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35 HVAC Trade Shows to Attend in 2019 to Find the Best Tools, Technology, and Supplies

March 13, 2019 • For HVAC service professionals, it is important to keep sharpening your knowledge and building connections in the industry. There are numerous HVAC trade shows across the country where you can pick up the best tools, technology and supplies to make your HVAC business shine. No matter your schedule, there’s likely an event that will fit into it. With 35 trade shows to choose from, you have plenty of options in 2019. 1. Mastermind - a Housecall Pro Event Where: Nashville, TN + Other Cities When: April 6, 2019 What: A transformative full-day conference to learn the art of business mastery across marketing, operations, leadership, and customer experience. Hundreds of service professionals meet to learn from experts, network, and receive one-on-one coaching on using the Housecall Pro software to run their business. 2. AHR Expo 2019 Where: Atlanta, GA When: Jan 14-16, 2019 What: Billed as “the world’s largest HVACR event,” this is a show where you’re sure to meet some of the foremost industry professionals. Image via http://www.iaqa.org/annual-meeting/ 3. Indoor Air Quality Association Annual Meeting Where: Atlanta, GA When: Jan 14-16, 2019 What: A combination of essential education sessions, networking with professionals across the industry and from all corners of the world, obtaining continuing education credits and a free visit to the AHR expo, this annual meeting has something to offer all HVAC professionals. 4. MCAA Advanced Institute for Project Management Class 15 Where: Austin, TX When: Jan 20-25, 2019 What: Five days of intensive, advanced study to take HVAC professionals to the next career level. 5. MCAA Technical Conference Where: Tampa, FL When: Jan 28-Feb. 1, 2019 What: Focusing on tech information that’s truly useful to MCAA members in construction, plumbing and service, the MCAA technical conference promises a wealth of important education for attendees. 6. CTI Annual Conference Where: New Orleans, LA When: Feb 10 – 14, 2019 What: CTI’s Annual Conference allows HVAC professionals to participate in ongoing work on industry standards and codes, and provides the education and information to ensure those standards and codes truly benefit the industry. 7. 2019 National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show Where: Las Vegas, NV When: Feb 19-21, 2019 What: The 2019 Builders' Show will bring together more than 1,500 top manufacturers and suppliers from around the globe in 600,000 net square feet of exhibit space, showcasing the latest and most in-demand products and services. 8. CampusEnergy2019: 32nd Annual Campus Energy Conference & Thermal Distribution Workshop Where: New Orleans, LA When: Feb 26 - Mar. 1, 2019 What: IDEA members are invited, alongside professionals in energy, CHP and microgrid industries, to work together, find new solutions to industry problems, and educate each other. 9. National HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference Where: Las Vegas, NV When: Mar 3-5, 2019 What: With a heavy focus on education, the National HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference helps professionals learn physics and theories they need to become better instructors in the industry. They will network with their peers to swap tips and approaches, learn about how to incorporate the newest technologies in their classrooms, use the latest educational methodologies, keep up with regulatory changes and more, all to improve student outcomes. 10. International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration Natural Refrigeration Conference & Expo Where: Phoenix, AZ When: Mar 3-6, 2019 What: What are the ideas and trends most likely to impact the natural refrigeration industry’s future? Attendees will learn about them here, as well as encounter a wide range of points of view about how to address them and adapt to what the future holds. 11. Mechanical Contractors Association of America Annual Convention Where: Phoenix, AZ When: Mar 3-7, 2019 What: 2019’s Mechanical Contractors Association of America Annual Convention promises world-class speakers (and some great entertainment), alongside educational industry seminars and workshops led by premiere professions. 12. Air Conditioning Contractors of America IE3 Show: Indoor Environment and Energy Expo Where: San Antonio, TX When: Mar 4-6, 2019 What: Next year’s event theme is “optimize” — optimizing the HVAC industry by focusing on what matters to professionals in their careers. 13. Association of Energy Engineers Globalcon Where: Boston, MA When: Mar 20-21, 2018 What: With sessions led by leading industry experts and packed with useful, up-to-the-minute information, HVAC professionals will leave Globalcon inspired, renewed and ready to deliver excellent service. 14. Associated Builders and Contractors 2019 Convention Where: Long Beach, CA When: Mar 24-28, 2019 What: The ABC Convention relaunched in 2018, and is ready to come back in 2019 even bigger and better. This is an opportunity for HVAC professionals to attend a growing convention, where educational opportunities, workshops and more are smaller and more hands-on while still delivering an exceptional experience. 15. 2019 HPC National Home Performance Conference & Trade Show Where: Chicago, IL When: Apr 1-4, 2019 What: 2018’s HPC National Home Performance Conference & Trade Show attracted more than 1,400 attendees, 60 exhibitors, 200 presenters and more than a dozen tracks, providing learning opportunities for HVAC professionals from all over the world. 16. Associated General Contractors Annual Convention Where: Denver, CO When: Apr 1-4, 2019 What: For more than 100 years, the AGC Annual Convention has been educating HVAC professionals in business decisions, operations and more. This year’s conference will build on that history, offering one of the premier educational and networking experience for professionals in the contracting and home services industry. 17. Mechanical Contractors Association of America Institute for Project Management Class 73, Week 1 Where: Austin, TX When: Apr 7-11, 2019 What: If you’re a project manager (or an industry professional who works closely with project managers), this class will offer the intensive, in-depth training you need to master the fundamentals of your field. 18. Mechanical Contractors Association of America Institute for Project Management Class 74, Week 1 Where: Austin, TX When: Apr 8-12, 2019 What: If you’re a project manager (or an industry professional who works closely with project managers), this class will offer the intensive, in-depth training you need to master the fundamentals of your field. 19. International Facility Management Association Facility Fusion U.S. 2019 Conference and Expo Where: Atlanta, GA When: Apr 8-12, 2019 What: A premier leadership event featuring concentrated learning and networking for home services professionals. 20. 2019 Design-Build for Water/Wastewater Where: Cincinnati, OH When: Apr 10-12, 2019 What: Brings professionals together for three days of speakers, networking events and the latest industry trends about design-build in the water/wastewater sector. 21. Cx Energy Conference & Expo Where: Orlando, FL When: Apr 15-18, 2019 What: For professionals in building commissioning, energy management and test and balance, this conference is a must-see. It includes educational sessions on topics related to the industry, an exhibition hall featuring new technology and certification opportunities in ACG’s Certified Commissioning Authority (CxA) and EMA’s Energy Management Professional (EMP). Image via https://www.mcaa.org/events/calendar/ncpwb-spring-technical-committee-meeting-4/ 22. National Certified Pipe Welding Bureau Technical Conference Where: Longboat Key, FL When: Apr 28-30, 2019 What: Highlights the latest in welding education and technology, including changes to codes and other technical information. 23. Mechanical Contractors Association of America Fabrication Conference Where: Los Angeles, CA When: May 1-3, 2019 What: Program focusing on cutting-edge fabrication applications and tours of MCAA member fabrication facilities. 24. Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute Spring Meeting Where: Baltimore, MD When: May 6-8, 2019 What: For industry leaders seeking a meeting opportunity in the spring, ACHRI offers another opportunity to gather to work together on industry-wide issues. 25. Eastern Energy Expo Where: Hershey, PA When: May 19-22, 2019 What: A premiere show for business and technical education, including sessions for women in energy. 26. Lightfair International Where: Philadelphia, PA When: May 21-23, 2019 What: LIGHTFAIR offers attendees tracks in light, technology, knowledge and design connect in a convergence of global introductions, innovations and thought leadership at its annual conference, the world’s largest yearly meeting for architectural and commercial lighting professionals. 27. American Institute of Architects 2019 Conference on Architecture Where: Las Vegas, NV When: Jun 6-8, 2019 What: Three immersive days of what’s new and now in architecture and design. 28. 2019 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Annual Conference Where: Kansas City, MO When: Jun 22-26, 2019 What: ASHRAE is one of the leading trade show organizations for HVAC professionals, and the annual conference is not to be missed. From the fundamentals of the industry to changes driven by environmental sustainability, there’s always something new to learn, and it can be learned here. Image via https://www.districtenergy.org/idea2019/home 29. International District Energy Association National Conference and Trade Show Where: Pittsburgh, PA When: Jun 24-27, 2019 What: IDEA members and professionals in the district energy, CHP and microgrid industries come together to share experiences, explore new solutions, and learn from each other. 30. The 25th IIR International Congress of Refrigeration Where: Montreal, Quebec When: Aug 24-30, 2019 What: 2019’s theme will be “Refrigeration for Human Health and Future Prosperity,” and attendees will focus on major issues relating to refrigeration and sustainability, like energy saving, efficiency, food supply, climate change reduction and more. 31. Building Simulation 2019 Where: Rome, Italy When: Sept 2-4, 2019 What: In the field of building performance simulation, this is the premiere event. The 2019 gathering provides an opportunity to trade information about simulation tools and apps, learn about the latest achievements in the field, explore new research, discuss case studies and share best practices, all while networking with professionals, students and practitioners. 32. ACEEE National Conference on Energy Efficiency as a Resource Where: Minneapolis, MN When: Oct 15-17, 2019 What: Since 2001, the EER Conference has attracted major stakeholders in utilities, regulatory commissions, state governments, consulting, manufacturing, environmental and research fields, allowing experts and consumers to work together and network. 33. 2019 SMACNA Annual Convention Where: Austin, TX When: Oct 20-23, 2019 What: SMACNA’s premiere annual even blends educational opportunities with top-notch networking for an event no HVAC professional wants to miss. 34. American Society of Plumbing Engineers Technical Symposium Where: Pittsburgh, PA When: Oct 24-27, 2019 What: A unique chance for attendees to get one-on-one face time with the manufacturers who make the products they specify. 35. HARDI Focus Conference Where: Fort Worth, TX When: Sept 11-13, 2019 What: Structured around sessions developed with and through HARDI’s Councils. Their format features a wide range of subject matter areas, to both deliver hard-hitting content specifically curated by members as well as provide an expansive networking opportunity at this event. Conference tracks will include: Marketing, Sales, Supply Chain, HR, Analytics & Business Intelligence.


