INDUSTRY HEADLINES

Industry_HeadlinesAeroseal Acquires Comfort Institute To Create World Headquarters For Everything HPC

Just in case you’ve had your head stuck inside a duct system project for the past two weeks, let me share with you the major headline that has the entire industry abuzz…Aeroseal just acquired Comfort Institute (CI). Now, the sole licensee of an industry-changing duct sealing technology has joined forces with the premier organization dedicated to the success of home performance contractors.

The deal went down during the last week of August, and CI members were notified along with Aeroseal dealers by email (followed by snail mail) on the 25th. ACHR NEWS interviewed both company leaders the following day, posted on their website later that afternoon, and the word has been spreading like a California wildfire ever since.

From what I can tell from caller reaction, response from the news so far has been quite positive. CI members like the idea that the merger will infuse Comfort Institute with fresh resources that will allow the organization to take their training and support services to new heights. In fact, the new CI training schedule, which will be released later this month, will include a variety of regionally located classes as well as those typically held at a single CI facility. Also on the horizon for the immediate term is improved CI materials and support.

The merger was also well received on the Aeroseal side of the fence. Dealers reacted positively to the potential for increased exposure and special access to a wide variety of home performance-related materials, training and equipment. And while the new partnership doesn’t require either Aeroseal dealers or CI members to make any new investments in the other organization’s offerings, it does open up huge new opportunities for both parties.

“I can attribute a large part of our ongoing success to the combination of our Aeroseal dealership and our CI Membership,” said Steve Schmidt, President of Frederick Air Inc., Frederick, MD, and national board member of ACCA.  “I could not be more excited for the industry that these two organizations have officially joined forces. No doubt, greater contractor success and remarkable customer satisfaction is on the horizon!”

“Most experts agree that our industry is at a crossroads,” said Aeroseal CEO and President Amit Gupta. “The days where business growth based simply on selling heating and cooling equipment are fast making way to a new paradigm where a whole-house approach to home performance is taking center stage. HVAC professionals are now being asked to address the broader issues related to home comfort, IAQ and high utility bills. It’s expertise in these areas that is providing the competitive edge, and it’s what is driving today’s consumer demands.”

Under the merger, Comfort Institute will continue to exist as Comfort Institute, now a business unit of Aeroseal LLC. Several key CI personnel will remain in their current positions, including Brendan Reid and Ken Summers at the helm. The CI facilities and warehouse have moved to Centerville, Ohio.

“This merger marks a major step in Aeroseal’s vision of becoming a powerhouse in what is surely the future of HVAC,” said Gupta. “It sets us up to grow our offering in home performance contracting to become the industry’s one source for HPC equipment, training and support.”

“The joining of forces couldn’t be a more natural, mutually beneficial move,” said CI’s Brendan Reid. “Duct sealing is typically the single most effective thing homeowners can do to increase home performance and Aeroseal technology is really the only viable means to effectively achieve quality duct sealing results. Pair that type of mission-critical technology together with the industry’s most comprehensive, up-to-date training and support, and you have an organization that is offering unparalleled value for contractor success.”

Have questions about the acquisition? Want to know more about Aeroseal dealerships or CI offerings? We’ve scheduled a special webinar that will answer all your questions and more. The event is scheduled for Tudesday, November 11 at 1:30 pm EST. Click Here To Register.

AEROSEAL IN ACTION

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAntelope Hills Country Club Scores Hole In One With Aeroseal

Talk about building momentum for success! For Bryce Cox over at Arrowseal of Prescott, Arizona, it began when he invested a bit of time and effort aerosealing the private homes of several city facility managers. He figured if he could prove to these directors how effective the duct sealing technology was in reducing energy savings in their own homes, they would be more likely to understand what it could do to save the city money as well.

It worked! The team at Arrowseal sealed the ductwork of several older homes suffering from both high energy bills and spotty heating and cooling. The results made instant Aeroseal believers of the homeowners, and that led to a pilot project for the city.

“Making the jump from private homes to commercial buildings was still a bit of a leap of concept,” said Bryce, “so we were asked to complete a trial run, sealing a small one-system office complex and then a fire station. In both cases we were able to show the city officials immediate and substantial savings. The undisputable results just led to an even bigger project.”

In January of this year, Bruce and his Arrowseal team were called in to work on a golf course facility run by the City of Prescott. The Antelope Hills Municipal Country Club includes a clubhouse, restaurant, bar and pro shop, all under one roof. The city was about to replace the facility’s six HVAC roof units with new equipment, and they wanted Arrowseal to ensure the ductwork was up to snuff as well. Energy costs for operating the country club were running around $5,000 to $6,000 a month and the city was hoping that, with the new upgraded systems and aerosealed ductwork, they could reduce that cost.

To understand the scope of the project, Bruce and his team came down to the clubhouse and took leakage readings before the new HVAC units were installed. With an overall leakage rate of around 550 CFM, Bryce knew that Aeroseal could make a significant difference.

