James Leichter
President, Aptora Corporation
& Contractor University Founding Faculty

*Virtual event duration may differ from what is outlined below. Typically, a 1-Day physical in-person event will equate to a 2-Day virtual event. If you are interested in a virtual event, please inquire on event duration.

Mr. Leichter is a 25-year services industry innovator who delivers products and services to help businesses streamline operations and improve profit. He is a seasoned business owner who shares his experience and expertise through speaking engagements, authoring industry articles for magazines, and participate as a legal expert witness. As a successful HVAC business owner in the 1990’s, he quickly realized his passion was helping others succeed. He then founded Aptora to deliver the first enterprise software solution for the contracting industry called Total Office Manager. He delivers the trifecta combining public speaking, hands-on business leader, and industry innovator.

1 Day Event
2+ Day Event

How to Double Your Service Profits

This workshop will teach you how to easily calculate the proper selling price on service calls (diagnostic fees), labor, equipment, and materials. Most of our attendees are horrified to find out that they often sell work for BELOW their cost.

Most service departments lose money! The hard fact is that most companies are carried by their installation and replacement sales. Most owners think they are making money on service because they are charging three or four times what they are paying their people. That is a mistake. Many companies breakeven at over $170.00 per hour. Without comprehensive departmentalized financial statements, no one would ever know it.

This workshop was specifically designed for anyone involved in service. We skip the theory and get right to the meat of what you need to do. The class material is comprehensive, yet very easy to understand. Simply put – when you leave this class, you will know what to charge for service work.

Topics Covered:

  • Learn all about flat rate pricing and why do you need it.
  • Find out how much to charge for service calls & diagnostic fees.
  • Learn how much you should be charging for service labor.
  • Discover how to calculate the proper markup on service parts.
  • Find out about a secret technique to managing inventory on your trucks.
  • You will receive a comprehensive parts markup table that will increase your profits WITHOUT decreasing customer satisfaction.
  • Discover several inexpensive, yet highly effective marketing techniques that will lead to more service calls.
  • We will discuss the overall profitability of the HVAC and plumbing industry. It’s not pretty!
  • You will learn rules-of-thumb of labor pricing and parts markup per industry per industry segment.
  • We will give you a free labor price list that allows you to bill for every minute that you deserve.
  • How to motivate employees through incentives and bonuses.
  • Find out what things you should NEVER pay a commission for.
  • You will understand why the industry is so unprofitable, why owners are so under paid, and how to make sure this does not happen to you!

Many business owners incorrectly believe that it’s okay for their service department to lose money because service leads to installations. Big mistake! Today, manufacturers are extending their warranties by many years. While that is great for the end user, you are losing out on an important source of ongoing service revenue. Why should unprofitable service lead to an installation that puts you out of future service work?

Look, service is the most labor intensive, most stressful product that you provide. Your service department deserves to make a profit and should be required to stand on its own two legs.

This is our most POPULAR topic. This may be the most important seminar that you ever attend.

Management & Sales for the Small HVAC Contractor

An Intensive One Day Workshop Designed Specifically for the Small Contractor.

A class specifically designed for the small HVAC business owner who has the following goals:

  • Get out of the field and organize their company
  • Learn the fundamentals of management
  • Increase sales

HVAC owners will walk away with a better understanding of what it takes to transition the company for growth and begin the planning process.

Double Your Replacement Sales

How to Beat Out the Low-Priced Competition and Increase Profit Margins!

If 60% of your HVAC sales are basic equipment, such as 13 SEER condensing units and 80% standard furnaces, then you are not a salesperson you are a bidder! You need this class.

We will teach you the following:

  • Understand industry-proven effective sales techniques
  • How to avoid the high-pressure sales hype you should be sick of
  • Increase profit

Attendees will walk away with sales strategies that will create the biggest impact for sales growth.

Higher Tech Sales, A Diagnostic Approach

A Workshop Designed Specifically for Techs and Owners Still Working in the Field.

A class specifically designed for the small heating and air conditioning business owner who with the following goals:

  • Change their role from field technician to operations owner
  • Learn the fundamentals of field service management
  • Increase sales!

Attendees will walk away with business strategies that will help escalate the path for company growth.

How to Acquire & Retain Great Coworkers

A Powerful One-Day Seminar! Recruit, Inspire, and Motivate Your Coworkers.

Finding qualified personnel has reached a crisis point for America’ HVAC dealers. New and powerful competitors such as the consolidators may put those who do not overcome this challenge out of business. This class is for managers, business owners, and technicians who do not have formal training in human resource management.

