Building Trust with Your HVAC Customers

Intro: Are you a technician who wants to set yourself apart? Then the Trusted Technician Podcast is for you. I'm Derrek Hofrichter, Coach & Trainer at SBE, and on this podcast, we will have experienced HVAC coaches and trainers, as well as top-performing technicians, all sharing their tips and strategies to help you be more successful.

Derrek Hofrichter (Coach & Trainer): All right, guys, this is Coach Derrek at SBE, and today we have a really special edition of The Trusted Technician podcast. We have Cory Homan with us. We're over at George Brazil Air Conditioning and Heating in Phoenix, AZ. And you know, it's right in the name of the podcast, The Trusted Technician. If you've been listening to other episodes, you'll hear technicians frequently speak about the topic of trust.

We have with us the creator of the trusted advisor process. So Cory, welcome to the podcast. Talk to me about where this whole idea of the trusted advisor came from.

Cory Holman (VP of Sales at George Brazil Air Conditioning and Heating): Well, thanks for having me. You know what trust is? Let me back up just a little bit. One of the biggest challenges we have as technicians is realizing that a customer, when we go to their house, especially let's say on a maintenance call, that customer is not expecting to buy or purchase anything.

They are expecting us to come out. Things are working fine and just, you know, do the maintenance and leave and everything should be working just as it was when they came. Imagine a storefront. You don't have a customer walking into a store at all. So what you have to do as a technician on that type of call is you actually have to get a customer and you have to get them to want to get up and come to your store.

That's not gonna happen in that world without establishing a building of trust. So what you're gonna have to do is you're gonna have to make sure when you come across an issue or a problem, you've got to see it in that light, that customer sitting down in their home, not expecting to be going into any type of a store. So we've got to build trust.

When I'm working with technicians, I ask them what's the first step in building trust? The answer to that is, "I've got to create interest. If I can't create enough interest with that customer to get them to act or to move, nothing's going to happen."

Derrek, you've been working with guys and as you train them, what are the ways that we build trust? What are the ways that we get that customer to move? Do you remember?

Derrek Hofrichter: Well, we have to make a great first impression. We have to ask questions. We need to actually listen to what the homeowner says.

Cory Holman: Yep. Absolutely. In addition to that, we're going to get them involved by either getting them up and physically taking them to an issue or a problem, or we're going to use pictures or videos. It's critical, though, in that picture or video that we create interest. We can point out an issue or a problem, but as we point out that issue or problem, we're going to say something along the lines of, "This is what I found. I need to figure out what's going on here," and then I'm actually going to send you away. And by doing that, it's going to start creating interest with the customer. The customer's going to be wondering, "Well, what's going on?" Then, as I come back, now we're going to dive a little bit deeper into the issue or the problem, and then we're going to get the customer to start asking questions.

So once I can get that customer interested, I can get them to start asking questions. Now I can actually take control of the sales process by asking them questions. And as I'm asking them questions, I'm educating them. I'm doing that in a way that we're building trust. And as they're asking and answering my questions, we're building trust, and that will lead to the customer wanting to solve a problem.

When they commit to wanting a solution or to solving a problem, then I can go into how I'm gonna solve that problem for them. So building trust is something that we talk about a lot. But you are not going to build trust without creating interest, without getting that customer to start asking questions, and then together, looking for solutions.

Now you start asking them questions, which is actually where we start to take control. Leading them to make a commitment, to want to do something, to solve the problem. We haven't gone into our solution yet. We just got a commitment from them that they need to address this problem. If that doesn't happen and we start going into solutions, we are just selling. Does that make sense?

Derrek Hofrichter: That does make sense. Let's say the technicians are at the home, they're getting out their diagnostic tools, they're looking at things, and they find an issue, a legitimate issue in the home.

Historically or traditionally, what does it sound like when they're just selling? Because a lot of technicians say, "No, Nope. I don't sell. I'm not a salesperson," but in reality, they actually, unintendedly, are sounding like a salesperson. So what does that look like?

Cory Holman: Yeah. So, that's a great example.

So here's a great question. Here's a customer that thinks nothing's wrong. You're just out here to do maintenance. Now that technician leaves. And they come back, and now they tell them that they have a problem, and that can be in the form of a checklist, and that's traditionally what it is.

