Everything you need to succeed as a Home Services company in a digital world.
February 13, 2019 • Thanks to smartphones, we have access to a wealth of information and tools right in the palm of our hand. Apps have completely revolutionized many industries, from ridesharing to academics to banking. The HVAC industry is no different. As an HVAC technician, it’s important to have your physical tools with you to diagnose and resolve issues. However, virtual tools are just as crucial and can help you enhance your business by allowing you to solve problems more efficiently in the field. Below you’ll find the 13 best HVAC apps that can help you learn HVAC concepts, troubleshoot problems you may face in the field, and calculate loads so you can make accurate choices about furnace or A/C unit size. These apps can help both amateurs and seasoned pros, so read on for an in-depth look at the HVAC apps that’ll help put your new HVAC business on the map. Our HVAC App Categories: HVAC Learning Apps HVAC Troubleshooting Apps HVAC Load Calculation Apps HVAC Business Apps HVAC Learning Apps If you’re new to the HVAC field, it’s important to be committed to becoming an expert and that means you need to absorb all you can about heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. HVAC software allows you to brush up on essential knowledge so you’re better able to handle and resolve issues out in the field. As an aspiring HVAC technician, you’ll need to have a wide breadth of knowledge and be able to answer questions such as: What is a sling psychrometer and what does it measure? What’s the difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump? What is one element you don’t have to consider when you’re completing an outdoor unit install? If you’re not sure what the answers are to those questions, have no fear. The apps below will cover those questions and many more. Even if you’re a professional who has been working for years, there’s always new technology and equipment to learn in the industry. Below are some of our favorite HVAC apps to keep you updated and knowledgeable. HVAC Flashcards by BH Inc – iOS — Cost: $4.99 Best for: “ Studying HVAC technology & theory” This app is a great tool for studying for the HVAC exam and may even make the process a little more fun. It’ll help you gain better understanding of HVAC technology , terms, and theory. HVAC Flashcards covers major areas of the HVAC exam including: Air distribution and balance Gas heat Heat pumps Refrigeration concepts Controls Electric heat Features: Access to over 1000 pre-made flashcards with essential terms, equipment, and concepts Statistics for cards and games you play plus a study-tracker Schedule for reviewing flashcards to help keep you accountable Customization of flashcard color and text color for a user-friendly interface Text-to-speech technology Offline download available for offline studying so you don’t need an internet connection to learn How to use: Choose between four modes: Study, Listening, Quiz, and Matching Study statistics to monitor how well you’re doing among different categories Simply follow the directions on the screen to flip between flashcards The Dictionary: Complete HVAC Dictionary Free — Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Studying HVAC terms” This app serves as a quick reference guide for HVAC terms and concepts. Enjoy learning about more than three thousand terms with expert descriptions covering heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This is great for both professionals and those just beginning their HVAC careers. Curious what parameters make a leak Class IV or Class V? Need to know the difference between an axial fan and a centrifugal fan? Done. With this HVAC app, you’ll have all of the definitions you could want in one convenient place. How to use: Type in your HVAC term right into the search bar Add bookmark to save the term for easy reference later HVAC Practice Test — iOS — Cost: Free Best for: “ Various study modes” Get ready to crush your HVAC exam. This HVAC app boasts thousands of up-to-date questions, tracks your progress for every single question, and optimizes your ability to memorize concepts and terms. You can even challenge your friends to see who has the most HVAC know-how. Instead of one mode where your brain gets bored, your mind is stimulated by multiple learning modes. How to use: Choose between different featured modes: Study, Slideshow, Matching, Memorize, and Quiz Based on your progress, the app will quiz you daily on categories that need more attention Flip between flashcards, test your knowledge with a timed, multiple-choice test, or review your overall knowledge progress Challenge friends to HVAC knowledge quizzes HVAC School – Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Curated information from HVAC professionals” If you’re an Android user, this is one of the best HVAC learnings apps you can get. It will help current HVAC technicians keep their knowledge base current and assist those aspiring techs to learn all they can. Features: Tune in and listen to the HVAC School podcast, an informational podcast about changes in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems you should know about. Read technical articles by professionals in the industry to bolster your understanding of concepts, equipment, and theory in the industry. Use the HVAC calculators integrated within the app to gain a broader comprehension of common HVAC mathematics concepts. How to use: Use the dashboard to search through different categories: Tech Tips, Podcast, Tools, and Search Look up HVAC terms, listen to an industry podcast for insider knowledge, read articles on HVAC theory, and utilize HVAC calculators HVAC Troubleshooting Apps As an HVAC technician, you have an incredibly important job: fix sometimes critical issues that affect customers’ enjoyment and comfort of their homes. Here are some common problems you might face on a typical service call, depending on your particular location: Common problems faced on an HVAC service call Heat pump won’t shut off The actual temperature doesn’t reflect the thermostat High electric bills Heat pump is blowing cold air Steam coming from outdoor unit Cold and hot spots within the home Overly noisy indoor unit Strange odors around unit Hot water runs out too quickly Those are just a few common HVAC issues but you never know what your day in the field will hold so it pays to be prepared for anything. Below are some of the best HVAC troubleshooting apps you can confidently diagnose and fix a problem. iManifold – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Calculating HVAC/R system performance” The iManifold App is a convenient troubleshooting tool that calculates HVAC/R system processes as well as performance. Using user input and dynamic, live system data, you’ll be able to easily hone in on any issues. With over 40 selectable refrigerant options and equipment options, the iManifold app can be customized