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Author: Jeff Revlett | February 23rd, 2023

Tips for Territory Managers – Understanding Dealer Motivators

It’s February in the HVAC contracting business. Depending on the climate where your dealer is located, this can be one of the most challenging months to make money. It is also a great month for a TM to have some value-added business-related conversations. Of course, that brings up the question: What is a value-added business-related conversation for an HVAC contractor?

TMs have a myriad of items on their plates for 2023. SEER2 changes, inflation, product availability, slowing housing markets, marketing programs, promotions, and many others. All these items are important in and of themselves and do need to be discussed. However, it is important to always remember that as a TM, we must work from the dealer’s agenda. What are they thinking about?

Those items may or may not be at the top of the dealer’s priority list. In my experience, HVAC dealers are motivated by three priorities. The top priority is always profitability. Now is the time to have those discussions around profitability, because February is typically a tough month to make money. Is their pricing correct? How’s their service labor rate? Do they have a financial structure in place that will foster growth of revenue while keeping costs down? Is there training or education that you can recommend to them to enhance profitability and ease their concerns?

Secondly, February is also a month where dealers are thinking about developing effective business processes. If they have a little more time on their hands, February is a great month to talk about all the things that need to be built internally to help the business create sustainability and repeatability. Processes are so important to put in place because it allows the owners to focus on working on the business rather than being involved in every aspect of the business.

That brings up the final discussion of another motivator for dealers, and that is what I call “time away from the beast.” I have called on many dealers that have never had a vacation. Sometimes that is a choice, because they feel like they cannot go away from the business; that they have to be involved in every part of their operations. In other cases, they just can’t afford to step away from it. The aforementioned processes will allow the business to function without the constant involvement of the owner. This is a good time to remind them that, if the business can’t run without them, it has no saleable value.

So, to recap the priorities of your dealers right now, which should inform the conversations you’re having with them to help them succeed:

    1. Profitability

    2. Processes

    3. Work-life balance

Although TMs have a lot of topics to talk about, these three items are what I call “always on” switches. Regardless of how the sales calls go, keep in mind that these are items that your dealer is always thinking about and that they should be at the heart of the solutions you provide to your contractors – and the conversations you have with them – all year long. And especially right now.