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What 105 Homeowners Say Comes to Mind When They Hear “HVAC Contractor.”

How well do you really know your customers?

When any business tries to grow they will face a significant challenge: growing requires changes that customers find valuable.

This is a challenge because most business make changes based on what they think will be valuable, not what they know their customers find valuable.

Joel E. Urbany & James H. Davis, in their book Grow By Focusing On What Matters, identified “three strategic errors” that prevent a business from growing:

  1. We think we are different from competitors, but we are not really different in the customer’s eyes.
  2. We are different from competitors, but in ways that are not really important to customers.
  3. We are different from competitors in ways that matter to customers, but we do not have the resources or capabilities sot sustain those differences.

Today I want to address the first two strategic problems for HVAC businesses (really any home service business).

I want to be your tour-guide as we explore the minds of your customers so that you can make moves in your business that actually matter to customers.

Let’s get to it:

(NOTE: One way to treat your customers how they want to be treated is to learn our secret sauce taught in the 30-Day Challenge. 30 days of online customer experience training for CSRs and Technicians. Click here to request a preview of Day 1 of the 30-Day Challenge.)

Survey says…

We surveyed 100 homeowners asking them 15 questions about their home service needs. Our questions were:

  1. When you need help with home improvement items how well do you trust Google reviews?
  2. In what ways if any would you use social media to help you determine which contractor to select for a project?
  3. In the last 12 months have you referred a contractor to a friend? If you have what compelled you to recommend them?
  4. If you were looking to complete a home improvement project how many bids would you likely get before making a decision?
  5. If you needed a contractor for an urgent service or repair how would you find one?
  6. If you needed a contractor for a planned home improvement project how would you find one?
  7. If someone in your home suffered from allergies, hay fever or asthma, how would you make your home more comfortable for that individual?
  8. What comes to mind when you think of comfort in your home?
  9. What has the biggest impact on your homes energy use?
  10. When you hear the word HVAC Contractor, what is the first word that comes to mind?
  11. If your furnace or air conditioner suddenly stopped working and you needed to replace it how would you pay for that replacement?
  12. What Brand of furnace or air conditioner do you currently have in your home?
  13. How many smart home items do you have in your home?
  14. Do you have a smart thermostat?
  15. What is most important to you when selecting a new heating and cooling brand?

(NOTE: All survey questions were open ended.)

You can view the full results of the survey by clicking here.

You should review the full report to gather all the insights – we will also publish more findings from this report in the future.

For today, I want to focus on just one of the questions that was asked in the survey:

When you hear the word HVAC Contractor, what is the first word that comes to mind?

Can you feel that nervous feeling like when you know someone is talking about you behind your back?

Me too…

This is exciting.

Let’s see the answers:

(NOTE: One way to treat your customers how they want to be treated is to learn our secret sauce taught in the 30-Day Challenge. 30 days of online customer experience training for CSRs and Technicians. Click here to request a preview of Day 1 of the 30-Day Challenge.)

Negative

38 of the 105 responses came back as negative toward HVAC Contractors.

That’s 35.5% of respondents who feel negatively toward HVAC Contractors.

The most common negative response related to price. 24 respondents said things like: expensive, money, over selling, cost, rip off, how much am I about to spend?, and $$$$$$$.

Average

51 of the 105 responses came back as average toward HVAC Contractors.

They said things like: AC, Heating and Cooling, Maintenance, Heating, Dealers, Air Conditioning.

These answers related simple to what HVAC is.

Positive

12 of the 105 responses came back as positive toward HVAC contractors.

These answers included statements like: comfort, safety, necessity, educated, professional, and reliable.

These answers related to traits that customers find value in when choosing their contractor. Make sure you use these words in your marketing collateral and sales pitches.

The diamonds in the rough

3 of the 105 answers showed something amazing:

  • Ervin, my HVAC guy that I’ve used my entire life. He is a family friend.
  • My friend Joey
  • the name of our local contractor

These 3 responses reflect ownership and loyalty. They were the only 3 homeowners who thought about someone specific when they heard the term “HVAC Contractor”.

What’s more is they used words that show possession: my and our.

They don’t merely refer to their contractor as “a” contractor… he’s their contractor. And two of them used the word friend!

Ervin, Joey, and the “local contractor” are doing something right. They’ve managed to build long-term, friendly relationships with their loyal customers.

They’ve managed to own the space in these homeowner’s minds that deals with “HVAC Contractors.”

That is no small feet…

(NOTE: One way to treat your customers how they want to be treated is to learn our secret sauce taught in the 30-Day Challenge. 30 days of online customer experience training for CSRs and Technicians. Click here to request a preview of Day 1 of the 30-Day Challenge.)

Advice based on these homeowners’ answers:

Get better at talking about your pricing.

Most companies lose customers with price concerns because they’re just not good at talking about price. It’s not that the price is too much (most companies price themselves similar to the market) it’s that the customer doesn’t perceive value in your price.

Click here to learn more about how to build value and talk about your pricing.

Be Memorable

Only 3 survey responses mentioned a specific HVAC Contractor’s name. That tells that, for the most part, customers just don’t put forth effort to remember who their service provider is.

Brainstorm with your team what you can do to be memorable and create a lasting impression in the customer’s mind.

Maybe you should start the phone call with a more memorable greeting.

Or perhaps leave customers with a souvenir in the home.

Create a tagline that sticks in the mind of customers.

Try studying some stranger than fiction marketing ideas that have catapulted companies to success.

WOW Them

The most important thing is to WOW the customer.

Most companies in our economy are average. They do their work, they collect their money, then it’s on to the next one. The companies that thrive in our hyper-connected economy are the ones who make us say “WOW”.

They reduce friction, eliminate effort, connect with us on an emotional level, and defy our expectations.

This all leads to another question…

What comes to customers’ minds when they hear your name?

(NOTE: One way to treat your customers how they want to be treated is to learn our secret sauce taught in the 30-Day Challenge. 30 days of online customer experience training for CSRs and Technicians. Click here to request a preview of Day 1 of the 30-Day Challenge.)


Zac Garside believes in a world where going beyond expected norms is the norm and where people give more than they take. Described as an “outside the box thinker” with the “invaluable skill to mentor and provide engaged feedback to others,” Zac works on projects that create a spark in others so they can reach their full potential. With 4 years of customer service, leadership, and public speaking coaching under his belt, Zac now serves as the Director of Marketing & Online Training at Power Selling Pros.