for your specific HVAC/R needs. For advanced options, you can upgrade to iManifold Report Pro, Charge & Airflow Report, and Mechanical Inspection to take your HVAC business to the next level. How to use: Calculate HVAC/R system performance by inputting variables directly into the blank fields Look up equipment information, system profiles, and troubleshooting guides HyTools – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Hydronic calculations” HyTools by IMI Hydronic Engineering delivers a handy, intuitive hydronic calculator app for HVAC pros. This isn’t just any app, it was built by industry leaders in hydronic distribution systems and temperature control, IMI Hydronic Engineering International SA. More than 100,000 projects all over the world and years of experience helped to build this app so you know you’re getting the best, most accurate information. Need to make a unit conversion? Confused about pipe sizing? Find all the answers you need with this app designed with the HVAC professional in mind. Features: Pipe sizing Unit conversion Hydronic calculator (input two values and get the answer) Power – flow – temperature difference Flow – valve setting – pressure drop Flow – Kv/Cv – pressure drop Dirt and air separator pressure drop calculation Valve sizing and presetting Radiator power estimation (panel as well as column) Run-time selection of localization and run-time selection of language How to use: Input values into the empty fields to find common HVAC calculations Use answers to guide any necessary corrective actions or to determine replacement needs Refrigerant Slider – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Pressure-to-temperature refrigerant conversions” This app comes from the engineering experts at Danfoss who specialize in refrigeration, air conditioning, heating, motor control, and machinery. If you’re looking for an app that acts as a quick, efficient pressure-to-temperature refrigerant converter, this is your app. The Refrigerant Slider covers 69 different types of refrigerants including natural ones. You’ll be able to dive into a world of refrigerant knowledge thanks to this app’s in-depth description of different refrigerant types. Features: View Global Warming Potential (GWP) and Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP) of refrigerant materials Ability to switch between AR4 and AR5 values according to European F-Gas regulations App built according to NIST Refrigerant Properties and uses Antoine equations for conversion See both dew and bubble point for refrigerants Switch between Metric and Imperial units How to use: Using the left side of the screen, a slider will help you determine the pressure or temperature reference Using the right side of the screen, you’ll see the pressure and temperature in exact measurements Type in a specific pressure or temperature reading and the slider will give you instantaneous answer corresponding to your input Test and Balance/Commissioning Calculator – iOS and Android — Cost: $9.99 Best for: “ Pressure-to-temperature refrigerant conversions” If you’re an HVAC technician out in the field, you will want to be prepared with the right knowledge. And with HVAC issues, that means you must have various formulas and mathematic equations close at hand at all times. The Test and Balancing/Commissioning Calculator has common calculations you may need when you’re out trying to fix different HVAC issues. How to use: Find Cooling MBH Calculation: By using inputs of altitude, CFM, entering and leaving dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures, this calculator determines the work performed by the cooling coil in total, sensible, latent MBH, tons of cooling and condensate gallons per hour. Find Water MBH: By using the known GPM and entering and leaving water temperature, the calculator will tell you how much heat is transferred into water. Find Sheave Change: Helps you determine the necessary sheaves and belts to either add or subtract to the fan RPM to get to the correct CFM. It also determines the required BHP for change, the length of the belt, and delivers both motor pitch and fan pitch diameter. Find Heating MBH Calculation: Utilizing the known altitude, CFM, and entering and leaving dry bulb, the calculator will deliver the sensible heating load data. Find Humidification: Using the known altitude, CFM, and entering and leaving dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures, the calculator will tell you the work being reintroduced into the air stream. For example, “steam pounds per hour,” “total MBH,” and “gallons per hour”. Find Traverse Points: By inputting the duct size and whether or not there is an internal liner, this calculator will give you location points to perform traverse in ducts, both rounded and rectangular. Find Psychrometric Properties: Delivers all psychrometric property data from any dry bulb and wet bulb temperature of air at any given altitude. Find GPM: Determine the GPM based on one of the combinations below: Known Cv & ΔP (PSI) Known design ΔP of fixed Orifice, Design GPM, Actual ΔP (PSI) Known design ΔP of fixed Orifice, Design GPM, Actual ΔP (Ft) This is one of the pricier apps on the list, however, it’s also one of the most comprehensive pieces of HVAC software. HVAC Load Calculation Apps The load calculation is how you determine the right size furnace and/or air conditioning unit for a client’s home that properly balances heating and cooling needs. When the HVAC industry was in its infancy, technicians would make an educated guess to ascertain the heating gains and losses for a given property. Usually this number was derived from the actual size in square feet of the home and it wasn’t necessarily an accurate number. Because HVAC companies needed to make sure the unit would be big enough for the house, they usually erred on the side of caution and installed a bigger-than-needed unit. A too-small unit in a house that doesn’t properly balance cooling and heating losses means that the unit won’t effectively cool or heat the house. A unit that’s too large for a space or property, however, isn’t great either. A too-large unit results in hot and cold spots throughout the house. The HVAC industry changed radically when the Air Conditioning Contractors of America was formed. The organization came up with standardized ways to calculate a home’s heating and cooling losses involving complex mathematical equations. Unfortunately, doing those calculations by hand meant a lot of time and effort was expended. In the modern HVAC world, apps and software do the mathematical heavy lifting. Here are some of the best HVAC load calculation apps to make sure your service responds to your clients needs. HVAC Load Plus — iOS — Cost: $24.99 Best for: “ Sizing cooling and heating units” HVAC Load Plus is the perfect companion when you’re out in the field. It’ll allow you to size cooling and heating units, show those results to the client, and email the data to your home