What he didn’t know was that when he came back to retest the systems after the new installations were completed, the leakage rate would be even higher – closer to 900 CFM.

“Even though they replaced the six old systems with new energy-efficient units, the new ductwork and the connections between the ductwork and the new systems caused more leaks than the original system,” said Bryce. “Whatever efficiency they may have gotten from upgrading units was being lost through leaks in the ductwork.”

Step one for Arrowseal was to manually seal the connections between the ducts and the HVAC units. Bryce estimates that this alone reduced leakage by 100 CFM. Now it was up to Aeroseal to make it all worthwhile.

It took the Arrowseal team just two days to seal the supply and returns of the six individual systems.  Calculations showed a total pre-aeroseal (post manual sealing) leakage rate of 1,072 CFM. Aerosealing instantly brought that down to 79 CFM – a reduction of around 92%.

“Overall, we recovered almost 1,000 CFM of treated air – nearly 3 tons. That is the equivalent of saving the energy generated by one of the entire systems,” said Bryce.

The city estimates they are now saving an average of $2,000 per month – and as much as $4,000 per month during the hottest and coldest months – just from Aeroseal alone.

“The savings from Aeroseal will quickly pay for any costs of the sealing process and then begin to pay for the six systems,” said Bryce. “Even with their higher efficiency, the new HVAC units would never have saved enough in energy to pay for themselves on their own.”

Now the city of Prescott is looking to include Arrowseal in all of its retrofit projects. With a little investment in time and patience, Bryce turned a few small projects into a steady stream of work that will pay off for both Arrowseal and the taxpayers of Prescott, Arizona.

IN THE NEWS

In_The_News-homeConsumer Reports Spotlights Duct Sealing And Aeroseal

I think it’s safe to say that few, if any, magazines have a higher reputation for honest, unbiased reporting than Consumer Reports (CR). So we were quite excited to see what their latest home heating guide had to report about duct sealing and Aeroseal technology. On both counts, they declare them winners for saving on rising fuel prices.

When homeowners go searching for advice and information about the right products to buy or the best value for services, they know that Consumer Reports will give them the straight scoop based on impartial testing and credible research. The October 2014 issue of the magazine includes an article entitled “House Warming,” which offers the latest advice for those looking to save on home heating costs. While the publication editors were cool on the notion that duct cleaning would have any significant impact on energy efficiency, they were hot on the idea that duct sealing can save big bucks. Best of all, they highlight aerosealing as a smart way to have that duct sealing done.

The short piece goes on to give a little background on the technology (developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) and how it works (microscopic particles of sealant are blown into ductwork). They even give a bit of information about average cost and savings. Given the source and the straightforward presentation, this article should be worth sharing with any homeowner trying to decide if saving money with Aeroseal is a real deal or just another sales hype.

Some other fuel-saving tips contained in the article include:
•    Natural gas is typically the lowest-price option for home heating. This is followed by oil, then propane and finally electricity.
•    It’s worth upgrading your HVAC system if it is over 15 years old. Geothermal heat pumps are often another good investment.
•    CR recommends having the HVAC system serviced once a year – always by a certified contractor.
•    Change your furnace filter several times a year and make sure the registers aren’t blocked by furniture.
•    Plug leaks in walls and around windows with weather stripping, caulk or expandable foam.
•    While replacing windows may not make economic sense, there are several other reasons why you may want to have the work done anyway: quieter home, reduce drafts, lower maintenance.

You can find the complete article starting on page 35 of the October Consumer Reports issue or visit Aeroseal’s “news and media” section by Clicking here…

Marketing Tip

Marketing_TipsNOTES FROM OUR SOCIAL MEDIA WEBINAR

A couple of weeks ago, the Aeroseal marketing team sponsored a webinar for our dealers that focused specifically on social media marketing. The one-hour session gave a nice overview of social media, underscored its basic use and value and highlighted three of the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It was one of the best attended webinars we’ve held to date, and we continue to field inquiries from attendees wanting to learn more.  For those who were unable to make it to the original webinar event, here is a recap of the main points made during the session.

The presentation began with a general overview of social media. Whether you’re talking about Facebook, Twitter or any one of the hundreds of other popular social media sites on the web today, they all have one thing in common – sharing.  By name and definition, all social media platforms are intended to be used for the sharing of information and ideas – usually within online communities with similar interests.

The biggest marketing advantage of social media is that this sharing is typically done through online word of mouth. When a family shares their vacation photos on Facebook or Twitter, it’s immediately sent to their friends and relatives (and high school classmates, business colleagues and anyone else that may be following their page online). If they rave about the great time they had at Disneyland, for instance, they offer an endorsement that is more valuable for future Disney sales than anything the company could generate through advertising.  FACT: referrals or reviews from friends and family are more effective at influencing sales than any other marketing strategy.

