By Richard Harshaw

New Ad Trend?
I do not know about your neck of the woods, but where I live (Phoenix, Arizona) I have noticed a sudden uptick in HVAC ads on the radio that stress character in the advertising company’s technicians.
One ad (by a Trane dealer) warns people about pre-season tune-ups that cost less than a large pizza. Such companies, the dealer warns, probably pay their service techs on a commission bases and so the tech will be motivated to sell you things you may (or may not) need. This dealer’s technicians, of course, are not paid on commission and the ad stresses their high standards for character in the techs they hire and how carefully they are screened.
Another ad, by a Goettl dealer, is a fabulous and bittersweet ad. In the ad, one of his techs is off-duty and is in the checkout line of a grocery store. He sees an elderly man in the checkout line ahead of him nervously fumbling as he counts his money. With a pained expression, the man leaves the line and takes a box of Corn Chex back to the shelf. The ad goes on to state that a young guy behind the man who left the line was carrying two six packs of beer and noticed the old man leave the line. Deftly, he stooped down and picked up a five-dollar bill off the floor and caught up with the man. He said, “Sir, you dropped this out of your wallet back there in the line.” The man was jubilant and grateful and got back in line with his Corn Chex. The young man then returned one of the six packs to the beer cooler and got back in line. When the off-duty service tech told his boss about this incident, the boss (who was doing the voice over for the ad) said that had he been there, he would have offered that young man a job right there on the spot because he had character, and for this dealership, character is even more important than technical expertise.
The third ad was from an American Standard dealer and it really caught my ear. The owner said that when he started his company 17 years ago, he felt that a company that did business with the highest ethics and treated their customers right would do well. Because of that, the dealer goes on, he is always on the lookout for people with good character because, as he says, “I learned long ago that it is easier to train people with good character the technical side of air-conditioning and is to teach good service techs how to have good character.” He then goes on to boast that he has never received a complaint from the Registry of Contractors and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. So, I hired this company for my pre-season tune-up and was very impressed with the service technician they sent (Kevin). In fact, I was so impressed that I bought a service agreement that day.

Is This Worth Developing?
So I am wondering. Are you seeing a similar focus on character in the ads being run in your area? If so, what do you think might be driving that?
I am so intrigued by this that I am planning a short series of columns on how businesses can win with a strong ethical culture. I hope you find this series enlightening and even challenging.
Until next month…