Positioning your company in your market

Q&A with HVAC entrepreneur and business author

The Water and Wastewater Equipment, Treatment and Transport Show, formerly the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo, took place from February 23-26, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Ind. Mike Agugliaro, co-owner of Gold Medal Service, a full-service HVAC, plumbing, electrical and waterproofing business serving New Jersey, presented at the show.

Agugliaro’s presentation was titled, “How to Position Your Company in the Market Today.” In his presentation he shared a foundational framework, as well as strategies, to help attendees improve their position in their markets and increase revenue and brand recognition.

More than 10,000 waste and wastewater industry professionals and plumbers from more than 45 countries attended WWETT to network, obtain knowledge, and access new products and technologies. The event featured more than 80 educational sessions, as well as more than 500 exhibitors.

In addition to his home service business, Agugliaro is also founder of ServiceKey, a business mentoring service for owners in the industry to help them achieve success and financial freedom. Phc News saw it fitting to include Agugliaro’s insight in the 2015 “State of The Contractor” issue. Take a look at Agugliaro’s approach to incorporating real-life experience to help struggling business owners identify problems in their current business model, solve them, and become successful.

PHC: Can you give us background on your work?

MA: I have been co-owner of Gold Medal Service for more than 20 years, and my partner, Rob Zadotti, and I have grown it from a $1 million business to a more than $24 million business. In addition to running Gold Medal Service, I am also author of “The Secrets of Business Mastery,” and publisher of Home ServiceMAX magazine.

PHC: Can you talk about your experience at WWETT?

MA: It was great to be able to speak to contractors in the plumbing market, and to help them see the value of being proactive about customer service and ways that strategic marketing can improve sales.

PHC: What led you to speak about positioning a business in the market?

MA: Most owners in the industry are excellent tradesman, but that doesn’t translate to being an excellent business owner. My goal is to help them understand the steps they need to take in order to position their company for success.

When I say “position,” I mean setting yourself apart from the competition — finding that niche or that area where you can do something better, and doing it the best. When you find that angle to reach your customers, it allows you to set yourself apart. My clients can then take all the tools and processes I give them to help propel their business to the forefront of their service region.

PHC: How would you describe today’s business market?

MA: Today’s business market, regardless of industry, is cluttered with options. But, what sets businesses apart is their level of customer service. Your customers want exceptional service, which means not just doing a great job, but taking that extra step to go above and beyond the call of duty. Many businesses aren’t providing that, and they are failing.

PHC: How should someone’s business be positioned in today’s market?

MA: Brand recognition and convenience are key. Your logo and colors have to be memorable, and you want people to see your brand frequently and in a lot of places. You also can’t provide one service. You are not only limiting your client base, but you are limiting your ability to capitalize on additional sales. When you provide more than one service — like being able to fix a pipe and also replace a filter — you are offering added value for your customers.

PHC: How should someone go about identifying the target audience for their business?

MA: You have to first determine your ideal customer — I call them avatars — and figure out where they live, their average income, the main issues in their homes, etc. Once you’ve determined that, then you have to figure out where they are and how you can make your branding reach them. This can be done through anything from a billboard to an advertisement in the newspaper.

PHC: How should someone go about branding what is unique about their business?

MA: It’s all about evaluating your competition’s weaknesses and knowing your company’s strengths. Is there something that your company does better or offers that no one else does? That’s your unique selling point and that’s how you entice customers. The quality and level of service that you provide is how you keep them.

PHC: Do believe in prioritizing business goals? And if so, can you explain how and what you prioritize?

MA: It’s important to do a few things well, then do everything okay, so yes prioritizing is definitely important. The most important is branding, because without a recognizable brand nothing else matters. The next step would be defining your core values, and making sure that everyone you hire embodies them. This will mean that you are providing the highest level of service to your customers. It also allows you to effectively market your business and increase sales. Revenue flows in if you have a solid foundation and strategy.

PHC: What are your personal marketing tips for contractors?

MA: Wrapping trucks with your colors and branding should be a top priority. This is essentially a rolling billboard for your business, and it is the easiest way to get your name out there. It’s also key to provide coupons and include those in local papers and on websites. Most importantly, love your existing customers and talk to them often.

PHC: If there is anything that was not asked that you would like to discuss?

MA: Mistakes are painful and costly. Hiring a business mentor can save you the learning curve of running a business, which ultimately saves you time and money. And, it will help you excel in all areas of your business. 

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