TOPIC: Guides

HVAC Books: The Best Books for HVAC Beginners & Experts

March 11, 2019 • Regardless of industry, maintaining and growing a business means keeping up with the latest technologies, research, and product innovation. How does one do that? It’s as simple as opening a book. As an HVAC professional, you know the importance of staying on top of what’s happening in your field. The heating and cooling industry seems to change every year, thanks to a constant stream of new technologies and shifting HVAC business trends. This all boils down to one truth: the moment you stop learning, your business will stop growing. Reading HVAC-focused books can help you keep tabs on the latest strategies, tools, and research in order to keep up with (and beat out) the competition. Luckily, you won’t be hard-pressed to find great HVAC books. There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the United States alone, with plenty of HVAC–focused options among them. Unfortunately, even with so many books available, many of us fail to take advantage of this amazing resource. According to SmithsonianMag 27% of U.S. adults didn't read a single book within the last 12 months. Run an HVAC business? Learn how Housecall Pro can be a game changer for you and your team. Don’t become a part of this statistic—make a commitment to reading several HVAC books this year, and you’ll see rewards sooner than you think. The more you know about HVAC services, specialties, and advancements, the more successful your HVAC business will be. With these HVAC books in your arsenal, you can stay up to date with the industry, optimize your services, and grow your business—all with the turn of a page. Click on a section to jump to a particular category, or check out the post in full to read up (no pun intended) on the books you need in your business library. Best HVAC Training Books Best HVAC Technician Books Best HVAC Certification Books Best HVAC Troubleshooting Books Best HVAC Business Books More Resources to Continue Your Learning Best HVAC Training Books If you’re at the beginning of your HVAC career, or want to learn more about what this job requires, these HVAC training books are a great starting point: Modern Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Best For : “HVAC Fundamentals” This is a classic and a must-have for any tech’s HVAC book collection. Currently, this HVAC book has 20 editions under its belt and contains information about business fundamentals, service techniques, and tips for diagnosing HVAC problems. Learn important skills and gain more insight into the theory behind some of the HVAC industry’s guiding principles. Consider this to be your essential foundation book—great for HVAC newbies, but also a fantastic resource for seasoned professionals that want to brush up on HVAC fundamentals. Each chapter contains specific modules to help you zone in on particular topics, with clear and concise explanations. You’ll start with basic principles and slowly advance into more complex theories, all laid out in an easy-to-read format. Check out the latest information and guidelines put forth by the EPA, and browse the most recent methods of sizing, installing, and maintaining refrigeration systems and air conditioning units. Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology Best For : “HVAC troubleshooting & diagnosing” With over 1,600 pages designed to help HVAC professionals troubleshoot, diagnose, and maintain heating and cooling systems, you’ll find Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology a valuable resource. This HVAC book contains hands-on guidance, practical applications, and a comprehensive look at some of the most common issues HVAC technicians face. Not sold? This HVAC book has been helping industry professionals for over 25 years. Now in its 8th edition, you can read about all the latest industry advances, plus dive into the soft skills and customer service problems that can affect your business’s success. Gain insight into common issues with industry examples, detailed photos, and Service Call features you won’t find in other HVAC reads. 101 Ways to Suck as an HVAC Technician Best For : “A laugh & what NOT to do as an HVAC technician” Think HVAC books are boring? Think again. 101 Ways to Suck as an HVAC Technician is guaranteed to make you laugh—and make you think about your future service calls a bit differently. Bring some fun into your HVAC library. In this HVAC book, you can read stories about hilarious technicians mishaps and mistakes. While meant to entertain, these anecdotes can actually teach you a thing or two about what to do and what NOT to do in the field. Building Environments: HVAC Systems Best For : “An inside look into the mechanical workings of an HVAC system” As an HVAC technician, you’ll be tasked with creating a healthy indoor environment—not always as easy as it sounds. This text can help you understand the basics of HVAC systems and their controls. With 270 illustrations, you’ll read and see exactly what goes into these complex systems—and learn without being overwhelmed. Study easy-to-read explanations that show how mechanical and control systems work together to create high-quality building environments. Best HVAC Technician Books Perhaps you’re already deep into your HVAC career. If you’re a practicing technician, you know first-hand the challenges that different jobs can present. Make sure you’re ready for anything that comes your way in the field by brushing up on the following HVAC tech books: HVAC Equations, Data, and Rules of Thumb Best For : “Keeping up with HVAC codes, standards & equations” This handbook is an industry standard, and for good reason. In its 600 pages, you can read up on a wide array of HVAC design information. As its title suggests, this book is filled to the brim with field-tested equations, rules of thumb that have saved many techs from embarrassing mistakes, and up-to-date data on the latest building materials and components. Learn how to read and interpret all codes and standards used in the HVAC industry, including NFPA, ICC, NEC, and ASHRAE. Go over definitions and find in-depth teachings about: HVAC System Selection Criteria Design Conditions Energy Conservation Cooling and Heating Load Factors Air Distribution Systems Piping Systems, Including Plastic Piping Central Plant Equipment Automatic Temperature Controls/Building Automation Systems Noise and Vibration Control Architectural, Structural, and Electrical Considerations Properties of Air and Water Auxiliary Equipment Sustainability Guidelines HVAC Controls Manual Best For : “Understanding fundamental HVAC concepts” A quick but helpful read, this reference manual breaks down pneumatic controls and goes into fundamental HVAC concepts, including auxiliary devices, master and submaster theory, as well as the basic components of a control system. Use the exam at the back of the book to test your knowledge and spot any areas you need to brush up on. ACCA Technical Manuals Best For : “An in-depth understanding of HVAC” The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) is a great resource that can help you gain a better understanding of HVAC systems. The ACCA offers several technical manuals that cover a wide variety of design, install, and repair topics, including: Residential Load Calculation Residential Duct Design Residential Equipment Selection Commercial Load Calculation Commercial Duct Design Commercial Systems Overview Balancing & Testing Air & Hydronics Systems Residential Zoning Systems Residential Systems Overview Air Distribution Basics Heat Pump Systems Swimming Pools & Spas Psychrometrics Most ACCA technical manuals follow ANSI standards and come with training spreadsheets. These HVAC books are a benchmark in the industry; many of ACCA’s technical manuals are actually used as references in building codes across the United States—talk about a mark of approval. Best HVAC Certification Books Looking to get your next HVAC certification? Before signing up for your exam, make sure you study from the following prep books: The Guide to the NATE-ICE Certification Exams Best For : “HVAC/R NATE and ICE preparation” If you want to pass the HVAC/R NATE and ICE certification examinations, this review tool is a must-have. This HVAC book features two sections: the first is a comprehensive study guide that reviews a wide array of procedures and concepts. Move onto the second part and test yourself with 2,400 questions, covering topics such as electrical theory, indoor air quality and safety, EPA certification, system components, tool requirements, duct fabrication, and plenty more. Take practice tests, and use the answer key to check your work. With a few quizzes, you can determine how ready you are for the actual exam. ESCO Institute Section 608 Certification Exam Preparatory Manual for Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technicians Best For : “EPA exam preparation” If you want to prep for an upcoming Certification exam, this manual is a great resource. The ESCO Institute Section 608 EPA Preparatory Manual (what a mouthful) includes all of the questions found within the EPA exam and has been a staple exam prep tool for many HVAC students. Step by Step to Passing the EPA 608 Certification Exam Best For : “Questions previously used on the EPA exam” Need an EPA prep book that takes you through all your paces? Study the Core, Type I, Type II, Type III, and universal exams for a well-rounded study experience. You’ll also see practice questions that have been previously included on the test. HVAC Licensing Study Guide, Third Edition Best For : “Preparing for all major HVAC licensing exams” Don’t pass up the HVAC Licensing Study Guide, because this third edition prep book won’t leave you wanting. Study more than 800 practice questions and answers and increase your chances of passing all major HVAC licensing exams—on your first attempt. This comprehensive resource features troubleshooting tips, detailed illustrations, and updated codes and standards you’ll need to comply with in the field. Best HVAC Troubleshooting Books HVAC Troubleshooting Guide Best For : “In-depth HVAC troubleshooting tips” Whether you’re working industrial, residential, or commercial jobs, this HVAC Troubleshooting Guide is a must-have. Containing information about how to read and prepare electrical schematics and mechanical plans, you can use this guide to brush up on important HVAC facts and figures. With detailed illustrations, informative charts, and in-depth troubleshooting tips, you’ll be better prepared to tackle any job if you’ve got this guide in your back pocket. With the HVAC Troubleshooting Guide, you can learn more about: Identifying and safely using new and old equipment/tools Using heat pumps and hot air furnaces Calculating ventilation requirements Working with refrigeration equipment Operating and repairing electric motors Programming thermostats Insulating System Diagnostics and Troubleshooting Procedures Best For : “Troubleshooting a variety of HVAC problems” You can never have too many troubleshooting resources—after all, you want to prove to customers there’s no HVAC problem you or your team can’t fix. This HVAC book provides essential information today’s techs need to diagnose (and solve) many of the major air conditioning and refrigeration system issues. In this guide’s pages, you can read up on troubleshooting a variety of problems, including: Airflow problems Refrigerant cycle malfunctions Suction and liquid line restrictions Oil logged evaporators Undercharge and overcharge issues Compressor inefficiencies Restricted metering devices ….and plenty more. If there’s a problem, this book will help you solve it. Best HVAC Business Books Improving your HVAC services is about more than brushing up on the latest technical reads. If you own an HVAC company, you need to consider books that cover pricing models, business best practices, and much more. Make sure you put these HVAC business books on your reading list: HVAC Spells Wealth Best For : “A comprehensive guide to running your HVAC business Every self-respecting HVAC business owner should put this book on their reading list. Pegged as the most comprehensive and best-selling “how to” HVAC book available, this book has made its way into the hands of HVAC contractors, vendors, associations, and manufacturers across the world. Learn how to build, manage, and maintain residential retail HVAC businesses, and decimate the competition with important education, tools, and anecdotes. In “THE” book of the HVAC industry, you’ll find tips and strategies about: Basic business fundamentals How to handle customers Best practices for dealing with coworkers and employees Marketing and sales Processes and systems Industry commentary The Power of Positive Pricing Best For : “Pricing your HVAC services” Pricing can be one of the most challenging aspects of running a successful service business. Are you charging enough? Too little? What’s the sweet spot? Learn the answers to these questions and more in The Power of Positive Pricing. This book was written for all service company owners, and designed to help you strategically price your offerings. Learn how to price your HVAC installations and project work, create service agreement prices, and properly present prices to customers—plus a whole lot more. With details on discounts, margin pricing, and overhead costs, you can help position your business to be more profitable with the tips contained in these pages. HVAC Business: A Detailed Business and Marketing Plan Best For : “Developing a plan for your HVAC business” Learn how to get new clients—and keep them. This ebook provides details on writing an HVAC business plan and includes pro tips and examples. Whether you’re thinking about starting your own HVAC business or you’re already the proud owner of an established HVAC company, “HVAC Business: A Detailed Business and Marketing Plan” contains important insights you can use to make more money and keep business coming back. Resources to Continue your HVAC Learning Already read your way through our list of the best HVAC books for today’s HVAC students, techs, and business owners? The learning doesn’t have to stop there. There are plenty of resources you can use to continue your learning, from online publications to podcasts. Run an HVAC business? Learn how Housecall Pro can be a game changer for you and your team. Use online resources There’s no limit to the number of online resources that you can use to continue your HVAC education. Service industries must evolve to meet the modern consumer’s needs, and using online resources is one way to accomplish that. From HVAC software to Youtube tutorials, there are plenty of ways to use the world wide web to your business advantage - and reach new clients in the process. Analyze case studies Looking at large-scale case studies from some of the world’s most successful HVAC manufacturers and service groups is a great way to continue your learning. Here are just a few samples of case studies you can read up on: Lakos Case Studies Johnson Controls Case Studies Piedmont Service Group Case Studies Krueger Case Studies Star Service, Inc. Case Studies Take a look at what the major players are doing, and translate their success into your own. Subscribe to HVAC-specific publications Taking the time to read industry publications is one of the best ways to learn more about the HVAC field as a whole. Turn your email inbox into a treasure trove of new HVAC information. Subscribe to HVAC publications and keep up with their content. Digital editions make it easy to access the latest HVAC information, and tracking these types of publications can help you learn about upcoming webinars, conferences, new products, and even job openings in your area. These publications also give you the opportunity to network - and maybe somewhere down the line publish your own thoughts on industry challenges and strategies. Check out the following HVAC publications as a starting point: HVAC Insider : This digital trade publication can keep you updated on conferences, competitions, and expositions. Check out news articles, keep tabs on market trends, and browse product showcases to see the latest and greatest to hit the field. The ACHR News : This publication offers helpful articles, educational webinars, and comes out weekly in both print and digital editions. HVACR Business : Want to learn more about business best practices? This publication should be your go-to. Check out their “Business Advice” section and read about legal issues, HVAC training, strategy, and plenty more. Contractor Magazine : While not solely focused on heating and cooling, Contractor Magazine still offers plenty of helpful articles for the HVAC technician. Read about technology, tools, and green energy efforts happening in and out of the HVAC industry. Grow your network Speaking of networking, are you putting effort into meeting other service professionals in your industry? Growing your network is a stepping stone to expanding your business, and can actually be a lot of fun, too! Meet Business Owners, Technicians & Students There’s a huge community of HVAC business owners, technicians, and students out there that can help you expand your own professional horizons—you’ve just got to find them. Beyond checking into online forums and reaching out to local professionals near you, you can utilize Housecall Pro’s network of 20,000+ home service professionals. Take advantage of https://www.facebook.com/groups/HousecallPros/">exclusive Facebook groups and https://www.housecallpro.com/mastermind">mastermind events to learn what you might be missing in your service business. Like-minded business owners and techs can help you learn more about your own trade, and teach you how to bring in even more customers. Home service professionals across industries face many of the same challenges. Gaining insight from people who’ve been through it before can provide the support and knowledge you need to overcome any obstacles you encounter. Attend HVAC events The daily hustle and bustle of HVAC service work can make it hard to focus on anything other than what’s happening in the now. However, it’s important to step back and take a look at the bigger picture every now and again. Keep up with current HVAC trends Attending training events, conferences, seminars, and trade shows can help you gain a wider view of industry happenings. Checking in at these events can help you learn the latest on technology and HVAC trends, and help you build connections in your industry. Additionally, if you live in a state that requires continuing education (CE) hours for certification, some of these events may count towards your required quota. Listen to podcasts It’s 2019 and it’s high time to join the podcast bandwagon if you haven’t already. This popular form of media has taken the digital world by storm the past few years, and there are plenty of HVAC resources you can listen to. Check out some of these titles on your favorite streaming service, and tune in during your next drive to a job: HVAC 360 HVAC School HVAC Expert! David’s HVAC CHILLCAST HVAC Control Talk Final Thoughts If you want to grow your business, challenge yourself to keep learning. Read about what’s trending in the industry, take notes on new strategies for technical jobs, and gain insight into the business acumen needed to increase your bottom line. If you fill your reference library with the above HVAC book titles, you can’t go wrong. With these books in your arsenal, you’ll be well prepared to take your business to new heights.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Best HVAC Books for Beginners and Experts

