I hate to break it to you, but not only is HVAC not sexy, but there’s just not that much about your products that is different than what the HVAC guy down the street offers. Every blooming heating and air conditioning company sells equipment (and any company worth its salt offers pretty much the same types of services you do).
Heck, nowadays you can even buy HVAC while you’re shopping at Lowe’s, Home Depot and the ‘bigger is better’ Costco. And, to make matters worse, all your competition is one quick Google search away (might I add that Google even helps out by popping up your competition as suggestions even when they are looking for you).
Seems like just about every company offers the same things:
- Quality Service
- Lowest Price
- Service All Makes & Models
- Licensed & Insured
- Fair Prices
Furthermore, advertising as the ‘lowest price company’ is risky business and a good way to ‘kill’ your bottom line. After all, customers who are always looking for the lowest price are the first ones to complain, have the highest call-back rates, and are the first ones to jump to your competitor the minute a better offer is put out on the street (of course, I’m assuming here that you want customers who understand and want value and you want customers who will keep coming back for more – if you don’t, you can stop reading).
The good news is that you are not just selling products that come straight out of a box.
And, by the way, your customers don’t buy PRODUCTS (or HVAC equipment). They buy SOLUTIONS to their PROBLEMS.
And, that, my friend, is the key to developing the strategy that will break you away from ‘sameness‘ and make your company stand head-and-shoulders above your competition.
The secrets are NOT IN THE PRODUCTS you sell.
The secrets are in the SOLUTIONS you provide to your customers’ PROBLEMS…
And, in how you do it DIFFERENTLY than your competition.
If you want to stand head-and-shoulders above those competitors, you have to find a way to TELL your customers HOW and WHY you do it. You do that by developing a strong Unique Selling Proposition.
The first step in developing a really strong Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that will not only stand up–but stand out–over your competition, is to understand what your competition is doing. This is more than what you think they are doing, but an in-depth study so you can determine what you do that’s the same and what you do that’s different, better, faster, or easier.Pick your largest competitors and do some research. Study their marketing and their website. Find out what they offer, when they offer it, and how they get the word out. Learn what they tell their customers, what they promise, and what their guarantees say. Read every testimonial and review you can find–the good ones as well as the bad. Look for what their customers say was a value to them (regardless of whether or not they got it). Better yet, have your competitor come to your home (or someone else’s home that you just happen to be in) and provide you a service so you can see their process firsthand. To get you started, here are some things to look for:
- Service Hours
- Products/Services Available
- Licensed, Bonded & Insured
- Available Manufacturers
- Maintenance Agreements & Benefits Offered
- Installation Quoting Process
- Locally Owned/Operated
- Qualified Technicians (Training/Background Checked/Drug Tested)
Repeat the same process with your own company. Pull out your marketing, look over your website and your presentation materials.
What do you tell your customers? What do you promise and what do your guarantees say? Read your testimonials and reviews to see what your customers are saying is important to them (remember, negative reviews are just as valuable). Compare how you stack up–what do you do that’s the same and what do you do that’s different, better, faster, etc.
Once you’re armed with what your competition does and says, and what you do and say, that sets you apart, then (and only then) are you ready to sit down and work on your USP. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to write their USP based on what they think is important and what they think they do differently than their competition, without ever doing real fact finding.
Develop your USP:
Once you’ve done your homework and determined what separates you from the competition, take it one more step and evaluate it to ensure that you can:
- DELIVER IT, each and every time
- PROVE YOU CAN DELIVER IT with case studies, stats, testimonials, etc.
Take what you’ve learned and start brainstorming ideas for your USP. Remember, your USP must answer two questions:
- What makes your company different?
- Why, as your customer, should I care?
Then use your USP… repeat it over and over again. Work it into everything you do and say. Use it in headlines in your ad copy, sprinkle it throughout your website and your presentation materials. Your customers need to hear it, see it, and read it – over and over again for it to stick in their minds.