Chadd & Keegan Hodges, owners of Best Home Services
Originally published: 09.01.12 by Terry Tanker
Terry Tanker recently interviewed Joe Timo, founder of Timo’s Air Conditioning & Heating in Palm Springs, CA. They talked about branding, search-engine optimization, and the unusually humid desert summer.
Traveling with my wife and spoiling my grandchildren.
A Macbook Pro laptop, though, I’m still not 100% sure how to use it.
Being born and raised in Brooklyn, I started in the HVAC business working in high-rise apartment buildings in Manhattan. After starting a family and assessing my future goals, I decided to move 3,000 miles across the country to join some friends and family in California and start my own business in Palm Springs.
Timo’s Air started as a one-man operation in 1994. Over the years we have grown into a full-service HVAC firm, servicing residential and commercial clients.
What challenges does this present as an owner and manager? In a family business, no position is more valuable than the other. It’s important that each person has a specific role and obligations.
We have 11 employees but are growing. 2011 was our highest-volume year ever. This year, we surpassed 2011’s sales in August.
We have always worked closely with property management and real estate companies. The thing about rental management companies is they offer a consistent flow of service calls, even in slow times. Making their calls a priority is very important. We’ve only started offering blown-in attic insulation this year, but the response has been positive.
The website was launched shortly after branding was introduced by our design agency in New Jersey (Graphic D-Signs). They really came up with the whole retro-themed concept for it and wrote all of the content for the site as well. We also had them handle all of our search-engine marketing, which has generated a huge return on investment. A good portion of our leads are from online searches.
So many of our competitor’s sites are really bland, so ours really stands out. And of course, superior search-engine rankings play a huge role.
When we first reached out to Graphic D-Signs, we initially wanted to focus on their vehicle and truck wraps. After speaking with them, it was clear that in order to build a successful image and identity, we needed to rethink our current brand.
They convinced us that a retro-themed brand would represent who we are, and more importantly, would connect to our customers in a more meaningful way. We also knew that without a good brand, it would be tough to build a cohesive image across with our marketing. The brand has been so well received, it has even surprised us.
As we went through the branding process with Graphic D-Signs, they started sketching the vehicle with the new brand so we could begin to understand how it would start working in other mediums. Most HVAC guys are putting pictures of AC units, or themselves. It’s just not memorable or brand-building. This stands out among the clutter. Within days of buying a new vehicle we send it over to our graphics-installation company and have it wrapped with our logo/branding.
Our small fleet consists of six vehicles — three service vans, two utility trucks, and one sales truck.
Most of our trucks are Fords; however, the GMC/Chevy service van offers the best canvas for our vehicle logo/branding.
Using our scheduling software and iPhones, our trucks have the ability to map their location and get directions to their next service call.
All of our guys are equipped with iPhones. Using this device we are able to link our calendars and schedules for the day. When a call comes in, it’s sent to their phone and received instantly. We also use the phones for credit-card transactions that can be swiped at the client’s home.
This summer was unusually brutal. Typically, summer in the desert is hot and dry. However, this year we experienced much of the humidity that is usually reserved for the eastern states.
Scheduling has been a bit hectic due to the overwhelming call volume. This year we tried, more than ever, to better prioritize our appointments according to the nature of the call and severity of the problem.
By being truly appreciative and thankful for their hard work and expressing it often.