Winning the Bid


Create a list of solutions to all the problems the homeowner has shared with you during the preliminary stages of the job.

Ask your potential customers plenty of questions to fully understand exactly what it is they are looking for with their heating and cooling needs.

By Glenn Mellors

There is a fine line between winning and losing when it comes to the bidding process, or sales process as we more commonly refer to selling in Canada. Bidding is an impersonal, minimal contact, presentation of the lowest possible price to win the sale or purchase. Winning, by definition, means that all being equal, the winner leads to victory. There is no mention of price when winning.

When we lead by price there are typically two losers, the buyer and the seller. The bidding process spends so much effort by both parties on what can be cut to get the job and on how low the buyer can push the bidder to get a lower price. The result is a poor-quality job and an unhappy customer that is going to haunt you till the end of time. So how is it you won the bid?

Earn the business

When you earn something, you gain it because of positive deeds, words, and actions—often referred to as trust. The more you and your company have to offer, the greater the chance you will earn the bid. But wait a minute, as technicians we will earn the busines on technical skill, data and fancy acronyms that impress the client. We can blow away the competition by our enormous amount of knowledge as to how it works, why it works a certain way, how many amps it draws or how much air it blows. If that isn’t enough, we will feel the need to share the pitfalls of each piece of equipment ever built. I liken it to veterinarian’s knowledge in animal medicine, but if you asked what kind of dog you’re thinking of rehoming, they will talk you out of pretty much any breed of dog. Its what we do as experts. We are the technical experts, or Dr. Furnace!

There are plenty of apps available on the market which can help the contractor determine the shell loss/load for a job.

We must provide everything technical that a homeowner needs to know, and maybe a bit more.

Back to Dr. Vet, when asked about dogs, the real answers should come in the form of questions. Questions like “what do you intend to do with the dog? How much exercise time do you have? Are you hoping to use the dog for work?” Questions help to lead a person to their options. The vet knows that there are three umbrella families of dogs—working, non-working and toys. Then with more questioning, the customer can look at the seven subcategories of the first three and by educating them on their traits, strengths and weaknesses, they can make an informed decision based on their own conviction!

Break it down

So, what does this have to do with a furnace you ask? Well if we think about it, there are really only three families of gas furnaces today. Government mandates are narrowing the “breeds” by mandating minimal efficiency requirements, both in gas- and hydro-usage. I have been asked to write comparisons on the three different types of furnaces, so here it goes in terms that your customer will understand and base their decision on.

  • Basic energy-saving units that will deliver sufficient heating temperatures to keep you warm on the coldest of days.
  • Additional Savings plus comfort, not only will you be warm on the coldest of days, but you will be comfortable from floor to ceiling.
  • Where ultimate comfort through digital technology combines maximized savings as well as producing the lowest carbon footprint, we call it environmentally friendly.

That is it. The rest is just subcategories of the first three and change based on the manufacturer. If you think about it, air conditioners fall into the same three umbrella families of value, comfort and savings. Comfort, savings and highest energy savings leave the smallest carbon footprint.

Technical information overload

So, if the consumer is not interested in technical expertise and knowledge, how do they know they are getting the best price? The best price is based on a measurement of value vs. cost/price. To determine what makes up the value for the consumer, like the vet helping to choose the right puppy, we must first ask questions to determine needs.

Referred to step one on the buying process, we need to understand the needs of the homeowner. Make sure to ask questions like those laid out in “Figure 1.”

Once you have gathered this information, you will be able to direct your consumer to the best options that satisfy their needs and wants. This will go a long way in building trust between you and the homeowner. Make sure you make the customer aware of all their options to purchase the system by building in payment opportunities such as deferrals, financing and easy monthly payments. Make sure you are easy to do business with!

Customer’s dream

The next step of the process is determining the homeowner’s needs, wants, and desires! Make sure to understand heat loss/gain calculations in the current design and any system flaws that are repairable and those that are not.

This step is critical to being able to offer a money-back guarantee—something that our competitors do but terrifies us.

We need this information especially when we find that the existing system is under/oversized to validate why we are choosing a different output of heating or cooling equipment.

There are several smart apps that allow you to do a shell loss/load on a dwelling in a matter of minutes.

Prep work

Reviewing the utility costs of each of your offerings, this can be done at your office by gathering utility costs and hours of usage charts for your geographical area. By producing a monthly or yearly average savings chart by furnace or air conditioning family will either help the decision-making process or provide extra funds to reduce monthly or capital costs. Saving as little as $25 per month will fund an additional $2,500 to $3,000 system upgrade or IAQ add on.

Putting it all together

By creating a list of solutions to all the problems the homeowner shared with you in the question asking phase will allow you to verbally paint a picture of the current system flaws and what the future system enhancement will mean in real-time. Sharing the sizing requirements will solidify your technical knowledge and build additional trust between your company and them. Finally, the utility costs comparison will show the consumer that their financial wellbeing is part of the decision-making process!

Final decision

Once you have put together three options based on the family of equipment you supply, you can help lead them to a decision based on their own convictions. Simply state the facts in terms they will understand. All three systems will deliver results based on a comparison. Is there one that stands out more than the rest and delivers enough savings to offset the price comparisons? If so, then you are now ready to earn the bid by asking two questions—which of these three systems makes the most sense to you? Or when would like to start enjoying the benefits of this system? Now the time to book them! Congratulations on earning not winning the bid!


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