Must Have HVAC Tools For Every Professional

March 5, 2019 • If you’re in the heating and cooling service industry, you understand the importance of creating an HVAC toolkit that has everything you could possibly need out on a job. Thermal heating and cooling systems demand a huge spread of equipment to regulate temperature and maintain environments, so it’s easy to understand why technicians need to come equipped with an impressive toolkit in hand. When diagnosing a problem with an HVAC system, there are a number of possible scenarios you could encounter, so it’s important to be stocked with the best HVAC tools for quick and expedited repairs. Who wants to waste time going back to retrieve a tool you forgot? Not profit-driven business owners, that’s for sure! You’re not alone in your search for advanced HVAC tools. Demand for HVAC equipment increase by 6.8% annually through 2019. Don’t know what you should include within your HVAC tools list? We can help! Here, we go over the essential HVAC service tools—from training to specialized jobs—so you’ll never need to scratch your head wondering, “What am I missing?” Whether you’re just getting started with your HVAC service or want to outfit your team with the tools they need to perform each job to standard, this HVAC tool checklist may prove integral to your HVAC business growth . Click on a section below to get straight to the answers you need, or read our checklist end-to-end to make sure your HVAC toolkit is complete. HVAC Technician Tool List HVAC Training Tools HVAC Hand Tools HVAC Sheet Metal Tools HVAC Ductwork Tools HVAC Specialty Tools HVAC Repair Tools HVAC Safety Tools HVAC Business Tools HVAC Technician Tool List As an HVAC technician, you’ll need a collection of HVAC service tools in order to tackle your repair, installation, and maintenance projects. Use this list of HVAC tech tools to find the essentials you’re missing. 1. HVAC Training Tools Before becoming a master of the trade, HVAC students need to invest in must-have HVAC tools. The HVAC industry is rapidly expanding; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for HVAC technicians is anticipated to grow 15% from 2016 through 2026. To ensure success in the field, it’s important to outfit yourself with all the basics. There’s a wide variety of equipment that may be necessary for apprentices to practice their lab exercises and diagnose/repair air conditioning or refrigeration units. If you’re just getting started with your HVAC trade, put these at the top of your HVAC technician tool list—they’ll be absolutely essential in school (and beyond): Working gloves and safety glasses: Start with safety standards and make sure your hands and eyes are protected while on the job. Snips to cut sheet metal: There are three types of tin snips: straight cut, left cut, and right cut.  HVAC installers and sheet metal workers will use these tools the most to cut sheet metal and insulation sheets, but service techs also may find them essential for a job. Flathead and Phillips screwdriver: A versatile screwdriver is an important tool when you’re starting out; as you take on more HVAC jobs, you’ll likely find you need to expand your collection. Combination wrench set: You’ll also want a pipe wrench on-hand, as these are crucial when installing and replacing gas lines. Pliers: You’ll need an array of pliers, but for starters, line your arsenal with lineman’s, needle nose, and tongue-and-groove varieties. These items should be at the top of your HVAC tool list—especially if you’re just beginning a career in this trade. You’ll see them come up again in their relevant sections below, along with a more in-depth description of what they are, how they work, and why they’re needed by HVAC technicians. 2. HVAC Hand Tools Your HVAC duties will call for an array of hand tools. The following can be used in a variety of capacities. Outfit your toolkit with: Thermometer: Seeing as though the entire HVAC industry revolves around hot and cold temperatures, a digital thermometer will become your best friend at any job site. In fact, you probably want to stock up on several of these, as it’s all too common to mistakenly leave one in a return or supply vent. Dependable, digital thermometers make for the best HVAC tools, but infrared digital thermometers can take recordable readings, identify overheated breakers/compressors/motors, and point out vents to customers. There are an array of digital thermometers available,  including pocket-knife and folding-pocket styles, dual temperature thermometers, and solar-powered options. Drill: Unless you want to be tethered to an electrical outlet, a cordless drill with batteries is the move to make. Boasting power, portability, and versatility, a drill with a diverse set of bits—including hex, Philips, hole saws, and arbors—will become the hero of any job site. Wrenches: Crescent wrenches and Allen wrenches are non-negotiable items on the HVAC tool list. You’ll want a variety of sizes (small to large) on deck to help you tighten and loosen a wide array of fixtures you could encounter. Hammer: You never know when you’ll need a hammer - the short answer: often. Opt for a carpenter style hammer with a straight claw. Electric Testers: HVAC technicians consistently work around and with live electrical power, so it’s important to take some type of electrical tester with you. Some testers can perform multiple functions, while others are more simplistic and designed to tell you only where electricity is present in your work space. Pliers: Like screwdrivers, you should have a collection of pliers on-hand, including needle-nose, wire-stripping, linesman, and open-face varieties. Leveler: When installing thermostats, air conditioners, or furnaces, you’ll need to ensure the product is level. Screwdrivers: Not all screwdrivers were created equal; outfit your HVAC toolkit with an array of sizes and types, and opt for brands with insulated handles (essential when working around live electricity). Heavy-duty screwdrivers are crucial, as you can often use them to pry apart venting and handle more strenuous tasks. Tape Measure: An HVAC technician will constantly be reaching for a tape measure. Opt for longer tape measures, at least 25 feet in length for bigger jobs. Note: it’s a good idea to pair your tape measure with a permanent marker, so you can mark measurements as you work. 3. HVAC Sheet Metal Tools HVAC technicians are frequently tasked with cutting, repairing, and handling sheet metal. Nearly all HVAC systems rely on sheet metal to carry cold and hot air to and from their driving unit, so it’s wise to have these materials on-hand at all times. Shears: When it comes to cutting sheet metal, shears are one of the most common HVAC service tools. They’re ideal for executing long and straight cuts, and since they’ll probably receive plenty of use, try to look for a durable, steel construction with an insulated handle for added comfort. Aviation snips: Sometimes known as compound snips, these are the best HVAC tools for cutting aluminum and sheet metal. Aviators are designed to make specific cuts much easier and they’re color-coded for a reason… Rights (or “Offsets”)—Usually colored green, these snips help cut sheet metal in the right direction. They’re sometimes called “offsets” because the angle of the blade is slightly offset, allowing the blade to pass more smoothly over the end. They can be a bit awkward to use at first, but you don’t need to pull upwards as much on the metal, leading to fewer sharp, dangerous “fish hooks” hanging off the edge of a cut. Lefts (or “Offsets”)—Red-colored snips assist with cuts made in the left direction. Straights (or “Bulldogs”)—Straight snips are usually colored orange and reserve for small, straight cuts. They get the bulldog nickname for their impressive strength and ability to pierce and cut through multiple layers of thick sheet metal. Crimpers: This versatile, must-have HVAC tool should be in every technician’s kit. It can be used to cut sheet metal and wires, as well as crimp connectors by squeezing on the teeth to create a wrinkled male fitting. Hand seamers (or “Fairmonts” or “Tongs”): They go by many names, but the purpose is all the same—to bend smaller pieces of metal. Some may be spring loaded, depending on your preference, but all should be marked with ¼” intervals to make easy measurements while bending. Awl: This must-have tool can be used for a variety of purposes; score sheet metal to ensure straight cuts, or punch holes in sheet metal, wood, and sheetrock when required. 4. HVAC Ductwork Tools HVAC technicians that install and repair ductwork need specialty tools, including the following: Staple Gun: A heavy-duty staple gun will be a staple of your HVAC toolkit - no pun intended. This tool can be used for a variety of tasks, including stapling insulation or sheet metal into place. Scratch Awl: A scratch awl is a point-making tool that can be used to scribe a line, which you can then follow with a handsaw or chisel. These can be purchased both individually or in kits. Caulking Gun: You’ll want this tool on-hand when a job calls for ductwork sealant. Look for a caulking gun that features an easy load front cap, effective seal puncturing tool, spout cutter, and ladder hook. Tubing Cutter: Metal or plastic tubes that are 1/8th” to 1-1/8th” thicker can be cut with this HVAC service tool. They allow you to make a clean cut thanks to the cut-off grove and, comparatively, they’re not very expensive—meaning they’re well worth your investment. 5. HVAC Specialty Tools While 28% of the HVAC industry services single family homes, you may find yourself faced with bigger jobs that call for a different set of tools. Depending on the parameters of your next job, you may need the following HVAC specialty tools with you: Core Removal Tool: These tools are designed to remove and replace valve cores without sacrificing refrigerant charge. Voltmeter (or “Multi-Meter”): This should be high up on your HVAC technician tool list, no exceptions. Knowledge of voltage present isn’t just a job requirement, it’s a safety precaution. Because HVAC systems are connected to electrical systems, it’s crucial that you or your techs are outfitted with testers that can indicate the presence of live wires, measure the amount of voltage, indicate resistance level, and complete an array of other electrical tasks while in the field. Psychrometer: These might not see much day-to-day use on your average job sites, but they’re incredibly helpful when you’re trying to nail your target superheat. PVC Cutters: If you’re tackling a PVC project, you’ll need more than a handsaw. PVC cutters can help you cut clean lines with ease, and these tools are relatively inexpensive.   Saw: You may have heard your HVAC friends swear by the amazing SAWZALL® mainly because it really can saw almost everything. If you don’t go with this company, find a similar saw with reciprocating blades, meaning the cutting is achieved through a push-and-pull motion. They might only be used for specialty projects, but if you’ve ever tried to cut material with a dull blade, you know how valuable this tool will be when it comes time to shine. Dead Blow Hammer: This specialized mallet features an abrasion-resistant, non-marring face that delivers a dead blow effect when struck. 6. HVAC Repair Tools If you specialize in HVAC repair, the world of tools opens up that much wider. Consider outfitting your own tool bag and your tech team with the following items: Step ladder: Simple, but essential. You’ll encounter many jobs that require some height, and a lightweight, 4-foot step ladder will typically suffice. Wet/Dry Shop Vac: If you need to vacuum out clogged drain lines, you’ll be happy you brought a wet/dry shop vac along. Refrigerant Scale: If you’re ever tasked with charging an air conditioning system with refrigerant, a specified scale is a must-have in order to effectively maintain the temperature of a system’s assigned space. A refrigerant scale measures the weight of refrigerant as it’s added to or removed from the unit’s compressor, so that you can ensure the system has just the right amount to run efficiently. Refrigeration Gauges: As you work with cooling systems, you’ll need a set of trusted gauges that can read and hold pressures, as they pertain to varied types of refrigerants. These HVAC gauges help you determine if a cooling unit has a leak or if you need to complete an evacuation and recharge. Micron Gauge: These can be used to determine if an air conditioning system has an appropriate level of vacuum, prior to charging with refrigerant. Coil Fin Straightener: These HVAC service tools are cheap and useful. Bent coil fins restrict air flow through the condensing unit, which can cause the unit to run harder, decrease efficiency, increase electricity use, and in some cases, cause the entire unit to fail. A coil fin straightener, also known as a fin comb or coil fin tool, can be used to straighten the bent fins of a condensing unit. Vacuum Pump: Vacuum pumps are used to suck and remove moisture and air from air conditioning lines. They’re helpful when it comes to making repairs, as lines must be pulled into a vacuum and tested for leaks before the system can be charged with refrigerant. Recovery Unit: Refrigerant recovery from a HVAC system has been mandatory since 1995, so make sure you or your techs have a trustworthy recovery unit in their arsenal. A recovery unit must always be used to make sure the refrigerant is recovered from a cooling system, before you can begin the vacuum process. Megger: As an HVAC technician, you’ll likely need access to a Megger, a measuring instrument used to measure an electrical system’s insulation resistance. This is important for HVAC quality control, as an electrical system degrades the quality of insulation resistance over time; this timeline may be shorter depending on the environmental conditions the unit goes up against every day, especially in areas with extreme temperatures, humidity, and the presence dust or dirt. 7. HVAC Safety Tools When you or your employees are on the job, safety is the number one priority. The following must-haves are designed to safeguard you and your team, no matter the task at hand. Work Gloves: Protect hands when dealing with live electrical systems. Heavy-duty work gloves (and a spare or two) should always be available, and you can find gloves designed specifically for HVAC jobs, featuring wet/dry grip technology, protective coatings, and more. Safety Glasses: Don’t opt for the cheapest set of safety glasses available. There are plenty of considerations to take into account when shopping for this HVAC tool. Anti-fog coating helps prevent fog from building up when you’re working in humid conditions, while glasses with anti-static coating can help keep particulates and dust from sticking to your lenses. Durable Shoes: Carrying heavy equipment, climbing up and down ladders, and working both indoors and outdoors means your feet take a beating. Be sure your team has durable, steel toe work boots. Ear Plugs: It can get loud on the job in any service capacity, especially for an HVAC professional. Using power tools in small spaces can strain your ears more than you might expect. Opt for industrial-strength ear plugs or muff to protect your hearing. Flashlight: When crawling in dark spaces, you’ll want to see exactly what’s in front of you. Keep a small flashlight attached to your toolbelt, and a larger one in your HVAC toolkit within arms’ reach. 8. HVAC Business Tools HVAC tools aren’t just for field service. There are essential business tools every HVAC business owner should have in his or her professional arsenal, including: Communication capabilities: When your techs are out on the job, you’ll want to keep an open line of communication to ensure everything goes smoothly, and that your customers are getting a 5-star experience each and every time. Work phones can be an important aspect of communication, but it’s important to use a field service program that incorporate in-app chat capabilities, so that you can keep your team aware of any changes. Mobile HVAC Software: A mobile HVAC software solution can play into your business success just as much as practical field tools. Housecall Pro field service software is designed with your needs in mind, giving you the ability to: Schedule your team Provide logistical information your technicians need to get the job done Optimize service routes Communicate with customers Create estimates, and avoid common HVAC invoicing mistakes Process payments Investing in HVAC service management software can help you streamline your day-to-day operations, so that your time is freed up to do what matters most—build your business. Some Final Notes HVAC professionals are tasked with a variety of work, and you and your team will need a great deal of equipment to ensure they can tackle any project that may come up. Outfit yourself and your technicians with the tools required to provide quality service each and every time. HVAC technicians have a variety of tools at their disposal, and the above must-haves are an essential part of running a successful HVAC business. If you’re building your own dream HVAC tool kit, use the above checklist to guide your selection.  