Other facts of note about social media:
•    82% of business owners say they see value in social media marketing (SMM).
•    83% of business owners believe SMM creates brand loyalty and increases customer perception of their trustworthiness.
•    60% or more of Facebook and Twitter users give recommendations for products and services in their posts.

There are other advantages to including social media in your marketing mix:
•    It’s advertising that is relatively inexpensive if not “free.”
•    It has the potential to reach large numbers of people.
•    It doesn’t take a specialist to use.
•    TV watching is at a decline, while the time Americans spend on social media is increasing dramatically.

To this last point, research verifies the increasing use of mobile devices for social media interactions. For an ever-growing number of consumers, smart phones, tablets, laptops and other mobile devices are becoming the primary tool for connecting to the Internet and hence, to online sites such as Facebook and YouTube. For businesses, this means that the strategic use of social media can be a valuable way to get your message across to customers no matter where they are – at work, shopping, having lunch or wherever they use their phone or iPad.

The Aeroseal social media webinar gave an overview of marketing on several social media outlets, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Since much of the basic strategy of these various sites are similar, we’ll review one here – Facebook marketing.

More than 128 million Americans regularly log on to Facebook. 20% of those users share articles they find and much more are likely to click on links they receive in posts that catch their interest.

And it’s not just kids. In fact, young people are actually less likely to use Facebook than they were a few years ago. At the same time, grown ups are signing up like never before. Facebook added 10.8 million 25-34 year olds to its roster in the past year alone. The biggest growth, however, came among adults over the age of 55, where Facebook added 12.4 million new users for a massive 80.4 percent growth.

Just like a website, the more people who connect to your Facebook page, the bigger your audience. Unlike your website, however, they don’t need to visit your actual page to get your message. If a customer “follows” you on Facebook or “likes” your page/comment, he or she may automatically receive the new posts you generate. So a main goal is to get people to follow and like your page and your posts.

A question came up on the webinar about the difference between follow and like: If several people “like” a post you put up on your Facebook page – say, tips on saving energy – anyone else who sees that post will also see who liked it. The post will also appear on all those “likers” timelines for their followers to see it. If someone follows your page, they automatically receive all your public posts.

I’ll add that if they “friend” you, then they automatically follow you – and you follow them. If all that sounds confusing, the bottom line is that having people like, follow or friend you can help you spread your message to others.

Here are some tips for getting people to follow, friend or like your stuff:
•    Don’t be all sales. This is a social network site, so be social.
•    Occasionally offer coupons or discounts or Facebook-only specials
•    Be informative. Share useful news and information about utility rebates, energy-saving tips, testimonials from happy customers and DIY projects.
•    This could also be a great place to start a contest.
•    Be local.  Include information about the little league team that your company sponsors, or the 10K race you ran, or the weather or….?

Many of those who follow or like you, are probably following and liking many others as well. That means there is a bit of competition to get your stuff on their page in as visible a fashion as possible. Facebook technology analyzes the various posts and ranks each according to potential interest to others. To maximize the exposure of your posts on other pages, you’ll want to post regularly and get as many people to like, comment and share your posts. To accomplish this, consider asking questions, taking polls or using other means to engage your readers. In fact, you can simply ask people to comment or like your post.

One of the nicest things about Facebook marketing is that results can be measured and analyzed. Look for the “Insights” link found on your Facebook home page. You’ll see how you can get valuable information such as top posts, who is following you, a breakdown of your followers’ demographics and information on the time your followers are most likely to be online. This last bit of information can give you a good indication of when the best time would be for you to post new information.

Lastly, the webinar covered general information about advertising and boosting posts on Facebook.

There are several very attractive features to advertising on the Internet. One of the biggest ones is that, on lots of sites like Google or Facebook, advertisers are only required to pay when someone clicks a link on the ad. This pay-per-click option can reduce overall marketing costs, while increasing the chances of engaging with authentic leads.

It also takes advantage of one of the most important characteristics of these types of Internet sites…they are all constantly collecting information about you. While this may have its negative side, it’s a boon for marketers. When you advertise in the newspaper, for instance, you are reaching a lot of people in hope that a fraction of readers will be interested in your services. But if your ad is targeted to appear on the search results page, every time someone Googles “effective duct sealing methods,” chances are much higher that this particular person will be interested in Aeroseal.

In this case, Google “knew”  the user was interested in duct sealing, and so it sent them an ad about that very topic.

Now, imagine what Facebook knows about you. By reviewing the content of your site, it may easily determine when you were born, where you live, your favorite hobbies, the music you like, the car you drive, your political views and anything else you might have discussed.

With this information, Facebook can offer marketers a way to get their advertising in front of specific people – say, those in the Chicago area who own their home, have an income of $45,000+ and are concerned with energy savings.

Not a bad way to target your advertising. Not only do you reach the right audience, but you can sculpt your message more effectively. For instance, you would want to advertise Aeroseal’s ability to reduce energy use when targeting those who have expressed concern over rising utility costs, and change that advertisement to highlight IAQ when reaching out to families that suffer with allergies.