  • How to find qualified candidates
  • What traits to look for during an interview
  • How to ensure they are the right fit for your organization

Attendees will walk away with recruiting strategies that will help build your team for company growth.

Financial Basics

The goal of this class is to have dealers to understand how to get accurate and timely financial numbers so their companies can grow without losing control. We review Financial Terms, the Chart of Accounts for our trades based on GAAP, Cash Accounting versus Accrual and why, the basics of Inventory systems, Income Statement basic, departmental to GP Line, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement. We also review key performance indicators by segment.

Topics Covered:

  • Role of the Technician
  • Mind Mapping – Attitudes and Focusing on Goals, Present
  • Personality – Social Styles – Dealing with People – How and Why
  • Understanding Effective Communication
  • Defining Selling Skills – 7 Skills
  • Understanding What Process in sales – how to sell by involving customers
  • Setting Goals and a Personal Plan
  • What is the Perfect Service Call Process
  • Defining The Questions to Ask a Homeowner – 12 Questions we Recommend

Pricing for Double Digit Profitability

To evaluate the various pricing methods and strategies for pricing in contracting. We will review all methods and strategies. The goal is for dealers pricing to be cost based, and designed then to properly produce acceptable gross profit dollars to recover overhead, understanding the difference between gross profit dollars, and gross margins, target profitability by business segment and increase cash flow to allow growth. We will review divisor, multiplier, markup, gross profit per crew day and hour, breakeven and dual overhead pricing methods. We will also discuss the idea of aligning a company brand to a market price, and acceptance of the price versus just cost and profit.

Topics Covered:

  • How Pricing fits into a company brand and overall strategy
  • Defining a company cost structure – properly organized Chart of Accounts
  • Breaking down revenues, cost of goods sold, overhead, and how Income Statements Work(GAAP)
  • Identifying Breakeven and also Gross Profit per day, and Overhead per day Concepts
  • Methods of pricing – Divisor-Markup-Multiplier-GP Per Day-Breakeven, Dual Overhead
  • Utilizing Add-on Replacement Cookbook – setting standards – positioning
  • GP $ per man-day Benchmarks in replacement and light commercial
  • Crew Capacity – Labor Capacity-Planning Overhead per day
  • Flat Rate Implementation – setting a labor rate correctly based on price and market
  • Key Performance Indicators – Benchmarks, and their use in the pricing
  • Define Pricing in all Segments
    • Service Pricing Labor Rate and Parts Markups
    • RNC – Single and Dual Overhead, Cost Based, Breakeven
    • Residential Maintenance – Breakeven, Costs, and Pricing to a Margin
    • Light Commercial and Commercial Maintenance

Service Agreement

Discuss in detail the structure of a service agreement program. The workshop will provide the forms, materials, and necessary structure to implement and execute a top performing service agreement process. A discussion will also be around how to control and ensure profitable growth and generate quality leads.

Topics Covered:

  • How to implement a successful service agreement program
  • Marketing materials for residential Service Agreements for Technicians
  • Compensation plans and incentives for service agreements
  • Goal setting for technicians on Service Agreements
  • Marketing Techniques to target zones and existing customers
  • Pricing methods for service agreements
  • Metrics around the service agreement model
  • Scheduling Procedures
  • Company culture to support plan

Performance Based Pay

Show the dealer how performance based pay (productivity pay) can improve employee morale, increase pay and at the same time improve revenues and profits for the company.

Topics Covered:

  • Understand the structure of performance based pay – what exactly is productivity pay?
  • Why Do It as a Company?
  • Pay plans – Examples and Discussion
  • Steps for implementing productivity pay
  • Dealing with Culture Change – Creating Buy-In
  • Training All Employees – Accounting and How to Implement a New Plan
  • Accounting practices
  • Compliance with labor laws, Overtime

Advanced Financial Management

This workshop focuses on developing an understanding of the importance budgeting and forecasting cash flow, metrics, and creating departments inside the financial structure have on their overall operations.

Topics Covered:

  • Separating Departments into Cost Centers – Segments
  • Delve into Metrics (KPI’s) in Detail
  • Dashboard System of accountability
  • Creating a 12 Month Budget
  • Using the Budget Tool to Turn to Actual and Measure with Business Metrics
  • Understanding Cash Flow
  • Basics of Forecasting

Materials Management & Inventory Management

Understanding material handling possibilities throughout your business – including accountability for it in the field – is crucial to contracting business success.

In this workshop, dealers will learn to create an efficient material replenishment process for their companies, while getting the tools and training to tie metrics to inventory management system in a way that ensures you’re driving profit – not just revenue.