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Pile of HVAC tools

11 Plumbing Blogs Causing A Splash In The Industry

February 22, 2019 • Is your business’s phone not ringing as often as you’d like? There are lots of ways to attract new plumbing customers in this day and age, not the least of which is becoming a helpful online resource. In other words: If your website is full of useful troubleshooting tips, you’ll appear trustworthy when you come up in a web search through search engine optimization (SEO). One of the best ways to build a good plumbing website and blog of your own is to scout what the competition is up to. Following must-read plumbing blogs gives you a view into which plumbing topics readers are looking for, and how often posts are published. But that’s not all. Even if you’re an experienced plumber yourself, you can turn to these blogs for help when you’re stuck on a tricky job and to stay up to date on changes in the industry. And many of the top plumbing blogs are aimed specifically at industry professionals who want to grow their business. Some plumbing blogs are run by small local businesses, while others are managed by big brands and reach a much wider audience. Local blogs are great for regional topics (like frozen pipes in cold climates), while national blogs offer insight on universal plumbing issues. Here are 11 plumbing blogs you should be following. Len the Plumber Benjamin Franklin Mike Diamond Services Mr. Rooter Reddit Plumbing 3 Mountains Plumbing Express Sewer and Drain Best Plumbing Grow Plumbing Contractor Mag Plumbing Perspective 1. Len the Plumber Popular Post: Why is My Toilet Leaking At the Base? Post Frequency: 1-3 posts per-week The Len the Plumber blog is a good example of how to talk to customers in an approachable way. The voice of the blog is fun, yet professional, and they tackle topics people care about. One of their 2018 posts is called “What to Do When Your Water is Taking Too Long to Heat,” for example. It’s aimed at homeowners but professionals can still pull from it for good blog topics of your own. 2. Benjamin Franklin Popular Post: What’s the Difference Between Abs and PVC Pipe Post Frequency: 1-3 posts per-week Benjamin Franklin Plumbing has a blog called simply “Plumbing Tips and Tricks.” It’s another good example of how to tackle the questions customers often ask about. Aside from easy plumbing tips, the blog offers advice on topics like choosing equipment and fixing bathroom grout. 3. Mike Diamond Services Popular Post: 3 Common Reasons Your Toilet Won’t Flush Properly Post Frequency: 1-3 posts per-week The Mike Diamond blog should be followed so you can get an idea of how to tag and categorize your plumbing blogs. They make it easy for customers to find exactly what they need. The blog also publishes every week, which is a good cadence for posts. You can also take a look at their infographics if you’re considering some graphic content for your own site. 4. Mr. Rooter Popular Post: What Temperature Should a Hot Water Heater Be Set At? Post Frequency: 1-3 posts per-week Mr. Rooter has name recognition on their side, so a lot of customers turn to them for DIY advice. Their blog is chock full of “How to” articles for homeowners and landlords. For plumbers, it offers a wealth of niche topic ideas and some solutions to common problems for professionals. 5. Reddit Plumbing Popular Post: Roots in Pipe Chaos Post Frequency: Daily Reddit is a great gathering place for all kinds of minds, including home services professionals and homeowners with plumbing issues. The reddit.com/r/plumbing channel includes everything from professional plumbers bragging about a complicated job well done to amateur plumbers seeking easy plumbing tips. And then there are some fun posts about running across unconventional plumbing setups. You can hop on at any time and ask which piece of equipment is best for a job or if anyone else is having the same issue as you on a kitchen job. 6. 3 Mountains Plumbing Popular Post: Preventing Drain and Pipe Problems with Camera Inspection Post Frequency: 1-2 posts per-month This popular Oregon plumbing company blog is a good example of regional content. While some of the blog’s posts are universal, they also tackle issues that resonate with locals. Browse their topics to see how they cover issues like flooded basements alongside clogged drains. They’re also another example of how to talk to your audience like a friend. 7. Express Sewer and Drain Popular Post: How Affordable is Trenchless Pipe Lining Compared to Other Repairs? Post Frequency: 1-2 post per-week Not sure how to sell your services without being too heavy handed? The Express Sewer and Drain blog offers an example. Topics like “What To Expect When You Hire A Professional Plumber For Drain Cleaning” subtly encourage potential customers to reach out without cramming a sales message down their throats. Follow this one for ideas about how to suggest your services in a friendly way. 8. Best Plumbing Popular Post: How to Descale a Tankless Water Heater Post Frequency: 1-2 post per-week The Best Plumbing blog is handled by a Seattle company that has been in business since 1968. Not only does the blog offer content relevant to both consumers and professionals, but they keep their eyes peeled for new technology and industry changes. Follow it for everything from bathroom designs of the future to water heater trends. 9. Grow Plumbing Popular Post: Funny Plumbing and HVAC Memes Post Frequency: 1-2 post per-month This plumbing blog is aimed specifically at professionals. It teaches you to make the most of your marketing strategy and tap into the latest industry news. Topics range from social media trends for the year to “3 Signs Your Plumbing Business Should Switch to Flat Rate Pricing” and other practical advice columns. 10. Contractor Mag Popular Post: Stop calling yourself a ‘plumbette’ Post Frequency: 3+ post per-week This one isn’t technically a blog, but it’s still worth a follow. Contractor Mag offers a macro view of home services trends, resources, and this year’s expos and conferences. You can also learn a lot on Contractor Mag about the people and products that are informing modern plumbing. 11. Plumbing Perspective Popular Post: Review: Navien NPE-240A Tankless Water Heater Post Frequency: 1-3 posts per-week This industry blog is by professionals, for professionals. Follow it to get updates on industry leaders, learn how to grow your business with new technology, and brush up on techniques. They even hold the occasional giveaway. In Conclusion Plumbing and heating blogs aren’t just for customers. Not only can you use them to get ideas about what kinds of content to publish on your own site, but they’re run over with information about the industry. Becoming a master of your craft is an ongoing process. Remain up-to-date with plumbing trends on our blog and take advantage changes happening in the plumbing industry , such as our plumbing software to stay at the top of your game.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Plumbing blogs causing a splash

Battling Unpaid Invoices - 7 Ways To Get Paid Fast!

