The most important goal of HARDI Mexico is to build bridges between the United States and Mexico, while being guided by the mission of HARDI and supported by its four pillars. With that in mind, 35 of the top players in the Mexican HVACR market traveled to Orland to meet with the Ware Group, one of the most technologically advanced distributors in the United States.
Chris Ware, CEO of the Ware Group, along with the top management team, took time to share best practices. The team illustrated their methods of operation, and how their methods focus outside of just competing on price. The sessions were presented by respective managers to provide a detailed view on what makes the Ware Group different. Here are some of the most important lessons from our visit.
1) Passion to serve the customer is evident in every call, every conversation and every employee. “We sell service” is a mantra at the Ware Group, with the passion for service comes directly from Chris Ware. His employees analyze every step of the process and try to eliminate any non-value-added activity when servicing the customer.
2) Technology is a key differentiator at the Ware Group. It helps the customer save time, allowing them to focus on the profitable aspects of the business. The team from Mexico was impressed by the phone app, which is incredibly user friendly and allows the customer to scan parts, add product to their cart, and check availability. This saves time for the customer and the Ware Group personnel.
3) Mr. Jack Hammer, warehouse manager, and his assistant Carmen, showed the team how they keep orders flowing with clockwork precision. They use bar code scanners and locators so that inventory is 99.9 percent accurate. The system produces reports that the managers use to reduce the amount of travel inside the warehouse, getting customers back on the road quicker.
4) The Ware Group allows the customer flexible ways to get product through delivery, in-store pickup and express will call. The customer can get product the way that makes the most sense for how they conduct business.
5) Michael Blackwell, director of sales, trains the sales staff to look for ways the customer can save time and make money. The team uses a consultative sales approach to help customers have a better understanding of total landed costs. They help manage stockrooms and truck stock by using technology. Rachel Bush, e-commerce manager, visits contractors to show the many ways that they can utilize technology platforms to make ordering more efficient. By being in the service business, they understand that when the customer needs product, their job is to supply it the most efficient way possible.
6) Even though the Ware Group sells only the licensed contractor, the store looks like a “retail store for HVACR”. The TV screens show the latest specials, products or marketing messages. Mike Bell, vice president of sales and operations, mentioned that the reason for such a grand showroom is the representation of all the products that we carry. The customers rarely see the entire warehouse, so the showroom should tell a story.
7) Forming a great relationship with suppliers and customers is key. Goodman presented on social media marketing and the current trends in the industry. The Ware Group is one of the largest customers for Goodman, and they both work closely together to be more efficient and provide value to the contractor. Connecting through social media helps people find product reviews that can be lead generators for contractors of The Ware Group. At dinner, we heard a testimony from two of the Ware Group’s customers, Hector from Ferran Services and Contracting along with Tom from Pro Tech Air Conditioning and Plumbing Service. They value the relationship not based on price, but on reliability and total value. Helping contractors save time and increase their sales, is the reason contractors stay and grow with Ware Group.
8) Hiring the right people, and having an environment where people want to come to work, is the glue that makes the company great. Cameron Perkins, vice president of smarketing and vendor management, mentioned that “we just need to provide the right tools to our people and empower them to do their job, then we just have to let them do it”. That was clear with our event coordinator, Rita Caldwell, who made sure all the details of our visit were considered. She accomplished her mission to make her new “Mexican brothers and sisters” feel at home.
Troy Meachum, HARDI’s CEO, was there sharing the experience with us, and was symbolic of how much support HARDI is providing to the new division in Mexico. Being a distributor himself, Troy was very pleased and thankful of the Ware Group for sharing their best practices in such detail. This is what being a member of HARDI is all about. Troy will bring his own team for a visit to Orlando very soon.
HARDI Mexico is very grateful to the Ware Group for accepting our request to visit their wonderful organization. We planned a robust, best practice agenda and The Ware Group delivered. It was truly an honor to receive such a warm welcome. HARDI Mexico looks forward to returning the favor in our first ever event on October 1, which we will close with the unofficial opening cocktail to the AHR expo in Mexico City, the biggest in Latin America, from October 2 – 4, 2018.
HARDI Mexico is exploring different ways to strengthen the relationship between manufacturers and distributors in the market. That is why we will be the first to roll out a new HARDI platform that will make it easier for manufacturers to provide new information to their distributors. If the strategy is accepted by our supplier members, then HARDI may implement it in Canada and the United States.
We hope that many manufacturers see this opportunity to partner with HARDI Mexico members, which will help strengthen a growing market. HARDI Mexico is here to continue to provide guidance using the four pillars of HARDI. With the support of more manufacturers, and their distributors, we can certainly help the industry grow and improve for years to come. This visit was just one small step for HARDI Mexico and a great step for the Mexican HVACR industry. There is still a lot to be done, so stay tuned.
– By Guitze Messina, Executive director for HARDI Mexico firstname.lastname@example.org