Pay-per-click advertising on social media sites like Facebook can be an effective means of reaching your target audience. Note that there are a variety of tools to help you maximize your campaign and analyze your results.

Another option Facebook provides is called boosting.

While your new posts go out to those that Like or Follow you, you can quickly reach many more people by paying to boost your post. Facebook will then send it out to others they think will find your topic of particular interest. Here again, Facebook uses the information it has collected on all its users, to seek out and find those that may be most interest in the topics you are writing about.

The cost for boosting a post is determined by several factors, most importantly, how many more people you hope to reach. It can cost a few bucks or hundreds of dollars per post – you decide your budget and the parameters for who receives your boosted post.

As you can see, social media sites offer a variety of marketing options for businesses of all sizes and budgets. Some effective social marketing strategies are so simple and require so little resources that they should be seriously considered by anyone looking to find new customers and build brand loyalty.  The more you engage with these sites, the better you get at it (and the more fun they can be as well). Still, they do require time, and learning the nuances of each site can lead to better, more effective marketing results. For this reason, many businesses opt to relegate a specific person inside the company or an outside social media expert to run their social media marketing program.

But whether you opt to spend the time yourself or delegate the activities to a social media expert, social media marketing is an increasingly critical element of a solid marketing program. Ignoring these sites is simply passing up real opportunities to gain new customers and strengthen the relationships with the customers you already have.

As usual, we’ve posted a recording of the Aeroseal social media marketing webinar, which you may view at any time. Click here to register to view.  Also, if you have any questions or would just like to chat about your current social media program, don’t hesitate to give the experts at Brenner Associates, Aeroseal’s agency of record, a call at (503) 736-0610.

In The News — Aeroseal Wins DDA Award

AEROSEAL WINS SILVER IN THE NEWS’ DDA AWARDS FOR 2014

DDA_SILVER_2011There was a singular mission in mind when the Aeroseal engineers began designing the new HomeSeal duct sealing system. Everything they did was focused on making residential duct sealing service so convenient to provide, easy to do, and affordable to add, that offering duct sealing service would be a no-brainer for any profit-minded HVAC-related business. So it’s with particular pride that Aeroseal received the 2014 ACHR News Dealer Design Award, a prize specifically recognizing innovative product designs destined to have a real impact on the HVAC industry.

Only released at the end of last year, the HomeSeal system has already helped more than a hundred HVAC companies across the country add home-performance duct sealing to their list of customer services. Given the increased demand for home energy savings and the growing awareness of the role duct sealing plays in home comfort, HomeSeal has become, for many, a real profit generator.

“When we install a new heating or cooling system or visit a customer for maintenance and repair, more often than not, the conversation leads to issues regarding heating/cooling savings and indoor comfort,” said Doug Beiser of Hader Heating and Cooling, Cincinnati, OH. “As a licensed Aeroseal dealer, I can now offer a real energy-savings solution that sets us apart from our competitors and places our business squarely in the home energy efficiency improvement market.”

As the Dealer Design Award highlights, the HomeSeal system represents a real industry game-changer. The newly designed duct sealing equipment is now easier to set up and operate. Individual components are now integrated and pre-assembled in a single portable carrying case that can be easily transported from the truck to inside the home. The computer-controlled system walks the technician through the process and automatically generates a final report highlighting the results of the duct sealing work.

The advanced design and new features of the HomeSeal system were judged by a panel of independent contractors to standout among the nearly 100 entries in the Dealer Design competition and earned HomeSeal the silver award in the HVAC High Efficiency Residential Equipment category.

“These awards give us a unique opportunity to recognize the outstanding research and development efforts that go into many of the products serving the HVACR industry, and the awards issue gives our readers an opportunity to read about innovative installation and service solutions,” said News Publisher Mike Murphy.

HomeSeal, along with the other winning entries in the competition were featured in the July 21, 2014 issue of The ACHR News, which is distributed nationally to over 33,000 HVACR contractors, wholesalers, and other industry professionals.

ON THE JOB — MT. ZION HOSPITAL

AEROSEAL REVS UP STALLED USP 797 UPGRADE PROJECT AT MT. ZION HOSPITAL

on-the-job-MT-ZION-HOSPITALEngineers were looking back at a long, costly delay filled with head scratching and brainstorming. It had now been two long months of trying to explain why the new pharmacy construction assignment was derailed and why finding a viable solution to a critical exhaust issue was holding up a project slated to be finished in just a matter of days.

Across the country, hospital pharmacies like the one at UCSF Medical Center at Mt. Zion are undergoing upgrades to meet new Federal USP 797 regulations. Designed to cut down on health risks associated with the drug manufacturing that takes place in many hospital pharmacies, USP 797 includes, among other things, tight guidelines concerning adequate exhaust. In the case of Mt. Zion hospital, the upgrade project included the installation of two new exhaust hoods – and that is where the problem resided.

