Shelton adds that they win many jobs because people know that Absolute Comfort’s team knows what they are doing. Shelton proudly says that is because of the training and certifications they have from NCI.
Today the company has around $4 million in gross revenues with nine on-staff technicians. Absolute Comfort fields one installation crew of two people. And in a somewhat unique approach to the market, the company works with six independent sub-contractors who help with Absolute’s installations when things get busy.
The subs also take on overflow calls. Shelton says he also has several part-time employees who work the phones several times per year to make customer appointments and follow-up calls.
The outside subcontractors that Absolute works with are, according to Shelton, ‘People who have their HVAC license and insurance.’
Many of these subcontractors have some training from NCI, but not all of them. Shelton says it’s an ongoing process to try and get everybody trained.
Absolute Comfort’s Approach to System Renovations and Upgrades
Shelton says that the High-Performance Contracting approach is the basis on which Absolute Comfort operates. He adds, ‘My customers love it because after we finish our work, they don’t hear the unit running, and they’re more comfortable in each room of their homes than ever before. They don’t have any hot or cold spots.
‘For us, duct system renovations and upgrades give us so much more to sell,’ he continues. ‘When somebody wants to buy new equipment, we can sometimes show them that buying new equipment isn’t the answer. What they do need is for us to fix their ductwork, and then their entire system will work fine.’
He adds that by focusing on airflow, duct renovations, and upgrades based on testing and measuring, he sees nice increases in Absolute’s profit margin. Plus, this approach also helps them get more customers.
‘Because of our performance approach, our reputation has even led several of our supply house vendors to call us in when they encounter duct issues on a particular job. That is a strong indication of how High-Performance Contracting has helped to build our marketplace reputation,’ Shelton says.
It’s All About Airflow Measurement
Static pressure gets us in the door,’ Shelton says. ‘Based on our measurements, we can explain and show customers any issues their system has and what we can do to fix them. Then we go from there and close the sale.
‘As I said earlier, in Houston, one of the biggest issues is that most homes don’t have enough return air. So, we do what we can to resolve that, from replacing wrong-sized ductwork to enlarging plenums. The idea is to get proper airflow throughout the house.
‘Our trademark is that we replace standard three-foot plenums with bigger ones that range from 5-1/2 to six-foot sizes. Bigger plenums enable us to design ductwork easier and drop static pressures to where they should be.’
‘It’s safe to say that duct system repairs and renovations make up a big chunk of our business,’ he continues. ‘They help us to close more sales on equipment installations.’
Early on the Path to Performance, Shelton says he faced two obstacles: getting his technicians consistently performing static pressure tests and overcoming competitors undercutting him in the marketplace.
He says that getting the right people into the right jobs was probably his biggest challenge. Absolute employed many ‘old school technicians’ and the change to High-Performance Contracting was tough for them in the early days. Some accepted it. Others did not.
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