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  • Monday, February 03, 2020 3:03 PM | Anonymous

    Show You CARE

    Originally published: 10.01.16 by Jim Baston

    Four Components to Communicate Trust with Your Customers

    Not only is the old axiom true “All things being equal, people like to do business with people they like. Not only does this old axiom hold true, it turns out when things are not equal, people still like to do business with people they like.

    The core ingredient for a good relationship is trust. Without trust, it’s possible to have a relationship, but it will not be good. The level of trust in a business relationship therefore, is a major determinant of whether a customer will choose to continue to do business with you.

    So, how do you earn the trust of your customers? The obvious answer is to be trustworthy. A few con artists aside, it’s difficult to pretend you’re trustworthy when you’re not. For most organizations, if they’re not trustworthy, it somehow has a way of catching up with them.

    Trust, at least in the service business, is certainly not a case of “fake it ‘til you make it.”

    Simply being trustworthy is not enough. Somehow, you have to communicate you’re trustworthy so you can earn the trust of your customers. You can do this through your actions and your deeds — and these must be consistent across the breadth of your organization.

    Every customer contact, whether it is a telephone conversation, email or personal visit, must communicate the same message — that you’re trustworthy.

    As managers, you can control the message and ensure it’s consistent regardless of who interacts with the customer or how they do it. You can provide training and guidelines to ensure every customer interaction communicates your trustworthiness and correspondingly reassures the customer.

    Here is an acronym called CARE representing the four major trust builders. If you can ensure every interaction communicates one or more of these, then you’ll earn the trust of your customers.

    C — Competence

    A — Accountability

    R — Reliability

    E — Empathy

    By helping your customer-facing personnel communicate CARE through their everyday interactions with your customers, you can earn your customers’ trust and their business.

    Competence

    A major component of trust is the level of confidence your customers have in your competence. Competence tells the customer they’re in good hands and they’re being well served. It creates assurance they’ve made the right decision in choosing to do business with you.

    The challenge you face when you deliver an intangible service is the customer usually cannot directly measure the quality of the service or the competence of the person delivering it.

    How do they know if the part really needed to be replaced? How do your customers know the hour it took to troubleshoot the problem is remarkably short or unnecessarily long? How do they know the dispatcher ably dispatched the most competent person to address their concern? The answer to all questions is that they really don’t know.

    Since they’re not able to actually see the quality of the work or the competence of the person doing it, your customers look at those things they can see and use them as a lens through which they judge the quality of the service itself.

    For example, are your technicians dressed in an appropriate manner for the job at hand and are they clean and well groomed? Do your employees interact with them professionally? Does the written work order or the invoice communicate the value of the work performed? Does the technician’s body language and mannerisms communicate confidence? Did the dispatcher’s voice tone and language communicate their competence and create assurance?

    Accountability

    Everyone wants to deal with a company that stands behind its word. We all would like to know the service firm we’re working with not only does great work, but also is there when mistakes happen and are willing to make it right. If you think about how you’d like to communicate this to your customers, then you can provide your teams with guidance on how to handle situations when things don’t go just right.

    One of the things you can do is empower your front line employees to make decisions to address customer concerns. Within certain guidelines, they can immediately make things right and you reap the benefit of a more loyal customer base.

    Reliability

    Reliability is a significant trust builder. Here is another area where you can provide guidelines and expectations for your front line personnel so they communicate reliability through their interactions.

    For example, you can teach your employees to follow through on their commitments — that is, do what they say they will do, when they say they will do it. But even with the best of intentions, the most “reliable” of your team may be perceived as unreliable if the customer’s expectations of what was promised differ from those of your team member.

    Not only do your front line personnel need to follow through on their commitments, they must also ensure both they and the customer agree on what those commitments are. Another simple, yet critical, example of communicating reliability is responding on time and calling if there is any cause for delay.

    Empathy

    Empathy can be defined as, “the capacity to understand or feel what another [person] is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference.” Your customers want to know you care about them and the equipment you’re servicing.

    If you recognize how your technicians communicate this, then you can provide guidelines and training to ensure they communicate their empathy consistently.

    What can they do to communicate empathy when they arrive on site? How does their greeting demonstrate empathy? What questions could they ask to show concern for the equipment when they arrive to perform routine maintenance? How can they communicate empathy in the way they complete their tasks? Do they keep the work area clean and safe?

    Do they advise your customers of any possible inconvenience that may be caused by their work and suggest ways to minimize any disruption? Are there questions that could be asked before leaving the site to communicate empathy? Are there steps that the technician can take to reassure the customer the work has been properly addressed?

    You earn the trust of your customers by being trustworthy and communicating this through your everyday customer interactions. As managers, you can work with your teams to help them understand the importance of these factors and provide guidelines to ensure they do indeed communicate them. That way you can show you care by showing you CARE.

  • Tuesday, January 21, 2020 12:34 PM | Anonymous

    Sales and Marketing Alignment: 3 T’s for a Clear Path to Success

    Like family dynamics, sales and marketing dynamics can be….

    Interesting

    Having been on both sides of the equation, I’ve seen how lack of alignment gets in the way of everyone’s best intentions.

    BUT just like there is a path to a drama-free Thanksgiving, Sales and Marketing alignment is possible. To me, it’s about the “3 T’s”: 

    1. Trust
    2. Transparency
    3. Timing 

    … and possibly a 4th: Tequila. 

    The 3 T’s all go back to data and insights — which most of us don’t have. And its why customer insights, revenue operations, and a platform approach are critical.

    To set ourselves up for success it’s important to get to the root of our issues. 

    B2B buyers are now in control of the information flow during the buying process, leaving sales and marketing teams to operate in the dark for most of the journey or the “Dark Funnel.” And it’s getting worse. 

    With more buyers involved in decisions, less desire to talk to salespeople, and more anonymous research, it is wreaking havoc on our existing systems built for leads (one person) and known activity. 

    In fact, only 12 percent of B2B sales and marketing teams have confidence in their data. 12 percent!! 

    Sales and Marketing alignment is hard when we are all fumbling around in the dark with data that we don’t even trust. 

    And because our traditional marketing efforts are no longer cutting it — emails are going to “unsubscribe island,” and prospects aren’t showing up for events, for example — pipeline isn’t progressing, and we have no understanding of why. 

    This all really sucks and breaks down the trust between teams.

    So how can we get out of the dark funnel and get back on track with our sales and marketing efforts? 

    To enable alignment and the 3 T’s (trust, transparency, and timing), we must look to: 

    1. Light up the dark funnel with customer insights 

    To create a message that resonates with the right buyers — buyers who are ready to act now — you need to be able to collect, connect and act on customer insights. 

