A Letter from the President

For those that don’t know, I am Mike Tucker, from Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. I am proud to continue my work with our Board for a second year. We continue to strive to keep our association moving forward as a great resource to our member companies and their employees.

We have a great line up of events for this year. It’s not too late to join us next week for HVAC on Tap on March 13th in Silver Spring. This is a fun members social event where you will have the opportunity to network with other business owners and suppliers. Members please come as our guest!

In a few weeks, on April 3rd we have a Meet the Inspectors of VA event sponsored by Washington Gas in Springfield that will include a tour of Pipetown, a meal and an opportunity to sit down with inspectors from many of the VA jurisdictions to discuss codes and their interpretations.

In the Fall we are working on a Meet the Inspectors of MD event and due to popular demand are having the Heat Exchanger Seminar again this year. Both dates will be announced soon!

Make sure to save the date of September 13th for our Annual Golf Tournament! Registration will open soon!

I look forward to working with you this year. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, would like to make any suggestions or to inquire how you can help your association.
Thank you,

Mike Tucker
AACP, President

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Tweet it, Post it, Share it: Why HVAC Contractors Should Develop Online Social Profiles

By Shawn Whiteley
American Standard Heating and Air Conditioning
Article originally posted on The News

Gone are the days of one-way communication from the contractor to the prospective customer. In today’s digitally native society, social media provides an impactful and engaging platform that enables businesses to interact directly with customers. Through social media engagement HVAC contractors can increase new client referrals, customer loyalty, website traffic, and more.

As a contractor, your reputation is an invaluable asset. What homeowners say about your HVAC business matters, and that’s especially true when it comes to what customers are saying on social media. Here are four reasons why you should develop a social media presence to support customer service.

BE WHERE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE IS 

Almost anyone can create a social media account on one of the many platforms. The most value comes when you customize your content for to fit the platform and by doing do, better serve your consumer base. At American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning, our Facebook business page was created as a digital community for current and potential customers. Facebook has the power to reach a wider demographic of homeowners interested in HVAC. Instagram and YouTube pages tell your business story visually when posting photo and video content that’s easily digestible. Customize your social channels to provide the best resources, tools, links, and content to your followers, and prove yourself as the industry authority for your area.

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH RESPONSES 

Once your social media channels are established, it’s important to respond rapidly and relevantly. A study by the Northridge Group found that 42 percent of people expect a company to respond to social media requests on the same day. Nowadays, social media is preferred for product questions and complaints over calling a customer service rep. Facebook has a messenger feature, which allows you to communicate directly with potential customers who want to speak with you. Also respond to any negative reviews on Google because oftentimes there is a misunderstanding or an unhappy customer who needs recognition.

CREATE COMPELLING CONTENT FOR YOUR FOLLOWERS 

Using a third–party to create content for your social media platforms is a good investment if you’re not social media savvy. I have seen contractors find success on social media when they post generic, educational and personal testaments using homeowners’ photos (with their permission, of course.) Mixing up the content with photos, HVAC guides, contests, relevant news in the industry and internal links to your site can help you test which types of content have the highest level of engagement and conversions.

SHARE HELPFUL TIPS AND TRICKS 

Sharing DIY tips and tricks with your followers is a great way to engage them with new and easy- to-follow information while positioning your brand as an expert in the space. When there is something a homeowner can’t do, like an annual maintenance check, they’ll call you because you’re the expert who has been educating them along the way through social media.

By making the most of your social media channels, and employing these social media insights, you can expand your business’ digital presence and help your brand build and maintain customer satisfaction.


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About the Author

Shawn Whiteley is the Senior Regional Manager for American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning, a brand of Ingersoll Rand. In his role, Whiteley oversees sales and share growth in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. He has a long-tenure with Ingersoll Rand having been with the company for fifteen years in various roles across the southern United States. Whiteley currently resides in Edmond, Oklahoma with his wife and two daughters.

Three Ways to Turn a New Customer into a Returning Customer

By Rodney Koop
Article originally posted on The News


My favorite customer is not the new customer, as strange as that may sound, but I can’t have my favorite customer without first getting a new customer. So, let’s say I have a new customer, they called for service, and our technician did a jam-up job and really impressed them. They were also impressed with our company, and even signed up for a service agreement or maintenance plan.

