by Larry Hartley

If you’re like many central vacuum system dealers, your business model has changed significantly during the past three years. As builder business has declined, you find yourself installing more and more systems in existing homes. For some dealers, shifting the emphasis from new homes to existing homes has been challenging. Instead of selling a number of systems in a new home development, retrofits require selling to one homeowner at a time. Yet there are several BEAM dealers who have focused on retrofits for years. One, in particular, says 75 percent of his business comes from installing systems in existing homes. It offers a successful model that we want to help other dealers follow.

That’s why we developed a comprehensive program of training and tools that are helping BEAM dealers succeed in the existing home market.  This includes developing leads, scheduling in-home appointments with homeowners, and using an effective sales process to close the sale.  We have provided dealers with a powerful sales process that we developed in collaboration with Rodney Webb, who is recognized by Remodeling magazine as the nation’s leading installed home products sales expert. He’s known as the 91 percent guy because that’s his close rate. The process goes through five critical steps:

  1. The Warm-up – Gather as much information as you can about the neighborhood and engage the homeowner in conversation. This provides you the critical clues from the buyer’s own words on what it will take to make the sale.
  2. Walking the Job – Get the homeowner to join you in a walk-through of the home so you can understand their approach to cleaning and how best to install the system. Now that you know how the homeowner cleans, you can put together the ideal solutions.
  3. The Presentation – Establish your company as a solid, reliable business with a proven record of satisfying customers. This instills customer confidence in your product and your business and puts to rest any concerns about installation.
  4. Setting the Stage – Deliver the critical pre-close question.
  5. Asking for the Order – Explain the price and the value of the improved indoor air quality they will be getting for the investment.

To provide further support to BEAM dealers, we offer a compact product demonstration kit for easy in-home use during sales appointments.  It gives the homeowners a chance to actually operate each system in their home.  And we’ve built a highly effective sales presentation for the dealers to give to homeowners they meet with.  Lastly we have a manual to help dealers train and manage their sales team.

The process and tools work. Dealers who have participated are seeing a significant upturn in sales and profit. And they’re using the process to generate dozens of references to assure long-term growth.

There are more than 80 million existing homes in the U.S. It’s a market that our industry has barely tapped. With the right sales approach and the right tools, it’s a market that’s filled with opportunity.

Larry Hartley is vice president of sales and marketing for Electrolux Central Vacuum Systems, manufacturer of BEAM, Electrolux and Eureka Central Vacuums.