Attendees will also learn:

  • Field Accountability for Material Handling
  • Standardized Vehicle Stock Systems
  • Replenishment Procedures for Review
  • Establishing Inventory for 85% first time Service Call Completion rate
  • GPS Technology
  • Electronic Invoicing and Processes
  • Purchasing Procedures

Flat Rate Practices

Company leaders to understand how to Set-up Flat Rate and Implement a Flat Rate protocol.

Topics Covered:

  • Basics of What Flat Rate is and how it functions
  • How prices are created in Flat Rate
  • Benefits to All Regarding Flat Rate – Techs-Employees-Co.-Client
  • How to Train and Organize Flat Rate Forms
  • Define the Service Call Process in Flat Rate
  • Example Flat Rate System
  • Creating Your Street Rate and a Book to Utilize
  • Aligning Service Agreements with Flat Rate
  • Making Flat Rate Adjustments – Specific Repairs
  • Inventory Flat Rate replenishment

Two-Day Business Evaluation

Mr. Leichter will conduct an intensive 2-Day business evaluation based on your company goals.

Planning Call: Prior to the on-site visit, Mr. Leichter will have a thorough discussion with your management team to determine goals, time frames, and processes.

Day 1

One full day interviewing employees, evaluating policies, studying business operations and more.

Day 2

Mr. Leichter will present his finding to management. He will include a detailed set of recommendations. There will be plenty of time for questions and consulting.

Technician Communication & Selling Skills

The goal of this workshop is to learn and role play communication process, social styles and personalities, how to get along well, how to improve building customer relationships to improve the brand. We also cover in depth the consumer behaviors interests, questioning technique, sales process and selling techniques, and how to use them all. Technicians will learn and have materials to use that can help them sell more equipment, create more leads, create more accessory sales, and sell more maintenance agreements.

Topics Covered:

  • Role of the Technician
  • Mind Mapping – Attitudes and Focusing on Goals, Present
  • Personality – Social Styles – Dealing with People – How and Why
  • Understanding Effective Communication
  • Defining Selling Skills – 7 Skills
  • Understanding What Process in sales – how to sell by involving customers
  • Setting Goals and a Personal Plan
  • What is the Perfect Service Call Process
  • Defining The Questions to Ask a Homeowner – 12 Questions we Recommend

Service Management and Service Department Profitability

Every contracting business has a service department. But a service department that’s a measurable profit center, rather than financial blackhole is what separates the average contractor from the great one.

In this workshop, we’ll discuss how to capture more service calls, maintain proper service levels and turn your overall service department into that measurable profit center that can set your business apart. You’ll learn proper dispatching procedure, service org chart and parts stock replenishment, and you’ll walk away with your department goals and priorities for the year and a plan to address them.

Attendees will also learn:

  • Creating a Service Department Evaluation and Gap Analysis
  • Defining Maintenance Strategy and Integrating into Service
  • Proper Forms to Support Department
  • Procedure and Policy Manual
  • Service Pricing Strategies – Flat Rate, Labor Rate Price, Key Repairs, Maintenance Prices
  • Detailed Maintenance Strategy Outline and Review
  • The “Perfect Service Call” Procedure
  • Recruiting, Hiring, Training and Developing Technicians

Maintenance Technician Communications

Master the fundamentals of becoming a world class maintenance professional as it relates to client experience and the steps to run a proper maintenance call and your contracting company will set itself apart from a sea of competitors.

In this workshop, we will focus on those fundamentals, as well as the attributes of setting goals, client experience, and the actual steps to running a call. You’ll walk away with the blueprint to constructing the ultimate client experience, and the ability to instill those principles in your business to create an industry dream team.

Creating and Implementing an Employment Policy Manual

How to Ensure Your Employees Know What to Expect.

In this day and age when everyone is “sue happy,” you must ensure that all of your employees know what the company’ position is on a number of issues relating to work. A “rule book” is essential and we will discuss required components every book should include.

  • Employee expectations
  • Company expectations
  • What happens when either party’s expectations are not met

Attendees will have the knowledge to better protect both the employee and the company that both parties can be comfortable with.

The $100 Bill Exercise

Your employees probably think you are “filthy stinking rich” and that makes it difficult for them to accept the reality of your pricing and the drive to make sales.

With a simple exercise including a $100 bill, Mr. Leichter shares the following:

  • How it impacts business vs. personal income
  • Financial discovery of expenses
  • What factors are included to determine margin
  • How it contributes to success and failure

Attendees walk away an understanding of basic business finance. Most importantly, they walk away with a new appreciation for the struggles their company and its employees go through to make a small profit.