February 20, 2019 • It’s an unfortunate truth that nearly all businesses will, at one point or another, find themselves confronting a customer with an unpaid invoice. Businesses in home-service industries know this all too well. Unfortunately, It’s not the least bit uncommon for the occasional customer to let an invoice slip their mind or get lost in the shuffle. Often in these cases, it’s easy to collect payment in a timely manner. However, there are other stubborn customers — both individuals and businesses — that willfully ignore overdue invoices for whatever reason and refuse payment. For home-service professionals, dealing with customers like this can be the worst part of the job. Chasing down unpaid invoices is never fun, and it can pose a challenge if your business is still in its early stages. To help you collect what you’re owed — and to increase the likelihood your customers will pay quickly — here’s our guide to dealing with unpaid invoices. Our 7 Steps to Dealing With Unpaid Invoices Pave the way for on-time payments Touch base once time is up Appeal to your customer’s human nature Agree to settle for less Prepare to play hardball Involve a collection agency Take legal action Step 1: Pave the Way for On-time Payments The best way to deal with unpaid invoices is to avoid them entirely. Make it easy for your customers to pay right away, regardless of where they happen to be when they receive your bill. Utilize payment processing software Send electronic invoices powered by payment processing software that makes it painless for a customer to get their account in good standing with a few clicks of a mouse or taps on a touchscreen. Include a clear due date on all invoices and specify exactly what will happen if payment is not received on time. Also consider offering an incentive to your customers when they pay early by offering a discount for fast payments — 5% or so should do the trick here. Step 2: Touch Base Once Time Is Up Once the due date on invoice has passed, don’t waste any time connecting with the customer to request the status of their payment. A phone call or face-to-face meeting is more likely to result in speedy payment, but, if worded properly, emails can light a fire under your customers as well. Keep your messages brief and professional, and politely request an update regarding the invoice in question. In many cases, customers have an excusable reason for not yet settling up, and the reminder you’ve given them is the only push they need to submit a payment. Here’s a quick example: Hi [name], I hope you’re having a great week. I’m contacting you because we have not yet received payment for our invoice #____ for $___. We sent the invoice to you __ days ago, and payment was due yesterday. Please send the payment immediately, or reach out to me right away if there are any issues. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Talk to you soon. Kind regards, Your loyal service provider .myButton { -moz-box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px 1px #2195f3; -webkit-box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px 1px #2195f3; box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px 1px #2195f3; background-color:#2195f3; -moz-border-radius:28px; -webkit-border-radius:28px; border-radius:28px; border:1px solid #ffffff; display:inline-block; cursor:pointer; color:#ffffff; font-family:Open Sans; font-size:17px; font-weight:bold; padding:18px 20px; text-decoration:none; text-shadow:0px 1px 0px #2f6627;}.myButton:hover { background-color:#1975d2;}.myButton:active { position:relative; top:1px;} Send A Free Collection Letter Step 3: Appeal to Your Customer’s Human Nature If your initial investigation into the status of an overdue invoice fails to produce a response, try following up with a more personal approach. Work to understand their issue Rather than adopting a cold, detached attitude and demanding immediate payment, express to your client that you understand how finances have a tendency to fluctuate unexpectedly but emphasize the fact that the overdue invoice must still be paid. Let the customer know you’re willing to extend the due date if times are tight and encourage them to contact you immediately to resolve this issue. Step 4: Agree to Settle for Less Should your more personal approach fail to convince your delinquent customer to contact you, it’s time to come to terms with the fact that this overdue invoice is likely more than an innocent oversight. By now, your customer is surely aware that their payment is overdue, and it’s possible they have no plans on ever paying off their balance. In these situations, it often makes sense to settle for a reduced payment rather than receiving no payment at all. If possible, reach out to your customer once again, letting them know you’re willing to accept a reduced amount — the discount you offer is entirely up to you and what makes most financial sense. Step 5: Prepare to Play Hardball Once it becomes clear that a customer has no intention of paying their outstanding debt, let them know you’re committed to collecting payment no matter what it takes. Be firm, yet professional in your communication and keep your company’s reputation in mind at all times. Never cross the line by name-calling or do anything threatening. However, if the customer is a business, mention that you will report them to the Better Business Bureau if payment is not received right away. Here’s an brief example of an email you could send: Hi [name], Unfortunately, we have still not received your payment for invoice #____ in the amount of $___. We have attempted to contact you several times to resolve this issue, but we have not made any progress. Our company is committed to collecting payment for this project, and unless we hear from you today, our next steps will be to involve a collection agency or a legal firm. To be clear, we would rather resolve this billing issue without taking further action, but, without your cooperation, our options are limited. Please contact us immediately to make payment arrangements and to avoid dealing with debt collectors and lawyers. We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you. Sincerely, Your service provider .myButton { -moz-box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px 1px #2195f3; -webkit-box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px 1px #2195f3; box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px 1px #2195f3; background-color:#2195f3; -moz-border-radius:28px; -webkit-border-radius:28px; border-radius:28px; border:1px solid #ffffff; display:inline-block; cursor:pointer; color:#ffffff; font-family:Open Sans; font-size:17px; font-weight:bold; padding:18px 20px; text-decoration:none; text-shadow:0px 1px 0px #2f6627;}.myButton:hover { background-color:#1975d2;}.myButton:active { position:relative; top:1px;} Send A Free Collection Letter Step 6: Involve a Collection Agency Still no word from your customer? A collection agency might have better luck. These services specialize in helping businesses recoup costs lost to delinquent customers — in exchange for keeping a cut of the funds they recover. Involving a collection agency means you’re giving up a portion of what’s owed to you, but receiving partial payment is still preferable to receiving none of it at all. Start by researching collection agencies that work with small businesses in your area, and eliminate any options that aren’t bonded, licensed, and insured. Additionally, make sure any company you’re considering abides by the terms of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and narrow down the field further by limiting your choices to agencies that use skip tracing to track customers who may have left town. Step 7: Take Legal Action When all else fails, legal recourse might be the only option you have left if your former customer flat out refuses to pay an overdue invoice. Depending on your industry and the scope of the work you performed, you could take your customer to small claims court or recruit dedicated representation. In most states, if the amount the customer owes is between $2,500 and $15,000, you can take them to small claims court and represent yourself. You won’t need to pay for a lawyer in this scenario, but you should be prepared for court costs. If your customer owes you more than $15,000, you’ll have to fight for your money in civil court, which can quickly get expensive. Using Housecall Pro To Avoid Unpaid Invoices To reduce instances of overdue invoices in your business’s future, sign up for Housecall Pro today. Our collection letter generator reminds past due customers to pay by mailing them a printed letter specific to your situation. You can even choose if you’d like your message conveyed with a firm, assertive, or aggressive tone. If you want to eliminate overdue invoices and get paid faster than ever before, sign up now for a free demo of Housecall Pro!

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Two men battling over unpaid invoices

