Entrepreneur of the Month: Ken Goodrich
Everyone in Arizona knew it when Goettl (rhymes with kettle) Air Conditioning was fined seven figures – six zeroes and two commas – by the attorney general of Arizona for Deceptive Trade Practices.
Sales plummeted by more than 60 percent. Everyone assumed the company would have to close its doors. But Ken Goodrich said, “Sell it to me.”
What possible reason could Goodrich have for buying a company that no one trusted?
We’ll let his first radio ad tell that story:
“I was a ten year-old boy holding a flashlight for my Dad while he worked on an air conditioner for a customer. His name was Duncan Goodrich. He didn’t talk much. But there’s a certain kind of magic that happens when a son holds a flashlight for his father. I held it steady and quiet and Dad talked to me while he worked. He said, “When a person needs help, you respond right away. Not when it’s convenient for you.” He said, “Always do the right thing. Always do what’s right.” And he said, “The Goettl Iron Horse is a magnificent machine. Nothing else even comes close.” That was the first night I held a flashlight for my Dad but it wouldn’t be the last. At Dad’s funeral six months later, I realized that every time he handed me that flashlight, he was passing the torch. And my Dad believed in Goettl air conditioners. So I bought the company. Goettl. Gee Oh Ee, T-T-L. It’ll keep you cool, but it’s hard to spell. You can count on us to respond right away and do the right thing… Always. No one knows air conditioning like Goettl. No one. Gee Oh Ee, T-T-L.”
© 2015, Wizard of Ads
Prior to airing that radio ad, Ken Goodrich told his employees, “I’ve got a great gimmick. Let’s tell the truth.” He didn’t change the name of Goettl, but he did change the graphics on the trucks to feature a 10 year-old boy holding a flashlight.
This was the second ad in his “customer bonding” campaign:
“My Dad never worked for Goettl. He was a self-employed air conditioning repairman named Duncan Goodrich. But he admired the Goettl Brothers like airplane people admired Orville and Wilbur Wright. The Wright Brothers were from Dayton, Ohio. The Goettl Brothers were from here. The Wright Brothers were awarded 7 patents for their aircraft innovations. The Goettl Brothers were awarded one hundred and fourteen. Hundreds of millions of people owe their summertime comfort to the Goettl Brothers. My Dad believed in Goettl. He told me never to buy anything else. So I saved up my money and I bought the company. As a boy, I held the flashlight for Dad when he fixed air conditioners at night. That flashlight was important to me. So when we arrive at your home, we’re going to give you a Goettl flashlight because you’re important to me, too. When your system needs attention – no matter what brand it is – call Goettl. No one knows air conditioners like Goettl. No one. Gee Oh Ee, T-T-L. It’ll keep you cool, but it’s hard to spell.”
© 2015, Wizard of Ads
But wait, it gets even more interesting than that. Week after week, the public was treated to personality-revealing radio ads like this one:
“The best home service companies do background checks and drug tests on prospective employees, but at Goettl Air Conditioning and The Sunny Plumber, we take those evaluations even further, because we want you to LIKE the people who come to your home. I mean really LIKE them. This is going to sound crazy, I know, but I make sure my dog Sadie is there when I meet a prospective new hire. Sadie is a Wheaten Terrier. If Sadie goes straight to a person and gives them her Wheaten Greetin’, I know you’re going to be really comfortable with that person in your home. But if Sadie goes off and hides, there’s no way that person is comin’ to work for Goettl or Sunny. Sadie is never wrong. So now you know I’m crazy. But isn’t it okay to be crazy about hiring likable, happy people that will make sure the customer is delighted? Isn’t it okay to be crazy about old fashioned, Do-The-Right-Thing customer service? Goettl and Sunny are fabulous companies to work for, and they’re fabulous companies to call. Because everyone who works here is Sadie Certified. Goettl Air Conditioning and The Sunny Plumber.
© 2016, Wizard of Ads
After being on the radio for about 18 months, Ken sent this email to a close friend who lived out-of-state:
“Our team hit their goal in March; actually killed the goal with a 5X year over year growth. When my team hits their goal, I take them out for a goal dinner, a party for the team. This is my 30th year in the HVAC business and this is the first time I witnessed my entire team love working for my company. They say they feel important, respected, and they’re like celebrities working here. The energy was electric. I teared up through the goal dinner because 30 years ago I knew I’d be here one day, just didn’t know how or when. The customers are the same way. They’re proud to have Goettl and Sunny in their home. They take pictures with my guys! We’re on to something here.”
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