20 Questions with Wayne G. Beck, President, Aladdin Air Conditioning and Heating Inc.
Originally published: 09.01.08 by Terry Tanker
Publisher Terry Tanker sat down with Wayne Beck, owner of Newbury Park, Calif.-based Aladdin Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. — winner of the full wrap Tops in Trucks Fleet Design contest sponsored by HVACR Business. The two discussed service fleets, marketing, current market conditions and opening the proverbial and literal can of worms.
1. What’s with the gallon jug of gummy worms on your desk?
It’s an inside joke. Some of the employees bought it for me.
2. Can you share the story with us?
I have a reputation in the office for opening the proverbial can of worms.
3. Can you give me some details?
Honestly, it’s all about constantly trying to become better. I read your magazine or a book and I get an idea for making an improvement in the office or the field. Often, it’s not a simple change and there is a domino effect — thus the can of worms moniker.
4. How did you come up with the name Aladdin for your company?
We wanted to create a name that we could develop a brand and image around—something customers would recognize and remember.
We receive wonderful comments and we’re well recognized in our service area. The logo has gone through an evolutionary process and become better over time. We’ve also become better marketers of the brand integrating the logo in to other aspects of the business.
6. How do you maintain and service your fleet vehicles?
We are moving from owning our vehicles to leasing them. I’ve found the older vehicles to be a maintenance challenge. The cost of maintaining an older vehicle is only a small part of the problem. The larger problem is the logistics of having to pull a vehicle off the road. The leased vehicles don’t seem to have these issues because we turn them in before we are faced with major repairs.
7. Your company tagline is “Works Like Magic.” How did that evolve?
We do everything we can to make it easy for the customer to do business with us. We have excellent people throughout the company who care about customer needs. When we address customer needs, we feel that we make their problems go away — as if it happens by magic.
8. Can you briefly outline your marketing program?
We try to have a lot of community involvement in our service area. Our fleet vehicles are traveling advertisements for us. We sponsor local youth soccer and little league teams and we sponsor billboards at the high school and junior college football fields. We support elementary school fund raisers by donating sponsorship money or offering services to be auctioned. We also work with Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County.
9. What effect has the down turn in residential new construction (RNC) had on your company?
We don’t do RNC work, so it’s actually had a positive effect because it’s helped us find new, talented employees that we’d been searching for. Our reputation attracted them to us. We offered positions to the best candidates, and then trained them with our philosophy and methods. We are very happy to be working with these new employees and I believe they feel the same.
10. Have you had to make any company adjustments with regard to the new hires?
Not really. We teach all new hires that our priorities are customer service and clean work. We simply stressed the customer needed to be 100% satisfied.
11. Do you have a business philosophy?
We have adopted Ron Smith’s “Get and Keep Customers” philosophy and it’s grown to include “Get and Keep the Right Employees.” We try to improve every day even if it’s just something small, just one percent. It’s fun to have good and loyal customers, but we also have talented, caring people at Aladdin working to take care of those customers and we didn’t want to take them for granted. They are what drive customers to our company.
12. Do you have a funny customer story you can share?
We had a prospect that was trying to make a decision between us and a competitor. She wanted to check with two friends for advice. Both friends had glowing reports about the one company they had used—Aladdin. That made us feel very good and convinced the prospect to use us.
13. What is the largest management challenge you will face in the next 12 months?
Integrating our staff. We’ve had some significant personnel changes because we are growing. We have hired management, administration and techs based on personality and company fit rather than industry experience.
14. What type of sales training do you provide?
We take advantage of sales training offered by the manufactures. In fact, our salespeople saw Tom Piscitelli this spring at a manufacturer-sponsored training session. We will also reprint articles from the trade magazines and go over them in our meetings. We’ve also purchased various videos and books that we make available to the sales team.
15. Is there a company-sponsored contest that fosters competitiveness among the sales team?
We use pride and a maybe a little bit of peer pressure. Sales performance numbers are posted on white boards for all to see. We also post our service technicians performance numbers in the same manor in our training center. We hand out the bonus checks during our training meeting so everything is very transparent.
16. How do you motivate the sales team?
Honestly, this is something I want to improve on and have set as a personal goal. I want to develop a better method and program.
17. Do you have a good coaching technique you can share with us?
I was a service tech for a long time so my best coaching technique is empathy because I understand the problems and challenges. In turn, this helps me share solutions based on my experiences.
18. What three business goals did you have for the year?
Attract the right employees. Implement systems and processes in several areas of the office as well as the field. And finally, better inventory management.
19. Can you tell me what type of progress you’ve made on each one?
We have found and hired some great people to fill key positions. We’ve begun using flow charts to show how our processes and systems should be working and they have helped significantly. Inventory control is still a challenge and we continue to work on it.
20. May I open the can of worms on your desk?
Certainly, help yourself.
Terry has over 23 years of experience in the advertising and publishing industries. He began his career with a business-to-business advertising agency. Prior to forming Hutchinson Tanker Ltd. and HVACR Business in January 2006, he spent 20 years with large national publishing and media firm where he was the publisher of several titles in the mechanical systems marketplace.
In addition to his experience in advertising and publishing, Terry has worked closely with numerous industry-related associations over the years including AHRI, AMCA, and ABMA. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the American Boiler Manufactures Association (ABMA) and as chairman, for both the Associates Committee and the Marketing Communications Committee of ABMA.
Articles by Terry Tanker
Bill Stueber, owner of Blue Ridge Heating and Cooling
Next Generation of Decision Makers
Dave McIlwaine, president of HVAC Distributors, Inc.
Bob Vila, Home Improvement Guru & TV Personality
Crawford Ker, former Dallas Cowboy and founder of Ker's WingHouse