Service Agreements: The Life Blood of our Business

Service agreements are essential to the success of an HVAC company, but why? We will answer that question in detail and show you what goes into a great service agreement program.

  • How to stimulate sales
  • Handling seasonal changes
  • Maximizing service agreements through tune-ups

Attendees will walk away with actionable steps to solidify the financial strength of their services business.

The Basics of Great Duct System Design

This webinar was designed for the non-engineer who needs to know the basics of proper duct design and what aspects are important for an excellent air delivery system.

  • The three types of duct systems and when to use each
  • The important of static pressure, air velocity, and CFM
  • The essential elements of great duct design
  • Avoid these five ductwork design mistakes

Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of duct system design and how to implement that into their projects.

Fundamentals of the HVAC Comfort System

This webinar was designed for the non-engineer or experienced technician.

It is perfect for any employee who is new to the industry and would like to learn more on the following:

  • Basics of excellent comfort system design
  • How total comfort is achieved
  • Determining temperature control, humidity control, and air filtration

This will include the basic components of a comfort system and how each piece is important for safe, efficient, and comfortable system operation.

Equipment and Accessory Features and Benefits

Participants will learn about the various features of HVAC equipment and accessories and how they benefit your customers.

After this webinar, attendees will be better prepared to speak confidently with anyone inside and outside our industry.

All About Indoor Air Quality Products and Services

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) products and services is an excellent opportunity to drive more sales. It begins with educating service technicians to have a confident conversation with clients.

  • 14 IAQ products and services to maximize sales
  • Understanding air filter ratings and what they mean to buyers
  • Determining the best air filtration for the customer
  • Enthalpy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) versus Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) and how to select the correct option
  • How to sell IAQ without feeling like you are “selling” something

Participants will become better educated to position IAQ with their customers, improving the customer experience and company revenue.

Building a Rock Star Team Based on Passion, not Skill

Getting the most out of your team starts with passion. Skills can be taught. Passion instills the high desire to learn. You can’t train a person to be passionate.

  • Finding the right people. Characteristics to look for.
  • Setting realistic expectations
  • How to motive employees
  • Creating a culture that drives success with every employee
  • Setting KPIs for each employee and department
  • Key components of an effective employee review
  • Executing your leadership strategy for success

Passion drives motivation and education to ensure every customer is happy. These employees are the key to success for any company.

HVAC – The Undervalued Industry

There is a BIG perception problem in the services industry about the value technicians deliver. This keynote is entertaining, motivational, and a truthful explanation of why the undervalued perception problem exists, the history of it, and ways to overcome it to maximize success at all levels. And at the end of the day… be proud of what you do!

  • Why you never dreamed of being a technician
  • Did you really go to college to do this job?
  • When did you decide to be a technician? Plan B, C, or even D?
  • Which job is more important? Technician or attorney?
  • How to overcome being undervalued by family and friends
  • The truth about what you do: Creating a safe home environment for customers
  • Key ways companies can improve moral and value perception of employees

You and your team will get a deeper understanding of your role in this crazy world, why you are so important, and how to improve the value perception within yourself, family, friends, and customers.

Core Values and the Double-Edged Sword

Mr. Leichter delivers one of the most personal life-lesson coaching keynotes that truly helps people improve the quality of their lives. Through this engaging and entertaining experience, he will help each audience member explore the essence of their core values. The values define who we are, what we stand for, and sets the bar for how others perceive us. They are also arguably the most important characteristic of our true selves.

  • What is a core value?
  • Why do they matter?
  • How to identify your core value “Deal Breakers”
  • How will they affect my life and those around me?
  • What to do when values are broken
  • What if my family and friends have different values?
  • How to promote your values through action

Your audience will walk away with a better understanding of themselves, how they want to improve the quality of their lives, and ultimately improve the respect from family and friends. This event will truly create a positive impact for each audience member for the rest of their lives.

Flat Rate Pricing Workshop

There is a lot of interest in flat rate pricing, but many contractors are confused about what flat rate pricing really is.

This fast-paced workshop will provide participants with the following:

  • An excellent understanding on the concept of flat rate pricing
  • The reason flat rate pricing is essential to your company’s survival
  • How to create your own flat rate tasks, know what software you are using
  • The best way to present a flat rate option and leave room for additional unplanned repairs
  • How to easily sell service agreements with flat rate pricing

Attendees will walk with actionable steps to make the necessary changes to effectively implement flat rate pricing and begin increasing company sales.

Expert Witness Testimony

Experienced expert witness and litigation consulting on HVAC technical and management issues. Curriculum Vitae (CV) and fee schedule available on request.