    Combining third-party intent signals with your organization’s first-party marketing automation and CRM data gives revenue teams insight into every known and unknown behavior, allowing them to create personalized and targeted outreach

    With these insights, we know the keywords prospects care about, so we incorporate those words and phrases in our subject line, confident our emails will get opened… 

    We know Arizona has more late-stage buyers than Los Angeles, so we set up our Field Marketing dinner there… 

    We know the pipeline isn’t progressing because our accounts are researching competitors, so we strategically place messaging and display in front of those accounts to get them familiar with our brand. 

    These insights help align sales and marketing, putting them on the same page, helping them engage better, get into deals sooner, and win more often.

    TIP: Make sure you’re collecting data that gives your insight into customer needs, desires, and behaviors. Make sure you’re also using that data to engage buyers when they’re ready to act.

    Take SailPoint for example, the Texas-based cybersecurity software company that delivers identity governance to enterprises all around the world. The company has leveraged customer insights through the power of AI and big data to become much more strategic in their execution. 

    Now, the SailPoint revenue team goes after accounts and launches campaigns according to fit and intent scores, which has led to an increase in opportunity creation and pipeline velocity.

    2. Invest in RevOps to optimize your resources

    One of my most embarrassing executive meetings was one where the Head of Sales and I both came into a meeting with our own set of numbers, neither of which really tied out because we were operating in different silos with our own systems. We both looked like idiots. 

    I don’t want to look like an idiot but, more importantly, I want to have an impact. To have an impact you have to: 

    • Get teams mobilized towards common goals
    • Fix the data silo problems 

    Here is where Revenue operations, or RevOps, can help. 

    GET WEEKLY INSIGHTS

    It truly is the next frontier of competitive advantage in B2B. RevOps streamlines processes, communications, key metrics, and technology across the entire revenue team — homing in on data that reveals trends over time and areas for improvement. 

    And when teams are aligned, they generate 38 percent more revenue in 27 percent less timeIt’s a game-changer. 

    With RevOps as the unbiased single source of truth about sales, customer experience, and marketing, everyone can come together to look at pipeline, win rates, deal size, velocity, customer adoption, and churn — and determine the best place to deploy resources. 

    At any given time, one or a few of these things may need more attention. For example, we recently found we had ample top-of-the-funnel coverage. Instead, our issue was with BDR coverage to work in-market accounts and convert. So, we knew we needed to employ more BDR’s to hit those accounts. 

    Too often marketing is just associated with top-of-funnel pipeline, which is a very limiting view that doesn’t show you other areas of success. 

    TIP: Develop a RevOps person/team (if you haven’t already) to give objective oversight of your entire operation. Allow them to shuffle resources, so your teams are more efficient and profitable.

    Let’s look at PGi, the leading global provider of conferencing and collaboration solutions for over 25 years, as an example of a successful revenue team. With limited resources but an interest in separating themselves from the competition, the PGi team knew they needed to do more with less — and aligning sales and marketing efforts was the key. 

    By establishing a common focus on goals, like increasing average deal size and time to contact, sales and marketing worked in tandem to create tailored strategies for each target. PGi’s sales and marketing teams molded into one powerhouse, increasing win rates by more than 75 percent!

    3. Invest in a platform that brings AI insights and orchestration to every member of the revenue team

    Okay, we’ve established that sales and marketing must work together to move prospects through the funnel. Yet, siloed tech stacks are pushing sales and marketing teams apart, interfering with their ability to deliver a great prospect experience. 

    We have tactical apps and legacy systems that create mountains of disconnected data — making it impossible for either team to analyze and orchestrate it into meaningful outreach in a timely fashion. It’s a bit of a stack-show. 

    Prospect behavior changes all the time, new personas come into the mix, new competitors enter a deal, a key analyst report gets released… 

    So we need a single platform that shows sales, marketing, and customer success teams the entire buying journey. In real time. Showing us what prospects are reacting to and what our best action should be, so we can get into deals FIRST. 

    To me, the most critical part of this is understanding timing. 

    According to Forrester, the early bird catches the worm, with a significant 74 percent of all deals going to the provider who helps “establish the buying vision,” while only 26 percent goes to the vendor who “responds to a request.” 

    So even though prospects want to remain anonymous and not talk to sales, we still have to be first to engage. 

    When we all know what phase of the journey the buyer is in (especially if they are “in market”), sales, marketing, and BDR’s can work in parallel, targeting these prospects with the right message, at the right time, making our tactics much more effective. 

    But in order to analyze, orchestrate, and execute in real time — so we don’t miss the boat and become part of the 26 percent — we must look to technology and the power of AI. 

    With so many martech solutions out there, we run the risk of piecing together a frankenstack. And this frankenstack keeps us so busy that we have become an IT shop instead of our original ABM goal. 

    TIP: Rather than buying 5 solutions to try to accomplish ABM, look to one platform that integrates seamlessly with your CRM, giving sales the transparency to see every touch across the buyer’s journey, enabling sales and marketing to engage critical personas in real time. 

    Aprimo understands the value of a unified platform that can get them in front of qualified accounts with tailored content before contact is ever made, putting them ahead of the competition. 

    Since adopting their all-in-one tool, Sales is closing larger deals faster than ever before, increasing their trust in Marketing and ABM. And their sales and marketing teams are able to work together, in tandem with a cohesive, effective message.  

    Bottom Line

    It’s all about the economics of winning by uncovering and influencing the buyer early before the deal is already baked or an RFP is issued. 

    With the revenue teams united and able to see high-intent signals early, you can actually market to accounts before the prospect becomes known in the funnel.

    But you must achieve real sales and marketing alignment. You must commit to the 3 T’s: Trust, Transparency, and Timing. 

    Don’t forget the tequila! Not because your marketing strategy is a mess, but because you are celebrating the fact that you have a way to align your sales and marketing teams, putting them on a clear path to success. 

  • Tuesday, January 21, 2020 12:18 PM | Anonymous

    Educate Your Customers on System Care

    Originally published: 07.01.19 by Joel Frederick

    By educating the customer on how to care for their systems, we can garner greater customer satisfaction as we place the power back in their hands.

    Even the most skilled HVACR technicians know that becoming well educated in the field takes time, hard-work and does not simply happen overnight. Many of the clients we service on a day-to-day basis are unfamiliar with the industry and are looking to us, the experts, to provide more. Educating our customer where we can is a great way to build the relationship, establish trust and provide transparency.

    It all boils down to customer service. It’s the number one priority for any service driven business. Our technicians do what they can out on the job to make sure that the customers receiving services are confident and comfortable when we leave.

    A part of making sure we deliver a quality job is providing the client with base level knowledge of their HVACR status and how to best take care of their system when we are not on site.

    By educating the customer on how to care for their systems, we can garner greater customer satisfaction as we place the power back in their hands.

    Provide Tips

    There are some tips about owning an HVACR system that every homeowner should know. Surprisingly, not many folks have ever had the opportunity to have that knowledge shared with them, especially from a source as reliable as a technician.

