2016 February-March

Leading water heater manufacturers like Bradford White, Rheem and A.O. Smith spent many years designing and developing new technology to meet the energy-efficiency standards in the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). Since those standards went into effect last April 16, Contractors, wholesalers and distributors – as well as their residential and light commercial customers Read More

Leading water heater manufacturers like Bradford White, Rheem and A.O. Smith spent many years designing and developing new technology to meet the energy-efficiency standards in the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). Since those standards went into effect last April 16, Contractors, wholesalers and distributors – as well as their residential and light commercial customers – have adjusted to the changes. Now, the manufacturers are catching their breath, and looking forward to the future.

“We will continue to it refine water heater technology,” said Carl A. Pinto, Jr., director of marketing for Bradford White Water Heaters in an interview with Plumbing Perspective. “In the years to come, water heaters may be considered a key component of a whole-house energy solution, rather than a stand-alone piece of equipment. In other words, contractors and homeowners will be focused on the overall plumbing and heating systems and how they interact with each other.”

A smooth transition

In addition to developing the new technology, the major manufacturers also invested significant resources in education and training programs. “Along with launching a new product line, we have also been educating customers and consumers in order to make this transition as smooth as possible,” said Stacey Gearhart, director of product and channel marketing for Rheem’s Water Heating Division, in a 2015 interview.

That focus on keeping contractors aware of the NAECA standards and what they mean to their plumbing and heating businesses has minimized market disruptions, according to Chad Sanborn, product marketing manager, Bradford White. “While the new standards affect manufacturers, contractors and distributors are still able to sell their existing inventory and are continuing to do so,” Sanborn said. “We did see an increase in orders prior to the deadline for the new standard.”

Noting that there has been little feedback from homeowners regarding the new standards, Sanborn said contractors can assure their residential customers of the high quality of water heaters manufactured under the prior standards.

Pinto said the biggest change under NAECA is that the new energy-saving water heaters take up more space in the home. “There has been an issue in many regional markets around the country, including older homes in California and Florida homes without basements,” he said. “That has been less of a problem in the Midwest where homes generally have more space to accommodate larger heaters.”

Sanborn added that contractors have come up with some creative solutions to address this challenge, such as installing two 40-gallon water heaters side-by-side to replace an outdated 80-gallon heater. “However, labor can be another issue because some of the new heaters require two installers rather than one,” he added.

A broad impact

The 2015 NAECA rules, set forth by the U.S. Department of Energy, mandate higher energy factor (EF) ratings on virtually all residential water heating products, including gas-fired, oil-fired, electric, tabletop, instantaneous gas-fired and instantaneous electric. However, the most dramatic changes are in larger capacity models, because the only technologies that meet the EF requirements over 55 gallons are electric heat pump water heaters and high-efficiency condensing gas water heaters.

The DOE estimates that the 2015 standards will result in approximately $63 billion in energy bill savings for products shipped from 2015-2044. The standard will avoid about 172.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of about 33.8 million automobiles.

As Sanborn said, “Homeowners will have a lot to gain from the NAECA guidelines with some saving hundreds of dollars per year in energy bills.” In addition, some technology, such as electric heat pump water heaters, may provide supplemental cooling and dehumidification benefits to owners.

LinkedIn is a virtual networking tool that is currently being used by over 400 million business professionals around the globe. It allows business professionals such as plumbers and contractors to find and be found by other professionals in the plumbing trade. This networking tool is free and can be effective, even in the plumbing industry Read More

LinkedIn is a virtual networking tool that is currently being used by over 400 million business professionals around the globe. It allows business professionals such as plumbers and contractors to find and be found by other professionals in the plumbing trade. This networking tool is free and can be effective, even in the plumbing industry when used properly. In order to take advantage of the value found on LinkedIn, I will show you how to set it up and use it.

To get started, you will need to create a profile that displays your professional and educational experience, and then you can begin connecting with the people you know. A profile can be as simple as your name. However, if you choose to list little but your name, you will be missing a tremendous opportunity to avail yourself of the two major benefits of a LinkedIn profile—the ability to be found and the opportunity to tell your story.

Plain and simple, profiles should be beefy. For those readers who are old enough, think of the Wendy’s commercial from the ’80s in which the elderly ladies asked “Where’s the beef?” as they looked at a tiny hamburger patty dwarfed by a massive bun. For those of you who are not familiar with the commercial, check it out on YouTube. You’ll find it quite entertaining.

