. Louis. He can be reached by e-mail at

    Publication date: 02/09/2004