    Tips such as keeping your system clear of debris, periodically changing the filter and bi-annual routine maintenance are all pieces of information technicians can offer that homeowners should know.

    Another way to further educate the customer is to explain in layman’s terms any work that was provided during the service.

    Information such as the status of their systems and an overview of any services that were provided during a visit can make the client feel like your company is being transparent and going the extra mile to make sure the customers are in the loop.

    At the end of the day, the work we provide is important to the customer, be they a homeowner or commercial landlord. The more transparency we can provide while educating the client, the better levels of customer satisfaction we can achieve.

    Lastly, recommend resources that your customer can tap into after your visit.

    Recommending books or websites that have relevant and useful information gives your client the opportunity to learn more on their own time, should they choose to do so.

    Preventative Maintenance Deals

    Preventive and routine maintenance deals are a part of many of our business models.

    These deals are valuable to homeowners and commercial property owners in establishing good rapport.

    Providing discounts on services is a way to demonstrate the business is willing to accommodate budgets of all kinds.

    They also give your customers the opportunity to participate in discounted programs that offer recurring services, such as purchasing two bi-annual routine visits at a discounted rate.

    In this manner, sales are able to happen upfront and the customer is able to save money through taking advantage of a discounted rate.

    Recommend Social media

    One of the easiest and modern ways to educate your customers is to use social media. Video tutorials and instructional videos are valuable tools in teaching clients how to asses and care for their own systems.

    For example, if a technician finds a particular video online they think does a thorough job of explaining maintenance tips, then they can easily refer the video to a client so they can look into it themselves. It serves as something that can be referenced even after the technician has left the site.

    Another way to educate your customers on proper maintenance is to post general tips on your company social media account and website. This strategy is an easy, convenient, affordable way to teach and tell customers how to care for their appliances once you leave.

    Additionally, this method has the potential to increase your social media following and therefore increase your brand awareness.

    The relationship between us and our customers is one we respect, and we show this through providing top-notch customer service. We hope you are able to take these tools and implement them into your next jobs.

  • Monday, January 20, 2020 12:16 PM | Anonymous

    CHANGE IS COMING

    Cliché or not, the fact is that disruptions are on the horizon for the HVACR industry, and that means a shift for the zoning market. These primary shifts will likely come as a result of three factors — smart homes, performance-based contracting, and predictive maintenance.

    “We live in an era where the consumer demands to have control at their fingertips,” said Jarred Duebel, national sales manager for iO HVAC Controls. “This is a great thing for the zoning industry. Zoning is becoming increasingly attainable, affordable, and available to the end user.”

    MARKET ADVANCES: Technology enhancement examples include smart home compatibility, the ability to control bypass air with smart bypass technology (SBD), and modulating supply dampers that are compatible with today’s high-efficiency communicating protocols.

    According to Duebel, zoning contributes to the customized comfort options promised with smart homes and the improved control and energy savings from performance-based contracting.

    “Zoning integrates well with smart controls such as Wi-Fi thermostats, and because zoning requires multiple thermostats, it is a natural progression that the end user would want one place to program and control their system,” he said. “There is no better way than through smart home connected devices.”

    Justin Hilaire, national sales manager for EWC Controls, echoed this matching of zoning technology to the current shifting trends and added that monitoring and controlling all the thermostats within a home from across the nation could be described as amazing.

    “Hot water valve zoning originated in the 1950s, and forced air zoning followed shortly after in the ‘60s,” he said. “Today, while the concept of zoning has not changed, enhancements have made it easier than ever.”

    Hilaire went on to describe some of these enhancements, including smart home compatibility, the ability to control bypass air with smart bypass technology (SBD), and modulating supply dampers that are compatible with today’s high-efficiency communicating protocols, to name a few. He explained that with these advancing zoning technologies, contractors are not only able to embrace zoning and smart homes, but they are also able to marry zoning and predictive maintenance technologies to provide increased control and real-time monitoring.

    “Zoning gives the homeowner a more detailed picture by breaking down the home in sections for closer observation,” he said. “Zoning today’s multi-staged and variable speed, high-efficiency equipment is a perfect match and provides more comfort to the homeowner than ever before.”

  • Tuesday, December 17, 2019 11:18 AM | Anonymous

    Mini-Splits: The Way of the Future 

    Originally published: 03.01.19 by Vincent Coakley 

    In a recent project, involving the replacement of an old one-bedroom cottage, the common question of (heating) fuel choice for the new structure emerged. The existing house was heated with an oil-fired boiler and cast-iron baseboard radiators. Domestic hot water was provided by a coil in the boiler, which was set to maintain year-round (minimum) water temperature of 120 degrees.

    The old house was about 650 square feet and would be replaced by a 950 square foot modular structure. The choices of fuel would be oil, propane or electric. Several factors contributed to the unusual consideration of electrical energy as the primary energy source:

    ·       Though the total square footage would be increased, energy usage was expected to drop due to superior insulation performance of the new structure. Therefore, total energy cost was not expected to be very high.

    ·       Natural gas was not an available alternative.

    ·       Cooling was also a requirement, and budget was an issue, so a combined heating-cooling system (sharing ductwork), or even an all-electric mini-split system would likely be viable.

    ·       Though operating cost was important, up-front (installation) cost was considered to be paramount.

    Based on the above factors, several combinations of fuel — for heating, cooling and hot water production — were considered. Myriad combinations were studied, each with their pros and cons.

    Propane or Oil

    1.     Propane (or oil) fired hot-air furnace, central ducted system; a cooling coil in the same duct; separate propane or oil hot water heater.

    2.     Propane (or oil) fired hot water boiler with hydro-air central-ducted heating; split cooling system using the same duct; separate (propane or oil) or boiler-fired hot water heater.

    3.     Propane (or oil) fired hot water boiler with baseboard radiators, a separate central ducted split (or non-ducted mini-split) cooling system and separate or boiler-fired hot water heater.

    Electric

    1.     Electric baseboard heat; Ducted split (or mini split) cooling; electric hot water.

    2.     Air-source heat pump central ducted system; split cooling system using the same duct; electric hot water.

    3.     Mini-split heat pumps, with combined heating and cooling, either combined or multiple systems; electric hot water.

    Conventional wisdom would indicate a tradeoff between up-front cost, effectiveness and running cost. So, all the above combinations were considered in detail.

    Electric Heat and Air-Source Heat Pumps

    The result was surprising — and surprisingly conclusive — in that a highly effective system (mini-split heat pumps) had both a low installation cost and low operating cost. The explanation for such a surprise lies in the fact that this relatively new technology is not well understood — and indeed the performance claims may be discredited — by the general public and, in many cases, even those in the heating and cooling industry.