There are four reasons you want your profile to be beefy:

1.Your LinkedIn profile is a place where you can tell your story completely and fully, so that when people are looking at your profile, they will be encouraged to do business with you over your competitors.

They will see the depth and breadth of your experience, your professional recommendations, and the brands you carry, plus your certifications, educational experience, and all the other qualifications you possess that make you the obvious professional to do business with in the marketplace you serve.

I like to refer to a LinkedIn profile as a “resume on steroids.”

In contrast to a traditional resume, which is typically a listing of facts and dates, your LinkedIn profile allows you the opportunity to tell your story.

It should be a narrative of sorts, where you emphasize your experience and high level of credibility. This “resume on steroids” should shout out “I’m the best at this in my market!”

To help tell your story, you can include details about your- self that, while perhaps bordering on personal information, will get across to the viewer who you are as a unique individual. For example, one of my class attendees told me that through the LinkedIn profile of a prospective client, he learned the guy collected wines—and he also found out which one was his favorite. On the day following his proposal presentation, he followed up with a thank you note and included a bottle of—you guessed it—his prospective client’s favorite wine, and the rest is history. He got the order.

2.Every word in your profile is keyword searchable. Thus, having a beefy profile will increase your chances of being found.

As you know from using Google, keyword searching on the Internet is an extremely powerful tool for finding people. Similarly, searching on LinkedIn can produce extremely valuable results. The search function enables you to find people who have certain types of experience, classifications, and/or brands.

In a recent search, I was looking for a person interested in bicycling to join a group of cyclists for a charity event my company was sponsoring.

Discovering a bicycling enthusiast who happens to be an architect or builder would be a home run. I would then be able to advance a professional relationship, help a charitable organization, and enjoy a day of bicycling.

Therefore, I searched the words builder, architect, cycling, and bicycling and instantly had my choice of architects and builders with whom to spend the day. Without those keywords in their profiles, none of these people would have been found.

  1. A beefy profile shows that you are not a dinosaur. What do I mean by this? For those of us in the Baby Boomer genera- tion, people tend to appreciate the experience we possess, but they are also interested in knowing whether we are keeping abreast of the latest trends in the business world, including social media.

A beefy profile will demonstrate that you are on top of cur- rent trends in your profession or occupation and that you embrace technology. You are not a dinosaur.

4.You should expect your profile to regularly be compared with those of your competitors. Therefore, in order to gain a competitive advantage, you will want your profile to include a plethora of information, keywords, and details about who you are, what you hope to accomplish, and how you might be able to assist others.

Many savvy LinkedIn users will review a person’s profile before meeting with him or her for the first time. Personally, I always look for common interests or discussion points before I jump into, “So, I hear you are looking for a social media consultant.”

Business professionals use their LinkedIn profiles to tell their stories. As a result, it can be extremely beneficial to review the profile of the potential customer, prospective employee, vendor, or other person with whom you desire a business relationship.

Because of the vast amount of information available on the Internet in general and on LinkedIn in particular, it has become commonplace to “shop” several vendors online before engaging in direct communication.

Do yourself a favor and take a look at the profiles of some of your competitors. Observe what they are saying about themselves—awards they have won, certifications they hold, types of projects they have worked on, etc.—because this may jog your memory and remind you of similar information you could include in your profile.

Based on the information contained in the profiles, would a potential customer be encouraged to do business with you as opposed to one of your competitors? If you think your competitor would get the nod, then start beefing up your profile.

Armed with this information, you can begin to create an effective profile—a great first step in maximizing your LinkedIn experience, which can lead to new business opportunities.

About the Author

Wayne Breitbarth August 13, 2014

Wayne Breitbarth

Wayne Breitbarth is the CEO of Power Formula LLC. He is an experienced businessman, speaker, and author and an internationally recognized industry leader in LinkedIn training, marketing, and consulting.

Wayne has shared his expertise with more than 80,000 business professionals through private business consulting, dynamic presentations to worldwide audiences, and his critically acclaimed book The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success (now in its third edition). He has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Wired, and American Express Open Forum and seen on NBC and Fox Business.

Wayne works with companies to develop a comprehensive strategy for using LinkedIn to increase sales, raise brand awareness, recruit employees and reduce recruiting fees, and discover new markets for products and services. He shares his proven five-step process for LinkedIn results with individuals through his online course Explode Your Revenues Using LinkedIn.