office to analyze the information further for more insight. Plus, you’ll save time by inputting data in the field and returning to your office for a more thorough analysis. Features: Weather for more than 1000 cities in database Data for hundreds of construction types for ceilings, windows, doors, floors, roofs, and more Additional input variations such as number of people, number of bedrooms, ventilation airflow, and more Ability to download a full HTML report of all data including a spreadsheet attachment Easily transition from Imperial to Metric units Equipment location services Bonus module: HVAC Quick Load – will allow you to perform rule-of-thumb heating and cooling load calcs based building type, square footage, and the number of people How to use: Create and store an unlimited number of projects – plus, you can copy existing projects to new projects for simple recycling of data Use calculator and report feature to see a full breakdown of the cooling and heating load report which includes further breakdown by opaque load, window load, skylight load, ventilation load, infiltration load, and internal load contributions Duct Calc Elite – iOS and Android — Cost: $6.99 Best for: “ Calculating ductwork sizing” Duct Calc Elite helps you make the most of a customer’s HVAC system. Duct sizes that are too small means that the entire system has to work more to keep the property heated and cooled to comfortable temperatures. Conversely, if the duct size is too big, the velocity is compromised so you might not be able to feel it at all through the vents. To calculate ductwork sizing, you’ll need to know the following: Square footage of the home Square footage of each individual room Cubic feet per minute Duct’s sizing friction loss rate Or, you can simply rely on the Duct Calc Elite which does all the work for you. This useful HVAC app boasts an intuitive, user-friendly interface so you can enter values for each calculation with total confidence. Features: Duct Size by Airflow mode Duct Size by Dimension mode Pressure Drop mode How to use: Use the included calculator to find the following: Duct dimensional units: inches, centimeters, or millimeters Airflow units: cubic feet per minute, cubic feet per second, cubic meters per second, or liters per second Velocity units: Feet per second, feet per minute, or meters per second Pressure loss unit: inches of water per 100 feet or Pascals per meter Duct material type: aluminum, concrete, fibrous glass duct liner, flexible duct-metallic, galvanized steel, PVC plastic pipe, smooth liner, spiral steel, or uncoated carbon steel Air temperature: Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin Elevation: feet or meters HVAC Check and Charge – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Refrigerant charge calculations” HVAC Check and Charge from Emerson Climate Technologies delivers on-site refrigerant charge calculations for air conditioning applications. Features: For use with R-22, R-410A, R-32, R-407C and R-134a Airflow calculator Superheat calculator (non TXV) Subcooling calculator (TXV) How to use: Technician chooses subcooling, superheat, or airflow setting Enter the specific system temperature with latent and sensible environmental loads Resulting calculation is the proper system charge Final value tells you whether or not the charge amount should be altered HVAC Duct Sizer – iOS and Android — Cost: $5.99 Best for: “ Ductwork sizing” This is another highly-rated duct-sizing app for both Android and iOS users. Essentially, it’s a virtual version of a traditional duct sizing measurement tool. How to use: Find Size by Airflow: Choose the total airflow in CFM (or L/S), the aspect ratio and either velocity of air or the friction loss per 100 feet (or 30 meters). The resulting calculation delivers both exact and rounded estimations of height, width, and diameter dimensions, the equivalent diameter (for rectangular and oval ducts) and the calculated velocity and friction loss. Find Size by Dimensions: You can examine an existing duct system by punching in the present duct dimensions and either the airflow or velocity numbers to arrive at the calculated duct friction loss. Add in custom parameters: Duct shape: rectangular, oval, round Duct material type Duct roughness Air temperature Air pressure HVAC Business Apps If you own your own HVAC business, you know how important it is to stay organized. With clients, multiple technicians, ongoing projects, emergency calls – HVAC businesses are known for being dynamic, busy organizations. So, it’s important to ensure that you have all your bases covered with regard to scheduling, clients, and project progress. For example, you can make it easier for potential customers to go about hiring an HVAC technician to fix a heating, cooling, or refrigeration issue by allowing online booking through social media and review sites. You may also want to consider a business app to help you digitize all the important information you’re dealing with day to day like client information, messages, projects, schedules, employee messages, and more. For all of your HVAC business needs , HouseCall Pro is the app that’ll help streamline your workflow and build your company. Housecall Pro – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Trial Best for: “ Managing your HVAC business” If you’d like an app that does it all, look no further than the Housecall Pro app. This app will serve as your business hub where all of your business-critical matters are in one convenient location. Message clients when you’re on your way, dispatch technicians based on proximity to clients, allow customers to pay with their credit cards for instant payment, send out automated emails without marketing services – there’s truly no other app like it. Don’t waste your time half-heartedly trying to market, let us handle that for you while you focus on higher-value tasks that are important to your business. How to use: Use the intuitive dashboard to navigate to each category and section to carry out your essential HVAC business tasks: Online Booking Schedule and dispatch Custom invoicing and estimating Payment Instapay Live map Service agreements QuickBooks Online Automated marketing Messages to clients Pay by credit card, cash, checks Send jobs to employee calendars Set recurring jobs Send notes and photos while on a job Send invoices via text Sync data to secure cloud Set employee permissions Export customer data and job information at any time HVAC Apps for every project HVAC apps aren’t the only way to get a job done right the first time, but they’re a helpful tool to make the most of your time, knowledge, and skillset. As an HVAC technician, you’re tasked with the important job of making sure people’s homes are comfortable. Using apps like Housecall Pro helps make your business more efficient and responsive. Tackle each HVAC job with the confidence that comes from knowing you have all the information you need right in your pocket.
Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator
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
January 11, 2019 • What’s the best way to guarantee you’ll have more revenue down the road? Get your current customers to agree to future work today. Finding new customers is one of the hardest things about running a home service business. Not to mention the cost of marketing and bringing in new leads. In fact, it’s anywhere between 5 to 25% cheaper to retain an existing customer than to land a brand new one. The key to a sustainable HVAC business is recurring revenue, both from customers you already have and new ones who hire you in the future. So, how can you ensure your current customers keep coming back to you consistently – while also providing great value as thanks for their loyalty? With HVAC maintenance agreements . What is an HVAC Maintenance Contract? An HVAC maintenance contract is an agreement between your business and a customer who agrees to pay a set monthly fee for ongoing maintenance and preventative care. Your typical HVAC maintenance contract includes bi-annual checkups at the start of winter and summer. Some contracts also provide discounted rates for other services, free parts for anything that needs to be replaced, and priority treatment that allows the customer to get faster service in the case of an emergency. When Should You Use One? The most obvious time to suggest a maintenance contract is when you install a new unit. By offering maintenance agreements to customers during installation, you can lock in your business as the customer’s go-to choice for everything HVAC. You should also offer service agreements to any existing customers who want to protect themselves from unexpected repairs or breakdowns on an older unit. The Benefits of HVAC Maintenance Agreements for Your Business Let’s take a look at the importance of using HVAC maintenance contracts, including the benefits for your business and for your customers. Recurring Revenue and Guaranteed Future Income Arguably the biggest benefit for your business is that HVAC maintenance contracts secure future income. By signing customers on for a long-term contract, you can rest assured that you’ll have recurring revenue for the duration of the contract. Recurring revenue is safer and more reliable than the project revenue model. The more customers who opt for an HVAC maintenance agreement, the more guaranteed income you’ll have coming in. Higher Customer Lifetime Value If your typical customer only calls you when they need repairs, you’re not making money off of them most the time. This means even if you retain customers long-term, you’re still not maximizing your customer lifetime value (CLV). And HVAC businesses with a low CLV are forced to rely on incoming leads to generate more revenue – and their margins are thinner as a result. HVAC maintenance contracts allow you to inspire customer loyalty, ensure you’re the first person they call with HVAC concerns, and increase your CLV with recurring payments. The Work is Straightforward Performing routine maintenance checks for long-term customers is generally an easier gig than trying to figure out a new customer’s system for the first time. With an HVAC maintenance contract, you get to know what to expect at each checkup or service call. So, not only are your technicians receiving more work on a regular basis, but the jobs are actually easier. The work is more predictable, requires less troubleshooting, and is an all-around better experience for your team members. HVAC Maintenance Contracts Are Great for Your Customers, Too HVAC maintenance agreements aren’t just a great deal for your business and your technicians – they’re also beneficial to your customers. Here’s why. More Affordable HVAC Service These agreements typically provide bi-annual intensive maintenance checkups as well as a reduced rate for any other service needs that pop up. Though fees vary based on your business, location, and services provided, most HVAC contracts are typically less expensive than scheduling two service calls per year. Customers can also save money long-term. There’s less likelihood that they’ll have to spend a ton at once to repair or replace a damaged unit, because they’re paying you a smaller, steady fee for ongoing maintenance. Preventative Care Keeps Their Unit Up and Running A HVAC maintenance agreement allows homeowner to ensure their HVAC system is kept in good condition. They’re less likely to experience a breakdown that leaves them without air conditioning in the summer or heat in the winter, because their units are checked at the start of each season. Their Warranty Remains Intact Many warranties on HVAC units are only considered valid if the unit receives regular maintenance and care. By entering into a service agreement, your customers are able to keep their warranty intact. 5 Bonus Tips for Maximizing Customer Lifetime Value Here are a few other things you can do to boost revenue and provide more value to your loyal customers. 1. Keep Track of Your Customers The first step to better customer relationship management is gathering intel. The more you know about your customers, their service history, and their HVAC needs, the better you can connect with them and inspire loyalty. It helps to create a database or use a CRM platform to organize information about your leads and customers. Start with the basics: their contact information. It’s important that you can easily find a customer’s phone number, address, and email address all in one place. The more details you include about the customer (like the size of their home, unit type and age, as well as service history with your company), the easier it will be to manage your customer list and offer appropriate services and estimates in the future. 2. Build Stronger Relationships The nature of the job is that you spend more time ‘getting to know’ your customers’ HVAC systems than actually interacting with your customers. That said, a personal touch can go a long way in any type of home service industry. Personalized emails, thank you cards, and even phone calls to check in throughout the year are easy, low-effort ways to build stronger customer relationships. 3. Send Out Personalized Offers You can also strengthen your customer relationships by offering custom promotions to thank customers for their loyalty. Since you already have your customers’ emails, you can break your list of contacts into groups based on different factors. Look at things like the types of services they typically need, their location, and how long they’ve been a customer. Then, you can send out emails tailored to each group. Remember to further personalize each email with the customer’s name. 4. Create a Loyalty Program It can be tricky to encourage loyalty in customers you only see a few times per year. So, you need to give them a good reason to hire you again, rather than some other local HVAC business. In addition to the tips above on how to build stronger relationships, you can incentivize customers to hire you again with a loyalty rewards program. Even a simple points-based rewards program shows your customers that you value their loyalty. For instance, your customers could earn points for every maintenance checkup they schedule or gain points based on how long they stick with you on a service contract. 5. Keep an Eye Out for Cross-Selling Opportunities Cross-selling is another way to increase profits and provide more value to your customers. If some of your customers aren’t taking advantage of all your services, you might have an opportunity to increase the amount of value you provide for them – while also increasing your revenue. Lock in Future Revenue Today HVAC maintenance contracts might just be the key to increasing your revenue and keeping your schedule full all year round. To make transactions and payments even smoother for your customers, it’s a good idea to automate payments and scheduling. Find out how you can start automating your HVAC maintenance contracts with Housecall Pro.
