March 26, 2020
It’s crazy out there right now. COVID-19 has really thrown a wrench in a lot of our plans, and successfully adapting and re-tooling business strategies during this time has become a priority. We’ve had a ton of requests to have an episode dedicated just to answering questions around this, and how to navigate these rough waters. So, we grabbed the best person for this very occasion—Ken Goodrich. Ken is known for succeeding in situations where many wouldn’t, and we knew he’d be perfect to have join us on this episode.
Also joining Ken for this episode is Dale Steele, VP of Sales for Goettl and described by Chris as one of the “most baddass salepersons in North America”. Together, they share their valuable insights into what they are doing at Goettl to not only deal with repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to continue to grow their business during this trying time.
At Goettl, the team is staying very positive. As a metrics-oriented business, they are happy to report that they are ahead of budget for the month. They aren’t letting COVID-19 detract them from their business plan. Still, Goettl recognizes the seriousness of the situation and is taking all the necessary steps to protect their employees and customers.
Ken is taking the time to speak with as many industry members as possible right now to assist and help anyone who is struggling, as he’s probably better equipped than anyone to handle this situation. While staying safe is the number one priority right now, Goettl is still keeping their sights set on driving the company forward, and taking action to do just that.
Now, Goettl starts every morning with a discussion about what they’re doing. They are making sure they are doing the right thing for themselves, their families, and their customers during this delicate time. They have contingency plans in place, and they’re ready to roll with all of the punches that may come their way. If members of the team need to work from home, they’ve already consulted with their IT department to develop a plan of action to continue to do business. Now, they’re testing and refining their plan, with various members of the team who need to work remotely doing so.
Ken stresses that strong leadership is the key to success, especially right now. Part of great leadership is great communication, and in addition to the daily meetings, Goettl has already deployed their videographer to go with the technicians and made a video to educate and reassure customers on how they will conduct themselves to keep everyone safe, and more.
Like any other aspect of the business, Ken has quantified the effects of COVID-19. Goettl runs daily reports; even some twice-daily reports to measure things like how many calls were booked, how many customers are concerned with having service in their homes currently, and other related metrics. What they’re seeing is there is a surprisingly small increase in the number of concerned customers. People are happy they’re still open! In fact, Ken shares with us the numbers of maintenance plan customers who, when called about their annual maintenance recently, declined the service in light of COVID-19. The numbers from the most recent daily report might surprise you:
That’s a pretty small number of customers. What this tells us is that people still want their comfort services. They’re still shopping around, and still value their indoor comfort just as much as ever. In fact, in some areas like indoor air quality, the opportunity for business has skyrocketed.
Goettl is utilizing this opportunity to leap ahead of the other businesses who are scared and playing it safe, and that’s exactly what they’ve done so far. They aren’t letting the fear of the situation paralyze and stagnate the company. While COVID-19 is a new virus, the panic surrounding it is nothing new to Ken. Past tragedies like 9/11 were also times when Ken was able to successfully steer the Goettl ship, and it’s always been by ramping up their marketing—not slowing it down—when other companies are asleep at the wheel. For example, in 2009 during the recession, Ken actually increased his marketing budget by 1.1 million dollars. You read that right, by $1,100,100 dollars during a recession.
This strategy has proved to be successful time and time again for Ken. Instead of letting fear and panic dictate his business strategy, he has recognized that when other companies are afraid, that’s his cue to pounce. So, when COVID really started to ramp up, he gathered his company up and told his team, “This is business as usual. We’re going to figure out how to conduct ourselves so that our customers and employees are safe, but we are not deviating from the plan”.
It’s not that Goetll is completely ignoring the issue at hand. In fact, they’re taking several steps to ensure their team members and customers are staying safe. Goettl is providing all of their employees with an IAQ care package including a high-end air purification system, which is a huge expense—but one Ken is certain is the right thing to do.
With so much current concern about indoor air quality, it’s been a chance for technicians to have an honest conversation with customers about different IAQ quality products. Many customers are either unaware of the benefits of different air quality products or already very interested in having them in their homes, and are typically excited to learn more. There’s a huge demand for air purifiers right now, and recognizing that need of customers and providing a quality service to meet that need is a huge opportunity for growth for HVAC companies right now.
It’s a real conversation, and Dale is quick to point out that it isn’t just a pushy sales pitch. It’s a chance to learn and meet the needs of his customers, and provide an honest service that adds real value to their lives. This isn’t anything new—it’s the same game plan as always, but with new circumstances. Just like any other service visit, Goettl technicians are having genuine conversations with their customers to foster meaningful relationships as well as learn their needs to better serve them. Right now, indoor air quality is one of those needs that Goettl can meet, and they are making a concerted effort to provide the highest quality of service—not backing down and closing up shop when their customers need them the most.
Ken and Dale share some really valuable information in this episode, and we can’t thank them enough for joining us during this crisis period. Goettl isn’t backing down from this fight—they’re ramping up marketing, taking steps to stay safe, and enacting a solid, time-tested plan of attack to continue to grow their business regardless of what storm lies on the horizon.
You can learn more about Ken and his story by listening to our previous episodes of To The Point, and learn a bit more about Dale by watching this video discussing the mindset that sets he and Goettl apart from the herd.