The exhaust hoods are standalone, self-enclosed workstations where health professionals formulate chemo drugs and other pharmaceuticals. During the installation process, each hood was connected to a rooftop exhaust fan via a system of twisting ductwork that leads from the top of each hood, across the ceiling of the pharmacy, out to a long piece of vertical duct attached to the side of the building and up to the roof. Since the proper exhaust of these workstations is so critical, the system includes a safety feature that shuts the unit off if the amount of exhausted air ever reaches below a certain level.

During the initial installation, the contractors manually sealed the entire length of ductwork using tape and mastic. Then it was all fire wrapped with special insulation for additional protection.

“When the construction was completed, we turned on the exhaust and immediately saw that we had a problem,” said Rick Schaffel, project manager with TCB Builders of San Francisco. “Each of the two units required somewhere around 750 CFM of exhaust to function properly and we were getting levels closer to 550 CFM. It was clear that leaks in the ductwork were a huge issue and needed to be fixed. But how?”

That’s when the two months of head scratching began. First, the contractors unwrapped the entire length of ductwork and manually re-sealed as best they could. They rewrapped and tested with little change in results. They tried to adjust the fan and make other mechanical modifications, all to no avail.

“We really were at a standstill,” said Robert Gaderlund, the project manager with UCSF Medical Center. “We looked at all the various options available and came up short. We found ourselves in an “I don’t know” position. Then one of our consultants working nearby learned about our predicament and suggested we look into this new duct sealing technology called Aeroseal, that works from the inside to seal leaks.”

Initial research determined that the technology and process was safe, even in a hospital setting. So, with little time to spare, the medical center approved the use of Aeroseal and the folks from Coast Environmental were called in to do the job.

“Given the time they already spent researching and trying other methods, they really didn’t have additional time to test Aeroseal,” said Adrian Welsh of Coast Environmental, “They just went on the advice of their consultant. The new pharmacy was scheduled to open in a couple of weeks and the project needed to be finished ASAP. So we went to work.”

The actual aeroseal sealing project was divided into two sections: the outside vertical riser connecting to the roof, and the indoor section leading directly to the exhaust hoods. Once the aeroseal equipment was temporarily attached to the ducts, it took just 20 minutes to seal the first section and another 20 minutes to seal the second. It took just minutes after the sealing process was completed to test the system and find that Aeroseal worked.

“Our engineers had struggled to get the leakage rate down to around 30% and Aeroseal got it down to less than 5%,” said Gaderlund. “It was so fast and easy. If we knew about this technology earlier, there would have been a lot less sleepless nights.”

The printout of the reports created by the Aeroseal system documented the specifics. Before the sealing was done, the two units showed 580 CFM of leakage. After aeroseal, leakage stood at 23 CFM – a 96% leak reduction. Now the exhaust system worked like a charm and the project was stamped “completed and approved.”

“I know of a lot of other hospitals that are facing similar issues,” said Gaderlund. “Whether it’s upgrades in accordance with USP 797, or simply general concern with maintaining proper indoor air quality, proper exhaust and ventilation is critical in a medical setting. If duct leaks are a problem, Aeroseal has proven to be the ideal solution.”

Marketing Tips — GET A BOOST FROM BLOGGING

GET A BOOST FROM BLOGGING – 10 TIPS FOR SUCCESS

Marketing-TipsA lot of businesses spend a considerable amount of time and money creating a customer-friendly website, but then fall short on the follow through – making sure that site attracts visitors and that visitors are turned into customers. Blogging can be a relatively easy way to accomplish both of these goals. If done right, a blog can help ensure people find your site and it can offer valuable ways to help you close the deal.

Blogging for SEO
Perhaps the most important acronym in business websites is SEO, or “search engine optimization.” SEO is all about hedging the odds that those looking on the Internet for your type of products and services, find you. There is only room enough for a handful of links on the first page of search results and blogging can help ensure that one of those links goes to your website.

By regularly posting new content on your website’s blog, you are telling the search engine that your website is relevant and includes fresh content – a very important factor in determining page ranking. If you add a blog post about the latest duct sealing research, for instance, chances are very good that someone in your neighborhood searching for information about duct sealing research will find a link to that post. In turn, that post will expose them to the rest of your site.

Blogging for customer loyalty
Just like a newspaper or magazine, blogging, by nature, includes new content that gives visitors a reason to return for more. The more interesting and relevant you make that content, the more likely people are to return. The more they return, the more apt they are to call you when they need the types of services you offer.

There are other things to consider when blogging – ways to maximize your blog’s value as a sales and marketing tool. Here are several tips for you to consider when looking to maximize the effectiveness of your blog.

1.    Post regularly:  As valuable as a blog can be, if not properly maintained, a blog can also chase potential new customers away. Nothing says “we’re not paying attention” or “we don’t care” as a website blog where the latest post dates back months or even years. On the other hand, a blog with lots of current posts provides visitors with a strong impression that your company is active, vibrant and engaged.