January 3, 2019 • Cassie & Oscar Pound, Quality Heating & Cooling Ordinary people, extraordinary courage. This is how we do the work. OUR STORY Built on the foundation of integrity, determination, and passion, Cassie and Oscar Pound are revolutionizing the home services industry. The owners of what was once a one-truck operation, have now built a multi-million dollar heating and air company that dominates the Oklahoma market. “It’s been a lot of trial and error, and we had no clue what we were doing. We’ve definitely made mistakes, and worked hard for our victories.” - Cassie If you were to meet a thousand Pros in a day, Cassie is the one Pro whose name you won’t forget. A true hustler, she is boldly confident and being told ‘no’ is her strongest motivation. Oscar on the other hand is a man of few words, but has eyes filled with stories. When he chooses to speak, everybody stops what they are doing and listens. A family man, he will stop at nothing to provide for his loved ones. Together, they are Oklahoma’s power Pros. Cassie and Oscar are the kind of business owners that have built a unique and strong company culture. Even after a long day’s work, you will find their technicians staying late to have a bowl of Oscar’s homemade gumbo, drinking a beer, or simply looking for things to help out with around the office because they feel like they are a part of the family. “We care for our techs like we care for our kids. There were times if we couldn’t take a paycheck, we made sure our employees did.” - Oscar BACKGROUND Growing up, Oscar knew he was never going to go to college. He enjoyed working with his hands and found fulfillment in building something out of nothing. Even at the age of 17, Oscar was a forward-thinker and job security was most important to him. He wanted a skill set that he could take with him anywhere he lived. Recognizing that heating and air conditioning is a necessity to our livelihood, he knew this was his destiny and jumped right into doing the work. Oscar started out doing maintenance for commercial buildings, and with hard work and intellect, he was quickly promoted through the ranks. It wasn’t long before Oscar realized he could do this on his own, but better. Oscar ran a successful one-truck operation for 5 years, but was working crazy hours running the entire business on his own. Working 18 hours a day, he was spending more time with his customers than his own family. Raising six kids, Oscar and Cassie felt immense pressure to succeed. It was time for Oscar to grow his team, and he needed a work horse. Cassie didn’t waste any time getting to work. Jumping right into the position of VP and Operations Manager, Cassie described her days as mass chaos. Buried in paper invoices, struggling with dropped calls and miscommunication with customers, she knew they would not be able to scale their business using pen and paper. “Our guys would leave for the day with a schedule that looked like a kindergarten art project. We had no real scheduling system and no real tracking.” - Cassie Quality Heating and Cooling was up and running on Housecall Pro in under a week. Finally having an easy operating system in place, Oscar was able to switch his focus from working in his business to working on his business. OUR TEAM Even though it wasn’t an obvious fit, they made a bet on one of their first technicians and hired their landscaper, Brent. Brent had no experience in HVAC, but that didn’t matter to Oscar and Cassie. They saw in him what they look for in all of their new employees - strong work ethic, attention to detail, and good communication skills. They believe that the quality of their business is only as good as the technicians you send to your customers’ homes. If you look for personalities that are a good culture fit, the rest can be taught. “We prefer hiring guys with no experience. We want to build and train them so they don’t have bad habits, and are receptive to learn.” - Oscar All of their technicians have worked alongside Oscar at some point. Oscar operates at a high level and that’s how he sets the standard. True leaders are the pinnacle of what they expect from the people around them, and leading by example encourages his people to aim for that. The Pounds do bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with each of their employees to maintain good relationships with their employees, and help them stay on track to hit their goals. Their teams’ personal lives are just as important to them as the work they do day-in and day-out. As business owners and leaders, they want their techs to feel valued and supported in all aspects of their life. “Transparency is what it takes to be a good leader. You have to be invested in their personal life, and also be available to them at all times. You can’t just care about them as an employee, but a human being.” - Cassie The biggest lesson Oscar learned in his early days of working for other companies was how important giving and receiving verbal confirmations are. He knew he was doing good at his job because he was always getting raises and promotions, but he never received compliments from his boss letting him know how great he was doing. “You would be surprised how loyal they will be to you if they think they are getting your approval. I try and verbally let my guys know how they’re doing because I know that ultimately they want me happy and they get satisfaction from knowing they’re doing a good job.” - Oscar Providing his team with positive affirmations lifts the overall morale, encourages his techs to grow, and also makes it easier on Oscar when he may need to come down on them a bit harder for making mistakes or doing lazy work. No day is perfect, but if the positive outweighs the negative, that means his team goes home feeling good about the work they achieved and that’s what’s most important to Oscar. OUR CUSTOMERS There is a reason why Quality Heating and Cooling is the highest rated HVAC company in their area. Cassie and Oscar understand it’s not about them, it’s all about their customers. Every moment of every job is of critical matter. The value of their company and the value of their brand they have worked so hard to build completely depends on the experience and quality of service that they provide to their customers. There is no doubt that Quality Heating & Cooling sets the industry standard when it comes to customer satisfaction. If you were to shadow them on a job site, you will never find a tech walking around - but running from task to task. “Our techs run on the job site because of the sense of urgency we have created in them. From the moment they arrive, the customer is their priority.” - Oscar For Quality Heating and Cooling, the year of 2019 is all about their customers. By giving their customer the option to book online, they have opened up a market