April 14, 2015
For the modern customer, HVAC energy efficiency is a top concern and popular point of conversation. In honor of Earth Month, I’ve outlined the top five energy-saving tips that you can reference when your customers ask about improving their home energy efficiency.
- Replace filters often — Hands down the best thing you can do to improve your energy efficiency is to replace your air filters often. The more debris that’s in the filter, the less air can circulate through the HVAC system, making it work harder. The harder your HVAC unit works, the more energy it uses.
- Set a schedule — Constantly adjusting your thermostat uses a lot of energy. Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature that reflects your schedule so that your unit isn’t cooling an empty house or working overtime when you’re away.
- Air sealing — A quick, inexpensive air-sealing fix can mean big savings on utilities. Blocking outside air from coming in not only helps keep allergies and other irritants out of your home, but it also prevents your HVAC unit from having to constantly heat or cool outside air.
- Out with the old, in with the new — New light bulbs don’t use as much energy and last a lot longer, but they also don’t tend to run as hot — ultimately saving you from having to turn down your thermostat a few degrees or having to turn on a fan.
- Turn down the temp — According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lowering the temperature on your water heater by just 10 degrees can yield a $12 to $30 reduction in energy costs annually. Also, taking a cooler shower or bath means lower energy use, from your HVAC unit to cool your home afterward.
For more quick and easy energy-saving tips, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Saver website where you’ll find energy-saving DIY projects, buying tips, and more.
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April 9, 2015
What’s the best way to address a customer complaint or unflattering review on social media? Should I respond publicly? Or send a private message to get more information? — James K. Warren, Michigan
Let’s face it: Public complaints and unflattering or negative reviews are a part of participating in social media, but they also give you a great chance to show customers and potential customers just how well your business operates.
It’s been my experience that responding publicly to a comment on social media is usually the best practice. You can first apologize for the customer’s negative experience, then offer a solution. Your solution can range from offering to take the conversation offline to hear more about the customer’s experience to offering a chance to make it up to the customer with a discounted or complimentary service.
The key here is to address each customer personally so your company appears personable and real instead of automated and distant. There’s nothing more frustrating to a customer than a generic response that doesn’t address his or her concern or offer a solution. It’s the difference between, “Sorry for your experience,” and “@[Customer name or username], I apologize for the negative experience. Please send me your email for a complimentary service.”
Another notable thing to consider when addressing a negative review or concern on social media is to know when to take it offline. Your profile is no place for a lengthy discussion, or worse — a battle of wits. If a customer seems dissatisfied with your response, offer to take the conversation offline to continue it further. A simple response such as “Thanks for your feedback. Please send me a private message (or direct message for Twitter) so we can discuss your experience further.”
Finally, the most important factor when responding to any comment or post on your social media accounts is response time. Social media is as real-time as it gets, and customers expect responses (depending on the channel) within minutes. Take advantage of social media notifications and listening tools to ensure that each time someone reaches out, that they get a quick, kind, and resolution-based response.
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April 7, 2015
There’s no doubt about it, we live in a fast world. Customers expect an answer on social media faster than you can stream a movie on Netflix. You can find an answer on Google in seconds. In this fast-paced atmosphere, your elevator pitch is more important than ever.
With just 30 seconds to intrigue a customer and gain their trust, how will you make the sale? Here are five must-have qualities of a successful elevator pitch.
- Customized — I’ve blogged in the past about the importance of tailored sales pitches when it comes to generational selling, but your elevator pitch has to go one step further. Is your customer a parent? A pet owner? A techy? Make the best of your sales pitch by customizing your elevator pitch to the customer standing before you — not just listing the benefits of the special of the month or the hottest products.
- Personable — This is not only the customer’s first impression of you, but also of your company. Your elevator pitch should feel natural and not too rehearsed or too salesy. The better connection you build here, the better chance you have to make the sale.
- Efficient — Your elevator pitch has to pique your customer’s interest. Name a problem the customer might have, identify a solution, then be finished. The longer the pitch, the more chances you have to lose your customer.
- Motivational — The secret to a great elevator pitch is to motivate your customer to take action. Whether that action is to buy from you, buy from your company, or even to do some more research — your job is to inspire action while making a memorable first impression.
- Varied — You can’t sell the same product to each customer can you? If you did, what would your closing rates look like? Have a few different elevator pitches practiced and polished to make any sale in any situation.
Whether you’re making small talk with a neighbor or introducing a customer to your company for the first time, turn a lead into a sale with the skills provided by training and personalized instruction from HVAC Learning Solutions. Learn more about our sales training at hvacls.com.
March 30, 2015
Last month, I sat down with Lennox’ Joe Jones to talk about some of the myths surrounding sales and Comfort Advisors in the industry today. From the amount of work they put in a day to their professional demeanor, Joe opened up about where he felt these stereotypes came from and how to diminish them in the workplace.
Didn’t get to read the entire interview? Here’s what you missed:
- Comfort Advisors pump life into the business. Think of sales as the bloodline of the business. Without sales, the business can’t function and pieces of the company will slowly begin to die off, so a Comfort Advisor’s ability to turn leads into sales is a high priority.
- Perception is everything. Even though HVAC is most certainly a team effort, when Comfort Advisors do a superior job, customers recognize the impact that Comfort Advisor has had on their quality of life, making them the common “heroes” of the industry.
- Reel them back in. Combat the stereotypes about Comfort Advisors by requiring your field sales team to put a certain amount of weekly face time in at the office and communicate with other departments.
Guest blogger Joe Jones is a regional business manager in brand management at Lennox Industries.
March 25, 2015
It was once rumored that a popular fast-food chain had a unique process for hiring and promoting their managers. Before being hired as an upper-level manager or supervisor, the candidate was asked to work each position they would be managing in order to understand the ins and outs of each position.
The idea of having each candidate spend the day “walking in the shoes of others” so to speak, is an interesting one that I believe the HVAC industry could benefit from greatly because like the fast-food industry, HVAC businesses also follow a linear progression from one job to the next. From HVAC technician to HVAC dealer, the progression from one position to the next follows a pretty familiar path as the experience builds and builds with each career move up the ladder.
Want to apply this technique to your HVAC company? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- First, start with creating an organizational chart of your company. Outline who reports to whom and the general flow of responsibility. This will help your new hire know exactly where responsibility falls throughout the organization.
- Second, let the entire company know what is expected of them when these opportunities occur. This is an excellent teaching moment but only if everyone is on the same page.
- Finally, facilitate the initial meet and greet between the new manager and the people he or she will be shadowing; then walk away, because this is your new candidate’s moment to shine and establish their role within the company. Their management of this procedure, and, conversely, your employees’ response to their management is something you’ll want to observe, not manage.
From procedures and paperwork to employee names and faces, “walking in someone else’s shoes” gives new managers the chance to re-familiarize themselves with each of the various positions reporting to them, ultimately making them better and more efficient leaders.
I offer daily tips on Twitter for dealers, Comfort Advisors, and technicians alike. Follow me at @HVACLearning for insight into today’s trending topics.