When Residents Face the Cold, Lennox Is Here to Help
For these HVAC dealers, it’s not always about making the sale.
By Grace La Montagne
The fall season brings Halloween costumes, football games, pumpkin spice and everything nice, all against the background of dropping temperatures. For many families, it’s a time to gather and give thanks over a turkey. And for HVAC dealers across the country, the cold winds mean the busy heating season is ramping up.
But for many people, facing the colder months may be more ominous, if they have no reliable heat source or their home furnace is broken and needs a costly repair.
That’s why, in 2010, Lennox Industries District Manager, Dave Chatmon, saw an opportunity to make a difference in his community — by donating a Lennox furnace to a household in need. Since then, participating dealers of what became the Lennox Heat UP initiative have provided more than 850 furnaces from Lennox, at a retail value of $1.19 million. Including donations of thermostats, installations, parts and supplies, and labor, this comes to a whopping $3.8 million investment by Lennox and Lennox dealers to help residents in their communities. In 2017, eight states and four Canadian provinces participated, providing 175 installations to homes and families in need of heat.
A Warmer Home
In the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors, Lennox dealers and employees and their families volunteer to help with the installations — many going above and beyond the furnace installation, to help with things like yard work and house repairs.
“It was the most generous experience I’ve ever seen,” says Deb Hogan, Lennox’s Central Plains Zone Manager in Missouri and a Lennox Heat UP first-timer. “It’s great because it takes you out of that business-to-business relationship and into a friend-family relationship. It was an extremely heartwarming experience for me…It was like being with a family.”
Lennox Heat UP operates through dealers reaching out to their communities to gather nominations for a deserving household in need. But on a more basic level, it’s about Lennox inspiring neighbors to help neighbors.
“What this means is, someone in the community thinks of a neighbor who needs help or has given so much to the local community…it’s not a handout but a hand up!” Chatmon says.
“The people in the communities know who is doing everything they can to make it in today’s economy.”
A Helping Hand
When Lennox Heat UP committee members and dealers sort through all the nominations looking for the right household to help, “We look for the individuals that are selfless and engaged with their community — they aren’t needy but just in need,” says Stephanie Bond, Director of Retail Marketing at Lennox.
“The program in its truest form should go like this,” Chatmon says. “‘What do you think about Bobby? You know he fought in Vietnam and his wife has been fighting cancer and they are always donating time and money to our town. Let’s get a bunch of our friends together and nominate them, then let’s go to the install if they are chosen and bring food!’ This is a real-life true story that happened this year in Wisconsin. This is neighbors helping neighbors.”
It’s not all about installations and deliveries to Lennox dealers, and it’s certainly not just another day at work. “Now I have relationships with people that are normally just names on a piece of paper,” Hogan says. “After the day was done, I felt really tired, but the kind of tired when you know that your day really meant something.”
A Stronger Community
The goodwill created in the community is contagious. “What we see happen,” Hogan says, “is that the homeowner is revived in the community, along with Lennox and its dealers having a boost in both community appeal and employee morale.” That extends to employee recruitment and retention as well, according to John Ernat, a Lennox regional zone director.
“In order to be the best, we have to do what others aren’t willing to do,” Ernat says. “It’s a very empowering event that lets our team realize that they’re a part of something much bigger than themselves.”
Lennox Heat UP installations take place every year, on the first Saturday of October. Participating Lennox dealers and teams are already planning and looking forward to the 2018 installation day, Oct. 6. The growing momentum is heating up, to expand the reach of Lennox’s program to more communities across the U.S. and Canada in the years to come.
“I can’t wait to see those installs that first Saturday in October,” Chatmon says. “Mike Hart [Lennox’s vice president of sales] has said many times, ‘Be a part of something bigger than yourself.’ And that has been on my mind for the last nine years.”
Keep all your customers warm this winter, with efficient furnaces for every home.
Keep your team sharp, with regular training. Even seasoned HVAC technicians can use a refresher now and then. Use this online training, “Heating Tune-Up (80% Furnace)” to make sure your whole crew is ready for, through the whole heating season.