He is a CPA, received an accounting degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an MBA from Marquette University, and has received recognition for his public service in the Milwaukee community, where he resides with his wife of 35 years.

So here we are in another new year. I hope you have your seat belt on, figuratively speaking, because we are in for a wild ride. Maybe 2016 will be similar to other new years, but there is a chance it will be turbulent. Maybe tougher to do business. We have a lot of distractions Read More

So here we are in another new year. I hope you have your seat belt on, figuratively speaking, because we are in for a wild ride. Maybe 2016 will be similar to other new years, but there is a chance it will be turbulent. Maybe tougher to do business. We have a lot of distractions, starting with the political circus, the roller coaster economy (the stock market is moving faster than a Tesla), and ending with the available labor pool. I found a few lessons about these in my travels.

The labor issue

Janah Morehart has a company in Phoenix called Morehart Air Conditioning and Heating. Her and Josh have been in business for a while and have seen how hard it is to get and keep great employees. A few years ago, she was in an office supply house getting some printing done when she met a young man who provided exceptional customer service. She asked him a few questions and ended up hiring him to come to work in her office on various marketing packages. A year later, he was helping in the field, and then moved into service. This year her distributor rolled out a new high efficiency inverter driven compressor system with all the bells and whistles. This same young tech she hired from the office supply store sold 6 of these systems in the first month of introduction with an average sales price of around $16k. WOW!

So if you ask Janah how to find good employees, her response will be quick. They are all around us. They are at your local Starbucks, Kinko’s, Applebee’s and alike, doing what they have been trained to do and performing it to near perfection. They always provide excellent customer service and you can easily notice them. Janah’s general manager used to run the office for a chiropractor. Janah became highly impressed with her management skills and made an offer to work in HR. So keep your eyes open always in the most unexpected places. Be ready to ask an employee that has outstanding customer skills if they are happy with their current job? Josh Morehart says he can get a new guy productive in 6 months, even coming from another industry. The new rule for finding employees is, hire for attitude, train for skill. Find the one in the crowd who serves others and has a great attitude. They can always be taught your business and trade.

Profit in Maintenance

I am still surprised at how many companies still do not do much with Maintenance Agreements. Grow the customer relationship today; it has value for your company. I mentioned this in another article recently, but it bears repeating. Figure out what you want to accomplish on a maintenance program that offers value to your custoemrs, establish the minutes needed for each task, total up the minutes, add in some travel, a spiff, and there you have your one or two year maintenance agreement. Another option is to set it up to debit the customer’s checking account or credit card monthly, and offer it as a continual maintenance program with no end until they cancel. Pay your technicians a better spiff when they sell a program on a monthly basis, maybe with a set amount per month, that they receive commission on until the customer cancels. And don’t cap it because this can be the glue that holds that employee to you. While in that neighborhood, add in additional services to your maintenance agreement for additional revenue. Include changing smoke detector batteries and other plumbing, HVAC, and electrical services that are easy for your plumbers and technicians to do but hard for the customer to do.

It turns out; this year will probably be tougher than last with more on the consumer’s plate. So we have to get creative on how we get new customers. Team up with a local company who is in homes on a regular basis with pest control, pool maintenance, or alarm services, etc. Get them to include your service with each new customer they add. Maybe you can offer a tune-up, an inspection, or something the customer does not pay for. So it adds value to the pest control company as an example. You end up with a name of a customer who trusts you since you came in with a company they are already doing business with. Now offer them a reduced price maintenance agreement or something to show that they are now within the inner circle like a friends and family that receive special pricing.

Also, I recently sat in on a webinar and saw an info chart that showed direct mail is the second best form of advertising (except in 18-34 year olds) to reach new customers. Direct mail followed up with a phone call, still gets effective results. Yes, calling your customers is the best way to make that phone ring, just pick it up and dial. You already have a relationship; you are not selling land in Puerto Rico but a valuable service they need.