Regular posting also builds loyalty. If you’ve got interesting content on a regular basis, chances are good that your audience will come back for more. How regular is regular? Some will tell you that you need to post daily – others say weekly. But these are people who blog for a living.  If you are trying to build a growing audience, research shows that bloggers who post more than once a week added subscribers over twice as fast as those companies that added content once a month. A lot of businesses have found great success through bi-monthly posting. This seems to be enough to keep the content fresh and to drive visitor interest. Remember, the more you post, the fresher the content, and the more value the post will be for SEO.

2.    Envision your audience: Who are you trying to reach? Homeowners? Commercial property owners? Other HVAC professionals or energy auditors? While there is some overlap in interest, the type of information you provide and the way you present it may be very different for these different groups. Choose one audience and work on building loyalty among this target.

3.    Be yourself. Try to let your personality show through in your posts. People are much more interested in following “people” then following websites. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to write as yourself then as “the professional.”  Your persona doesn’t have to be yourself…it can be your company. Perhaps you can find a handful of employees at your company who would like to share the responsibility of posting. Decide the personality of your company and let it shine through.

4.    Be brief. You really don’t need to write essays. Try to keep it in the 1 to 2 minutes reading-time length. Not only does this make your job easier, but it will also prove more inviting for your readers.

5.    Use great visuals. People like illustrative pictures and graphs. These days it’s easier than ever to take a picture, so have your iPhone ready and take a snapshot at a tradeshow or during a duct sealing project.  How about a selfy with you and your happy customer right after the completion of an aeroseal job? An ongoing series of these photos can say more about customer satisfaction than all the words in the dictionary!

6.    Keywords. If you’re using your blog to help with SEO, think about the type of words your target audience would use to find you on the Internet. Is it simply duct sealing? Is it home comfort? Is it duct leaks in Poughkeepsie?  Then use those terms throughout the content of your blog post (don’t over do it though – keep it natural). There is a variety of free keyword tools available that can help you find the best ones to use. Check out Google’s Keyword Planner.

7.    Find topics of interest. Once you’ve determined your target audience, think about their issues of interest. If you’re hoping to attract family homeowners, you may want to write about staying warm during the final episode of 24. If you’re targeting energy auditors, you may consider sharing an article you found at Green Build Expo. It’s always good to tie in to current events – the regional heat wave, the local fun run or the Black Keys concert coming to town.

8.    Offer specials. A blog is a great place to offer coupons or mention summer specials. You don’t want to turn your blog into one big ad for your company, but it can be an ideal location for your customers to learn about a new product or to download a coupon. It’s also a great place to ask for email addresses. An invitation to your visitors to “get the latest information” by leaving their email can be an invaluable source for future lead generation.

9.    Guest bloggers. You don’t have to write all the blogs yourself. Invite guest bloggers to contribute posts as well. It could be a happy customer talking about their experience or a city official who just observed the sealing of a government building.

10.     Testimonials and referrals. Referrals can be the life-blood of future business. Ask for permission to post letters of recommendation or other positive customer feedback.

These days, creating a blog is getting easier. While you may want to find someone with experience to help, there are templates available, made for non-coders, that can be customized and up and running in no time. In most cases, posting to the blog is even easier. Building a following takes time, though we often have great success in seeing quick SEO results from our blog postings.  Most importantly, have fun and write about topics of sincere interest. Couple that with the basic tips provided here and you’ll be off to a good start in a marketing strategy with huge ROI.

DEALER SPOTLIGHT — Frederick Air


Do It Right – And They Will Come

dealer-spotlight-frederick-airSteve Schmidt, president of Frederick Air, doesn’t devote much attention to sales goals. Ever since he first opened up shop in Frederick, Maryland twenty-plus years ago, his primary concern has focused instead on providing the best possible customer service and HVAC solutions he can. He figures that if you can succeed in doing just that, sales and profits will follow. He seems to be right.

In last month’s issue of the Aeroseal Insider, we shared the news that Frederick Air had just been named the 2014 Bryant Dealer of the Year. Over the past two decades Frederick Air has grown from an original team of one man and his truck to a current staff of more than twenty-seven. Revenues have grown by a factor of forty. Its lone company truck has turned into a fleet of 18 vehicles and its number of service calls is through the roof.  By all measurements, the company is doing something very right.

“Our mission statement clearly states that our goal is to achieve excellence,” said Steve. “Excellent service, excellent skills and excellent solutions to our customers’ problems. That is how we have continued to meet and beat sales goals.”

Steve knows that his drive towards excellence will never be finished. When a local competitor beat Frederick Air in last year’s Bryant competition, Steve didn’t simply raise the bar for his sales staff. He and his team continued to look for new ways to improve service and support.

One improvement they recently implemented changed the way customers are greeted on the phone. Until recently, the sales team was responsible for taking incoming calls and setting appointments. Since they are often out in the field or busy taking care of other customers, that first call often required one or two call- backs before the connection was actually made.  Now Frederick has someone other than sales to answer the phone and set the appointments. The customer gets immediate service and it takes just a single phone call to schedule a home visit.

