Gary Michel, President of Trane Residential Systems
Originally published: 09.01.08 by Terry Tanker
Publisher Terry Tanker sat down with Wayne Beck, owner of Aladdin Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. in Newbury Park, Calif. — 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.
It’s an inside joke. Some of the employees bought it for me.
I have a reputation in the office for opening the proverbial can of worms.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Attract the right employees. Implement systems and processes in several areas of the office as well as the field. And finally, better inventory management.
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.
Certainly, help yourself.