    The general consumer, and many in the heating industry, tend to rule out electricity as an energy source for residential heating based on its prohibitive cost per unit of energy. Regardless of efficiency (heating elements may be considered to be 100 percent efficient), the operating cost of conventional electric heat is considered to be prohibitively high in normal situations.

    Heat pumps, however, perform a little magic, somewhat counterintuitive to our expectation that nothing can be more than one hundred per cent efficient. The magic, of course, lies in the fact that a heat pump uses the energy of warm air or water as its source.

    As a simple example, let’s say the outside temperature is 40F, and we want to heat a house to 70F. A heat pump has the ability to take in two pounds of 40-degree outside air and split it into, let’s say, one pound of air at 70F (which it delivers to the inside of the house) and a pound at 10F (which it exhausts to the outside). The result (the warm and cold air) has no less or more energy than when we started, but the air is free and the house is warmer. There’s more to the technology, humidity and other factors come into play, and the process itself requires (electrical) energy, but this is the basic “magic” of a heat pump.

    Heat pumps were, for many years, considered to be suitable only for milder climates, and enjoyed widespread use primarily in the Southern States. The efficiency and capacity of the earlier systems dropped rapidly in ambient temperatures below 40F. Over the years, efficiencies improved, and heat pumps were designed and produced to operate at lower and lower temperatures. Several of today’s models operate at full capacity in temperatures down to 5F and at close to full capacity down to -13F.

    Typically, a heat pump system will combine heating and cooling in one unit. The most efficient systems available today yield almost incredible efficiencies in both modes:

    ·       A HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor) of 13.5 which translates to producing 4 Kilowatts of heat for every Kilowatt of electricity consumed!

    ·       A SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) value of 30.5. Relating to cooling efficiency, this is an unprecedented value in conventional systems, where a SEER 16 system is considered to be super-efficient.

    Operating Cost

    To compare the cost of energy alternatives in a clear manner, we’ll use the BTU (British thermal unit) as the standard unit of energy:

    Fuel type: Gas Oil Electric

    Purchased Unit: Them Gallon KWH (Kilowatt-Hour)

    BTU/Unit purchased: 100,000 140,000 1,400

    100,000 BTU = 1 Them .714 Gallons 29.4 KWH

    Comparing an efficient air-source heat-pump to oil heat, and using the indicated energy prices, the following numbers don’t need much further analysis.

    System: Oil Electric

    100,000 BTU energy used takes: 0.714 Gallons of oil; 29.4 KWH Electricity

    “System Efficiency” (see above): 80% 400%

    100,000 BTU of Heat delivered uses: 0.893 Gallons of oil; 7.35 KWH Electricity @ Fuel Cost: $3.30/Gallon 22c/KWH

    Cost per 100,000 BTU of heat delivered: $2.93 $1.62

    Now, to get back to the cottage.

    Based on maintaining a 70 degree inside temperature during the entire heating season: Per the modular company’s calculations, the total structure heat Loss = 27,000 BTU/Hour (?T=85oF).

    This is 317 BTU/Hr./F (27,000/85)

    Degree Days for Ossining, New York, based on 70F, 2014 heating season: 7,210 Heating Degree Days

    Energy requirement per heating season = 7,210 x 317 x 24 / 100,000 = 54,800,000 BTU.

    So, the annual heating cost is projected as follows:

    System: Oil Electric

    Cost per 100,000 BTU delivered (see above): $2.93 $1.62

    Usage (net) per season: 54,800,000 54,800,000

    Cost per season: $1,605.00 $887.00

    Installation Cost

    Four HVACR contractors were asked to look at the project, and to provide pricing. While none were enthusiastic about the idea of using the mini-split heat pumps, one even refused to consider it as an option, based on his opinion that it might not provide sufficient heat in cold weather. Nonetheless, several installation prices were obtained.

    All electric baseboard is historically considered to be the least expensive installation for heat, but operating costs are so high that such a system was dismissed as prohibitive. And, cooling and hot water systems would also need to be provided separately.

    The second lowest installation cost was for mini-split air source heat pumps. Even using the high efficiency units analyzed above, the installed cost is lower than any of the hybrid combinations mentioned.

    Combined with the mini-splits for heating and cooling, an air-source heat-pump hot water heater was installed. Though the installation cost was about twice that of a conventional electric hot water heater, combined with rebates from the electric utility, the installation cost will be quickly amortized in energy savings. It is calculated that this unit will use about 40 percent of the energy as a conventional electric water heater.

    Conclusion

    Based on installation cost, performance effectiveness, and operating cost, there is no doubt that high-efficiency air-source mini-split heat pumps are not only a viable alternative to gas or oil heat, they are likely a superior choice for a wide range of applications.

    Recognition of the extent of the efficiency of these systems, and their economic advantage, is not high either amongst the public or in the industry. This is likely due to the somewhat counter-intuitive logic of heat pump hyper-efficiency, combined with skepticism of new technology, and lack of incentive on behalf of the industry to change.

  • Monday, December 09, 2019 12:01 PM | Anonymous

    Connected Homes: Your Key to More Profits

    Originally published: 07.01.19 by Pete Grasso

    Many manufacturers now offer smart thermostats that integrate with various connected homes platforms, and smart contractors are cashing in on this consumer-driven demand.

     

    It’s an on-demand world and your customers want to be able to control just about everything with a touchscreen or even their voice — including their comfort.

    According to findings released from connected home studies that were fielded by Kelton Global and Research Now in the U.S., 81 percent of Americans either own or are interested in purchasing a connected home product in the next year.

    This — the rise of connected homes — could be a big business opportunity for you, the HVACR contractor. Consumers want this technology and these products and they’re going to buy them, no matter what.

    It’s up to you to ensure your customer base knows they can purchase a smart, Internet of Things (IoT) thermostat and, more importantly, have it installed properly by you, rather than purchasing from Amazon or a big box store and doing it themselves.

    And therein lies your challenge. You may already offer smart thermostats and other connected home products, but so does everyone else (both inside the industry and out). The burden is on you to educate your customers on why your company is the best option for these purchases.

    I recently interviewed a panel of top contractors from around the country to get their thoughts on smart thermostats and the contractor’s role in connected home services.

    The panel includes Tim Cropp, president of CroppMetcalfe Services in Fairfax, Va.; Ken Goodrich, CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning in Las Vegas; Greg Mericle, president of Hurlburt Heating, Cooling & Plumbing in Durand, Wisc.; Michael Rosenberg, president of Rosenberg Indoor Comfort in San Antonio; Konrad Rybak, owner of Air Blue Heating and Cooling in Wheeling, Ill.; and Brian Stack, president of Stack Heating & Cooling in Avon, Ohio.

    Here’s what they had to say.

    What kind of smart thermostat do you offer customers?