Outside the box revenue generation

I just read an article about an Uber car driver named Gavin Escolar, who made $250,000 + last year. A little above the average for that industry. But he also sells jewelry for both men and women. He has a couple of flyers and catalogues in the back seat pockets of his car which is immaculate. He made about $3000 per month from Uber, and the rest of his income came from custom jewelry he made for many of his customers, customers he has in the car for 10-15 minutes at a time. What a great concept. He has new people coming into his show room each day with an income level perfect for his target market. He says that even going door-to-door would not come close to the response he gets from my passengers. He has great reviews from his passengers with an averaging 4.85 out of 5 on Uber Black, the high end Uber service. Uber is fine with him selling his jewelry in this manner and says they want to improve the local economy and his Uber ratings are at the high end of the scale. But he has not forgotten his roots. He used his money last year to buy 3 new cars and hire 6 drivers. He recruits unemployed Filipino immigrants, his homeland, and gives them a helping hand.

He is a great example of doing something different by creating a niche market. This is the example we need to do today, something different. The old ways will not be as effective this year and beyond to generate additional business revenue and profit.

The 2016 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), held January 25 to 27 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., welcomed 60,926 registered attendees to the world’s largest HVACR marketplace. Despite havoc from Winter Storm Jonas, including flight cancellations across the country and travel bans in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the Read More

The 2016 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), held January 25 to 27 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., welcomed 60,926 registered attendees to the world’s largest HVACR marketplace.

Despite havoc from Winter Storm Jonas, including flight cancellations across the country and travel bans in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the 2016 AHR Expo was successful in welcoming tens of thousands of contractors and engineers, OEMs, distributors and plant managers from all facets of the global HVACR industry.

In total, 469,540 square feet of exhibit space was occupied by 2,063 exhibitors, 334 of which participated in AHR Expo for the first time in 2016. This year’s 18,254 exhibitor personnel addressed 42,672 visitors, based on a preliminary attendance count by the show’s management company, International Exposition Company.

“A lot goes into making this show such a valued platform for today’s professionals to come together, but I’m proud to be part of making it all happen,” said Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Company. “Based on early feedback, we’re already working on several aspects of next year’s show to accommodate more attendees and to make the experience even more worthwhile.”

The 2016 AHR Expo show floor encompassed a compelling 20 football fields’ worth of exhibits throughout Florida’s largest convention center. Many exhibiting companies, including Beloit, Wisc.-based Regal Beloit America, Inc., which develops systems for converting power into motion in climate solutions and other market applications, returned as well-seasoned AHR Expo participants.

When asked about the value in attending AHR Expo, many exhibitors shared common sentiments. Both Lindsey Ford, manager of multi-channel communications at Rheem, remarked on how an influx of international attendees has positively affected both networking and sales efforts.

“Rheem has been exhibiting at AHR Expo for years – it’s a great networking opportunity that sets the tone for the year,” said Ford. “The show has become much more international lately, allowing us to establish relationships and connections around the world. Admittedly, it’s sometimes easier to use technology, but you can’t put a price on the face-to-face interaction you get by attending.”

Lindsey Simpson, business development associate at Rinnai America Corporation, noted the importance of keeping up with industry standards and trends.

“We work in an industry that is rapidly changing, particularly in recent years,” said Simpson. “It’s tough to stay on top of the Department of Energy standards. Yes, a lot of us are in competition with one another, but on the other hand, we have to work together to meet these standards to better the world we live in. By exhibiting at AHR Expo, we get names, faces and a better understanding of who’s on our team.”

While there was no shortage of things to see and discover on the show floor, the thousands of AHR Expo attendees and exhibitors also had the opportunity to engage in a full schedule of educational programs. A mix of exhibitors’ new product and technology presentations, ASHRAE Learning Institute courses, certification exams, PM Live seminars and many free programs offered by endorsing associations and other groups filled the Orange County Convention Center’s many conference rooms. Attendees and exhibitors were able to expand their knowledge on a wide range of topics – from how to commission an economizer, to cyber security measures for intelligent buildings, to the latest advancements in China’s indoor air quality market.

At the close of three action-packed days in Orlando, many 2016 AHR Expo attendees were eager to share their experiences.

“When I first thought about coming here, I thought it was just a bunch of vendors showing things that I may or may not use,” said David Perrotta, president/owner of P P C Contractors in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. “What I’ve learned is that many of the exhibitors are not only willing to talk to you, but are willing to train you and give you very informative demonstrations on their products. You can’t get that over the phone or via email. The in-person meetings are invaluable.”

Next year’s AHR Expo will be held in Las Vegas from January 30 to February 1, 2017.