HVAC Job Description: What Does An HVAC Technician Do

February 18, 2019 • HVAC Job Description: How to Hire an HVAC Technician for Your Small Business As an HVAC technician, you have an important responsibility: to make a client’s home comfortable, whether that means fixing a broken heater during a cold spell or repairing an AC unit in the middle of a heatwave. Great technicians spend their days dedicated to the craft of installing, repairing, and maintaining heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in order to improve the climate and air quality of a home. More importantly, you have the ability to improve a customer’s quality of life and standard of living. With this in mind, how do you go about hiring another technician for your small business who understands how to deliver outstanding HVAC services? Whether it’s a home heating system or humidity control for a world-renowned hospital, HVAC technicians are relied on for keeping buildings safe and comfortable.  You need to find someone whose work makes you proud and to who you’d give your personal stamp of approval. In order to add an amazing technician to your team, you’ll need to understand how to write a captivating job description to attract the right people. Want to know more about what an HVAC job description looks like so you can hire the perfect technician for your company? Use the links below to jump to any questions you have or keep reading for an in-depth look. What General Skills Should an HVAC Candidate Have? What Qualifications Does an HVAC Technician Need to Work for My Company? What Education Details Should I Look for on a Prospective Technician’s Application? How Do I Vet a Prospective HVAC Technician? What Situation-Based Questions Should I Ask When Interviewing? When Would I Need to Hire an Extra HVAC Technician for My Business? How Can I Add an HVAC Technician to My Business? What General Skills Should an HVAC Candidate Have? In 2016, nearly 400,000 qualified HVAC technicians were servicing customers across the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for HVAC technicians will increase by 15% over the next several years—meaning there will be a lot more trained professionals in the market. So what qualities make an amazing HVAC technician stand out above the rest? Let’s take a look at some skills to include within your job description. Typical duties you might want to include in an HVAC job description are: Installing, connecting, and adjusting new thermostats in both urban and industrial environments Repairing or replacing defective heaters, air conditioners, and refrigeration systems Performing standard maintenance duties to increase system efficiency such as changing filters, cleaning ducts, or refilling refrigerants Cutting or drilling holes in a building’s structure to better accommodate a HVAC system Testing electrical circuits, carbon monoxide monitors, and smoke detectors to ensure all safety precautions have been taken Examining blueprints to a building when updating or replacing an HVAC system Testing tubes and pipes for leaks and then repairing faulty equipment Installing low-voltage electrical wiring Collaborating with marketing and engineering professionals to create product definitions and instructions that make sense to the everyday consumer Troubleshooting any sort of HVAC problems in regards to temperature control, humidity control, air flow, etc. Mounting new HVAC equipment onto walls, roofs, and floors Responding to after-hours emergencies as needed Using HVAC software to schedule appointments and manage customer payments Consulting clients on how to make their HVAC systems more energy efficient and eco-friendly Working with computerized systems to fix bugs or install software updates An HVAC technician job description should be thorough and it should note your company’s area of emphasis. While many technicians work with all HVAC systems, your business is likely specialized in a single area. This could include exclusive work with refrigeration systems in the food processing industry, or perhaps thermostats in a home environment. You want to make sure your candidate knows which field they’ll be working in. What Qualifications Does an HVAC Technician Need to Work for My Company? The quality of interior air is an important factor for creating a safe and comfortable environment. Whether it’s at home, at work, or in a public building, HVAC technicians play a major role in regulating our indoor spaces so it’s important to hire a qualified professional for your business to carry out these critical tasks. All HVAC technicians need formal training through post-secondary education at a trade or technical school. As you probably already know, students usually complete an apprenticeship under an experienced technician before fully entering the job market. Once they move into an entry-level position, there are many certifications they can pursue to qualify for specialised work and demonstrate specific skills. Before choosing a technician for your business, make sure you’re familiar with HVAC technician requirements so you know your systems are in good hands. Requirements change depending on which state you live in, but standard qualifications include: A high school diploma Completion of an accredited HVAC program of 6 months and 2 years, or completion of a 3 to 5 year on-the-job apprenticeship Industry, state, and national certifications and licenses An EPA certification for technicians who work with refrigerators In order to avoid HVAC invoicing mistakes or faulty repairs, ask your technician to show you which certifications they have completed. Have they worked for another HVAC business? Make sure to ask for references to get a feel for their work ethic. What Education Details Should I Look for on a Prospective Technician’s Application? When you’re considering a job candidate, it’s important to look at his or her full educational history. Below are examples of what an ideal HVAC candidate should have listed on their resume. Primary education: A  high school diploma or GED Aptitude in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields While STEM expertise isn’t necessary, the complex technical training involved in HVAC is made easier with a good grasp on mechanics, physics, and chemistry Academic training : Prospective technicians can receive a certification, Associate's degree, or Bachelor’s degree to gain necessary training - look for evidence of formal classes on an application Courses range from HVAC technology to industry code standards, and it’s important to have a broad range of knowledge. Make sure the technician took classes at an accredited institution On-the-job training: If the technician didn’t complete a formal education, look for proof of a 3 to 5 year paid apprenticeship Ensure that on-the-job training was carried out by an experienced HVAC technician, if possible get the mentor’s phone number for a reference Look for required 2,000 hours of hands-on training and 144 hours of technical education Some common apprenticeships you might see listed on a resume are managed by: Air Conditioning Contractors of America, Inc. Associated Builders and Contractors US Department of Labor Apprenticeship USA Program Professional certifications: This step varies by state, and different industries have different requirements for professional certifications. Popular certifications are offered by: North American Technician Excellence Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association HVAC Excellence Environmental Protection Agency Soft skills: In addition to the above qualifications, there are several “soft” skills an HVAC technician should possess to be successful in the workplace. These include: Listening: A technician needs to be able to accurately diagnose a problem when a customer requests your services, and careful listening is the first step. Good communication: Make sure technicians you hire have great communication skills. Much of an HVAC technician’s job involves following up with customers before and after completing the service to keep them in the loop. This involves speaking to them in person, over the phone, and by email. Time management: Tardy technicians rarely receive repeat clients. Critical thinking: HVAC systems can often be a puzzle to figure out, so a prospective HVAC technician must be competent at finding creative solutions to difficult problems. How Do I Vet a Prospective HVAC Technician? For home and business owners, the same HVAC problems seem to crop up again and again. Let’s take a look at some of the most common problems you might want to ask a prospective technician. These questions help assess a technician’s problem-solving abilities and give you a sense of how they would operate out in the field. Q: What devices would you check for a heating issue? A: If a customer has noticed their indoor temperature getting chilly even when the heater is on, there could be many root causes. Problems with the pilot light, igniters, and various electrical components may be the reason for the lack of heat. A technician should be able to walk you through the process for how they would diagnose an issue. Q: How would you assess and fix uneven cooling? A: If certain rooms are significantly colder than other rooms, there’s likely a problem with the sealing of pipes and ducts throughout the building. This is a serious problem because it’s wasting excessive amounts of energy without actually regulating the interior temperature. The technician should inspect all the ducts, pinpoint leaks, and clean out any debris that could be impacting the air flow. Q: How would you determine poor air flow problems? What questions would you ask a customer? What are some possible repairs? A: Does the house feel stuffy or smell dusty while your HVAC system is running? That could signal that you have dirty filters. Not only do these prevent the correct temperature from being pumped through the building, but it can also damage the performance of a HVAC unit over time. An HVAC technician can help clean clogged filters and determine whether any other parts need to be replaced. Make sure your candidate can describe these steps. Q: How do you know whether an AC unit is properly sized? A: Contrary to the idea that “bigger is better,” AC units that are too large for the space can trap humidity in the building. Because they cycle on and off too frequently, the humidity is never fully removed from the room. A technician should check the design of the building to ensure the customer has a unit that’s performing at optimal efficiency rather than just trying to upsell customers. What Situation-Based Questions Should I Ask When Interviewing? Aside from the necessary education and skills to enter the workforce, there are several other factors to consider before deciding whether or not you’re going to hire a prospect. In order to get a good read on your potential worker, ask applicants situational questions to get a sense of their work ethic and character. Working in uncomfortable situations: Q: Are you comfortable being around chemicals, working in confined spaces, or standing on a ladder to make necessary repairs? Since a technician is the person called in to fix any malfunctions, it’s likely the applicant will often work in overly hot or overly cold conditions. Even if temperatures don’t reach an extreme, many HVAC systems require work to be done in cramped and awkward spaces. Make sure the prospect isn’t claustrophobic or scared of heights because a job may involve climbing into a tight vent or making repairs to a unit on the outside of a tall building. Also, keep in mind there are a few possible dangers of working with HVAC materials. Harmful refrigerants, electric shocks, and carbon monoxide poisoning are all dangers and risks a technician must be aware of. Possibility of working odd hours: Q:  Are you willing to go above and beyond to provide service, even if that means being on-call? Broken HVAC systems have potentially catastrophic effects on both businesses and residential homes, which is why clients typically want to have repairs done as soon as possible. When an emergency strikes late at night or on a weekend, a technician may have to work outside of normal 9 to 5 hours. Physical fitness: Q: Are you capable of lifting 50 pounds, pushing heavy equipment, carrying ladders, and operating large vehicles? A technician doesn’t need to be an Olympic athlete to work as a qualified HVAC technician. However, the job can be physically demanding at times, so it’s something to keep in mind as you hire. Good customer service: Q: Is customer service important to you? How will you respond to picky customers? To be a great HVAC technician, a technician can’t just be good at fixing air conditioners—talking with clients is a big part of the job as well. A great team member will have patience with difficult customers, listen carefully to their concerns, and always show respect for their home. A technician with good customer skills could help you with word-of-mouth referrals and gain your more clients. HVAC technician job descriptions vary on a wide scale across many different industries. Keep that in mind as you search for technicians with niche HVAC experience, such as: Aerospace products and parts manufacturing Colleges, universities, and other places of higher education Industrial and commercial machinery or equipment repairs Wired telecommunications carriers Natural gas distribution and management Hardware wholesale merchants Household goods maintenance and repair Building equipment contractors When Would I Need an Additional HVAC Technician for My Business? Your business can’t be run without great people.  If your small business is growing, your staffing needs may change.  Not sure if now is the time to add more technicians to your team? Keep the following considerations in mind. When to hire more technicians: You’re spending too much time on non-critical business tasks: Is your work-life balance suffering because you’re consistently working around the clock to meet your customer’s needs? When you get home from work, do you find yourself finishing up extra to-do list items that didn’t get finished during the day? Are you stuck in an endless loop of administrative obligations instead of being out in the field or delegating jobs to tasks? If you’ve answered “yes” to most of these questions, it’s a good idea to look into getting extra help. The customer experience is not up to par: Are you getting negative reviews due to long wait times? Even if you and your staff work overtime to make customers happy, things can still easily slip through the cracks. Maybe customer inquiries have gone unanswered and you’re losing valuable prospective clients. If you’ve noticed an uptick of customer complaints, it might be time to expand your team to better serve customers and respond to negative reviews . Happy customers mean repeat customers, after all. Your staff is burned out: Everyone has tough weeks at work where the list of tasks seem never-ending. But have you noticed your employees are having issues keeping up with their jobs? Do you notice a lack of enthusiasm and drive among dedicated employees? Is your technicians’ attention to detail suffering? Are people calling out sick more often? Don’t ignore these red flags, these are signs that your employees are burned out. Adding more employees can help spread out the workload more efficiently and provide your customers with better service. Keep the bottom line in mind: When you’re trying to determine the right number of employees to add to your business, don’t forget about your overall budget. Only hire as many people as you truly need so you won’t dig into your own profits if you don’t see an increase in sales. Reliable technicians are priceless. HVAC systems involve complex wiring and potential safety hazards, so if you do decide to hire a new team member, go slow and make sure you offer a job to the best possible candidate. How Can I Add an HVAC Technician to my Business? Is it time to start attracting talented technicians? A few years ago, there were over 332,900 qualified HVAC techs in the United States alone—and according to the Bureau of Statistics, that number is only going up. Take a look at this sample HVAC job description and use it as a template to encourage the best of the best to join your team. Our HVAC Job Description Who We Are: Use this section to describe your company and why a potential employee should be eager to work for you. Example: Do you want to be part of a team that helps each other grow? Do you like flexible work schedules? How about access to top-notch specialization certification programs on the company’s dime? Then look no further. We’re the #1 rated HVAC service team in the area and we’re dedicated to serving the community with integrity and efficiency. If you want to feel appreciated on the job and find a position where you have room to grow, we’d love to hear from you. Why We Need You: Use this section to persuade a potential employee to choose you over other companies. Example: Because we provide state-of-the-art services to all our customers, we need employees who are the cream of the crop. If you want to have a career instead of just a job, it’s time to send your resume over to us. We offer competitive salaries, generous paid time off, medical insurance, a matching 401(k) policy, and a crew of smiling faces to greet you at work every morning. Qualifications: Use this section to outline the primary requirements for the HVAC technician you want to hire. Example:  In order to be part of our team, we need you to have: 3+ years of experience with residential HVAC troubleshooting, service, and maintenance    A valid driver’s license and clean driving record An EPA certification    A willingness to put in late hours and weekends when you perform on-call duties A hunger for learning more specialized techniques through certification courses and seminars The ability to pass a pre-employment background check and drug screen Great customer service both on the phone and in person       Application Requirements: Use this section to ask for any specific documents to prove the candidate is qualified.     Example: To apply, please send over your resume and cover letter. In the cover letter, please answer the following questions in individual paragraphs: What area of the HVAC industry are you the most interested in? Describe a particularly challenging assignment and how you fixed it. How has your prior experience prepared you to work for us? While the type of HVAC technician job description will vary depending on the position, this template will generate qualified leads so you can attract the most experienced and enthusiastic professionals to your business. Once you’ve completed your job listing, be sure to post it on trusted sites that can help you attract the right applicants. Sites like Monster.com, Indeed, LinkedIn, and even Craigslist are a good place to start.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

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Let's Talk Money: A Guide to HVAC Profits, Salaries, and Revenue