    Cropp: Sensi by Emerson, Aprilaire, Carrier Infinity and Rheem Econet. We chose these based on our existing relationships with these manufacturers.

    Goodrich: We offer the Emerson Sensi Touch smart thermostat to our customers. We align with the leaders of technology in our industry, Emerson clearly fits that role. The Sensi Touch is the most user friendly and intuitive programming of all the smart thermostats. It looks good too.

    Mericle: Two of our offerings are Honeywell and the other two are Lennox. As a Lennox dealer, the Lennox thermostats are a way for us to stay in the family and differentiate from offerings by our competitors. The Honeywell thermostats are easy to program and extremely versatile for many different situations.

    Rosenberg: We have always sold both the Honeywell and Emerson brand thermostats, even before they became Wi-Fi enabled. They have always been reliable, so we trust those brands. We just started selling the Ecobee brand because of the extra features it offers.

    Rybak: Ecobee, Nest and Carrier line. We wanted to have multiple options that are eligible for utility discounts and they have a nice, sleek design.

    Stack: We use Nest, Honeywell and Lennox. We are a Lennox dealer so that is why we use that one. Honeywell also has a nice Wi-Fi/smart thermostat on the market with a trusted name. We did not start using Nest until last year. The newest generation is much more reliable and the amount of complimentary products to the Nest thermostat make it a great choice.

    How do you sell smart thermostats?

    Cropp: We sell them as part of a new system, and as technicians notice old thermostats they simply offer a state-of-the-art thermostat.

    Goodrich: We present smart thermostats as one of our product offerings in our mass media marketing. We describe the features and benefits of the product and refer to it as a smart phone thermostat. Our technicians are trained regularly on the benefits of upgrading to a smart thermostat and present them on every service call. We also include smart thermostats as part of the package of our top two highest quality system replacements.

    Mericle: We offer smart thermostats on every equipment sales call and do our best to offer them on service calls as well.

    Rosenberg: We talk about the following benefits: The thermostat can be accessed away from the home or office and changes to settings can be made; The status of your system can be looked at very easily from your iPhone or computer; You can set up vacation and holidays that you do not want the system to run. This helps energy savings — you can easily change the program on a bunch of thermostats with the press of a button.

    Rybak: We use ServiceTitan software with pictures to present multiple pricing options or have technicians bring the thermostats to show the quality and design.

    Stack: We offer them with all replacement equipment quotes. Our service technicians also mention the thermostats, along with doorbells, smoke/CO detectors and cameras.

    Who helps your customer set up the smart thermostat?

    Cropp: Our installers, technicians and sales representatives are all able to help set them up.

    Goodrich: All of our technicians and installation teams are trained on the Emerson Sensi Touch thermostat and set them up while at customers’ homes.

    Mericle: While we would rather not have our technicians become IT support staff, we understand it’s important to be sure the equipment we sell is properly setup and functions to meet the expectations of our customers. For this reason, our technicians ensure that everything is set up on the customer’s phone/tablet and the customer understands how to use it.

    Rosenberg: We set it up when we install the thermostat and we show them how to use the thermostat. We also give them a support line for the manufacturer if they need future help.

    Rybak: Service technicians do all initial set up, then ask the client for their comfort levels and schedule. Once the technician leaves, it is all programmed and ready to go.

    Stack: Our technicians walk through the complete setup of the thermostat with the customer. Once in a while you will find a homeowner who likes to do the setup portions themselves.

    What kind of training do you provide technicians on selling/setting up smart thermostats?

    Cropp: We teach soft skills during technician meetings and ride-alongs.

    Goodrich: Training technicians on using and installing the Emerson Sensi Touch smart thermostat is part of our ongoing weekly training routine. The Emerson representative also comes to our operations at least once per month and provides training.

    The smart phone thermostat is also included as a SPIFF to our technicians so they can use them in their home to understand them better.

    Mericle: Many of our technicians and installers have a smart thermostat in their own home so this certainly helps them sell. We use Lennox training for their thermostats and generally provide in-house for the Honeywell devices.

    Rosenberg: We provide both technical and sales training to our technicians. We do this in-house. Ecobee provides a sales training class, where they go over the benefits of the thermostat for our sales team and technicians.

    Rybak: We power up all thermostat in the training room and have training on them individually. When necessary, we send technicians to an all day class at a local vendor.

    Stack: We have done some hands-on training and video training with some of the technicians, however quite a few of them figured the installation out on their own without a problem.

    We continue to work with them to find ways to better communicate with the customer about the advantages to having a smart thermostat.

    Do you offer any other connected home devices?

    Cropp: Yes, the Sensi-Predict system monitoring.

    Goodrich: Yes, we offer connected carbon monoxide detectors.

    Mericle: We have looked very closely on multiple occasions at the Honeywell connected offerings. I’m hesitant to jump into this arena and compete with the likes of Amazon and Google who are severally ramping up their offerings and lowering fees.

    Rosenberg: At this time, we do not but we are looking into others that might make sense to sell. We have not jumped into it fully due to the licensing requirements in Texas for certain smart home devices, such as alarm systems that require a security license or a water main shutoff device which requires a plumbing license.

    I have been told that smart camera installs require a security license as well.

    Rybak: We offer COR which is a Carrier line for home security and automation that comes with a module that can handle a lot of items such as automatic blinds, thermostat, cameras and door security.

    Stack: We also offer cameras, doorbells, Nest Protect and water sensors.

    Do you believe the smart/connected home category will continue to grow?

    Cropp: Yes.

    Goodrich: Yes, we believe it will grow and other businesses will emerge in the market to sell and install products.

    Mericle: No doubt about it! Those who don’t have it, want it; those who have some, want more!

    Rosenberg: I do believe it will grow, but many customers will continue to go to big box stores like Home Depot and Best Buy to purchase them and then do it themselves.

    Rybak: I do believe it will grow to make things easier to operate. We have to get familiar with it all to stay in the game.

    Stack: Yes, and we need to be able to offer all of the devices that go with it, not simply the thermostat.

    If contractors are only offering one part, the homeowner will find someone else who is able to offer the complete package.

    Do you see this as an opportunity for HVACR contractors?

    Cropp: Yes … within limits, not as a prime line of business. We do electrical and I can see us installing smart switches and plugs. Price point for many of the products is too low for us to install. Additionally, most of the products have become simple enough to install so that most homeowners can do it themselves.

    Goodrich: We don’t recommend other HVACR companies focus on this until they are in the top three in their market. They should focus on their core competency before adding additional products.

    Mericle: I personally haven’t found a long-term sustainable opportunity. I feel as though Google and Amazon, not to mention Apple, Ring and numerous other companies, are making a huge push in this space and I’m not seeing a way to compete and make money at it in the long term.

    If there is an HVACR company who is killing it in the connected home space, please show me how. I hope we’re not missing the boat.

