We get to see behind the curtain of hundreds of heating and air conditioning companies across the US. What we see is fascinating. There are a lot of traits that are common to most companies. But there are also traits that make each company unique in a way. We see different service territories, employee dynamics, and owners’ personalities just to name a few. These past 17 years I have been trying to understand fully why the same marketing package and spending will have vastly different performance in results for each company. Of course, we see differences in the local territory, the demographics of the population, and the competition. I can easily see how these play a part in marketing effectiveness. But many times, these variances are similar, and we still see a wide discrepancy in the effectiveness of the marketing.
This weekend I believe I experienced another factor that affects your marketing. I was sitting in a beautiful remodeled large textile mill. It had been transformed into a cool meeting space and wedding venue. I was there to celebrate a 50-year anniversary for our very first customer. They have been with us for 17 years. The cool thing about this customer is that they have been the absolute best customer we have ever worked with. They never get angry, they are responsive, and they usually take our advice and just let us handle the marketing.
We had arrived at the party and the crowd was lite, but quickly the place filled with hundreds of people. I remember thinking, there is no way all these people work for this company. We had a catered dinner as pictures continually changed on the televisions and large screens in the venue. The pictures were from the last 50 years of this company and some of them were quite funny.
After dinner, the host of the party walked up to the stage and began to speak. He gave the usual thank you for coming to celebrate with us and the usual niceties. Then the owner began to speak. He had a list of employees he thanked that had been with the company for 10 years or longer. After he spoke, the most heartfelt speeches I have ever heard began to occur as everyone was given the opportunity to speak. It was then I realized that this room is not just filled with company employees.
These are also multiple past employees and business customers. The topic of each speech was the same and it occurred over and over. They spoke about the times they could not pay rent and the owner gave them the money to help make ends meet. Or the times the employee did not have lunch nor the money to buy lunch and the owner gave them his lunch. They even talked about working on the job and the owner always making sure he did the dirtiest, nastiest part of the work so his employees did not have to. The same message over and over.
As the customers and business partners spoke, they echoed the caring, loving, and giving nature of the owner. The night went on for about 4 hours. Open bar, lots of laughing. Lots of hugging from past employees and the owner. It was truly a great thing to see.
As I lay in bed that night after the party it hit me. The entire party was about celebrating only 1 thing. The relationships. There was never a word about sales goals, profit margins, revenue per van, or next quarter’s goals. It was entirely about relationships. Relationships with your employees. Relationships with your customers. Relationships with your vendors and suppliers.
The reason the marketing worked for this company is that they were loving, giving, and a great company that took care of their customers and vendors before they met us and for the last 17 years. The major separator when it comes to the effectiveness of the marketing is the culture of your company. When you have a great culture, marketing magnifies your referrals. When you just have a bad or mediocre culture, the marketing must do all the heavy lifting on its own.
If you solely focus on money your culture will suffer. Your employees will churn. Your marketing will be expensive. If you focus on relationships, your culture will thrive. Your employees will stay. Your customers will love your company. And your marketing will be way more effective. All you must do is value the people around you. Love the people around you. Love your customers. Love your employees. Love your partners. Love your vendors.
When we see behind the curtain, we see more than you think. We see when you are struggling or stressed out. We see when you are laughing and having a good time. The companies that focus on money are always struggling and stressed out. The companies that are focused on relationships are always laughing and having a good time. Which company do you want to own?