Calling ourselves High-Performance Contractors, unfortunately, doesn’t make it so. I believe the key to becoming a High-Performance service company is by measuring. David Holt, my National Comfort Institute coach, once said to me, ‘How do you know if you are winning if you don’t keep score?’ Once you have all the data from measuring (the score), then you must dig in and see what actions you need to change that score.

The problem is defining what those actions are. In other words, what ‘lead indicators’ can we use in our business to tell us what route to follow to change the score and get the win.

What Does Jack Sparrow Have to do with Performance?

So for fun, let’s compare this goal to this scene from the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest:

Imagine every home your technicians visit has a system that is on one side of a cliff. The system may be old, new, expensive, or cheap, but it just doesn’t meet the customer’s expectations.

Jim Ball, general manager, Ball Heating and Air Conditioning, Biloxi, MS

In our YouTube clip, this system is on the side of the cliff where the cannibals are. The cannibals, in this case, are air leakage, wrongly sized returns, the lack of outdoor air, and more. The cannibals eat away at the system making the customer feel less safe, sick, and uncomfortable. And all of that costs the customer extra dollars in utility bills.

On the other cliff, across what I call the Comfort Gap, is freedom from the cannibals. Freedom for Jack Sparrow and the pirates in the form of their ship, The Black Pearl. So how do they cross that gap and escape?

In my business, a win is an interaction with a customer that exceeds their expectations by providing them the safest, healthiest, and most comfortable environment at the most efficient use of the customer’s resources. To have our customers win, we must identify the areas of their home or system that fall short and find ways to change them.

First, we must define the elements of our premium customer experience and our premium comfort system. Each customer deserves to have the safest, healthiest, most comfortable, most efficient system we can provide. We must identify system shortcomings to cross the Comfort Gap.

Then we must find a way for the customer to move from one side of the cliff across the Comfort Gap to their Black Pearl. We need to build bridges (investment packages) for customers to cross the gap and move closer to the premium comfort system experience.

Data as a Bridge

Measurements help us identify the best areas to build a bridge and help customers get closer to a premium comfort system. Last year I started paying close attention to the number of ceilings we were repairing because of condensate drain issues.

I found that in 2017 I spent close to $30,000 for repairs to ceilings, walls, and floors that were damaged because of condensate. In my market, condensate is a huge issue. We jokingly say that to live in Mississippi you almost need gills.

I was warranting drain issues for my maintenance customers because I let the maintenance agreement be the bridge for condensate issues. When that turned out not to be the fix, the issue became mine. Once I began measuring HVAC systems and ductwork operating factors, I learned what was causing the problems that led to leaking condensate. I could then define the actual issues and bridge the comfort gap by building a drain system that we could warranty.

What are some other bridges that you must build? What pain points are there for your customers that you need to find a solution and build a bridge.

Keeping Score

All HVAC contractors provide equipment replacement services. For Ball Heating and Air Conditioning, we have criteria to help us make sure new systems are installed properly. This helps us create what we call a Premium Comfort System.

We do this by measuring and verifying system performance before and after we do our work.

As Nick Saban (head football coach at the University of Alabama) says, ‘the story of the game is told by the score.’ We need to be able to say the same thing. We need to have a clear definition of what makes up that score.
Part of that score could include pictures of the components in your premium comfort system. Furthermore, each component included should have a story (data) as to why it’s included in your installation. Your score should also include standards based on the data you have and can share with your customer.

These are some tools to help you build bridges between your company and your customer. Every experience with a customer is an opportunity to move them one step closer to a Premium System.

Every service technician should be measuring and if they find issues, they should ask permission to have a consultant have a look and provide that customer with solution options.

Another bridge we provide, if they sign up for our Premium System installation, is a return visit six months later to conduct maintenance.

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