    Rosenberg: I believe there is some opportunity for contractors to sell these products to loyal customers that don’t mind paying a little bit more to a contractor to have it professionally installed.

    Rybak: Customers who want to add automation to their house don’t necessarily think of HVACR contractors to get this done. It’s all about mentioning and informing the clients that we could potentially get this done for them.

    I think it could develop into another section of our business that will bring revenue to our bottom line. We should maximize our opportunities we have while we are already in customers’ homes and have set relationships.

    Stack: Yes.

    Has the availability of smart thermostats and connected home devices at big box stores and online helped or hurt your ability to provide these as an upsell or add-on item?

    Cropp: It has created more awareness of the products and made it easier to sell them, however, we also need to explain retail pricing vs. installed pricing.

    Goodrich: Neither. Our view is there is no smart thermostat market, we create the market with every customer interaction and service we do. We educate the customer about the product and the solution it provides to them.

    Mericle: Without a doubt, these other channels negatively affect the sales of these devices to some degree, however, most folks are willing to pay for the expertise offered by a professional to not only make the correct thermostat choice but also correctly wire and install it. When it comes to many smart home devices, they’re largely plug and play. Amazon devices generally show up to your door already registered to your account. Amazon is a 10,000lb Gorilla and I’m just a monkey.

    Rosenberg: It hurts because consumers know how much these products cost and when you add a fair mark-up, some consumers question what you charge. This makes it very challenging.

    Rybak: It helped our line. Some clients that are handy get it done and that’s fine, they have that option. On the other hand, we do constantly go out and fix the wiring or furnaces due to bad installation. Many times we end up selling a different thermostat at that time.

    Stack: Unfortunately, connected home devices are very easy to install by most people. As technology continues to improve, these systems become easier and easier to install.

    Just a few years ago you needed all kinds of wires to connect cameras around your home. Now, battery powered Wi-Fi cameras can be placed anywhere with ease! The thermostat is the one device that will keep us connected to the smart home.

  • Wednesday, December 04, 2019 6:11 PM | Anonymous

    A new year is upon us, and now is a great time to make sure you’re stocked with the best HVAC service tools to make your job easier. The right tools can also help you deliver quality work to your clients time and time again while potentially saving you hours on the job. Here are some of the must-have HVAC tools for 2020.

    10. Digital Multimeter

    A great digital multimeter, such as the Fluke Corporation’s TRMS Multimeter, is a basic yet essential tool that can detect electrical currents to keep you safe. This tool can be used on outlets, wires and switches—and even has a backlit screen for use in dark areas.

    9. Magnetic Temperature Meter

    It’s no secret that checking intake and output temperatures are a regular part of any HVAC technician’s job. For this reason, a magnetic temperature meter is a must when it comes to HVAC hand tools. The Supco EM10 Temperature Meter can help you diagnose HVAC system problems and can measure not only temperature but dew point and humidity as well.

    8. Leak Detectors

    Leaks are a common problem in the HVAC world (especially with refrigerant), so having a quality leak detector is a must. A precise leak detector will help save you time by making it easier to pinpoint leaks at their source. The TRADEPRO® Refrigerant Leak Detector features adjustable sensitivity and a three-color LED display for quick and easy readings.

    7. Portable Recovery Machines

    When it comes time to remove refrigerant from a client’s HVAC system, a portable recovery machine is one of the most important professional HVAC tools you can have. The Fieldpiece MR45 Recovery Machine features a variable-speed motor and comes with a warranty for added peace of mind.

    6. Tactical Flashlights

    It is not uncommon to be stuck working in the dark as an HVAC professional, so a quality flashlight is one of the best hand tools you can have on your belt. Check out the Streamlight Scorpion Lithium-Powered Flashlight, which is made of lightweight yet durable aluminum and offers up to 30 hours of battery life.

    5. A Quality Tool Belt

    Cut down on trips back out to your work van with a durable and spacious tool belt. When shopping for a tool belt, look for one that has enough storage compartments for all your new HVAC tools, as well as your existing gear.

    4. Dripless Caulking Gun

    Caulking gaps and holes are part of many HVAC jobs, and the right caulking gun can make this job a lot easier. Check out the MARS Professional Skelton Caulking Gun, which features an easy-to-load design and maximum thrust for quick, easy and smooth application.

    3. Hand Seamers

    A manual hand seamer is a must when molding and shaping ductwork. The Klein Tools® Offset Hand Seamer offers a convenient self-opening latch, which allows for one-handed operation. It also features contoured grips for added comfort while ensuring accurate seams and bends, even in tight spaces.

    2. Magnetic Tip Tape Measure

    A magnetic tape measure may seem like a simple tool, but it’s one that will make your job as an HVAC professional much easier, especially while working alone. The Milwaukee 25-Foot Magnetic Tape Measure is a great choice to add to your belt.

    1. Electronic Refrigerant Scale

    When it comes to time-saving HVAC tech tools, the Fieldpiece Residential/Commercial Refrigerant Scale can make charging and evacuating HVAC systems a breeze. This one features a lightweight design, charging and recovery alarms, and a durable soft-sided case.

    Which of these tools will you add to your belt in 2020? You can always find these HVAC tools and more for sale online at CE. And if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact our team today!

    http://news.carrierenterprise.com/must-have-hvac-tools-for-2020/


  • Monday, December 02, 2019 3:30 PM | Anonymous

    4 Reasons HVAC Technicians Continue to Be in High Demand
    February 21, 2018
    Kevin Burns

    HVAC technicians are in high demand to build, install, and maintain our constantly evolving systems, and experts predict the demand of HVAC technicians will only rise through 2026. The Bureau of Labor Statistics specifically predicted a growth of 21 percent in the field between 2012 and 2022.

    Why are HVAC technicians so sought-after? The answer lies in the fact that the HVAC industry continues to speed along, never stagnating in its quest for smarter and better ways to operate. These days HVAC systems are cheaper, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly than ever before. Today, many HVAC systems are connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), with computers handling tasks for automatic temperature control and air quality.

    Although people in many professions are sweating over the fear of being replaced by robots and automated processes, it seems HVAC technicians don’t have much to be concerned about. Here are a few specific reasons why HVAC technicians are still — and will continue to be — in high demand.

    1. New Tech Requires On-Site Installation

    At the simplest level, the many technological developments in the HVAC field mean new systems are continually ousting the outdated ones. Some of the industry’s developments are led by changing regulations; from banning freon to introducing incentives to homeowners for environmental upgrades, necessity and advancements in scientific knowledge often drive innovation in the HVAC industry.

    Each time there’s an advancement in HVAC technology, someone needs to build the new system, and someone needs to help homeowners and businesses make the switch from their old systems — this requires the skill of an HVAC technician. Even the handiest person will need the help of an HVAC professional when installing a new system.