“It’s not just a receptionist who answers the phone,” said Steve. “ It’s a knowledgeable HVAC expert who can provide immediate answers–not a salesman who needs to cut the conversation short in order to run out to a sales meeting. The customer gets the attention he or she deserves right from the start.”

Another recent change involves improvements to the closing process. Thanks to a custom software program that was developed in-house, the sales person can now easily generate a professional customer contract right from the home. The program does all the calculating that previously required a trip back to the office to complete.

“Before concluding that first home visit, we can generate a detailed, professional contract complete with our logo and contact information, as well as all the information about the work and details regarding the costs involved,” said Steve. “It looks as good as anyone else’s proposal and it can be signed electronically by the customer right on the spot.”

There have been other significant changes to the business over the years. Perhaps most significantly, Frederick Air has evolved from its original focus on offering HVAC equipment to now providing complete energy auditing services. The company became BPI-certified and added energy-saving Aeroseal duct sealing expertise to its portfolio of services.

Frederick Air was the first business in the area to offer Aeroseal duct sealing. Before then, the company would carefully install new equipment, sealing what they could by hand. Still, there was really nothing they could do about the leaks in 98% of the ductwork that had no access. Then, they learned about Aeroseal.

“It only took a single demo and we immediately saw the benefits of this solution,” said Steve. “It was clearly a sensible addition to the services we already provided and it opened up an entirely new opportunity for us to offer expertise in home performance.”

And that was the beginning of a much more significant change for Steve and Frederick Air.

“The world is changing,” said Steve. “If someone asks me today what we do, I’d say we are a home performance business – not an air conditioning company. That’s because my real goal is not simply to sell an air conditioning unit or a furnace, but to make sure my customers are comfortable in their home – and that can include a variety of things.”

While the industry-wide switch from traditional HVAC focus to home performance is happening, Steve says the change for many of the other HVAC shops in the area is coming slowly, and that has been a real competitive advantage for Frederick Air.

“Most of our competition doesn’t get it,” said Steve. “That’s been a real advantage for us. When we make a house call to a customer that has a broken air conditioner, we explain that comfort in their home requires an A/C that works, but it also requires a house that holds the treated air and a duct system that can distribute it properly. We say, ‘You called about your air conditioner – but do you want to talk about all three?’”

This penchant for providing customers with the information they need to make an informed decision is another example of Frederick Air’s focus on customer service excellence. It also sheds light on its marketing strategy. While the company is happy to assist any homeowner looking for HVAC assistance, its target customers are those looking for energy efficiency and not simply concerned with getting the lowest price.

“A lot of what we do falls into the category of education,” said Steve. “We may get a call from someone asking about a replacement furnace, but when they understand the importance of a healthy system as a whole, they are more apt to test and service that entire system. In the end, they are much happier with the results and more likely to refer others to Frederick Air.”

In fact, much of Frederick’s marketing success is based upon referrals and personal relationship building. A quick look at the company’s website highlights Steve’s commitment to the local community.  He not only serves on a variety of education boards and committees, but he also plays an active and visible role in neighborhood action groups – from the local Boys and Girls Club and the Heartly House (an end to domestic violence) to serving as chairman of the Frederick-area Career & Technology Center Advisory Council and the local Care Net Pregnancy Center. Frederick Air is also the sponsor of various community organizations, including two little league baseball teams.  Like his focus on excellence at the office, his involvement with the community is not driven by sales success…but it happens.

“Over the years, people have come to know and trust me. They know I am an active member of the community and they have come to understand that Steve Schmidt and his business is going to make it right,” said Steve.

That personal touch translates to other marketing efforts. Frederick air runs radio advertisements over four different stations. Steve is the voice of each ad himself.  He never expected his name to be associated so closely with the business, but for the first five years, he ran every service call himself. Then people started expecting him to show up at the door. Even today, Steve makes a point of showing up at  least one job a week, just to make sure everything is going as it should. Homeowner reaction is positive to say the least.

Along with radio advertising, Frederick Air uses social media and SEO (search engine optimization) strategies to extend the value of referrals. A software program called Demand Force connects his accounting functions with automatic emails to customers thanking them for their patronage and asking them to “tell a friend.”

So while Steve and his team at Frederick Air don’t dwell much on specific sales goals, they do speak, act and breathe customer service and excellence — always looking for improvements, always watching trends, and always looking to provide real customer solutions. Frederick Air was one of the first businesses to add Aeroseal duct sealing to its offerings and it was one of the first HVAC businesses to understand the profound changes taking place in an industry being redefined by the growing demand for total home performance. With that said, sales and profits may not be a top priority for Steve and his team, but it’s certainly become their reality.

ON THE JOB — Hyundai

Aeroseal Keeps Hyundai’s New U.S. Headquarters On Track

On_The_Job_IIYears of planning. More years of construction. And now finally, the countdown to the official opening of the new $200 million Hyundai U.S. headquarters was just weeks away. In fact, furniture was being delivered to the brand new Fountain Valley, California facility and employees were preparing for the move.

