Nothing worth doing is ever easy. That may be a clich’, but it is so very true. Becoming a Performance-Based Contracting’ company is NOT an easy thing to do. If it was, everyone would be doing it, right? And yet there are many HVAC contractors who have successfully implemented the performance concepts into their business cultures, their service mindset, and the work they provide customers.

During the 2018 National Comfort Institute (NCI) Summit in Austin, TX, we gathered together a panel of six of these contractors to share their struggles with implementing performance into their companies and how they overcame them. Facilitated by NCI CEO and Chairman Dominick Guarino, panelists interacted with the attendee audience to create a dynamic program of sharing on not only how to overcome the hurdles to implementing performance, but their success stories as well.

The panelists included the following Performance-Based contractors:

  • Jim Ball, Ball Heating & Air, Biloxi, MS
  • Tom Johnson, TM Johnson Bros, Cambridge MN
  • Nancy McKeraghan, Canco Climatecare, New Market, ON
  • Jose Montes, Kennihan Plumbing, Heating & AC, Valencia PA
  • Kevin Walsh, Schaafsma Heating and Cooling, Grand Rapids, MI
  • Paul Wieboldt, Tradewinds, AP, Waco, TX.

The comments and discussion have been divided into eight sections (not necessarily in the order they were delivered) to organize this in a more useful way for our readers. The sections are as follows:

  1. Getting Started in Performance
  2. Moving Forward
  3. Processes
  4. Technology Concerns
  5. Training
  6. Recruitment
  7. Keeping Score
  8. Promotion and Marketing.

So, without further ado, here is the discussion on how these contractors overcame hurdles and achieved success in implementing Performance-Based Contracting’ into their companies.

Getting Started in Performance

It is always difficult to get started. The high-performance path is a big one and sometimes the hardest part is taking that first, little step to get started.

Q: Jonathan Esquivel from Austin Star Services, Austin, TX asks, ‘I am a first-generation owner/operator struggling with doing everything to keep my company running. I want to start implementing performance, but just don’t have the time. How can I get people who can help me move into that next step of running a business ‘ working on it, not actually in it.’

A: Jim Ball: Even though I am the second generation doesn’t mean I wasn’t around to see the struggles the first generation went through.

My dad started the business in 1964 and I was born in 1969. During the 1970s Dad was on the phone every night when he got home from work. He’d be on that phone all night long talking to builders, trying to collect money, and more.

Finally, in the 1980s, we realized that new construction wasn’t going to cut it for us. He made a decision and committed fully to going into the
residential replacement and service business at a time when we were almost out of money and out of business.

You have to make your mind up and do everything you can to remain committed to the result you want. Not only about what markets you serve, but how you serve them. It won’t be easy.
We have the opportunity to change people’s lives every day. It’s a privilege that’s been bestowed upon us and we often take it for granted. Not only in terms of customers but also with regard to those who work with us.

It’s our job to help move those people forward. Let them see what our goals are. To do this requires effective communication of those goals every day.

Mike Greany, All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air, & Electrical, Ontario, CA: I gree with what Jim says.

I started my business by myself as an owner/operator and its only technician. I ran it successfully for 10 years.

Part of that was because I belonged to associations with similar business interests and that had people there to help me. At the end of the day, I sold that business for a profit and took a bigger path with the company I work for today.

In my opinion, the best thing you can do is join an association like THIS association. NCI members have already faced the struggles you’re facing. You can call anyone in this group for advice and help.

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