for new customers - the younger generation that is primed to book services online just like they would book a flight, or a dinner reservation. “Housecall Pro has been a gamechanger for our business. Our goal for 2019 is to hit $3.5 million in revenue, and Housecall Pro will help us get there.” - Cassie They plan on using Housecall Pro to close 500 Service Agreements this next year. This will allow them to set their customer up for success by extending the lifetime of their AC/Heating units while guaranteeing their repeat business to combat for their slow season. OUR COMMUNITY Cassie and Oscar are very active within their community, and are always looking for ways to help others. They do annual paper and food drives for their public schools, and are also members of their Chamber of Commerce. This holiday season, when their customers visit their website to book their services online, they have the option to donate a toy to a child in need and in turn they get $20 off their diagnostic fee. Identifying themselves as community leaders in Oklahoma, they are looking to share their knowledge with all companies in the home service industry - even HVAC companies. “Working together with other Pros gives more value to the industry and the market. Working against each other, constantly undercutting each other, devalues what we’re all doing.” - Cassie Cassie and Oscar host monthly Pro Meetups in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City to grow the Housecall Pro community, learn from each other, send each other referral jobs, and bring value back into the home service industry so customers will be more trusting for Pros to enter their homes, and willing to pay the price you deserve - no questions asked. Quality Heating & Cooling is setting the new industry standard. Allowing their customers to book online, earning their trust by delivering great work, and investing in their community to help other Pros go from good to great, Cassie and Oscar Pound are true Superpros.
Alyssa Bennett, Director of Growth
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!
November 12, 2018 • 2018 is rapidly coming to a close. As you gear up for the coming new year, you might be interested in attending some trade shows 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 34 trade shows to choose from, you have plenty of options in 2019. Download Field Guide: How to Hire & Grow HVAC Your HVAC Business Without the Headache 1. 2019 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Winter Conference Where: Atlanta, GA When: Jan 12-16, 2019 What: The ASHRAE winter conference advertises eight tracks for attendees, including refrigeration, HVAC&R fundamentals and applications, systems and equipment, common system misapplications and achieving high-performance building operation after design. 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.
November 6, 2018 • There’s a common misconception that you can only get big marketing results with an even bigger budget. But the truth is, you don’t need to spend a ton to market your business effectively. In fact, thanks in part to free tools like social media and email, there are more ways than ever to grow your business without spending anything at all on marketing. The infographic below digs into six paths you can take to expand your HVAC business without even touching your marketing budget. 1. Ask for Referrals Getting referrals is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to get more customers. 84% of people trust recommendations from friends and family. So, now that you know how important referrals are for growing your HVAC business, how can you go about getting more of them? Make an effort to ask for them! Better yet, create a referral program that incentivizes your existing customer base to recommend your services to their network. 2. Generate Recurring Revenue The best way to build a sustainable business is to lock in future revenue from existing clients. You can’t guarantee that a customer will come back to you for future work, but you can encourage them to do so by providing exceptional service and a loyalty program. You can also create long-term opportunities by offering maintenance agreements whenever you install a new unit. 3. Build Partnerships Partnering with other home service businesses can be an awesome opportunity for growing your HVAC company. Local plumbers, painters, and handymen all serve the same type of customer as you – but they don’t offer HVAC services. By forming partnerships with local business owners offering non-competitor services, you can increase awareness for your business and even get a few referrals at no cost to you. 4. Use Social Media The best part of social media marketing isn’t that it can be completely free (or you can set your own budget to whatever makes sense for your business) – it’s also effective. Half of business owners report having increased their sales through social media marketing. There are plenty of different ways to approach social media marketing. Whether you participate in Facebook groups, host an Instagram contest, share your latest blog post all over Twitter, or opt to invest a few bucks in targeted ads. 5. Email Marketing HVAC businesses should take advantage of email marketing not only to land more customers, but to land customers who are willing to spend more over their lifetime. After all, people who buy services from an email spend considerably more money (138% more, to be specific) than your typical customer. Plus, eventually, all units need repairs, maintenance, and a replacement installed. So, schedule reminders to send follow-up emails to previous customers based on the lifecycle of their unit. You can use a template for each type of email so all you have to do is personalize the details and hit send. 6. Get Reviews and Testimonials For better or worse, online reviews can have a serious impact on your business. That’s because a whopping 97% of consumers look at online reviews when researching a local business. This means that as soon as a potential customer discovers your business online, there’s a 97% chance they’re going to read reviews before contacting you to book an appointment. You need positive reviews to help bring those potential clients to your door. So, simply ask happy customers to leave you a review or write a testimonial that can be posted on your website. It’s free to ask – and most satisfied customers are happy to comply. Download Field Guide: How to Hire & Grow HVAC Your HVAC Business Without the Headache
