Do you feel to be very successful you need to get the best brand name in your area? How do you go about it? How do you first determine which brand name is respected and best known? Once that is decided then what is the best method to get that brand for your company?

The answer is very simple and very easy: you make yourself the best indoor comfort specialist in your town or area. Make the brand name secondary. Make yourself the expert and others will believe in you and the products you install to provide perfect indoor comfort.

Let's compare two scenarios:

1. A contractor has acquired the best hvac equipment line. We'll call it "International Heating & Air Conditioning." This contractor uses the manufacturer's name in all its advertisements and pushes the name as often as he can. The yellow pages are co-op and so the manufacturer's logo is in the ad, reinforcing that this contractor is a dealer of International.

The signs on the shop and the displays in the windows have "International" on them and the dealer's name, "Bob's H & C Inc." is included where there is room. It is obvious that Bob gave up some name recognition in order to get the International line, but it will be worth it in the long run.

2. This contractor, we'll call him "Tru-Temp Indoor Comfort Ltd." He has no affiliation with any manufacturer but over the years has established his company as people who produce what they promise. They only sell what they believe is the best for their customers and brand names do not make any difference to them. They have been in business for more than 10 years and are active in local activities and have become well known in the area.

Jesse, the owner, writes a Sunday column on indoor comfort for the local newspaper and four or five times a year puts on a free seminar for the local residents. Jesse has become the local expert on hvac products and their application.

We'll assume these two companies are equal in their ability to install a quality job and both possess the same educational training in the businesses they own. They are equal except in their marketing approach and the way they sell their systems.

Now follow me down the normal path of a contractor and dealer in our industry. Who do you think will be affected more, the independent contractor or dealer¿

When market share does not meet expectations?

Both can be affected, but it is the dealer who has everything tied up in a brand name that ends up behind the eight ball. They could lose the line or have more competition in their market, causing pricing to be reduced.

Why would that affect the pricing? More competition is one good reason but a better reason is that the prospect can get two prices on the same product line and compare the prices. After all, all equipment is installed the same by all dealers-they work for the factory that produces the product being installed. Now Bob must sell more jobs to make the same amount of money as last year.

When you have competitive pricing in the market?

One of the most frequent questions asked at my selling workshops is how can you make a profit when you have to compete with the moonlighters and low-ballers in the marketplace? My answer is always the same: you don't have to match prices but you do have to sell you and your company. This is not an easy concept to understand, but it is essential to any contractor, dealer or independent in order to be profitable and grow.

This is where the independent (Tru-Temp) has a leg up on the dealer (Bob's H & C) who has put so many eggs in the brand name basket. When you make a brand name the focus of your presentation, you become lazy because you feel that the prospect will want your brand name regardless of who you are or what your company represents. You don't try to sell yourself as the expert there to help the prospect, nor do you really try to sell the prospect on your company and how it is different from all others. The prospect notices very little difference in the dealers they see and what is left to make a comparison? PRICE.

On the other hand, without selling the brand name, True-Temp sells itself and its installations and the prospect sees the differences in the quality and installation. The prospect agrees that the equipment is no better than how it is installed. They are shown a value for the additional money and are willing to pay more. They bought the brand name of the installer company.

In every workshop where we show how this is accomplished, the class members go away with a belief that it can be done, but only when you believe.

(Dave Gleason has more than 40 years of experience in contracting, engineering and wholesaling. He has put these experiences into a comprehensive consultation and training company called Systematic Selling Inc., which offers customized sales seminars and workshops. Contact him at 1165 Antioch Campground Road, Gainesville, GA 30506; phone 800-447-7355; fax 717-698-6555.)