February 4, 2019 • The HVAC industry is growing faster than ever. By 2023 , the HVAC system market is expected to reach a value of $251.6 billion. So, what can you do to maximize your piece of this size-able pie? If you’re an HVAC business owner, you should start by developing a clear understanding of how to calculate profit margins and optimize your income. By taking steps to increase your profit margins now, you’re setting your business up for success as the market expands. This article looks at average HVAC profit margins, salaries, and expenses to help you decide how to set your prices and pay your technicians. We’ll also talk about simple changes you can make to optimize your profit margins. How Much Should You Charge for HVAC Services? This can be tricky to answer. People get squeamish when you bring up money. But the bottom line is, you’re running a business – and a business needs to be profitable to survive. That means you’ll need to think strategically about how much to markup materials and how much to charge per hour or per job. Start by Determining Your Break-Even Point Before you can turn a profit, you need to charge enough to cover basic materials and labor costs. So, start by figuring out your break-even point. That is, what’s the absolute minimum amount you need to charge to cover your expenses? Once you have this baseline figure, you can use it to help set your rates and optimize your margins. Here’s how to calculate your break-even point for any HVAC job. Step 1: First, add up all of your monthly costs for running the business, including bills, rent, licensing, and equipment. Then, divide the total by the average number of jobs you do per month. Step 2: Next, estimate how many hours each job requires and multiply it by the hourly cost of your technicians and other staff members. This should include hourly wages as well as any additional benefits you offer, like health insurance. Step 3: Calculate the costs of all materials and equipment required to complete the job. Step 4: Add these numbers together to calculate your break-even point. If you were to charge a customer that exact amount, you’d recover all your expenses – but wouldn’t make a cent of profit. Now that you know your break-even point, you need to factor in your desired profit margin and markup costs accordingly. Setting HVAC Costs: How to Markup Materials and Labor Many HVAC business owners treat profit margins and markup as the same thing, but these are two different numbers – and to make a healthy profit, you need to understand both. Markup is the difference between your break-even point (i.e. what you pay for parts and labor) vs. what you charge the customer. You need to know how much a part costs you before you decide how much to charge for it. Keep tabs on fluctuations in market prices to avoid short-changing yourself if costs go up. Standard markup on parts is 100% for non-retail items, which means you can bill the customer for twice what the part cost you. Labor markup ensures you’re making a profit off the time your technician spends completing a job, rather than just enough to pay their wages. Your profit margin is the percentage of sales that represent profit. That is, how much you’re earning back in relation to the total amount invoiced for. You can set your prices by using your desired profit margin or markup on individual costs. To determine how much you should charge for a 40% profit margin, for example, you would divide your total costs by 1.60. So, if your overhead costs are $500 for a job and you want a 40% profit margin, your calculation would look like this: $500 / 1.60 = $800 Education is the #1 Factor that Impacts HVAC Technician Salary If you’re wondering how much to pay an HVAC technician, there are several factors to consider. According to a 2018 survey, the most critical factor that affects an HVAC professional’s salary is their level of education. While the median income for all non-owner HVAC professionals is $55K, techs with certifications and degrees can command a higher salary. This makes sense, since the more a technician is able to specialize within your field, the more potential value they can bring to your company. Here’s how education can impact average earnings: Almost two-thirds (61%) of HVAC professionals have some form of industry-related education. Four out of five (80%) people surveyed have an EPA Section 608 certificate. Those with an undergraduate degree in HVAC-R make an average of 32% more than someone with just a Section 608. How Much Do HVAC Owners Make? Of the HVAC professionals surveyed, 12% were business owners. While technicians often assume their boss is taking home the majority of company profits, this is far from the truth. Here’s what the survey uncovered about HVAC business owner income: HVAC business owners have a much larger income range than their employees. Average owner income is $598K per year, but the median income for owners is only $76K. One owner surveyed claims to take home a hefty $20MM per year. These numbers suggest that a very small portion of HVAC business owners are making serious bank, but the median income for owners is only 21K higher than that of employees. 6 Ways to Increase Your Average HVAC Profit Margin 1. Minimize the Cost of Acquiring New Customers Customer acquisition cost is the amount you have to spend on advertising and sales to get one new paying customer – and it’s often a significant cost that can eat into your profit margins. In fact, one report found that acquiring a single new customer costs HVAC professionals between $200 and $300. If you can minimize your acquisition costs, your profit margins will go up. Experiment with direct mail, email marketing, and social media marketing to get noticed by your target audience. Ask new customers how they found out about your business. When you find a type of advertising that works more effectively than others, shift more of your marketing budget towards those efforts. 2. Keep in Touch with Existing Customers Even if you can cut down your cost per lead, it’s much more cost-effective to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. So, if you can sell more services to your established customer base, you’re automatically increasing your profit margins. One way to increase sales from current customers is to offer maintenance agreements that bring in recurring monthly revenue. You can also use direct mail and email marketing to keep your company top-of-mind for existing customers during slow months. This is effective because it not only fills up your schedule during the off-season, but it also frees you up to service new customers who are more likely to contact you during the busy season. 3. Add Value Instead of Offering Discounts There’s a time and a place for providing discounted services – for instance, during a serious lull in the off-season or to reward customers who give you referrals . However, most of the time, you should try to avoid lowering your rates – especially if you’re looking to boost your average HVAC profit margin. If you want to attract new customers without cutting into your profits, add more value to your existing offer. So, rather than promoting a 10% discount for first-time customers, focus on communicating added value instead. That could mean throwing in an added bonus that won’t cost you anything, like beefing up their warranty or priority service in the case of an emergency. 4. Invest in Your Team Members Putting together an amazing team doesn’t mean only hiring seasoned pros. You can and should invest in fresh talent who can learn from your more experienced techs. Not only do junior technicians have lower salary requirements, but they’re also easier to mold into the perfect employee and are often eager to learn more about the industry. Your techs are the lifeblood of your company, so it’s worth investing in developing their skills. By encouraging team members to specialize and earn new certifications, you can inspire them to build a long-term career with your company. If you invest in your team today, you’re strengthening your business and setting yourself up for a more secure financial future. 5. Track All Your Data in One Place The first key to maximizing profits is to know exactly how much money you have coming in, how much is being spent, and how your costs break down. Using a home service business managing tool like Housecall Pro makes it easy to keep tabs on your cash flow, customers, invoices, and profit margins. Plus, you can accept credit card payments with our mobile app, which means you get paid before even leaving the job site. That means no more overdue invoices or time spent chasing customers for payment – which is great for your bottom line.

Stephen Altrogge, Author

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Home Service Business Trends: 8 Shifts that are Reshaping the Industry

January 8, 2019 • The home service business is trending big time right now. Valued at roughly $600 billion, the US online on-demand home services sector is growing rapidly. According to The New York Times, the on-demand home services industry is expected to post a compound annual growth rate of nearly 49% by 2021. What’s happening here? Part of the answer: it’s generational. We’ve got a huge contingent of consumers who now live on the internet, coupled with busy lifestyles that prefer their services on-demand through that medium. Another part of the equation: mobile accessibility. Smartphones bridge the worlds between real world services and instant online services. If you can order that new toothbrush to your door, why not schedule a plumber to fix the sink too? The two go hand-in-hand for most consumers these days. This nascent dynamic creates a new context for consumers and service providers. High-quality service becomes essential as customer loyalty is vital to survival for businesses in the sector. Beyond quality, there are other keys to the home service business kingdom. To help you navigate this increasingly competitive landscape, we walk through the top home service business trends here. Changes to the Home Service Business Market Understanding how the home service business market is changing is key to your success. Who are the customers? What does the talent pool look like these days? How tight or fragmented is the market? The following trends provide important insights that begin to answer these critical questions about the industry: 1. Older Demographic Drives Spending Older homeowners are still driving the market with both the size of their market share as well as their overall spending power. In 2015, they constituted just over 51% of home improvement spending with that number expected to reached 54% by 2020. This age group is growing and reaching them therefore becomes even more critical. Facebook is a vital venue for connecting with this customer segment given that 72% of 50-64 year-olds and 62% of those over the age of 65 use the social media platform regularly. 2. Tighter Talent Pool As is the case with many industries, finding the best talent is a major pain point in the home service industry. For example, a third of remodelers (via Qualified Remodelers Top 500 Remodelers) surveyed in 2016 noted that recruiting and retaining talent was their biggest challenge. This also dovetails with millennials pushing workplace cultural changes as they become a bigger part of the workforce. This generation demands a better work environment, so consider focusing on better defined career pathways, more learning opportunities, and improving the employee experience with enhanced communication tools. 3. A Highly Fragmented Market Meets Aggregation One thing that won’t change in the home services market is that it is highly fragmented. There’s a low barrier to entry and lots of poor service providers persist within the market. At the same time, aggregators that offer customers access to all sorts of home services will continue to appeal to customers with local providers offering flexible schedules and low prices, regardless of the quality of their services. This means that providers have to offer, at a minimum, all of those benefits along with superior service to stay ahead in the game. Customer aren’t always weighing all of those criteria equally, so make sure you’re ticking all of their boxes because they all will affect your bottom line. Current Shifts in How Home Service Are Being Offered After looking at customers and providers in the market, it’s important to assess the new ways in which services are being offered within the market itself. These shifts are occurring, in part, due to economic and technological macro-trends and they have very specific implications for the home service market. 4. Greater Commoditization of Services With the merger of HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List as well as the rise of services like Amazon Home Services and Local Services by Google, consumers have more and better options at their fingertips. This means that they are beginning to look at home services as more of a commodity, with a deeper focus on reviews, response time, and pricing. Looking forward, consider revamping your paid search strategy, streamlining how you manage your leads, and optimize your reviews so you’re better able to stand out from the crowd. So what does this mean for your home service business? In short, low pricing is no longer enough. Greg Villafana and Tyler Rasmussen, owners of Brothers Pool Service and creators of the Pool Chasers podcast, know the market extremely well and have an idea about why this is the case. They argue that customer demographics are shifting and that people have a Google/Amazon mindset. This translates into customers who default to what Google suggests or whatever comes cheap and fast via Amazon. For service providers who offer quality services--even those with a solid existing book of business--this can be devastating. The move here is for companies to use these growing platforms as tools to market their quality services rather than seeing them as obstacles standing between them and existing (or potential) customers. In short, adapt or watch your customers go elsewhere. 5. Online, on-demand home service market + bundling As Matthew Kanas at Intuit Canada noted, “If Amazon can deliver a package within 24 hours or the same day, why can’t home service businesses deliver on the same time frame? This is the mindset the home service industry will need to take. In other words, get ready for the home services market to become completely “Uberized.” Consumers not only want services on-demand, they seek simplified ways to book related services. For example, when you book a flight through United and you’re checking out your reservation, the airline offers an option to also book a car to airport via Uber. This is called “bundling” and consumers love it. The tip here for providers is to find ways to bundle your services in with relevant, related services customers are already purchasing as a way to drive business your way. Time is of the essence for consumers more and more, so help them save those precious hours by putting your business in front of them before they know they need it. 6. Technology is changing the home service industry, rapidly Think about how consumers now deal with their unwanted household items. They take a picture of it using an app like OfferUp or Letgo and list it for other consumers to purchase. These apps use artificial intelligence to identify the item and show a potential price for the goods pictured. A customer can just click “Accept,” whereas before they had to type everything out themselves. Now think about how that impacts the home service industry. Customers will soon be able to use voice recognition technology to request a home service provider for a specific problem and get an instant quote. They will soon be empowered to take a picture of a household fix they need and get a quick estimate from a local provider scrolling through customer requests on her phone. New visualization technologies now allow consumers to measure every detail with one click. Adaptation of applications through the explosion of smartphones and mobile broadband has created emergent, consumer-facing sites and mobile apps. Customers seeking home services are now more likely to trust these apps and use them to secure the home services they seek than ever before. Home service providers who embrace the opportunities technology is bringing into the market will produce faster and more accurate quotes for customers, stronger leads for their businesses, and ultimately a bigger bottom line for their companies. 7. Luxuries become necessities Two important generational phenomenon are happening here. First, millennials increasingly run their homes like a business, thinking of time as a more precious commodity. Second, the on-demand economy has created a new class of workers that function between working for a specific company (often remotely) and self-employed individuals and freelancers. Taken together, this creates greater demand for speed and convenience when it comes to home services as these new roles themselves were created out of previously-existing inefficiencies. This new class of workers has increased spending capacity in many cases and they’re prepared to spend it on home services that were previously seen as luxuries. Their time is simply more valuable and they want the home services to meet this new demand. It should also be noted that this trend makes pricing much more volatile in the home services market. Pricing continues to a be a central challenge facing home service providers. With no standardized approach and the industry as nascent as it is, this can add instability to the prices consumers face and home service providers must compete with. There seems to be a growing trend of discounts and companies are geared towards consumer acquisition and retention through pricing methods. The generational shift in how consumers think about home services and the ensuing changes to how those services are priced represents a wave that providers will have to catch if they want to succeed in a changing market. Framing their services as home necessities with flexible and attractive pricing options for consumers will be the key to surviving and thriving amidst these shifts. 8. Client communication channels are evolving The frequency and ways in which home service businesses stay in touch with their clients is changing--fast. Recent studies show that 56% of people would rather message a business (on a social media platform or website) than call them for customer service. At the same time, many home service businesses are not equipped to receive messages across multiple platforms such as SMS or Facebook Messenger. If one out of every two customers wants to reach out to you in this way and you’re not set up for it, you’re missing a huge segment of your potential customer base. Home service businesses across the board are developing and deploying great content to build their audiences--even through video on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. With consumers searching for everything online these days, having professional-looking, ready-made content showcasing your skills as a home service professional will be the first point of contact for many new customers. Think about it: A helpful tutorial video that helps a customer diagnose a problem they’re having might make them more likely to purchase your services for that problem or another issues they’re facing down the line. Home service providers who want to win in their markets today and in the future must recognize: customers will find and judge your business on your appearance on these platforms regardless of the quality of your work. It’s a new reality to cope with, but also an opportunity to showcase your skills and the quality of your work.

