Jaime V. DiDomenico, president of N&M Cool Today
Originally published: 01.01.11 by Terry Tanker
Terry Tanker met with Jaime V. DiDomenico, president of N&M Cool Today. They discussed social media, the importance of fleet-vehicle marketing and expanded business opportunities in plumbing, electrical geothermal and solar.
1. Rumor has it you’re addicted to Facebook. True or false?
No more than my teenage son. I really like to keep up with family and our company media strategies. I am addicted to the Internet. I am absolutely intrigued by it!
2. How did you develop such a comprehensive website?
I am part of a nework of premier hvac dealers, and we hired a very talented firm, Rocket Media, who put the site together. As one improved the site, others reaped the benefit, etc. This network of dealers, combined with our involvement with Nexstar, (a best practices organization) is moving us to the top level of marketing contractors.
3. Are you an “electronics guy”?
I am a bit techie, but clearly not a tech-geek. I understand the power of the Internet, and its ability to make or break a company. I believe that the Internet is the “next step” to thirdgeneration marketing whereby clients interact immediately and have the ability to access all information when they need it.
4. What was your HVACR background before purchasing N&M Cool Today?
I was a vice-president at Blue Dot Services, a national consolidator. I made great friendships, and was exposed to the good, bad, and ugly side of service companies.
5. What stuck with you from that experience?
I have seen companies that are leading edge, and others still stuck in the ’70s. I have seen good cultures and bad cultures. At the end of the day, the companies with the best cultures and people always prevailed, regardless of their systems and processes.
6. You’ve got great-looking fleet vehicles. How did you decide to make the investment?
Today’s marketing is a battle for the hearts and minds of customers. Vehicles provide a key method of making some impression.
7. How did you select your color scheme?
We decided on the fluorescent-green color scheme because of where it sets on the spectrum of light for people.
8. What type of investment do you make in each vehicle?
It is an investment of approximately $1,000 per truck. New customers and purchases from our “truck lead source” have doubled in the last year and should double again next year.
9. What type of ROI do you see?
In 2008 with white trucks we averaged 124 jobs and $154,000 where are lead source was the vehicle. In 2010 with our redesign/makeover, we averaged 194 jobs and $266,000.
10. What do you love about your job?
I love helping customers solve problems. And, it’s important for me to understand how well we do that. We gather feedback through surveys, our website, the Nexstar survey system, and in more casual settings like parties.
11. What are the big challenges you see in the next six to 12 months?
If the energy equipment rebates are not renewed, this will be a huge challenge for all of us. Another challenge is the national push to comply with IECC (International Energy Conservation Code). Our country’s energy policy and access to cheap energy will continue to change over the next three years as the dollar continues to weaken and inflationary pressure rises due to large federal budget deficits.
12. What type of growth patterns has N&M experienced since 2004?
We purchased our business in 2004, and we had 18 people and produced about $2.1 million in revenues. This year we will top $15 million with 95 people. Great growth but even better productivity.
13. Can you explain what your marketing/ communication program consists of?
Our marketing plan is multi-faceted and includes making sure we make a three-to-fivetime impression on our customer base per year. We use a combination of direct response and brand marketing: magazines, Google, newspaper, direct mail. Our branding activities include radio, television, and social media.
14. What type of content is most successful in your ads?
We like to use successful brand attributes such as speed of service, product and service guarantees, and employee-focused content.
15. What percentage of revenue do you spend on the program?
Overall we spend 6% of revenues on marketing. This includes marketing for new customers, existing customers, websites, and search engine marketing, which is pay-per-click.
16. You have YouTube videos on your website.What other social media do you use?
Facebook, and Twitter mainly. You can go to our website and hear what our customers are saying about us. Live testimonials really build prospective buyer’s confidence in our abilities to deliver great products and service.
17. How have you kept employees motivated and focused the past 12-18 months?
We meet consistently and drive home core values and our mission with them. We stress the rewards of having a customer ecstatic about our products and services. We promote our own values with new employees, and we celebrate successes, which is very important.
18. What direction are you leading the company, and what strategies will be used?
Our goal is to be the “complete energy company,” not just an hvacr contractor. We’ve been working hard to grow our plumbing, electrical, and solar energy divisions. We want to be the full-service mechanical provider for homes and businesses. We are working on becoming better at cross-selling our services, and marketing all three brands together as well as individually.
19. Why expand into plumbing, electric, solar, and duct cleaning?
The back-office requirements to support the other trades are similar; therefore, we are able to better leverage our overhead. This takes some of the seasonality out of the business.
20. What are the special challenges managing four companies, and how do you do it?
Finding, rewarding, and keeping the right people is the key. We joined Nexstar to assist with ongoing training and to use better screening programs to find employees. Each division has its own set of challenges, but finding the right people is common to all four.