That’s the goal, right? Attract them, book them, impress them, sign them, and keep them. But wait, there’s more. Let me run down the list of my customers and see if you can guess which one is my favorite:

  1. New customer who called, hired, and paid us.
  2. Service agreement customer.
  3. First-time-returning new customer. The last time was the first time we worked for this customer.
  4. Established, long-time clients. They know your kids’ names.
  5. First-time callers with desperate needs. It’s hot and grandpa’s sick. Can we pay next week?
  6. Customer calling for a quote or bid on service work or new equipment.

No. 6

I already told you that my favorite customer is not the new customer, so No. 1 is out. Let’s start with No. 6: the customer calling for a quote or a bid on new equipment or repair work. This could become a good customer, but what is your closing rate with people calling for quotes? I don’t get very excited about this call.

No. 5

The caller with desperate needs who may need time to pay. This can be tough. You want to serve people, and you have probably been charitable many times in your career. You ask yourself, “Do I want to just give them some free service today?” or “Do I want to be charitable to my competitors?”

There is something to be said about giving work to your competitors. At times, we actually give away more work than we take. Crazy, huh? When it comes to prioritizing work, No. 5 is dead last. You have to remember that the CEO’s job is to protect and maximize profit. You don’t do that by working for those who can’t pay, no matter how desperate they are. Your competitors need work; feed them.

No. 4

The established, long-term client. We love them. They love us. We will take care of them without question. But remember, they love us. So, if we are busy taking on the highest priority customers, we can simply ask them for a little time, and they are happy to oblige. Are they important? Of course! But there is a bigger fish to fry right now.

No. 3

The first-time-returning customer is my top-priority customer today. The best use of my time is to serve this customer as wonderfully as, or better than, we did the first time. The reason is quite obvious when you think about it. This customer was impressed, and maybe even amazed the first time they called you. Your company treated them with respect, compassion, and empathy, responded quickly, provided several high-quality options, did excellent work, and made a wonderful impression.

There is one way for them to find out the truth: giving you one more chance. This is your last chance to do a second great job. The first impression doesn’t buy you a third. It will buy you a second, but nothing rips apart relationships like heartbreak, and the most heartbreaking thing your company can do is disappoint a previously impressed customer. It’s like getting a second date with the most wonderful girl in school and finding out later she told everyone you had bad breath. Nothing hurts like putting your feelings out there and having them trashed.

Was that melodramatic? Yes, I want it to be. I want for you to see that this customer will be a lifelong supporter, will tell everyone how wonderful you are, and will become a No. 4, established, long-term customer if you just pass this test today. This is a goodnight kiss that can take you all the way to going steady. Watch for this customer; listen for the ring of their call. Tell everyone on the team to listen for their voice. And wow them.

No. 2

The service agreement customer. This customer is important, but I’m going to give you my favorite rule for service agreements: Never sell a service agreement to anyone who can’t be as loyal to you as you are to them. In my market, this means someone has to have two or more HVAC units to qualify for a service agreement, because our agreements promise that we will give preferred treatment. If I have to give preferred treatment to a service agreement customer, I don’t want it to get in the way of wowing that first-time-returning customer.

Here’s how this plays out.

“Mr. Customer, I’m so sorry your heating is not working. Is it upstairs or downstairs?”

Customer says, “Upstairs.”

“Mr. Customer, we are going to try our best to get there today, but if we can’t, will someone be home tomorrow?”

Now, before you get all excited about me not keeping my promise, wait until you see what this customer says.

“Oh, we know you’re busy. We’ll be home Friday. If you can come out then, we’ll get by.”

What did they do? They showed loyalty to you, so you can take on those new customers now and get to the service agreement customer on Friday. But you did not know that until you asked.

If they had answered, “We really need it today because we are having company tonight,” then what would I say?

“Don’t worry, Mr. Customer. I’ll be sure to get someone out there even if I have to come myself.” 

So, what are the three ways to turn a new customer into a returning customer?

