When it comes to DiFilippo’s Service Co. (Paoli, PA), taking care of customers requires integrity, honesty, and a service mindset that overshadows competitors in their market area. In 2018, High-Performance HVAC Today profiled Vince and Laura DiFilippo and their then 47-year-old company (Read that spotlight here: ncilink.com/DWay).
Three years later, the world has changed. We thought it would be interesting to go back and learn how those changes have impacted the company.
Some things that have NOT changed, including the couple’s continuing laser focus on keeping themselves and their team well trained and educated.
Their emphasis on servant leadership also has not changed: they have a thing called the DiFilippo Way, a cultural method for teaching servant leadership through better communications, education, and training.
What DID change is the world! The COVID Pandemic changed everything and took the company down a bad path when it came to sales.
According to Vince DiFilippo, 2019 was the best year in the company’s history. He says they finally seemed to have turned a corner by having all the right people on the team, for having the right systems in place so they could take better care of their customers than ever before, and demand for their services were “through the roof.”
“With the pandemic in the news every day, we found people calling us to cancel appointments because they didn’t want us in their homes,” he says. “Things got so bad that I had to lay everybody off except key people: me, my wife Laura, and my general manager. We alternated office staff day-to-day.
“I couldn’t sleep for weeks,” he adds. “It was heartbreaking.”
Innovation Saves the Day
Like many small businesses, DiFilippo’s applied for a Federal PPP loan and got it, which helped Vince and Laura begin bringing some people back. Even so, they could not generate enough business to bring everyone back, so they had to get creative.
“We did something we never did before,” Vince explains. “We innovated and began cross-training two of our installation technicians to become sales techs. The pandemic gave us the time to do this by using our existing training lab (built in 2017).
“That saved us. Today we no longer have specialists. We have techs. Period. Our technicians do both installs and service.”
He adds that the beautiful thing is they can now operate with four fewer people than they did in 2018.
This innovation not only saved the company, but they are on track to hit $2.1 million in gross sales in 2021. Vince says that is the goal, and they are nearly there. How? Well, with four fewer people, they lowered their overhead. They also rotate weeks for service and other weeks for installations.
“This makes us way more productive,” says Vince.
The pandemic forced Vince and his general manager back into trucks and into the field, with Vince focused on selling. He managed to hire a new technician, “sight unseen!”
“This was a first for me. It was the first time I hired someone without meeting him, and I did it completely over the phone and by email.
“He is a military guy who served in the army where they trained him in HVAC.”
He just completed his 90-day review. Vince says they gave him another raise and that he’s working out.
“Military guys are the way to go. This tech knows his stuff, and he’s disciplined, clean-cut, and polite. He demonstrates all the attributes he learned in the military. We started him at a ridiculous rate just to get him on board.”
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