by Jim Hinshaw
Just had a trip to Minneapolis, traveled with a distributor rep for two days. Al Weber is a seasoned veteran, does a great job as territory manager working that area. He sees dealers of all sizes, from guys who are working out of their house to companies that have dozens of team members. One thing they all have in common; they are all affected by the weather.
I was there late Oct, it was still pretty nice out. Did not need my puffy coat, brought it, but left it in the car most of the time. Several dealers we spoke to said, when it gets cold we are busy for the entire winter. The problem was that it had not gotten cold yet. They need 25 degrees or in that range to kick off the busy season.
Al told me a story of growing up in Iowa, parents owned a gas station. When it got slow, Al would walk downtown (small town) and knock on the doors of the businesses, ask if they needed any car maintenance or repair work done. Offered a discount on the spot if they said they could do it that day. So he made things happen that very day.
Now, how does that apply to us? Exactly that same idea fits for our industry. We continually wait on the weather, hoping it will be 15 or 115 degrees, that is when we get real smart. And busy. The opportunity is that it may not get real cold or hot, at least not when we want. So you, as the owner/manager/sales rep or even technician has to move now, get something to kick in today. Knocking on doors, calling existing customers, or stopping by an install to see how they like the system, and to get a positive review, these are all weather creating actions. Actions that can lead to the crews doing something that can be billed, rather than clean the gutters, paint the office, etc.
So take action, don’t blame the weather for not showing up, make your own weather.
Now, for a new subject, it is the time for my year-end message. Take time this holiday season to thank those that work for you for doing a sometimes-difficult job. We in the hvac industry work in tight attics and crawl spaces, unconditioned spaces, on roofs and other unpleasant places. We get called out when it is freezing cold and blazing hot, sometimes missing out on a child’s soccer game or dinner. I can remember one Christmas Eve, got a knock on the door at 7 PM. Went to the door expecting carolers, instead found a neighbor and a stranger looking at me. The stranger was the neighbor’s friend, his unit was not heating. Neighbor asked if I could help. I had some fuses, gave him an assortment, told him to call the office (he had already done that, found out it was double time) if that did not fix it, no more that I could do. That is our industry, not exactly a 9-5 operation. So thank the team for being involved in another trip around the sun.
And what else? Look for ways to be involved in your community. To give back to the town that supports you with business. Contact the local non-profits, church groups, Salvation Army, senior citizens home. See how you may help those who need a hand out this time of year. I can remember one year Donley Service adopted several families at Christmas, gave us all a positive feeling to help others. And the families were really thankful. Not sure how to proceed? Send a message out to your customers on an email blast, or on FaceBook, we are ready to help those in the community, let us know if you have a neighbor/family/friends who are needing our services or anything this season. Start with one family, move on as you have ability.
How about your neighborhood? People around your home or business may need assistance but uncomfortable asking for help. Just the fact that you reached out, wished them a Merry Christmas (yes, I still do the Christmas greeting), offered a plate of cookies or a small gift, that can do wonders for brightening a gloomy day. Not everyone has a Merry Christmas, some have family situations that are not pleasant at all. Many have lost loved ones, had medical issues, business downturns, life has dealt them a tough hand. You may be the only bright spot this season. More importantly, your techs are the company’s eyes and ears in the marketplace. Have them look for opportunities to be a blessing when they are in the home, and to be enthusiastic and have a positive attitude for each customer.
Thanks for being part of our family, and I do hope you have a blessed Christmas!