HVAC Pro Blog

Marketing: Buy a Hot Dog Mister?
Marketing is always a topic that comes up over lunch when out on sales calls these days, particularly for those not as busy as they hoped to be. Except, there are very few surprises for those seasoned which execute a marketing plan. They understand their costs to acquire a new lead, response rates for their direct mail and digital ad campaigns, and even revenue per lead.

So, when I had a recent conversation with a contractor obviously struggling in an otherwise booming market, and they have no leads the hottest week of the year right after a holiday, I expected to hear a list of failed attempts that need to be tweaked, right? No, when I asked what they have done for marketing since January, I heard the most astonishing answer: Nothing! I wish I could tell you how their latest and greatest twist resulted in hundreds of leads, but they tried NOTHING! At first, I felt very bad for the contractor. I thought just through conversation that they would ‘see the light’ and ask for some suggestions, but instead resulted in a defensive conversation about how the phone not ringing wasn’t their fault! Then, the rest of the speech reminded me of a newspaper article that I cut out from an author unknown about 10 years ago - which I happen to keep on the cover of my collection of business cards as a reminder: “Buy a Hot Dog Mister?”. Of course, this should teach a lesson, but I will not state the obvious as I have learned that depending on your current perspective, this short story can spur even the most dedicated to try something new.

Buy a Hot Dog Mister?, Author: Unknown

A man lived on the side of the road and sold hot dogs.
He was hard of hearing, so he had no radio.
He had trouble with his eyes, so he read no newspapers.

But, he sold good hot dogs.

He put up a sign on the highway telling how good they were.
He stood by the side of the road and cried: “Buy a hot dog, Mister?”

And people bought.

He increased his meat and roll orders. He bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade. He got his son from college to help him.
But then something happened…

His son said, “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio?” If money stays ‘tight', we are bound to have bad business. There may be a depression coming on.
You had better prepare for bad trade.

Whereupon the father thought, “Well, my son has been to college. He reads the papers and he listens to the radio and he ought to know.”

So the father cut down on his meat and roll orders, took down his advertising sign, and no longer bothered to stand on the highway to sell hot dogs.

And his hot dog sales fell overnight.

“You’re right son,” the father said to the boy.
“We are certainly headed for a depression.”

Anything jump off the page for you? Please, could you leave a comment for what YOU think is the biggest lesson in that allegory?

5 Resources I Read/Listen to Every Week
Successful people in our industry have an undying thirst for knowledge, and my curiosity and quest to always be an industry expert leads me to resources that can be considered outside of HVAC. Of course, I stay current with all things HVAC - but so does everyone else with ambition in our industry! So how can you stay a step ahead of most? Learn what you can from others and apply them as fast as possible!

Advanced Selling Podcast - The nation’s longest running sales podcast. This means there is literally hundreds of hours of archived material, spanning over years. This is one of my favorites to listen to while traveling as I automajically download new episodes to my iPhone. The most helpful podcasts are the ones that answer listener questions, typically from around the world, and remind me that I am not the only one experiencing such struggles or success. When in a hurry, I recommend fast forwarding to about the five minute mark, or at least turning up the speed to double-time, as all of their advertising plugs are in the beginning.

Selling Energy - Sales Ninja Blog
Recommended by a colleague, this blog always has some great tips for selling using savings and, although not HVAC specific, just about every word can be directly impacting the HVAC sales process. Since they post blogs almost every day, I avoid the rush of emails by opting for the weekly update and picking which blogs to read over the weekend.

HeroicPublicSpeaking.com - Michael Port
I found this one by reading Michael Port’s latest book “Steal the Show”. Michael does some great consulting for public speakers and relates most of his advice to his previous career as an actor. The website frequently posts public speaking videos from recent consulting or seminars and contains great advice for preparation and cues both on stage and in every day life. I found many of the prep techniques in his book can easily be implemented for in-home sales.

BoEason.com - Personal Story
To be honest, I have no idea where I came across Bo’s blog and training, but very glad I have! Bo Eason was a popular NFL defensive back a couple decades ago, and has an inspiring personal story to tell. Something that has plagued me in my work, I have avoided talking about what has shaped me. Largely in small steps, motivated by Bo, I have learned that telling my story could have a memorable impact in my business relationships and career. I have loosened up a bit when it comes to sharing my military experience, but I still have a long way to go before I can be concise and memorable!

My most recent find has been instrumental in recreating my blog and passion to share. In fact, the inspiration for this particular blog came from this website. If you incorporate blogs on your website, and are looking for new ideas for content or analytics, check out ProBlogger!

Mold in a Ductless Heat Pump
This happens from time to time, a ductless unit that provides such a good place for mold to grow: cold, dark, and moist, that the system must be cleaned. Don’t be upset with the system, it does not “create” mold! This means there is mold somewhere in your residence, become airborne, and found it’s way onto the coil/blower wheel. All of these product recommendations are purely from experience, and/or contractor success stories. Regular maintenance is important to halt mold growth in your investment. So, first let’s talk prevention.

Cleaning the air filters regularly will ensure proper airflow and stop the blower wheel from ramping up significantly, using more power, and pulling moisture off of the coil spreading the grounds the mold will grow.
Even better, during installation, consider treating the evaporator with a mold control product like BBJ Mold Control. Prevention of mold is much less expensive than cleaning or replacing equipment! Word of caution, most states require a license to apply this product. Take Massachusetts for instance: I was able to confirm application of BBJ Mold Control, an EPA registered antimicrobial pesticide, requires an application license (include passing said exam) from the MA Department of Agricultural Resources. Then take into account insurance premiums, etc.
Another option: consider immediately operating your heat pump in the heating cycle, once planning on shutting down your cooling for a long period of time. This will dry the coil and blower wheel and avoid creating optimal conditions for growth.

If things have reached the point of cleanup, mold is visible on the blower wheel and coil, the most effective way I have seen is use of the Mini Spilt Bib Kit from Speedclean. This kit will protect the electronics and wall surrounding the unit, giving the technician the opportunity to use a pressure washer like coil cleaner.
The alternative would be significant work disassembling the indoor unit, costing hours of labor to the homeowner.

Post Cleanup
Once cleaned, continued treatment to address the mold in the home is required. Otherwise, these conditions within a ductless unit in cooling will continue to recur. If this was my home, I would start with finding high humidity, dark areas like the basement and any crawl spaces.
Installation of a whole-home dehumidifier is a necessity in any New England basement. I have found it close to impossible to keep up with the smaller, reservoir type in my own home.
Once controlling humidity, killing any mold that is not visible could be performed by installing a Global Plasma Solutions’ Cold Plasma Air Purification Device. These small IAQ wonders can be located within your ductless indoor unit, and wire directly into the unit’s power, taking just minutes to install (in most cases).