What Came First: The Inspector or The Code Book?

Just when you think you have heard it all: Today I heard about a local building inspector asking for an ACCA Manual J because the contractor was repairing/adding ductwork to a 10 year old furnace.  Of course it was oversized, it was installed before building inspectors knew what an ACCA Manual J, Residential Load Calculation was (many find the humor in this statement).  When attempting to correct the inspector (he must have meant Manual D, right?), he was quick to remind the professional that he knows what he meant and they were working in a "Stretch Code Town" now.

For over five years, Massachusetts has "implemented" a Sheet Metal License - complete with a Board of Examiners, path for licensing including clear education paths, uniform permits, and of course inspections.  This is the most troubling part of the process for all residential contractors involved: inspections.  Most so frustrated with the permitting/inspection process, they often have to call local inspectors just to inquire what they want for documentation.

Since implementation, I have personally spent hundreds of dollars renewing a license for which we have no code book?!  Currently, in the absence of a state code, the 2012 International Mechanical Code (IMC) is being referenced as the solution.  This loosely worded code typically references other International Code books like the International Residential Code (IRC) and International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), for example.  With regards to Residential Duct Design, the references eventually make it back to ACCA Manual D.  For those that know me, I most likely saw you in one of my many System Design Courses taught previously in my career preaching ACCA System Design.  I pushed the ACCA Manual J/S/D pile uphill for many years, or as my Grandfather would say: in the snow, uphill, both ways!  To the point where I firmly believe any quality residential HVAC Contractor in MA wants to do the right thing, including paying for permits and learning (if necessary) before it becomes the hard way.

So, I have to ask: Why should this contractor pull a sheet metal permit in this town?  Because the state requires it?  Mr,/Mrs. Homeowner may or may not want the permit pulled in the first place!  Other than funding the town to pay an inspector that probably has no clue the "flux-capacitor" is not a part in the old furnace, what is protecting the homeowner?  If an inspection ensures the contractor met the minimums required by law, but the Inspector doesn't know what any of the above design manuals and code books say, I would have to argue that there is nothing protecting the homeowner - the sole reason for creating this license in the first place!

What can you do about this?  Well, alone probably not much - except argue with local inspectors and possibly educate some along the way...one house, one town at a time.  Or, you should consider joining an organization that provides local representation and has a clear voice, working with the likes of The Sheet Metal Board, Departments of Public Safety and Energy.  Personally, I like ACA New England, full disclosure: I am an ACA New England board member, of course there are a few others.  They recently made an instrumental move to keep another sweeping MA Refrigeration License from quickly becoming a reality.  This was recklessly written and would have significantly impacted the current and future workforce, and although far from dead this bill has been put into study.  To be clear, and this is my own point of view, no one in our organization is against licensing - just want to be responsible in the way it is written and implemented.  Consider being part of the solution, not just complaining about it and going it alone!

The biggest question still remains, What came first: The Inspector or The Code Book?

3 Secrets to HVAC Sales Success

In my new role over the last nine months, I have made an effort to always ask if the Comfort Advisors/Consultants/Salesman has ever had formal sales training.  To my surprise, even some of the most successful companies in our industry have failed to offer or implement any training for their most important assets.  Training is not reserved to the Installers and Technicians, although to these roles the requirement to attend product and service sessions is just obvious.  I understand the need to keep running these leads, but unless the Comfort Advisor invests in themselves, they very often hit a wall and cannot grow in their role or business.  Imagine if your technicians were too busy year round to attend the required factory training, would this lack of investment eventually hurt the bottom line?

So, this leads to the question: Where do I find HVAC Sales Training?  Fortunately, most sales techniques and processes are easily transferrable across industries.  Some of the best ideas come from outside the traditional HVAC structure, and if modified, work as well or better in our field.

Here are a few things to get you started in investing in yourself:

1.  Read or listen to books on tape with topics like Business, Professional Success, and Sales.  The Comfort Consultant spends many hours on the road, and getting digital audio books from your local library is not only free but has no risk if you do not like the format or lesson!  I typically listen to one or two a week.  Currently, my favorite to date is: "Unlimited Sales Success" by Brian Tracy.

2.  Ask your distributor about In-Home Sales Training.  Most are willing to host small events at convenient times of year, as they view this as investing in their future as well.  Although not the standard here, some Manufacturers will even host trainings like these.

3.  Look to local trade associations for Sales or Business Seminars.  By bringing many people into a single location, even the most expensive and successful consultants can be more than affordable.  In fact, if you have the time on 2/23/16 in Framingham, MA, ACA New England is hosting a Management Sales Seminar with Tom Piscitelli, a nationally acclaimed consultant.  If you can make it, look for me as I would not miss such an opportunity - and have already secured my seat!  Just to make it easy, use this link: Register.

Please, make the investment in yourself to succeed in sales.  The secret should not be the lack of investment or commitment, instead ask those you trust or even envy because of their success.  You may find they had to learn a lot on their own too, and more than willing to make sure you don't make the same mistakes!