You're investing marketing dollars to grow your company, so how do you maximize your investment? Often, it's the little things that can have the greatest impact on our high-level marketing campaigns. Let’s take a look at how we can squeeze the most out of our investments. We like to call them the “One-percenters”, they can have added impact on your marketing results.
The list below may seem like common sense to most of you. However, as business owners, we can often disregard what we know in search of new and better ways. Simply ask yourself, ask your team, "Are you paying close attention to the basics, the tried-and-true marketing 101 fundamentals?” Let’s review.
• Answering the phone is #1 on the list! The poor homeowner whose air conditioner is broken wants to speak with a live person, someone to hold their hand and let them know everything is going to be OK. It may seem like a 24-hour response time is good from your point of view, but from the homeowner’s position, a full day without air-conditioning, the wait for an HVACR appointment can seem like an eternity.
• Smile, they CAN see you. The customer on the other end of the line can tell when you are smiling. So, smile when you are answering the phone! Friendly customer service will go miles toward creating long-lasting brand loyalty.
• Be polite at all times. Simple manners are often forgotten today. But believe it or not, marketing begins with relationships, and no one wants to deal with an impolite CSR.
• Look and act like a professional. This starts with employee appearance – that means clean uniforms, tucked-in shirts, clean-shaven, etc… Some newer HVACR companies ignore this part because it’s fieldwork. Technicians get dirty. But don’t make this mistake. Ensure your technicians are presentable and have clean changes for appointments. They should also only enter the home with booties on.
• Do what you say you’re going to do! Follow-through is everything. Again, this sounds simple as if, “of course, that’s a given” but basic follow-through can slip through the cracks, especially during a growth phase of a company. Ensure that all of your employees understand the importance of this commitment. If a technician says they will be arriving between 2-4 pm, they need to arrive between 2 pm and 4 pm.
Guerilla or Grassroots Marketing
• Social Media is your way to engage in real-time. Social media is such a great branding tool for HVAC companies! You can create positive impressions about your company for little to no investment. The key is frequency, message, and platform. Don’t try to sell your products and services on social media, simply show what you offer. Lifestyle posts with your employees, their pets, and your customers help humanize your service company. TIP: If you do post these more personal photos, make sure the pictures are excellent and well-lit.
• A fleet of well-lettered, clean vehicles is vital to your business. Your company vehicles are rolling billboards, make sure they represent your company well by being colorful, eye-catching, and clean! Fleet wraps are becoming the go-to marketing tool for on-the-go HVACR marketing. Still, if the vehicle is dirty, it will speak volumes. Remember, if your vehicle is your calling card, that means customers are watching and taking notes.
• Put up job site signs. This is such a simple thing, but in my work with many teams over the years, you would be surprised how often it is overlooked by many HVACR companies. In the right neighborhood, these signs might be seen by thousands of potential customers. Tip: Incentivize your customers to leave it in their yard for two weeks or even a month by offering a discount or coupon for future service. The right customer may be willing simply because they like you!
• Technicians should have a supply of door hangers. While on service calls and installations, hang some door hangers on the surrounding homes, it only takes 5 minutes! This is particularly impactful if you are working at a condominium complex or gated community. People talk and ask for referrals. If you leave door hangers, a neighbor may mention a glowing reference.
• Invest in refrigerator magnets. These are so simple and are very cost-effective branding. If you have established a trusting relationship with your customer, make it easy for them to contact you by leaving a magnet. Everyone loves a refrigerator magnet and makes it very convenient to call you the next time.
• Create local sponsorships. Being a part of the local community is huge for residential HVACR contractors. It builds trust for your company among community members in the areas you serve.
• Join local associations. Join your town’s chamber of commerce, local BNI chapters, or small business associations. This can be incredible for business networking and will help create a bond between your heating and air company and the local business community.
• Customer giveaways are wonderful incentives. Travel coffee mugs, pens, koozies, kid toys, anything that BRANDS your company builds “Top of Mind Awareness”
Ask Your Customers the Key Questions
Some companies, when trying to appear, “all business” forget that there is a human component. Engaging with your customers is so important. Ask questions like, “How did you hear about us or find us? Ask the follow-up question, “What made you Google us?”
We use Google and other search engines to find service providers, but sometimes we may be giving them too much credit in that the referral may have come from another source.
Here's an example: You are "Joe or Sue Homeowner" and you are going about your day. You go to work in the morning, and you see a billboard for ABC Heating & Air Conditioning, maybe you hear their radio spot on the drive home from work? You walk into your home, and the AC is out! You don't have a current relationship (maintenance agreement) with a local HVACR contractor. So, what do you do? You Google "air conditioner repair" or something related.
You see the search results from Google Guaranteed, search ads, and the local map pack. One of these companies looks familiar to you, but you don't know why? It's ABC Heating & Air Conditioning – you recognize them from their traditional branding through billboards and radio. So, you choose them and give them a call.
The moral of the story – this is why it is so important to ask the follow-up question, “What made you Google us?"
Keep Your Team Members Informed
Every HVACR company has regular team meetings. These meetings are a great time to discuss and promote your seasonal offers or specials. Do your CSRs know you are running a “FREE Diagnostic with SAME Day Repair” offer currently, or that your preferred equipment supplier is offering “0% financing?” Again, this may seem like a “no-brainer”, but you would be surprised. Make sure your team members are informing your current customers and potential new ones who may be looking for service or replacement.
Ask for Reviews
Reviews are so important for home service companies. Consumers today put more value and importance on an online review than a friend or co-worker’s recommendation. Think about your habits as a consumer. Don’t you check out the reviews of a restaurant if you’ve never dined there before? HVACR is a huge unknown for homeowners. The purchases and interactions are often few and far between. The average consumer only purchases heating and air conditioning 2.5 times in their lifetime. It is critical to be driving consistent reviews for your business.
Most HVAC companies have loyal customers who are ready to sing their praises. Sometimes all you have to do is ask for it. Especially because if you repaired their air conditioner in the middle of the summer, you have become a “hero” in their eyes, saving their family and pets from hot, sweaty, sleepless nights. Offer them a gift card, a discount on future service calls, or a free yearly maintenance agreement for referrals. Brand ambassadors will become one of your best marketing secrets over time.
A Top-Down Approach
Marketing for your HVACR company is typically a top-down approach. Let me explain… We start with our campaign idea or message. A long-term branding campaign centered around what the consumer is looking for from your HVACR company. There are three important pillars: TRUST, VALUE, and FIXED NOW. Branding around one of these or all three helps align your company with what a homeowner wants. We brand across traditional channels, such as TV, radio, and billboards. The same message is repeated on your website, digital paid ads, and any other paid marketing platforms. Now, we must repeat and enforce the message throughout our business. Your slogan or tagline should also be on your vehicles, and your job site signs, and your CSRs should have a verbal mantra that repeats this slogan at the greeting or the close of calls.
Following any or all of the simple techniques listed above, will help your heating and air business capitalize on marketed leads so that you can gain more new lead opportunities. And, most importantly, it will enhance your marketing efforts, making all of your hard work and business investment, worth it.
Will Merritt is the managing partner at Effective Media Solutions in Charlotte, NC. He has more than three decades of experience creating marketing solutions for business owners. For more, visit http://myeffectivemedia.com or email email@example.com.