Stephanie Bond is not your normal leader! Serving as Director of Marketing for Lennox, Stephanie has over 15 years of experience in global business management and has a true passion for instilling purpose in business. From purpose-driven initiatives to finding your North Star as a contractor, there’s no better brain to pick than hers!
Her background as Director of Global Category Management for Marc Jacobs, Diesel, Fossil Watches, Marc by Marc, and other fashion companies allowed her to oversee initiatives and product launches from start to finish. From manufacturing and pricing to design, distribution, demand pricing, and marketing, there’s no step of the process she hasn’t seen when it comes to bringing an idea from concept to launch. After over a decade in the fashion industry, Stephanie took some time off to do some soul searching, and Lennox came knocking at her door. She made the jump to the HVAC world in 2015 and hasn’t looked back.
In marketing, there have always been 4 “Ps”. Product, price, place, and promotion have always been the pillars to rely on. Now, there’s a new and essential P that every contractor needs to have in order to stay at the forefront of the trades: Purpose! Whatever you’re selling and whoever you’re selling to, there should be purpose in that. Purpose isn’t your business plan or mission, it’s your essence as a company, and it needs to be authentic. What are you about? To quote Simon Senek, “what is your why“?. That will drive all aspects of your business.
We’re all here to make money, and having a positive impact in your communities will increase your profit. There are statistics to back that up! Your bottom line isn’t all that purpose helps, either. You’ll see increases in employee engagement as well as retention and recruiting. Especially with millennials and the upcoming generations, a business with a passion and purpose in the world is a level you can pull on to get that talent and remain an employer of choice. However, if you’re only after a purpose to drive profit, you’ll miss out on the authenticity that makes it successful and not reap the true rewards of being a purpose-driven contractor.
Customers today are getting behind businesses that are giving back. In fact, customers are 4 times more likely to purchase from you if they know that you are a purpose-driven organization. They are more likely to recommend your product or service. Advocacy and reputation is everything! Consumers are voting that they want to deal with businesses that are purpose driven. They embrace and support those businesses. So, how do you go about defining your North Star as a business? Or how do you change it? There are a few critical steps.
First, you need heads nodding in the room. As business leaders, we want to understand the impact of purpose. Why does it matter and why do we want to bring it into our business? Get your organization to understand and agree that purpose is important. This will help integrate a truly authentic passion for purpose in your company culture.
Perhaps you aren’t quite sure what you’re passionate about. That’s okay! We all start somewhere. You can often draw inspiration simply from the lineage of your company. Many contractors are here today as a result of generation after generation of a family-run business. There is purpose in why the organization was started in the first place.
Listen to your employees and ask them. What’s important to them? How do you want to give back, and how do you want to show up every day? Your employees can help shape what that will look like, whether it’s related to health, the environmental, or a societal impact.
Find your employee advocates. The ones that are going to get behind driving a purpose-driven organization. Having a champion for the cause will help get others passionate and drive your initiative to true success.
There’s no way to find your purpose if you can’t find the starting line. You have to start somewhere! Pick a purpose-driven program that you want to get behind, and then go for it. It could be how you’re going to be more eco-conscious, socially responsible, or choosing a local nonprofit that you’re passionate about supporting.
What’s the right way to go to market as a purpose-driven company? You have to talk about it, and it has to be correctly interpreted by your employees, the community, and the prospective homeowner/buyer. There needs to be an authentic way to talk about your good initiatives. Purpose needs to be part of your business plan. It can’t be a tack-on project, it has to be part of your company DNA, and that will make it an authentic story to tell.
If it’s part of your company identity, you’ll be proud to share the good things you’re doing! This can be on your website (hint: your About Us or Who Are pages!) and on social media, and through your various marketing channels that are going to be seen by the community. Sharing will also help garner support for the organization or initiatives you’re passionate about as a contractor. Let the community get to know your team, and how they can get involved. People want to see stories, so they’ll attach themselves to that and it will become part of your brand.
Another great way you can talk about it is you can bring it to the kitchen table. You can add it into your sales materials, and have authentic conversations with the homeowner about it. You can wrap it into your entire marketing and sales process. If you need an example of what purpose-driven business looks like, our friend and previous guest of the podcast Bobby Jenkins of ABC Home & Commercial Services in Austin, TX is a great place to start!
In addition being passionate about nonprofits like Seeds of Africa in her personal life, Stephanie has helped Lennox amplify their passion of ensuring everyone being comfortable in their homes through the Lennox Feel The Love initiative. Feel The Love started as a great idea between a local Wisconsin dealer and a Lennox District Manager who wanted to install free equipment for someone in the neighborhood who was in need. The program grew, and Stephanie had the opportunity to meet the founder and learn about the program. She loved it so much she wanted to take it national! It was rebranded from Heat Up three years ago to Lennox Feel The Love.
Nominees are usually specific types of people like veterans, nurses, or teachers. These are community members who spend most or all of their time helping others. They aren’t necessarily needy people, they just need a helping hand in staying comfortable in their homes.
Feel The Love weekend happens every year on the second weekend of October. Each year, Lennox is able to change lives in 210 homes. 200 dealers and their technicians and installers donate their time to install systems across the country. This year, we shifted the focus toward first responders. The individuals in our communities that are on the front lines definitely deserve some extra love and comfort.
You see huge companies like Microsoft give away millions of dollars every year, but you can have great philanthropic impact on a smaller, local level too! It could be as simple as a car wash that raises money for a local school. A first step you can take is find one activity you can do to raise money to donate to a local organization in need. The dollar amount is not the point, it’s the doing. 30% of nonprofits will go out of business this year, and need help from private organizations to stay afloat. A few dollars will go a long way at a small nonprofit.
By finding your purpose as a contractor, you’ll become even more ingrained in your community and be able to take that passion right to the kitchen table. If you need help finding your purpose, do not be embarrassed to talk to somebody. Talk through it with your peers; there are no stupid questions. Get out there and discover your purpose!