The world has changed. The broad stroke of the COVID-19 pandemic forced every industry, business, and family to look at and approach their worlds in very different ways from the past. In the HVAC universe, everything from how contractors work in customers’ homes to working through supply chain shortages and other issues requires more patience, creativity, and a forward-thinking focus.

One thing is becoming clear: distributors see a much bigger need to look beyond selling equipment. Some are focusing more on building a team of contractors who deliver performance to their customers.

Reducing Callbacks and Warranty Claims

It’s not like this is a new concept. For example, one significant issue, both distributors and manufacturers alike have faced for years, are high warranty claim numbers. They also have to deal with the impact of callbacks, and of course, relationship building.

One such distributor is Behler-Young, a 90-year-old, third-generation HVAC distribution company headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI. To them, the contractor commitment is readily apparent. Tony Pino is one of three product managers with more than 25 years at Behler-Young.

Tony Pino, product manager, Behler-Young

He says that warranty issues are “always a thing” only resolved through training. But the onslaught of the pandemic forced everything online. Behler-Young needed to find new ways to keep their contractors not only working but doing things right.

“Right off the bat,” Pino says, “We partner with the best of the best here in Michigan. These are the contracting companies whose management embraces training. As a result, they have fewer warranty claims, reduced callbacks, etc.

“Equally important to us as a distributor is providing high-end training to help create contractor confidence in the products we sell, in us as a distributor, and as a partner.”

Michael Shiveley of Comfort Air Distributing, Centennial, CO, agrees. “Our primary goal is to reduce warranties. We do that by providing general education on how to do static pressure measurements and testing. Plus we focus on how a specific HVAC brand works. The more educated the contractor, the fewer warranty calls we get,” Shiveley adds.

Michael Shiveley, technical support manager, Comfort Air Distributing

“And of course, having fewer callbacks increases contractor performance ratings and leads to how often people call them.”

Education and Training Priorities

Tony Pino says he likes to think of training as an important ally on the service side. Contractors buy parts and tools to do that servicing, and Behler-Young wants to see them do that work properly.

“The training that NCI provides helps us as a distributor bring both ends of the technical side of the business together in the middle. If we have good service, good support for the contractor, and good training, then all things come together,” he explains.

At Comfort Air, Michael Shiveley points out that there are many business and technical upsides to having a robust and trained contractor customer base. “But for me,” he explains, “When a contractor or a tech begins to understand and accept that testing and measuring is the best way to ensure customers receive what they pay for, you can see it in their face, and it’s like a light bulb goes off.

Shiveley adds that training and education go beyond just their best customers.

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