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Comfort: The Homeowner’s Home Performance Metric

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This is a metric obsessed world. This is a numbers obsessed industry. We are always looking to measure something. We want to know your KPI’s. We want to measure your ROI. Tell me your EBITDA. Give me the facts about your business and it is all in %’s of this and share of that. So, when we think about customers … we are certain they are the same. They are focused on the bottom line. “What is the deal”? “Show me the money.” “What is my return on my investment”? Or, at least from the look of our sales presentations and our training focus … that is what we think they want to hear. That is how we think people buy stuff. And, for many … that is how they buy stuff. Of course, that is how I buy a lot of stuff … and you do it too! But, it is not how I buy everything. And, I suspect; it is not really the buyer we are looking at for Home Performance.

For the purposes of this article, I think we can divide up the market into a couple of segments. One is the segment of buyers who just lost their HVAC system or had a major system component failure. Their call to action is “I need a new AC system” or “I need a new Heating system”. The other buyer type is the one we run across who has an operating system who says, “I want _________________ “. The first buyer needs a replacement. The second buyer has a need that could be fulfilled. Home Performance customers are usually clients with a need.

For example:
My wife and I had a similar situation a few years ago when we wanted to do an upgrade of our kitchen. One of the key features was her desire for a better dishwasher. We had friends in Florida with a high end dishwasher that they seemed very happy with and we went to a retail appliance store to get the exact model that our friends had. We were in a “money is no object” mood. The sales people did not get us what we asked for but made several switches on brand and value … and we ended up with an expensive dishwasher that did not deliver on desires. The product washed dishes but it did not ever meet the expectations or hopes that my wife had set for the purchase. She never went back to that store for another purchase and years later still speaks of it to her friends with unfriendly references. This major retail chain has experienced negative sales growth and very significant pressure on their stock price. Perhaps, this is partially related to their failure to capture happy sales experiences with buyers like my wife.

Eight years after that purchase and long before the useful life of the dishwasher had run its course, we again went in search of appliance upgrade. This time, we did it differently. We (especially my wife) became very involved buyers. She studied web sites and read ALL of the online reviews. We carefully selected the appliance stores we went to visit. We only went to the places carrying the most expensive brands and with reputations and letters of service quality. We spoke to a number of sales people. We ended up purchasing a dishwasher, electric cook top, Refrigerator and new double oven and microwave. It was a large purchase. And, it was all driven from the desire for a better dishwasher.

The second least expensive item was the dishwasher. But, the lowly box that washes dishes is the appliance that my wife:

  • Is most happy with
  • Performs the best
  • Exceeds her expectations
  • Is fun for her to operate
  • Is the appliance that she tells all of her friends about
  • Raves about on line

It’s the dishwasher – that is exceptionally quiet (I cannot hear it most of the time) and it actually cleans the dishes in a fashion that my wife values. Simple and effective!

I think that my appliance story is similar to a lot of Home Performance Sales Opportunities. The home performance buyer is not looking for a return on the invested dollar. They have a need that we as contractors need to find and fill. We do not need to overwhelm them with the amount of energy savings or dollar savings that they might achieve. What we need to do is understand their hopes and dreams and desires and try to help them get what they want. Most often what they want is “Comfort” in their home. And, they have a vision of what comfort is or have a dream of comfort and have given up hope that comfort is possible. But, with Home Performance Contracting … we actually have the skill and the training to tease out the perception of what the client needs and wants. We have the performance and systems depth to convert the mess that is their HVAC system to deliver on that promise.

My favorite story about that came from a client letter a few years ago. This client had lived in his home for 20 plus years and had tried many companies and many things to achieve comfort. He had done duct replacement. He had put in new super high energy efficient HVAC systems. But, all to no avail. He had basically given up on ever having temperature balance or comfort in his home. A friend of his referred Anthony Pinero (now our Sales Manager) to come and discuss the situation. He writes that Anthony was the most knowledgeable person he had ever spoken with about his problem.

“Anthony recommended that we have $6,000 worth of work done without replacing any major equipment. After I got off the floor, he explained what needed to be done.” Several months later, as the letter goes on to detail, the owner was working in his office when he felt chilly. He went to check the thermostat. Traditionally, he liked to keep the home at 67 degrees to be comfortable in the summer. The stat and the thermometers he had set in every room said 77 degrees. “I am totally satisfied, to say the least. And, I will recommend your company to anyone who needs help with air conditioning.”

At Tempo, we have letter after letter saying, THANK YOU for helping us be COMFORTABLE. We have no letters from customers saying thanks for saving us money.

We are all interested in saving money. We are all interested in increasing our bank account. But, the purpose of that bank account is to purchase something of value … and one of the key values that is really hard to purchase is Comfort. This is an offering that the traditional box changer cannot deliver. It is only something that comes out of the knowledge, the understanding and the process of the Home Performance Contractor. One of the byproducts of a great home performance job is improved energy efficiency so; the client can capture some value there too. But, the real value that is achieved is regular, consistent and reliable … and otherwise unachievable in this world…comfort.

Steve Saunders

Posted In: Building Performance, Sales & Marketing

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