    All HVAC systems (new and old) also require skilled workers to maintain them. With 95 percent of houses built since 2000 containing HVAC technology, there are plenty of systems to keep technicians busy with maintenance, repairs, and more.

    The HVAC industry has been innovating independently for nearly a century and a half now, with no signs of slowing down. There will be better systems to come that will replace even the most efficient designs today; and when they do, you’ll call in an HVAC technician to make the switch.

    2.  Smarter Systems Require Trained Specialists

    As new HVAC technologies become more and more sophisticated, technicians become more valuable for their experience and specific training. Today’s complex HVAC systems and their components require technically skilled technicians who can adapt to the changing landscape.

    This is largely because HVAC systems are increasingly integrated into the digital landscape through IoT. Smart HVAC systems use technologies like sensors and timers to automate temperature control for our homes and buildings; setting them up and keeping them working properly requires the work of software specialists and tech-savvy technicians.

    Sophisticated, smart systems are already popular and expected to become more common — experts predict the smart home market will be valued at $80 billion by the year 2022. The ability to control indoor climate floor-by-floor (and even room-by-room) and the flexibility offered by modern systems appeals to modern businesses as well as homeowners. They can maximize the money spent on temperature control, while minimizing their energy use and environmental footprint.

    These days HVAC technicians need more than the tools in their literal toolbelt to deal with installation and maintenance — they need an education and understanding of the electronics and networks associated with modern systems.

    3.  Grads Like Green

    It’s clear there will be jobs in the HVAC industry for years — if not decades — to come. While this is great news for those looking for stable, lucrative careers, it’s good news for HVAC employers, too. As a leader in green energy, the HVAC industry is primed to attract new graduates.

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, jobs that support energy efficient developments are on the rise. The regulatory environment and rapidly growing popular demand for energy efficient products make it one of the fastest growing fields. New graduates want to be involved in green work, and the HVAC industry’s energy efficient projects draw young talent.

    The HVAC industry not only has an environmental draw, but also appeals to young professionals drawn to high-tech jobs, as HVAC systems are becoming more technologically advanced. There is ample room for innovation in this space, creating a dynamic work environment that is both stimulating and rewarding — which, along with social impact and sustainability, is precisely what new grads are looking for in a job.

    4.  It’s Still Cool

    At the end of the day, Americans like to be cool. The demand for comfortable workplaces and homes isn’t going to disappear any time soon — ensuring a steady stream of opportunities for those who build, install, and maintain HVAC systems for the foreseeable future.

    While digital advancements like artificial intelligence (AI) may help HVAC technicians do their jobs more efficiently, it’s unlikely to replace the need for a human technician entirely. HVAC technicians’ ability to assess the unique situations presented by each system — and determine the proper course of action — suggests they will continue to be in high demand.

    HVAC Technicians Must Continue Learning

    The best HVAC technicians are those who have changed with the times; bringing a solid understanding of HVAC mechanics to the table, while also pursuing training opportunities to stay up-to-date with the latest trends.

    While current HVAC technicians aren’t in danger of being replaced by robots, they may be outpaced by more tech-savvy peers if they don’t pursue continued education. Above all, HVAC technicians must be flexible and willing to learn in order to keep up with the fast-paced industry. Those who can adapt to changing technology and hold an understanding of the physical hardware that makes these systems work are destined to succeed as the field continues to grow over the next decade.

  • Thursday, November 14, 2019 12:52 PM | Anonymous

    5 Terror Inducing HVAC/R Stories & Facts
    By Bryan Orr on Oct 31, 2019 05:17 pm

    As the evening approaches on this All Hallow’s Eve, Reformation day or Halloween (depending on your preference), let us take a moment to focus on some of the truly terrifying elements of our trade, because the Scariest stories are TRUE.

    Real Ghost Stories 

    The year was 1921 and a wealthy family purchased a new home in quiet part of town. It was a large, old building and the family was excited to live in such a majestic home.

    The trouble started almost right away and the lady of the home (referred to only as Mrs. H) began to recount her experiences in the home to her doctor in letters that were later published.

    This house was lit by gaslights and had servants quarters and passageways, a perfect house for a haunting. From Mrs. H’s account to her doctor:

    “One morning, I heard footsteps in the room over my head. I hurried up the stairs. To my surprise, the room was empty. I passed into the next and then into all the rooms on that floor, and then to the floor above to find that I was the only person in that part of the house. Sometimes after I’ve gone to bed, the noises from the store room are tremendous, as if furniture was being piled against the door, as if china was being moved about, and occasionally a long and fearful sigh or wail.

    “Sometimes as I walk along the hall, I feel as if someone was following me, going to touch me. You cannot understand it if you’ve not experienced it. But it’s real. As I was dressing for breakfast one morning, B, who is four years old, came to my room and asked me why I’d called him. I told him I’d not called him, that I’d not been in his room. With big and startled eyes he said, ‘Who was it, then, that called me? Who made that pounding noise?’

    “I told him it was undoubtedly the wind rattling his window. ‘No,’ he said, ‘It was not that. It was somebody that called me. Who was it?’ And so on he talked, insisting that he’d been called and for me to explain who it had been.”

    The hallucinations continued, with the family feeling the presence of the unknown. They experience hauntings, rattling beds, lethargy, and temporary paralysis. Even the plants began to wither and die.

    Mrs. H continues:

    “Some nights, after I’ve been in bed for a while, I’ve felt as if the bed clothes were jerked off me. And I’ve also felt as if I’d been struck on the shoulder. One night I woke up and saw, sitting on the foot of my bed, a man and a woman. The woman was young, dark and slight and wore a large picture hat. I was paralyzed and could not move.”

    After speaking with different people about their malady with the spirit realm, a relative suggested that they are being poisoned. He had heard similar accounts from people poisoned by combustion gases experiencing similar symptoms.

    It turned out that the gas lighting and the furnace were dumping carbon monoxide in the home. As soon as the furnace was properly vented their ghosts disappeared and life returned to normal.

    This preceding story is one of my favorites from the Podcast and Radio Show This American Life which was brought to their attention by Albert Donnay, toxicologist and CO expert.

    It makes me wonder how many of the hauntings in these old homes is due to CO rather than the spirit realm.

    The Deadly Gift 

    The year was 1938 and Walt Disney was just off of his first blockbuster success with his film “Snow White”.

    Walt and his brother Roy decided to buy a new home for their parents in North Hollywood, finally moving them down from Oregon to be near their now famous sons. In November of 1938 their mother complained to Walt that the furnace smelled strange so he sent some of his studio repairmen over to have a look.

    Several days later the housekeeper found both of Disney’s parents unconscious in the home, with their mother Flora dying shortly after. Their father recovered shortly after, but many accounts say that Walt never forgave himself and was later heard mumbling

    “I told those techs to buy a BluFlame combustion analyzer from TruTech tools before they went out. Heaven knows if they used the coupon code getschooled they would have had significant savings!”