Emily Bauer

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HVAC Invoicing: 11 Mistakes to Avoid

December 18, 2018 • Running every aspect of your HVAC business is a tall order. The busier you get with new clients and jobs, the less time you have to focus on paperwork. So, it’s not surprising that some of the administrative stuff like invoicing might fall through the cracks. Fortunately, HVAC invoicing doesn’t have to be complicated. We put together this list of common mistakes to avoid – so you can get paid faster, cut back on paperwork, and make invoicing a breeze. What NOT to Do: 11 HVAC Invoicing Mistakes to Avoid Mistake #1: Not Generating an Invoice On-Site Are you slowing down the payment process by mailing your customers paper invoices?  One of the biggest invoicing mistakes HVAC professionals make is not giving customers an invoice before they leave the job site. If you can generate an invoice right then and there, there’s no need mail one out after the fact. This saves you money on stamps, envelopes, and ink – and helps you bill more accurately since there’s more room for clerical error once you leave the job site. Plus, showing the customer your invoice before you leave their property ensures that there are no surprises in store for either party. The customer can confirm that they understand the charges and you can clarify when payment is due and how they can pay. Furthermore, it allows you to get paid on-site through your home services app – that is, as long as you’re not making this next mistake. Mistake #2: Turning Down Credit Cards The number one rule of HVAC invoicing? Don’t make it hard for people to pay you. Unfortunately, some HVAC professionals break this rule by not accepting credit cards. The thing is, there’s really no good reason to turn down credit card payments these days. By refusing to take credit card payments, you’re creating an unnecessary roadblock between you and your payday. Especially because, with a smartphone in your pocket, you can easily collect payments on-site. Your home service business software can turn your phone into a card reader on-demand. The HouseCall Pro app helps you get paid on-site by scanning a customer’s card on the spot. No more chasing down payments after the fact, pestering customers with follow-up emails, or driving around picking up checks. This frees you up to spend more time working on other billable jobs or, better yet, generating new opportunities for your business. Mistake #3: Not Being Prepared for Cash Payments Even though we just talked about how amazingly convenient online payments are for you and your customers, why limit yourself to one payment method? While many of your customers will love that you accept credit cards, some might insist on paying cash. HVAC professionals serve a wide range of demographics – which means you should still be willing to accept cash from any customers who prefer it. So, for the convenience of everyone involved, make sure your technicians always have enough change on them to break a bill. Mistake #4: A Poorly Organized Filing System This goes for both paper and digital invoices. If you don’t properly label and organize your invoices, you’ll have a hard time keeping track of all your sales, payments, and customer information. Ideally, you should use software that organizes customer data all in one place, including invoices and payments. This gets even more important as your business grows because not only do you have more jobs and invoices to keep track of, but you’ll also have more employees creating, sending, and following up on invoices. Mistake #5: Storing Outdated Customer Data You should save customer details in your home services or billing software so it’s easy to generate a new invoice. When you land a new customer, collect and verify their contact information before putting together their first invoice. This should include the customer’s full name, home address, phone number, and email address (so you can send them a copy of their receipt). For repeat customers, you should ensure their data is up-to-date when they call to book their next appointment. To streamline your billing practices even further, securely store your customers’ payment information on your home services app. This way, you can process the payment as soon as they review the invoice. Because hey, if you have an opportunity to make billing easier for your customers and get paid faster, why not take it? Mistake #6: Incomplete Maintenance Records Your invoicing process should involve taking notes about the work that was done, including when the job was completed, how long it took, what parts were used, and any relevant details. If your maintenance records are missing data, you risk running into trouble down the road. These records allow you to include a list of goods and services rendered on your invoice. Otherwise, the customer may be confused about where certain costs are coming from. For instance, if something unusual comes up during a routine installation, you want to have a record of it in case the customer questions the extra charges. Mistake #7: Not Including a Detailed Cost Breakdown On top of getting you paid, an invoice ensures the customer understands exactly what they’re paying for. That’s why it’s helpful to include a detailed breakdown of individual costs as well as the subtotal and the total after tax (if applicable). For instance, say you offer 10% off for first-time customers. That 10% discount needs to be represented as a line item on your invoice. Otherwise, the customer might not realize a discount was applied and expect the same lower rate on future work. Mistake #8: Inconsistent Documentation If your team is any bigger than just you, then you need to lay down some guidelines for documentation. Make sure your techs understand what needs to be included on their invoices, how much detail you require for each line item, and how specific types of work need to be recorded. If you include any acronyms or short forms on your invoices, you should aim to use them consistently. Every invoice should follow the same template and guidelines, regardless of which technician completed the job. Mistake #9: Missing Any of These Crucial HVAC Invoice Elements It’s important that you’re able to keep track of your invoices – and these key details will help you do so. Here are four main elements every invoice needs to have: A clear header: Include a header with the word ‘Invoice’ displayed prominently. This might sound obvious, but it’s important to ensure your customers can instantly tell exactly what they’re looking at. Contact information: Include your business name and contact information on every invoice, as well as the customer’s name and contact details. Date issued: This is valuable for record keeping and accounting purposes as well as making sure you get paid on time. Invoice number: Every invoice should have a unique number or billing code. Mistake #10: Skipping Over the Legal Stuff An invoice is a record of services provided, but it can also act as an agreement between your business and the customer. For instance, if you have specific payments terms you want customers to agree, it’s important to outline those on the invoice itself. This might include how long they have to pay the bill and accepted payment methods, along with any other preferences you might have. In this case, you should also include a spot for the customer’s signature. Mistake #11: Not Offering a Service Contract to Secure Future Work With the right approach, an invoice can do more than get you paid for the current job – it can help you secure future cash flow, too. By allowing customers to opt into a service agreement right on the invoice, you can increase your revenue with repeat business. Consider offering a service contract as an optional add-on and make it possible to add that cost directly to the invoice. If you want to learn more about the value of service contracts, keep an eye out for our upcoming article on this very topic!

Emily Bauer

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8 Thumbtack Competitors to Help You Pick Up More Work in Your Field

October 5, 2018 • Running your own small business isn’t easy – especially because finding new clients can feel like a job of its own. Whether you’re seeking out new long-term customers or are trying to replace a last-minute cancellation, you need to know where to look for leads. And even then, turning leads into customers often requires a great deal of time, money, and patience. Fortunately, there are plenty of websites and platforms built specifically to help you find leads as quickly and easily as possible. One such platform is Thumbtack, an online marketplace that connects local businesses with customers looking for their services. How Does Thumbtack Work? Potential customers describe the type of service they need and set parameters for how far the company can be from their home. This ensures they connect with the most relevant local businesses. Thumbtack then emails information about the lead to service providers who offer that service within the selected area. When you receive an email like this, you have access to the details you need to decide whether you or not want to apply for the job. Service providers pay a fee (which varies by industry and goes up to $15) to send the potential customer response with their contact information. Basically, Thumbtack just makes it easy for anyone to find the best local talent for a given job – which, in turn, makes it easier to for you to find and connect with hot leads. Tips for Getting the Most Out of Thumbtack We’ll talk about some of your other options in a moment, but since Thumbtack is one of the most popular platforms, here are a few tips for making it work for your business: Get noticed by replying to clients ASAP: When it comes to standing out on websites like Thumbtack, timing is everything. If you take too long to respond, it won’t matter if you’re the best person for the job – because someone else will have beat you to the punch. So, make sure you receive emails from Thumbtack on your phone and reply to promising leads as quickly as possible. Save time pre-written messages: When you’re already multitasking all day long, responding to every incoming Thumbtack request can seem like an extra burden. Fortunately, you can write and save prepared replies, so you have always a response ready to go. Craft a friendly, professional message that you can send out when you get a notification from a potential customer. Track your success: Keep track of how many leads you earn through Thumbtack and the amount of revenue they’ve provided to your business. This allows you to ensure that your investment is worth it. If you’re not seeing a healthy return from the time and fees you’re spending on the site, you may need to revamp your profile and rethink your strategy for messaging potential customers. Though it’s one of the most popular platforms in the gig-economy, Thumbtack isn’t the only place you can look for leads online. There are quite a few other options you can try – and why wouldn’t you? Searching for leads in multiple places will increase your potential for scoring new customers. So, let’s take a look at some of the best alternatives to Thumbtack. 8 Thumbtack Competitors to Help You Grow Your Business 1.  Gentask Gentask is an on-demand service marketplace that works very similarly to Thumbtack. Customers log into the mobile app or website and explain what type of service they’re looking for. Then professionals can submit quotes and the customer chooses which professional they’d like to hire. As an FSB owner, you can register and specify the types of services you provide. Then, when a customer posts that they’re looking for a business like yours, you have an opportunity to respond to their request and potentially get hired. 2.  Shiftgig Shiftgig is a mobile marketplace that allows you to connect with individuals and businesses looking to hire specialists for all sorts of odd jobs. Once you’re registered as a Shiftgig Specialist, you can use the mobile app to apply for short-term jobs that make use of your skillset. Since you get to choose where, when, and how often you work, it’s perfect if you or your team has extra availability for a limited time and needs to pick up a few quick jobs – without the hassle of seeking out leads on your own. 3.  Bloomchase This is another site designed to help professionals like you find and connect with local customers. It’s a great option for service providers across a large range of industries, including everything from home improvement specialists to pet care to life coaches. Once you’re verified as a trusted professional, Bloomchase matches your skillset to a customer’s specific needs. Potential customers can search Bloomchase for the type of service they need, view your profile, read reviews, and ask for a quote before booking you. 4.  BidWilly BidWilly is a task management website focused on homecare services like maintenance, repairs, cleaning, and lawn care. Its purpose is to make it easy for homeowners to easily find high-quality professionals who fit their budget. So, whether you’re an independent contractor or small business owner, you can create a profile to tell homeowners about the services you provide. Since customer ratings influence your success on BidWilly, make sure you ask satisfied customers to leave a favorable review once a job is complete.   5.  NeedTo.com This site makes it simple for businesses and people to find help for just about anything they need to get done – from landscaping and home maintenance to furniture assembly and other odd jobs. While some of the listings are for casual, short-term requests, you can also find opportunities with the potential to become long-term customers. Simply browse through customer requests to see if anything matches your skillset. 6.  TaskRabbit Though it’s not tailored specifically to FSBs, potential customers use this task management app to hire skilled Taskers for a variety of jobs. Popular task categories include handyman, cleaning, and moving. When you join TaskRabbit, you’ll be notified of nearby jobs that match your service offerings. You can choose which ones you’d like to accept, confirm details with the customer directly, and submit an invoice through the app. 7.  Wonolo Like many of the resources listed here, you can use Wonolo to search for hourly or daily jobs that fit into your schedule. However, the thing that makes Wonolo stand out is the fact that it caters to businesses and brands, rather than individual homeowners. Businesses use the site to hire talent on-demand for a number of different industries, which makes it an awesome resource if you’re looking to work with bigger companies. 8.  Staffy Staffy is an app that can help you find new clients and jobs that fit into your existing work schedule. It connects with hospitality businesses that need skilled contractors for a range of different jobs, both long-term and short-term. Since Staffy promises to provide on-demand staff within 90 minutes, it’s a good option whenever you’re looking for work on short notice – or simply looking to connect with customers who are looking for your exact skill set and availability.

EJ Brown