  1. Impress them the first time, from the incoming call to the finish.
  2. Impress them the second time, and do it intentionally.
  3. Get them on your happy customer list. Call them a couple of times a year, send them candy after every service call, and send them a Christmas or birthday card.

So, know your favorite customer and cater to them.


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GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR MEMBERSHIP


  • Local, State and National Legislative & Advocacy efforts
  • Participation in the nationally recognized Apprenticeship Program
  • Education opportunities for your technicians and staff - (NATE, CFC, Business management, Legal and Legislative)
  • Industry Resources - (IRS documents, Risk Management documents, white papers, Code Compliance, six e-Newsletters)
  • Member pricing for events and training sessions
  • A discounted rate on insurance for member companies

Specializing Your Service for Customers with Spring Allergies

By Joe Linsenmeyer
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions
Article originally posted on AC & Heating Connect


Your aim is to keep your customers comfortable in their homes. While a well-tuned HVAC system will successfully monitor and adjust the home’s temperature as needed, there’s more to take into consideration when it comes to indoor air quality (IAQ.) With spring approaching, how can you specialize your service for customers with seasonal allergies?

Customers with a severe allergy or asthma concerns may broach the subject on their own, but the majority are likely unaware of the impact that the upkeep of their HVAC systems takes on their seasonal symptoms. Whether or not there’s already an air purifier, dehumidifier or high-quality filters in place, annual maintenance appointments set at the beginning of spring represent a great opportunity to talk IAQ with your customers.

Here’s our three-part checklist for servicing a home where allergy and asthma concerns are key:

  1. High-efficiency air filters

    Electronic air cleaners can certainly help improve air quality, but the best thing you can recommend is using HEPA filters throughout the home. Customers may find it difficult to justify a higher price point for a higher quality filter, so show them the relative thickness of a filter with a 17+ MERV rating to help demonstrate the benefits.

  2. Cleaning the HVAC System

    Seasonal duct cleaning is recommended for every customer, but it’s essential for customers with seasonal sensitivities. Annual maintenance appointments tie in naturally with the spring cleaning trend, an opportunity your business can capitalize on.

  3. Monitor humidity

    The further north your business operates, the more important this reminder will be. As warmer temperatures and rainier forecasts approach, monitoring in-home humidity becomes more important. Any customers who moved into a new home or facility over the winter are subject to surprises in their new space’s humidity levels. Leaving these unmanaged introduces a breeding ground for germs and allergens. Remind your customers that monitoring and adjusting humidity now will be much more cost-effective than eliminating resulting black mold in the long run.

Tips for businesses in colder climates

When the snow melts and warmer temperatures return, spring cleaning will begin. If your customers are booking their annual HVAC maintenance appointments within this timeframe, they’ll like appreciate the reminder that they can dust their registers and return vents before the appointment to get a head start on eliminating allergens. Otherwise, recommending HEPA filters will be key. Customers aren’t likely to understand why their investment in a filter with a higher MERV rating is worth it, so your counsel here will be appreciated. Ask customers about allergy or asthma concerns before the appointment, and bring samples of each filter option to help them understand your recommended approach.

Tips for businesses in warmer climates

Without the major shifts in temperature, it’s easier for your clients’ allergy or asthma symptoms to sneak up on them. You can always consider a seasonal or annual check-in that reminds loyal customers that regular maintenance and cleaning of the HVAC system will prevent the onset of any issues. But the true culprit in these climates is humidity. In warm weather climates, it’s a great idea to recommend a whole-home dehumidifier.

Thinking through your customers’ ultimate indoor experience will simply lead to better reviews and more business, so considering seasonal sensitivities and air quality preferences like these will keep you a step ahead.


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About the Author

Joe has 18 years experience in the HVAC industry in new product development, strategic planning, and marketing. He has helped develop and bring to market products that provide higher efficiency and greater comfort, which provide a better value across the channel.

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Why Customers Want to Give You Referrals - and Why They Won't

By Adams Hudson
Hudson, Ink.
Originally posted on Ie3Media.com

There’s no better way to gain customers than through your customers’ referrals.  A customer’s personal recommendation adds strength to your marketing program that money can’t buy.