The technician will sit down with a customer and says, "Here, I went through everything, but these are the issues or the problems that I found." Well, you took this customer that's not shopping at all, and now you took to you telling him that he has issues or problems and he needs to spend money.

That's why our industry has such a bad rap of being perceived as a salesman. The process that we think is not selling is actually selling.

Derrek Hofrichter: Right. That makes sense. Yeah. And I think that's tough for a lot of technicians to hear because, you know, they say, "Nope, I don't tell anyone what to do," but I think if we were to listen in on that conversation, it just sounds like "I recommend this, this, and this," right?

Cory Holman: It's completely opposite of what we want as a technician. The problem isn't selling, the problem is just bad communication. It's just a bad communication process that we haven't done a good job in the industry of teaching how to communicate.

Derrek Hofrichter: So how does someone know if trust is trending up on a call? What are the signs from the homeowner?

Cory Holman: That customer's going to start asking questions. When you are creating interest, and you're getting that customer involved, and you're showing them but not giving them the answers. For that customer, the next step is that they start asking you questions, "Well, Derrek tell me what's going on," or "What is this causing?"

Those are the questions that we want to hear. And then, we can start sharing some information a little bit at a time. I call it taking somebody from healthy to sick. "When you came here, I was healthy, everything was fine, and now you're telling me I'm sick. I don't believe you." So as we do that slowly, and we get them involved, we show them, and we start to help them understand. We slow ourselves down by saying, "Let me go figure out what's going on here." That allows that customer to start taking ownership of that.

Derrek Hofrichter: You mentioned earlier the photos and videos. If we could talk about that for a second. I actually had an experience recently at taking my wife's vehicle to a car dealership. All I wanted to do was change the oil. It's not my car, it's an older car, and while I was sitting there, I actually got texted a video of them showing me a leak as it was leaking. And I thought, "Oh man, I have to take care of this now that I've seen it." Is that something similar you feel like with that process?

Cory Holman: You're absolutely getting that same response. If I can get a customer and show them. I take them physically there. That's probably one of the best ways.

The next best way is a video. Don't give them the answers in the videos. So this is where our technicians make kind of a first mistake. They'll shoot that video, and they'll say, "Look, I came across this issue or problem, and we need to take care of it."

So that video's gonna sound more like this. It's gonna say, "Derrek, I'm surprised I came across this. I need to look a little further and figure out what's going on here." So go back to taking your car in. If I'd have shown you that leak, and I'd have said, "Derrek. Man, I wasn't expecting to see this. Let me look a little bit further. I gotta figure out what's going on." You would be chomping at the bit to find out.

"Well, what did you find? What do you know right now? I'm now I'm engaged." Now. I got up, got off of the couch, and I went to the store. I'm there in an environment now where I got you to move in the direction that I wanted you to move.

Derrek Hofrichter: That's good. If there's a technician listening to this, and they're like, "Okay, you know, I get it. I wanna start implementing this." But it's kind of a foreign thing for them, right? Or maybe they haven't had training, or they're new to it. What two to three things would you say they should focus on to start with in building trust?

Cory Holman: Slow down. When I talk to technicians, what I hear the most is that they just skip steps. Focus on creating interest, and the customer will start asking you questions. And if you focus on those two things, if you can make that happen, the rest is easy.

You already know how to talk about solutions and problems. Where the breakdown is, is creating interest, slowing down, and getting that customer to start asking you questions.

What have you found? What do we need to do? What's going on? That's asking. That's inviting you to solve a potential problem.

Derrek Hofrichter: So good, Cory. Thank you so much for sharing this about trust. Is there anything else you want to add about the topic of trust in the home?

Cory Holman: No, I think those are the biggest things as I've worked with technicians, especially over the last year, year and a half here at George Brazil, and Patrick Riley, this is probably one of the easiest for us to go see a problem or an issue and just go right to it because we're problem solvers, but that can so easily be perceived as you trying to sell me something. If we don't create interest.

Derrek Hofrichter: That's so true.

Outro: Thank you for listening to the Trusted Technician podcast. If you would like to learn more about SBE, you can find us online at If you enjoyed today's episode, we would appreciate it if you would leave us a review. Thank you for tuning in, and we'll see you next time.