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Maybe Your Company Should Consider the Supermarket Sector

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It’s Time to put some thought into taking on this large-scale client base.

If your company hasn’t ventured into the supermarket sector yet, you aren’t alone. Now may be an ideal time for you to rethink your approach, however. With sparks of innovation and a new mindset of clients that range from the local grocery store to big-box stores, your company’s unique brand of customer service and one-stop support might just be the right combination to help you excel. The market is relatively stable regardless of the country’s financial climate – everybody has to eat, after all – and is wide open geographically, from city centers to the suburban sprawl that keeps easing into rural areas.

Clients are Changing, and So Are Their HVACR Needs
Have you walked into your local Wal-Mart of Target lately? Both major retailers have added full-scale grocery stores to their already-popular array of home and personal needs. These industry giants add a new perspective to the standard supermarket clientele – not only do they need refrigeration, but they need the right balance of climate control throughout their vast spaces that has to keep their customers comfortable while trying on clothes and maintain proper humidity for products that a normal grocery never carries.

This encroachment of supermarket needs in large stores isn’t brand new, but it has reached a level of normalcy that speaks to the stability of the market for the foreseeable future. You can count on your local big-box stores continuing to remodel to support large refrigerated and fresh food sections, and they will need your expertise to handle the headaches that come along with a new store within a store. If you offer one-stop support for heating, cooling, humidity control, and refrigeration; you become a trusted partner with a steady maintenance account for years to come.

Smaller clients are having to change to keep up, too, and your company’s commitment to servicing older equipment helps those clients stay relevant.
“The C-Store market segment can be a great business opportunity for full-service HVACR contractors who have the ability to maintain, service and support diverse equipment types,” said Don Langston, president and CEO of Aire Rite Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, Inc.

Indeed, convenience stores and local groceries alike are contending with the rise of larger stores by updating older refrigeration equipment and repurposing the investments they’ve made already to accommodate the types of food and beverage their hometown customers need. By making connections with your neighborhood grocers, you can venture into the supermarket segment without stretching your resources too far.

Innovations Make Now a Great Time to Join the Market
Not since the advent of central air has the HVACR market seen such promising upgrades in technology on the horizon. Many of these innovations target the financial concerns that make supermarket businesses difficult to maintain.

According to the Department of Energy, supermarkets spend about $200,000 per year on HVACR, with approximately half of that cost wrapped up in electricity bills. Refrigeration accounts for a vast majority of that usage.

Lately, however, updated technology is slashing those costs. Synchronous motors in place of traditional fan motors, for example, coordinate the shaft rotation on the motor to the electrical current’s frequency. This type of motor has been around in other sectors for some time, but it has always been too costly in the past to use in such large commercial settings as grocery stores. Now, however, companies are finding ways to lower the cost of parts to simplify power conversion and bring these efficient motors to the supermarket segment.

Innovations such as these require your company to stay on top of the latest technology. But as you present your team as experts in emerging ways to save money, your company becomes even more valuable as a reliable advisor in your community. Choose to immerse yourself in learning about the newest improvements on the horizon, so your team is ready to address your clients’ needs.

Of course, large-scale properties, such as supermarkets are reticent to integrate such upgrades without proof of their functionality. When you’re wading through the innovations available, look for third-party validation such as the on-site testing these synchronized motors have received.

Customer Service and Expertise Take Your Company from Maintenance to Strategy
While most sectors in the HVACR world have a degree of urgency to them, the supermarket sector and similar segments, such as convenience stores have a unique need for full-time attention. They thrive on food safety, so any repairs require immediate, careful attention.

Langston, for instance, owes his company’s success to how attentive his company is to taking care of its customers, all day every day. Its team of experienced technicians and service support personnel is available at all times to handle everything from routine requests to complex emergencies.
While you know how much this sort of accessible maintenance is worth, your supermarket clients may not realize the value of your services. A creative approach to supermarket client management is one way to set your business apart from others in your area.

For example, if your company bases its strategy on proactively supporting your clients’ profit streams instead of only reactively handling maintenance, you have another opportunity to position yourself as an advisor at the table when the client is choosing what updates to prioritize and how to maximize its budget for success. By advocating for those changes that impact your client’s bottom line, then tracking performance and following up with data that shows the positive impact of your recommendations, your company becomes more than someone who cleans up HVACR messes. Instead, you become a strategic partner responsible for their ongoing profitability.

If you’re unsure where to start when expanding beyond maintenance, look at how your company can support supermarket customers in meeting regulatory and compliance benchmarks. The EPA’s rules for refrigeration are in flux, and your knowledge of the latest rulings and how to keep your clients in the clear can extend your reach into the strategic-planning considerations of their business.

Give Clients One Person to Call – You
With all the focus on refrigeration for supermarkets, the HVAC portion can get overlooked. If your company provides complete HVACR services, emphasizing the value of shopper comfort, proper humidity, and other broader issues can help those customers grounds some larger clients in a realm they understand. Packaging your services as an all-in-one bundle, provided your shop is diverse enough to deliver quality services across the board, gives you an edge that can be especially helpful as you enter the sector for the first time.

Whether your company is ready to develop a new application for its existing HVACR expertise or is looking at the supermarket sector for the first time, the market is in good shape for expansion. Evaluate your staff’s abilities and your company’s particular customer service model, so you can identify the right-size clients to capitalize on the innovations coming to light in the segment. With a bit of research and attention to the needs of your community, you can grow your client base and establish ongoing relationships with some of the most consistent customers around.

Elizabeth Wise
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