BY TERRY MCIVER
SPECIAL TO CONTRACTOR
DALLAS — Plumbing and HVAC contractors who attended the Comfortech Road Show , held Feb. 13 here, were encouraged to be more passionate about their service businesses by workshop speakers during the day-long educational and networking event.
The kickoff event for 2007 RoadShow Series featured presentations by keynote speaker Matt Michel, president and CEO of online best practices group The Service Roundtable; consultant Don Kardux, president of Business Navigators; contractor Bill Raymond, owner of Frank & Lindy Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning in Peekskill, N.Y.; and contractor John O'Connor, president of O'Connor's One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning in Hastings, Minn. The RoadShows are produced by CONTRACTOR and its sister publication, Contracting Business.
Michel opened the day's proceedings with stories of plumbing and HVAC industry pioneers such as Willis Carrier and Frank Blau — people whose success was based on their passion for succeeding in the industry and improving it. Passion, Michel said, is the key to providing superior service that goes beyond run of the mill, and beyond just satisfactory service.
"That's the way we're going to get our customers to come back and spread the word about our companies to others," Michel said. "That's the way we're going to grow and prosper."
In addition to having a passion for the business, a successful plumbing or HVAC professional has to have a method that works, and then stick to it.
Kardux's presentation centered around the different, yet very successful, sales styles of five contractor salesmen, each of whom sells annually between $800,000 and more than $1 million in plumbing and HVAC sales. They do it, he said, not only through their passion, but by listening to customers, asking many questions during a sales call and building relationships.
At what level of a business does a businessman need to begin to inspire a passion in himself and his employees? Immediately, Kardux said. "A passionate attitude is not something you put off until you have a certain number of employees," he said. "It starts the day you open your business."
Raymond, who is a senior trainer for best-practices group Nexstar as well as a business owner, told attendees, "The biggest challenge you face in your business may be you."
"If you don't feel as if you're successful, you either don't have a vision, or it has changed to survival," he said. "If you do have a clear vision, and are not successful, then your system or recipe is not working."
Raymond described "the law of attraction" as a key element to business prosperity.
"How you think is a big part of your system," he said. "Whatever thoughts are in your head, you will attract to yourself. So get clear on your vision. See it, feel it and keep it fresh and in front of you.
"Evaluate your current results. If they're not what you want, change your system. Changing your system begins with you."
O'Connor described to attendees what can happen when a business owner becomes a "hostage" in the business and offered some tools necessary to develop systems that run employees instead of employees running the systems.
He listed operational standards employees must follow, including proper attire, phone techniques, dispatching and inventory replenishment.
"If you want your people to follow a specific sales procedure, but can't get your employees to come in on time, or wear shoe covers, you're never going to get them to follow important sales methods," O'Connor said.
The one-day Roadshows will continue March 13 in Atlanta; March 28 in Nashville, Tenn.; April 11 in King of Prussia, Pa.; May 2 in Columbus, Ohio; and May 16 in Milwaukee. Dallas RoadShow sponsors are: Viega, Bradford White, Taco, Nexstar Network, Charlotte Pipe & Foundry, Peerless Boilers/ Pavilion Air, Capital One, Peco Automation and Controls, Klein Tools, MEP At Work, GE Money, Service Roundtable, NATE and Goodman. Additional sponsors for the remaining RoadShows include Clockwork Home Services.