Wholesalers discuss SEER, other industry issues at Phoenix convention

PHOENIX - As Arizona desert temperatures were dropping from the 90- and 100-degree days of summer, air-conditioning wholesalers came here to hold a convention.

PHOENIX - As Arizona desert temperatures were dropping from the 90- and 100-degree days of summer, air-conditioning wholesalers came here to hold a convention. The Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International held its third annual convention Oct. 29-Nov. 1 at JW Marriott Desert Ridge. According to association officials, more than 1,200 members attended the event.

At the Nov. 1 closing banquet, outgoing president Randy Tice of Pennsylvania-based APR Supply was thanked for his service and Bill Shaw, owner of Dallas-based wholesaler Standard Supply was named 2005-2006 association president. In his acceptance speech, Shaw lauded HARDI's accomplishments, but said more work was ahead.

"We are finally recognized for the value that wholesale distribution provides to the HVACR industry and the nation's economy," Shaw said. "Moreover, through the growing number of educational and training offerings and HARDICAT technology initiatives, HARDI has greatly contributed to improving our members' productivity and performance. And even more importantly, I believe, most everyone in our industry will agree that we've vastly improved productivity.

"That being said, there remains much to accomplish in the future, and I am fortunate that members have selected me to lead the association through the next year," he said. "I have a great board, a cadre of hard-working officers and proficient staff to assist me as we move to even greater achievements. As we move forward, I have no doubt that we will face many challenges, but I prefer to look at them as opportunities to be an even greater association and industry."

Sales consultant Jeffrey Gitomer of Charlotte, N.C.-based BuyGitomer Inc. told attendees of his Oct. 31 seminar that most of the conventional ideas about selling don't work.


Before the closing ceremonies, the convention included more than 20 seminars and presentations. Here's what was discussed at a few of them.

If you're sensitive - or just have sensitive ears - Jeffrey Gitomer's presentations aren't for you. They're loud, in-your-face and frequently involve swearing.

His list of peeves includes voicemail, the airline industry, hotel check-in services and salespeople. Although he discussed all of them during his often-humorous Oct. 31 presentation to HARDI members, Gitomer's expertise is in sales. He and his Charlotte, N.C., company, BuyGitomer Inc., offers an unconventional approach to sales training that dispenses with many common sales beliefs.

The author of books such as Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, Gitomer says if a salesperson loses a deal because of the price, the person "sucks at sales."

"It's the relationship, not the price," that's key to success, Gitomer said. "If you continue to bid all the time, you have no relationship."

Gitomer also has little use for sales tools such as brochures. To save money on printing costs, he suggests bringing a competitor's brochure, crossing out their name and writing in yours.

He doesn't like the way many salespeople talk, either. He thinks they're too wedded to their scripts and don't sound approachable.

"Act professionally, talk friendly," he advised. "If you talk ‘professionally,' no one listens."

And be likeable. People want to buy from their friends, he added. "If you're not likeable, now is a real good time to get out of sales."

During "Cooling Down the Stress Soup," Cameron Johnston said employers need to be aware of stress and its effect on workers.

Stress and soup

If you think life is moving faster now than it was just two years ago, Cameron Johnston of WellChoices Consulting says you're right.

Johnston, who bills himself as "the stress fitness coach" in his British Columbia-based business, was at HARDI's convention Oct. 31 to offer tips on "Cooling Down the Stress Soup."

Stress affects people differently, Johnston told seminar attendees. Some people can look like they're fine but are actually very stressed, while others can appear to be frazzled but are just fine.

"We need to take control of our stressors as much as we can," he said.

Some stress-inducing situations, such as a sudden death in the family or serious illness, we have little control over, he told the crowd. But "most of our stressors, we have some control."
And stress isn't just caused by bad news, Johnston added. "Too many ‘good' stressors are just as bad as too many negative stressors."

He gave the example of his daughter who, as a teen-age girl, once had the option of too many fun things to do, and the enviable situation was causing her to be tense.

Too much of everything, from activities to information, is why many people today are "burned out," he said. There's too much information thrown at us to act on.

"There's never been a time that there has been more options and opportunities. Sometimes, people get to the point they can't make simple decisions."

HARDI's Oct. 30 opening reception was held on the lawn at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix. More than 1,200 members attended the group's third annual convention, officials said.
That realization has made companies take notice of the problem - stress is affecting employees' health and companies' profits.
Johnston gave five tips for handling stress:
  • Be aware of your stress level and how it's affecting you
  • Make sure employees also know their stress levels.
  • Provide and require employees attend confidential stress classes.
  • Make sure your workplace and management style does not add excessive stress.
  • Have an ongoing emotional-wellness program available to all employees.

Howard Hyden put on a hospital gown to demonstrate what happens when a company is not customer focused.
Many HARDI members saw Howard Hyden speak at the group's 2004 convention in Chicago. For his 2005 appearance, he greeted attendees of his Oct. 31 seminar dressed in a hospital gown.

Hyden, the president of the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Center for Customer Focus, says he has spent his career trying to get companies to look at their operations and products from the customer's viewpoint.

And the traditional hospital gown, which he was wearing, is definitely not a customer (patient)-focused garment, he said. It's drafty, exposes too much skin and doesn't fit.

A better design, he added, would go all the way down and around the back, and maybe close with a fabric fastener.

He compared many companies' customer-oriented efforts to the well-known definition of insanity attributed to Albert Einstein: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

These businesses need a stimulus to change, but they're looking in the wrong place, Hyden said.

"In too many businesses, the stimuli is the P-and-L (profit-and-loss report)," he said. "I want to challenge you to get more stimuli from your customers."

He also advised audience members to look outside the typical avenues for new workers. If you find someone with the right attitude and personality who currently works in an unrelated industry, hire them anyway.

"You can teach them about air conditioning," he said.

Hyden's hiring philosophy can be summarized in what he calls a "Howardism": Hire the best and weed the rest. He says people who have essentially "quit," but still show up for work each day, often need to be let go.

He said it's common with people who are nearing retirement. These unproductive longtime employees are bad role models for younger workers, he added.

"I wouldn't fire anybody who has been with the company that long, but I would set them down and have a conversation," Hyden said.

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or e-mail devriesj@bnpmedia.com.