Jerry O’Neal, Lodging Supply Company, has served the hotel and motel industry with HVAC solutions for 30 years. In our interview, he shares how he got started in this market sector, his approach to customer service, and the role energy efficiency and incentives play in his sales process.
Q: Tell us how you get started in the industry?
I started working with the lodging industry in my first sales job out of the military. Eventually, I was able to take that experience and start my own business in 2003. I’m based in Central Oregon and work across the country. I work with national chains, independently owned properties, and everyone in between. Most of my business comes through word of mouth.
I help many properties upgrade their packaged terminal air conditioner units to heat pumps (PTHP). I know I sell more Amana 42-inch heat pumps than anyone else in the Northwest because it is a good product, it is AHRI-certified, and I offer competitive pricing. Hoteliers are well-networked and are happy to share their successful experiences with others, which brings in more business. As these properties grow and expand, so do I.
Lodging is an industry based on good customer service, so owners appreciate and reward the service they receive. If you’re good at something, you stay with it. I offer a great product at the right price, but service keeps them coming back.
Q: How does energy-efficient equipment play a role in your business?
I’ve been selling energy-efficient heat pumps in the Northwest long before utilities were offering incentives for them. PTHPs are three times more efficient in most climates than traditional electric resistance heat strips, saving property owners money and making their rooms more comfortable for guests.
Q: How do utility incentives influence your customer’s buying decision?
Many customers are not familiar with or are unsure about incentives. Network Field Specialist Mike Hughes helped me better understand how incentives benefit customers, so I do my part by educating the end-user. My customers love incentives after I present them with their options:
- Spend more money on a heating and cooling unit without incentives and pay more in monthly heating bills.
- Or, spend less upfront with heat pump incentives and enjoy lower future energy costs.
Once they see the payback, it is an easy sale that benefits the customer and the utility.
Customers often ask me what else they can do to save energy, so I share other upgrade opportunities that make an impact. I encourage them to talk to local contractors specializing in those areas to see available products and incentives.
Part of a series of interviews with Northwest trade allies to learn how and where they do business.
Category: Featured Trade Ally
Tags: heat pumps PTHP