It’s been interesting to witness the case of FIFA over the last week, watching wave after wave of the insidious corruption in the organization hit each news cycle, bringing greater destruction of FIFA arriving with each passing day. And it appears we are only witnessing the manifestation of a tectonic shift that’s taken place over years.
The two main shifts hitting the world of soccer are increased resources through largely American corporate sponsorships and the heightened transparency demands of the Internet age. These two forces, combined with sustained popularity and a number of other factors, have caused the microscope to be applied to the institutionalized corruption like never before.
And finally, after years of escaping the impacts of the corruption he oversaw, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was forced to resign from the organization he helped create into a worldwide marketing force for the sport of soccer.
With Blatter gone, the true cleansing properties of sunshine can be applied to the multi-billion dollar “non-profit” that oversees the worlds most popular game.
Not to sound hyperbolic here, but a parallel can be drawn between FIFA and the heating, venting and cooling industry.
After living for half a decade in the HVAC world now, I firmly believe that there is similar institutionalized corruption at play. Where locally-owned family companies once dominated the industry, corporate consolidation has taken over—ostensibly still providing local service, but making strategy and business decisions from far off states or countries.
And as a consequence, the drive for short-term profitability superseded long-term relationships with people in a community. Where technical acumen was the standard by which labor was measured, HVAC techs are now judged against a sales-execution barometer. Bait-and-switch marketing tactics continue to be prevalent, causing many consumers to accept that the industry just operates this way.
The impact of a structure removed from the community creates a soil rich to take advantage of those homeowners.
To paraphrase Milton Friedman, the status quo is tyrannical, but only a crisis produces real change. Of course, the everyday deception within the HVAC industry is unlikely to receive the same limelight that Sepp Blatter and FIFA have received. Unfortunately, the direct financial impacts are much greater.
In the HVAC industry and other home services, the light being shined comes primarily from the internet. The advent of companies like Angie’s List, Yelp, and Google Reviews gives a level of accountability previously missing. Newer startups like Haven, Porch and Thumbtack seek to fill in the gaps left in the market, which are plenty. Estimates show that of the $500 billion spent annually by Americans on home services, only two percent is captured online. It doesn’t mean that the other 98 percent are being taken advantage of, but it does mean that there is greater opportunity for transparency and oversight that consumers should demand.
Our hope at Homesense is that—one consumer at a time, one newspaper story at a time, one online review at a time—the tectonic plates of the HVAC industry can hopefully shift to cause the changes that are sorely needed.