Referrals are big business – and they’re serious business.

Your relationship is under development the moment you get the prospect’s name. The pressure’s on.  You have to come through for both your original customer and your prospect.

You’ve got a small window when you need to make the contact (24-48 hours), and you better be prepared to deliver the same level of service that brought you the referral in the first place.

What’s In It for the Customer?   

Knowing that there’s a lot at stake with referrals, let’s look first at your customers’ motivations.  What’s in it for them?   Why would they want to give you referrals?  HVAC Sales Training expert David Holt points to four main reasons:

  1. The hero factor. Your referral source has an opportunity to be a real hero to one or more friends or colleagues. If working with you truly has been a pleasure, he or she can “look good” by helping a friend or colleague learn about you. Remember – people prefer to find service providers through recommendations.
  2. It brings them better service. Your customers know that if they give you referrals, it will give you added incentive to provide them with even better service.  Even though you attempt to give all your customers the best service possible, isn’t it natural that you will run a little faster and jump a little higher for the customers who give you referrals?
  3. They like you and trust you. If people like you and trust you, they probably want to help you.  This is the most powerful reason!  If you’ve been serving them well, most customers get great pleasure from helping you become more successful. If you share your vision for success, they will enjoy seeing your success by helping you with referrals.
  4. They know that keeping you in business helps them! Help your customers see the benefits of your staying in business.  You can help them as their needs change, and you will be there to cover their warranties and continued maintenance.

Your customer may also respond to the incentives you offer, such as a $25 discount on their new system for each name offered.

Just remember, even if you do offer incentives, don’t overlook the fact that what you’re really offering are great products with great service from a great company.  That’s the true incentive for referrals.

The Trust Component

When the customer trusts you, he or she begins to believe all the things you say and doesn’t worry about whether you will fulfill your promises.  Your customer knows that a trustworthy contractor always fulfills promises.  With their trust in you, your customers will be reluctant to try an “unknown” HVAC company aka your competition.

As their trust in you grows, so does their confidence in you.  They know what you can and can’t do.  This confidence factor is important for two reasons:

  1.  They will call you because they know you can fix it.
  2. They know you will take good care of their friends and family members.


Think about it.  Would you ever tell your mother to go to a restaurant that always undercooks their chicken?  Would you tell a friend to go to a store that treated you poorly?

People look out for their friends and family.  Never doubt that.  You earn the right to ask for a referral by treating that customer with respect, honesty and value.  When they refer their friends and family to you, don’t think they’re “selling their friends’ names for a discount.”  They are looking out for them.

So, you see, referrals are a good thing for you, for your customer and for the new prospect.  Everybody benefits when you get referrals.

If by chance they won’t give you a referral right way, have your tech hand them a card with a web address where they can get a discount in return for a referral. Some people don’t like to be ‘put on the spot,’ but are more than willing to go online to write a review or give a referral to get a discount on their next service.

So, be sure to have this offer on your website at a place that is easily found.

Facing Customer Obstacles

Even if you’re great at your job, some customers may be reluctant or unwilling to give you referrals.  Here are the most common reasons:

  1. They like the product, but don’t like and trust the salesperson enough.
  2. They don’t want to sic a “pushy” salesperson on a friend or colleague.
  3. They aren’t clear about what you do and how you might benefit their friend or colleague.
  4. They pre-qualify their friends and colleagues for you even before speaking their names.
  5. They are afraid of upsetting their relationships.
  6. They don’t want to appear that they’re talking behind this person’s back.
  7. They can’t think of anyone at the moment, but may later.
  8. They truly don’t know anyone who could benefit.


Remember, if you constantly bring value to your customers and create relationships where they like you and trust you, objections will be rare; people will want to help you.  If they don’t like or trust you enough, they probably won’t tell you so. And there’s nothing you can do on the spot except to back off as they continue to resist. Then keep working hard to gain their trust.

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About the Author

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a contractor marketing firm serving the contractor trades, and ACCA’s national marketing partner. Readers can receive a free subscription to Adams’ Sales&Marketing Insider eNewsletter by emailing a polite request to freeACCAstuff@hudsonink.com.

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