“Then it all came to a screeching halt when we tested the smoke exhaust shafts,” said Glumac engineer Brian Berg. “Code requirements specified that we could not have leakage rates above 5% but we found that each of the four shafts were leaking at least 5 times that amount. Until we could fix the problem and get sign off on the project, we were at a standstill.”

The four shafts were designed to play a critical role in the event of a fire in the 6-floor 500,000 square foot building.  Each of the vertical shafts was located in one of the four corners of the building. If there ever was a fire, the smoke would be drawn out of the facility via fans connected to the top of each shaft. Excessive leaks in those shafts, however, would easily render them useless – like trying to draw water up a straw that has holes in it. No matter the amount of fan power, getting that smoke up through the shafts and outside the building would be impossible.

“This was a real show stopper,” said Bob Evans, the senior project manager on the job. “We couldn’t proceed without getting those shafts to perform within specification. We spent a lot of time in discussion trying to identify the best course of action.”

There were few options available for review. They could tear through the recently completed drywall construction of each vent and start all over, or they could try to seal the current structures. Most of the leaks were due to piercings in the shaft walls made by steel beams, plumbing and other obstructions.  It didn’t appear that adequate sealing was going to be an easy task.

One possible approach involved cutting holes in the bottom of each of the 8’ x 6’ x 63’ shafts and erecting a scaffold on the inside. Then a crew would climb up and down the length of the 6-story scaffold, spraying the entire interiors of the shafts with a foam sealant.

“There were several big problems with this approach,” said Berg. “First was the cost. It was estimated that the price tag for this fix was somewhere between $750,000 and 1,000,000. But that was the least of it. The biggest issue was that this would take months to complete and we just didn’t have that time. The building was scheduled to open in a matter of weeks and it was made clear that we had to meet that deadline. And even if we were to finished in time, we had no assurance that manual sealing like this would be effective enough to get us within code.”

It was then that someone from Glumac suggested looking at Aeroseal. Someone at Glumac had used the duct sealing technology on a similar project in Las Vegas.

“I was really skeptical at first,” said Evans. “I had never heard of Aeroseal before and it sounded like one of those ‘miracle products’ that slices and dices and does everything you need. It was hard to believe the promises. Then I saw some articles about Aeroseal being used elsewhere and thought it was worth a try.”

So Jim Nugent and his team at Aeroseal West Coast were brought in for a trial project. They blocked off a small portion of one of the vents and let Aeroseal do its thing. Twenty minutes later, the trial run was completed and testing showed the sealing process worked. Jim got the go ahead to aeroseal the entire four shafts.

“Suffice it to say, the building opened on time,” said Berg. “Aeroseal West Coast sealed all four smoke exhaust shafts and another larger return shaft in just a few days. Since the Aeroseal process includes a pre and post measurement of leakage, we knew right away that this was going to be a successful effort.”

A third party TAB (test and balance) company was brought in to verify what the Aeroseal readings indicated. The process sealed each of the shafts well within necessary specifications. A shaft that was leaking 4,326 CFM before Aeroseal was now leaking only 115 CFM – or 0.6 percent. Similar results were obtained for the other three shafts.

“Not only did Aeroseal get the job done effectively and within the short timeframe we had,” said Evans, “but the cost for Aerosealing was about what we estimated it would cost us just for the scaffolding on the other option. Needless to say I was quite happy with the results and I’m now another Aeroseal believer.”

THE STATE OF THE STATES

Closing The Gap On Every State In The Country

State_of_the_StatesHawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin, Maine and Wyoming.

That’s it.  We are sooo close. Only ten states to go and Aeroseal will have at least one service provider in every state in the country.  In fact, we are so excited about reaching our all-states milestone that we’re pulling out the stops to make it happen – and that could be worth $10,000 to our next new partner.

If you are a duct cleaner or an HVAC professional in one of the ten states remaining on our target list, then you will definitely want to join us July 9th for a webinar developed just for you. You will learn how Aeroseal provides the easiest entry into the fastest growing segment of the evolving HVAC industry.  You’ll hear about other businesses just like yours that have turned a sluggish economy into a period of business growth. And you’ll learn about all of the equipment, tools, training and ongoing support you’ll receive as a new Aeroseal dealer.

And just to sweeten the pot, all webinar attendees from any one of the ten target states will have a chance to win $10,000 off the purchase price of an Aeroseal system. Best of all, you won’t have to wait months for the results or search through website pages to see who won the prize. The drawing will be held immediately following the Q&A session at the conclusion of the webinar.

So if you’re an HVAC expert, duct cleaner, energy auditor or related professional looking for business opportunity in any one of the ten states listed above, now is the time to act.

Join us:
Wednesday, July 9th at 1:30 pm EST.

To hold your spot and enter the drawing, Click here for reservations.