Baseball great Yogi Berra, known for his colorful comments, once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might not get there.”
Everyone is acutely aware that gallons are down and margins are under pressure. This is a trend that is unlikely to reverse itself anytime time soon, which makes having a profitable service department critical for the full service provider. Profitability can be greatly improved with new information systems technology, minimal changes to operations, and the right plan. Slightly over 50 percent of oil heated residential properties have an HVAC related sales opportunity beyond an annual system tune up. This means that in every other home visited by a technician there is some sales opportunity relative to the tank system, heating system and components, or other opportunities like air conditioning. Collecting the required data in the basement is important and having an information system that can easily sort and utilize the data for marketing purposes is critical.
“Through ServiceEdge™, we were able to generate thousands of dollars in service revenues with thousands more still available for future marketing. We are grateful to know that we have a queue of service work in our ServiceEdge™ database to rely on when service repairs are typically slower.” —Marcia Booth, Vice President, Main Care Energy
Imagine being able to easily sort your entire base of regular customers by the specific HVAC sales opportunity at the residence and know the information is accurate. For the vast majority of full-service providers this is an enormous benefit when compared to the status quo. This means that a real and quantifiable plan can be put into place to drive work and billable hours during anticipated slow periods.
There are two other very important benefits to marketing from a targeted database. The first is efficiency. Rather than broad communications of a promotion to the entire base that may or may not be pertinent to any particular customer, only the customers that need the upgrade, repair or maintenance will get the communication. This means the close rate goes up and the cost to implement the marketing goes down. The other benefit is image and how your customers view your competence. In today’s market, particularly with the under-40 [years old] demographic, the consumer believes you should know what they need or do not need. They believe this because they have grown up in the Information Age. Targeted marketing eliminates, for example, sending a new heating system promotion to a customer that has already bought one or a central AC promotion to a customer that has central air. Making these kinds of communication missteps spells incompetence to many consumers.
“After a mild winter and oil sales down, we realized we were heading into a rough spring on the service side of things. Thankfully, since implementing our ServicEdge™ targeted marketing database, we have been able to identify over $1.3 million in sales opportunities in just one year. This program has given our hard working technicians and service department peace of mind knowing we will have additional work moving forward for a long time – and we have closed $100,000 of these targets so far.” —Joe Murray, Service Manager, Griffith Energy, Rochester
The process for gaining a robust targeted marketing database is straightforward and painless to implement.
The ServicEdge™ process includes the technician training, all the IT systems to garner and sort the leads by specific category, and all the relative marketing material for each of the 35 sales target categories. The technology allows for information downloads that easily transmit to an automated mailing function. This means the process can be implemented without adding more cost or overhead to the business. In addition, the time to collect the data at the customer location takes about five minutes so technician efficiency does not go down job to job during the workday. There is some good news for full service providers. The home comfort market segment is growing nationwide. This spells opportunity for those oil heat providers that are offering HVAC services and know how to gain share with the right plan and marketing methods. To capitalize on the opportunity, oil heat providers must leverage their existing channel of distribution with a targeted marketing approach, look to diversify services and products, measure the service business separately, and focus on profitable sales in HVAC activities.