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Blog / Own The Neighborhood
Posted on: Aug 22, 2011
Spend some time in the Valley during the summer and you’ll notice that an awful lot of money is spent on advertising by some of the larger air conditioning contractors. These contractors advertise on radio, television, newspaper and direct mail; some with budgets in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, how is a regular contractor going to compete with this? One way is to become a stealth marketer, determined to own your neighborhoods.
Everyone likes referrals. Referrals are the closest thing to a guaranteed sale you can get.   The question is how can you generate more referrals? One answer may be to focus on the specific neighborhoods that you currently do business in or wish to expand into. You can do this quite easily and rather inexpensively but, you must be committed. Here are some ideas for a simple “Own the Neighborhood” game plan.
  1. Yard signs. Once you’ve made a sale, ask the homeowner if it would be okay to place a yard sign in the front yard that tells the neighbors that these homeowners are getting a new HVAC system and that you are putting it in. Yard signs are relatively inexpensive and can be reused for each new sale. 
  2. Door hangers. After the install has been completed and the yard sign has been removed, hang some door hangers on the doors of the neighbors on either side as well as the three houses directly across the street. Ideally, the yard sign and the door hanger will reflect the same theme.
Let’s take a minute and discuss the objective for using yard signs and door hangers.  Remember that all of the neighbors have pretty much the same house with the same old HVAC system as your customer, making them perfect prospects. I’ve heard comments that yard signs and door hangers don’t work because as soon as the people come home they take the door hanger and throw it in the trash. This may true, but getting the neighbors to hang onto the door hanger is not the goal. The goal is to get the neighbors to remember that your customer had their old HVAC system replaced by you. When it becomes time for the neighbors to replace their system, the goal is to have them walk next door and ask your customer if they like their new HVAC system. And, if they do, the neighbor is very likely to ask for the name and number of the contractor that did the job. 
  1. Thank you. A survey of homeowners that had recently had a new HVAC system installed was conducted a few years back. While most were fairly satisfied, there were a significant number of respondents that indicated they were somewhat disappointed that there was no contact from the contractor after the install. Contact after the sale makes homeowners feel more secure by knowing that you will still be there for them after the sale, in case something goes wrong. This can be anything from a follow up phone call to make sure everything is running properly to a post card that says “Thank You” and perhaps even offering a coupon for a free unit checkup before the next season.  This will help minimize the natural feelings of “buyer’s remorse” and make your customer feel more secure in the knowledge that their decision was the right one.
The great thing about developing referrals like this is that over the years they tend to grow, as each new customer becomes another opportunity for a referral and so on.   As you generate more customers in a neighborhood, you also generate more referrals in that same neighborhood. In other words, you begin to own the neighborhood. 
 Comfortmaker offers a great post card program called the Advantage Program that allows you to quickly design a single Thank You post card that, if you wish, includes a coupon to send to homeowners for after sale follow up. Along with the thank you post card, you can send 25 postcards to surrounding homeowners letting them know that some of your best customers are their neighbors. The best part is that you can design the postcards and Advantage will print them, secure a mailing list of surrounding homes, and mail them.   The truly amazing part is that you can do all this for less than $30.   To get more information about the Advantage Program, click here.   You can also visit to see the all of the great promotion ideas available to you, including yard signs and door hangers. Remember, by planting the seeds of referral today, you can harvest more business in the future.
Good Selling!

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