    All of my facts in that story are definitely, 100%,  maybe true.

    In all seriousness, testing combustion and using low level CO monitors in homes and for yourself while working around combustion appliances can save many lives as well as undiagnosed illness and even a haunting now and then. See anything wrong with the furnace above?

    Roofs and Ladders 

    We were called out to a new high rise condo building in our area to maintain a bunch of rooftop equipment and what we found was an acrophobic nightmare. No guard rails, no parapet wall… just equipment, with much of it a few feet from the edge with sure death awaiting below.

    Our service manager promptly called the customer and let them know that we would be back once they had measures in place to make the equipment safe to service.

    Guess what they responded?

    Nobody else has a problem with it

    Whether it’s equipment that cannot be safely serviced according to OSHA 1910.1 like the ones above or extension ladders put up through scuttle holes 20′ straight up we need to start making customers responsible for providing us with safe working conditions rather than just doing it because “Nobody else complained”.

    Maybe a harness tied off can work the first time until they get a proper permanent ladder or guardrail or WHATEVER WORKS, but just going back time and time again and putting ourselves in danger is the definition of insanity.

    Moisture Problems 

    The pager went off at 2 AM… I was on call AGAIN because the guy who WAS on call quit right in the middle of his week… he just couldn’t take this thing beeping at all hours. I grabbed the on call cell phone that was as long as your forearm and dialed the after hours voicemail line… YOU HAVE ONE NEW MESSAGE… the familiar robotic voice chirped at me.

    The man in the recording sounded panicked “You were all out here earlier today and replaced an evaporator coil and now my WHOLE CEILING JUST FELL IN!”

    Well… It wasn’t his ENTIRE ceiling, just a large portion of his master closet ceiling over his suits and ties and patent leather shoes. All of this happened because the tech out earlier that day hadn’t paid attention to how he strapped drain and there was a newly formed sag resulting in a double trap. Add in the fact that he had “moved” the pan switch out of the way and forgot to reinstall it properly.

    Water damage, mold and mildew, lawsuits and 2 AM service calls can be prevented by paying attention to –

    • Drain pitch
    • Float Switch Location and Testing
    • Drain Cleaning
    • Pan Positioning
    • Proper configuration of drains in horizontal applications
    • Drain Cleaning

    Many of the biggest nightmares in my career have been due to drain issues and moisture due to surfaces hitting dew-point. Keep the moisture where it belongs and the pager will stay quiet… who has pagers anymore anyway?

    The Tiny Plug 

    I was sitting on the couch the other evening watching football when my oldest son who rarely has much to say piped up and said

    “Dad, what happens if you test gas pressure and forget to put the plug back in”

    The hair raised on parts of me where hair shouldn’t raise.

    Turns out he was just curious and hadn’t actually forgotten to put the test plug back in on a valve but it did get me thinking that there is nothing quite so scary in our trade as a combustible gas leak and none more odious than “forgetting” something that critical.

    When working on gas appliances always make sure to leak check connections and for gas bypassing the valve during the off cycle using a combustible gas leak detector…. Trust your nose as well… if you smell gas odorants then investigate.

    Most of all…

    Please…

    Whatever you do…

    Don’t forget to put the little plug back in after testing the gas pressure.

    Also watch out for razor blades in your apples tonight… or better yet… don’t eat fruit being handed out during Halloween. What sort of demented psychopath hands out fruit on Halloween?

    — Bryan

  • Wednesday, November 06, 2019 3:05 PM | Anonymous

    6 Practical Pointers for New HVAC Service Technicians

    Your first solo service call can seem a little daunting, but fear not.  You can comfortably enter into a service situation with the confidence of a seasoned professional, even just starting out.  Being polite, remembering your progressions as a technician, and making a confident diagnosis of an HVAC system are all necessary traits of a quality HVAC Technician, With this in mind, here are a few useful tips for new HVAC service technicians.

    Greet the Customer with Confidence, Courtesy, and Understanding

    In all likelihood, when you arrive at a service call, you’ll be walking into a hornet’s nest.  Hopefully this won’t be the case, but prepare yourself for anything.  Greeting the customer with the confidence that everything is going to be OK will disarm any potentially upset or disgruntled homeowner.

    One way to help customer service interactions is to utilize the GEODE model:Greet, Enquire, Offer, Deliver, Evaluate.

    Greeting a client and creating a professional rapport will make your time as a service technician in their home much more pleasant.

    Ask Questions, but Not Too Many

    Asking questions and asking about the potential problem is a great place to start with any customer service interaction.  Understanding what the client may be hearing, seeing, or experiencing can lead you in the right direction to properly diagnose the problem with their HVAC system.  But don’t get too carried away.  More often than not, an information overload before you’ve even pulled out a tool can lead you down a path of searching for a phantom cause to a problem.  Gather enough information about what the customer has experienced to get a starting point, but don’t overload yourself with unnecessary information.  This leads us to our next point.

    Go Through Your Diagnostic Progressions

    No matter what information you may have been given or what the customer has told you he or she has or hasn’t done, it’s important that you go through your mental flow chart for troubleshooting.  Even in the midst of a chaotic household or other outstanding situation, you must stay focused on the task and don’t allow yourself to skip simple, yet meaningful diagnostic steps.  Things as simple as checking high voltage, making sure the thermostat is functioning properly, and making sure blower motors, fan motors, condensers, and all other major components are functioning as they should be will help you succeed as an HVAC service technician.

    Put Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes

    This isn’t necessarily a lesson in ethics, but it certainly can be.  Having empathy for your customers and putting yourself in their situation can pay dividends to how highly respected you are starting out on service calls.  Ask yourself if the diagnosis you determine is the right decision for the right customer and that you’re acting with integrity and professionalism to the best of your ability.  Do everything you can to repair malfunctioning components instead of simply replacing entire parts of the system in order to increase sales for your company.  Doing things the right way and keeping the customer in mind will help you make the right decisions in the field as both a technician and a human being.

    Don’t be Afraid to Call for Help

    Asking for assistance isn’t a weakness; in fact, it should be treated as an extended learning experience.  Time is valuable to you, your customer, and your company, and making a timely evaluation and diagnosis of a malfunctioning HVAC system is extremely important.  Don’t be afraid to call on a senior service technician or utilize your company’s tech support agent to assist in fixing a problem.  Starting out, you may be tempted to do everything on your own, but the truth is that experience will trump any preceding knowledge in HVAC service.  Leveraging the experience of your coworkers and the resources you have available can save your company and clients both money and time.

    Get the Knowledge You Need to be an HVAC Technician

    Whether you’re looking to enter the field as a qualified HVAC technician or acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to take your career to a new level, your education is the best place to start.

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