Technical Tip 4: How To Choose Your HVAC Distributor

How do you go about choosing an HVAC distributor? What factors should you consider? What all does an HVAC distributor do?

In this edition of Tech Tip, we're tackling this important topic. Here at Goodin Company, we certainly hope you choose us as your HVAC distributor. But it's not a decision to make lightly. Choosing the right partner is one of the most crucial decisions you can make for your business.

One of the key roles of an HVAC distributor is to act as a sort of middleman between you and the manufacturers of HVAC equipment. You don't have to weed through all of the hype — we do that for you. We handle:

Product supply. At Goodin, one of our key values is that we've been your "source of supply" for the better part of a century. It's the foundation for what we do. We maintain a huge inventory so you don't have to, stocking anything and everything from the best manufacturers in the world. If you need it, we'll have it. We ensure that we'll have inventory during seasonal peak demands by using careful inventory management, so we can fulfill your orders quickly, when you need it most.

Knowledge and training. With our vast experience, we have a deep understanding of HVAC tools, equipment and situations you might come across in the field. We also partner with manufacturers to offer extensive training workshops for contractors to increase their knowledge and get up to speed on new technologies and techniques.

Business support. We offer credit and financing, monthly promotions and deals, easy online ordering, and other features to help your business succeed.

Community. Not many distributors do this, but at Goodin, we treat our customers like family. Whether it's summer nights at the baseball park, exciting hockey games, fishing trips to the northland's best resorts and more, we hold dozens of events each year that are designed to thank our great customers and bring people together for fun, food and festivities.

Now that you know what distributors do, here's how to choose the one that's best for your business.

No one knows your business needs better than you do. The first step in choosing a distributor is assessing those needs through the lens of what a distributor might provide. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What types of equipment do you tend to service the most?
  • Do you have favorite brands?
  • Do you want to learn about new brands you might not have used in the past?
  • Do you often come up against time crunches and need inventory fast?
  • What are your delivery needs? 
  • Are you expanding and growing?

This is about thinking about not just your day-to-day operations and how they might be best served, but also looking toward the future.

Find what you need! 

Step 2: Research HVAC distributors 

When you're clear on your business needs, it's time to dig in and do some research. Search for distributors online and see what you find. Visit their websites to check out what they offer. Do they feature online ordering? What about training opportunities? And ask around. Word of mouth is powerful, especially in this business. Who are your competitors using? What's the word on the street? Reach out to fellow HVAC pros to get their recommendations. Another way to find great information about distributors is by attending HVAC conferences.

Step 3: Read wholesalers' reviews 

Online reviews are everywhere. For the service industry, they're a critical piece of the puzzle of getting new customers, and you can use them to find distributors as well. By reading reviews, you can hear firsthand from other technicians who have worked with the distributor you're considering.

Where do you find reviews? Look on their Google Business listing, their website, and on Yelp. Be on the lookout for information on how they view business and customer relationships and what the customer experience looks like. 

  • Business relationships: How do they grow and nurture client relationships? 
  • What does the customer experience look like from a timing, pricing and reliability standpoint? 

CTA: Learn how we can help your business! 

Step 4: Set up a meeting

Now it's time to sit down and talk directly. Schedule phone or in-person meetings with distributors to get a feel for who they are. Some questions to ask include:

  • How do you handle things when they go wrong? 
  • What customer services do you provide beyond the products? 
  • What is your inventory level? Will I be able to get product when I need it?
  • What type of experience does your sales team have with the products? 
  • Will I have a dedicated sales rep?
  • What is the return policy?
  • How do you view this business relationship?

Also, take the "intangibles" into account. How responsive are they? What's the style of their interaction with you? How did you feel after meeting with them? 

Step 5: Get quotes 

All of the above is important, but the bottom line is the bottom line. When choosing a distributor, price matters. Ask for quotes from the top distributors on your list and compare prices and terms. But go a little deeper, too. Do they offer bulk discounts? What types of deals and specials do they offer on a regular basis? Can you get better pricing with a long-term contract?

Step 6: Evaluate the qualities of the distributors 

With all of that information at hand, it's time to make a choice on who will be your distributor. It's useful at this stage to create a comparison chart, listing your needs and the offerings of various distributors. It'll give you a black-and-white representation comparing and contrasting your choices. 

But remember, intangibles matter, too. Company values. Relationships. How they treat customers and employees. 

Choosing a distributor is one of the most important decisions an HVAC company can make. At Goodin Company, we certainly hope you choose us. Let's talk about your needs and how we can be a true, long-term partner for your business.

Contact us to get started! 

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