October 27, 2018 • Did you know that 80% of all sales require at least five follow-ups to close? That means it can take five interactions from when a customer becomes aware of your HVAC business to the point that they’re ready to hire you. Whether a lead first learns of your business through a traditional advertising method like direct mail or they discover your business on Facebook, it can take up to four more interactions with your business before they decide to hire you. The second and third time a customer encounters an ad for your business, they’ll begin to recognize the name, earning you valuable brand recognition. This helps develop trust and build your reputation as a reliable HVAC business. By the time your prospect is actually in the market for a new air conditioner, hopefully your business will come to mind first. Or they’ll Google “AC replacement” and select your website from the list of results – because they know your brand and trust your reputation. Standing out in a digital world For local home service businesses, the competition is fierce. In order to build your reputation, attract new customers, and grow your company, it’s crucial to adapt to modern digital marketing strategies. Learning about the fundamentals of digital marketing will allow you to get found by local customers searching for HVAC services online. Let’s take a look at six of the core digital marketing strategies HVAC professionals should use to grow their business in 2019 and beyond. Download Field Guide: How to Hire & Grow HVAC Your HVAC Business Without the Headache 6 modern HVAC marketing strategies to grow your business 1. Use local SEO best practices to stand out in search results Local search engine optimization (SEO) is all about making it as easy as possible for local customers to find your website when they search online. When potential customers need an HVAC professional, many of them use a search engine like Google to find local businesses. Your SEO affects where your website ranks in local search results. The higher your site appears in the list of results, the better – because more people will see it and click on your site. Good SEO for HVAC services includes a range of practices, such as: Making sure your website is easy to navigate and understand. It should offer useful, relevant information that helps Google understand what you do. Optimizing the URL, meta data, and content for each page by including targeted keywords and phrases (like “ [Your City] HVAC”). Ensuring your NAP data (business name, address, phone number) is consistent across your website as well as any third-party listings or websites where it appears. Linking between related pages on your website. For example, if you publish a blog post on the importance of replacing old air filters, you should include links to other pages on your site about seasonal HVAC maintenance and the services you offer. 2. Make a better first impression by taking control of your Google My Business listing An accurate and complete Google My Business listing is crucial for your HVAC company. By optimizing your listing, you’re helping local customers find your business in search results and making the best first impression possible. If you haven’t already, your first step should be to claim your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Claiming ownership of your listing gives you the power to control what customers see when your business appears in Google search results. Once you’re verified as the listing owner, you should check that your business name, address, phone number (NAP), and website address are all correct. You should also set your service area, so customers know whether or not you make house calls to their location. These steps are vital if you want to build credibility and make it easy for customers to get in touch with you. Next, you can further optimize your listing by selecting 2-3 of the most appropriate categories, uploading high-quality photos (including a profile image, cover photo, logo, and pictures of your business location – ideally both the interior and exterior). Try to choose photos that are clear, well-lit, and at least 720 by 720 pixels. 3. Switch to responsive web design to keep visitors on your site longer When your future customers look for a local service business, most of them don’t sit down at a computer to do their research. In fact, 87% of smartphone users reach for their mobile device first when searching for a product or service from a local business. This is the biggest reason why your website needs to be mobile-friendly – so you can connect with the large chunk of mobile customers who are searching for you. It won’t matter how many people visit your website if they don’t stick around long enough to learn about your company. You want to make sure your website is easy to use and navigate, regardless of what device a potential customer is using. So, if you hire someone to update your website, remember that a responsive or mobile-friendly website design is the way to go. Responsive design means the web pages will automatically adjust to perfectly fit whatever screen size is being used to the view the content. Another option is a standalone mobile website designed for mobile screens specifically. In this case, your main website would redirect users to the mobile version whenever they use a smartphone. If you’ve ever stumbled across a non-responsive website on your phone, you know how frustrating it can be. The buttons are often too small to press, the text runs off the screen, and the image sizes are all out of whack. It’s no wonder most people leave a website immediately if it’s not mobile-friendly. A mobile-friendly web design will ensure your website looks great on screens of all sizes and is easy to navigate on a mobile device. 4. Build brand awareness and customer relationships on social media Social media’s not just for socializing anymore – it’s a powerful marketing platform for local services businesses. You can use social media to build awareness about your business, find new leads, and engage with potential customers. Facebook and Twitter are excellent places to start for HVAC businesses. You can create a business page that lists your hours, contact information, address, and links to your website (which can drive traffic and is also great for SEO). Whether or not you choose to run paid ad campaigns, you can use Facebook to reach your target audience by engaging with other home service pages and groups. If you have a lot of photos and videos you can use to promote your business, set up an Instagram account to showcase those visuals. You can use Instagram to feature customer stories, show off before-and-after installation pictures, and to introduce team members to your audience. Here are a few other ways to incorporate social media into your HVAC marketing strategies: Participate in industry-related Facebook groups where you can share your knowledge and establish a reputation as a local professional. If you create promotional videos or blog articles, share your content across each of your social media channels to get more views and exposure. Host a giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and ask participants to comment, share, or tag friends to get more entries. Use Facebook ads to market your business to specific types of customers within your service area. 5. Create videos that grab customers’ attention One of the best ways to stand out on social media is to create and share marketing videos. Think about it: when you’re scrolling through Facebook, a video is more likely to grab your attention that static text or even a photo. Not only do marketing videos allow you to convey a message quickly and effectively, but they can also drive traffic to your website and encourage potential customers to take specific actions. It’s good practice to include one strong call-to-action near the end of your video – whether it’s asking viewers to go book an appointment online, call your office, share the video with friends, or leave a comment with their thoughts. Not sure what to create videos about? There are a wide range of HVAC topics that would make for engaging video content. Everything from maintenance tips to behind-the-scenes looks at how your technicians tackle common issues to answering customer questions in a Q&A-style video. You could also talk about the benefits of working with your team of professionals or highlight the ways that your HVAC services save customers money in the long-run. Now, you might assume that good marketing videos are expensive to produce - but that’s really not the case anymore. There are a variety of cost-effective tools to help you create professional-quality videos on a budget. For example, a video-creation platform like Promo by Slidely gives you access to all the tools, video clips, and music you need for an eye-catching video. Plus, you can easily add text, so viewers can tell what’s going on even if they’re watching on mute. Another option is to experiment with live video. It’s free to broadcast using Facebook Live (aside from recording equipment – which can simply be your phone or computer – and anything you pay to promote it in advance) and you can drum up quite a bit of engagement with this type of content. 6. Build credibility by asking happy customers to write online reviews For better or for worse, customer reviews affect your bottom line. A survey by BrightLocal found that 92% of customers read online reviews when researching local businesses – and another 68% of consumers trust a business more after reading positive reviews. So, it’s important to reach out to satisfied customers and ask them if they’d be willing to leave a brief review on Google and Facebook. Once you start receiving reviews, you should reach out to customers who leave positive reviews to thank them for their kind words. You should also take this opportunity to ask if they would mind being quoted on the testimonials section of your website. Be consistent and diversify your marketing efforts for best results Digital marketing requires dedication if you want to see major results. So, be consistent and diversify your HVAC marketing strategies to include a healthy mix of the tactics listed above as possible.
September 17, 2018 • New technology, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, are changing the heating and air conditioning industry in every way. To keep up, HVAC professionals need to understand how customers are using this new technology to monitor their energy usage and plan equipment maintenance. Here are five technology trends that are impacting HVAC companies. 1. New sustainable homes use alternative heating and cooling options New buildings are being designed to use minimal energy to heat and cool the property. According to Grainger, green building strategies go beyond sealing and insulation and even energy-star appliances. For instance, builders are rethinking ventilation systems to use more natural airflow, and specialized building materials provide a more constant building temperature which reduces the need for high-powered HVAC systems. Solar and geothermal systems are becoming more cost-effective options. 2. Smart thermostats connect to home monitoring services In a recent survey by Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions, seventy-five percent of thermostats will be Wi-Fi-enabled by 2019. And these Wi-Fi-enabled programmable devices do more than just pre-set a temperature. Consumers search for products that can connect other smart home systems, such as Samsung SmartThings or Amazon Echo. Smart thermostats allow residents to monitor their home — including energy consumption and temperature — wherever they go. Download Field Guide: How to Hire & Grow HVAC Your HVAC Business Without the Headache 3. Smart systems increase preventive maintenance Smart HVAC systems are predicting when maintenance is needed before there’s a real issue. This new trend can change your relationship with your customers from someone they call in an emergency to someone they reach out to for regularly scheduled check-ups. While preventive maintenance might cut down on emergency house calls, smart systems open up new avenues to provide service and expertise to your customers. It’s becoming more common for residential and commercial customers to have systems designed for remote monitoring. HVAC professionals can begin to monitoring energy usage, suggest maintenance, and offer personalized suggestions for ways to improve energy efficiency. 4. Customers expect tech-savvy services and technicians Customers expect HVAC services to be easy-to-book and easy-to-pay with more information about their work order readily available in one place. They want tech-savvy customer-service options, but they also want tech-savvy technicians. In a recent study by Verizon Telematics, two-thirds of consumers said they wouldn’t use a home service professional a second time that wasn’t tech savvy. This works out well for the 78 percent of service professionals already using mobile apps on the job. According to the same study, 92 percent of technicians reported that their productivity increased using mobile technology. When you employ mobile-savvy technicians, consider training them on more than just your company’s internal business tools. Samm’s Heating and Air Conditioning owner, Paul Sammataro, explains how his technicians often demo smart-home automation to their customers using their own cell-phones and tablets. 5. Virtual reality (VR) training for HVAC professionals Virtual reality is becoming a cost-effective way to train new employees or current staff training on new equipment or working on advanced certifications. For instance, Tauris McBride, founder of Tauris Tech, uses VR training to prepare his students for the New York City Refrigeration license exam. Check out his training simulator on Youtube. Using virtual simulators, you can walk technicians through the installation and troubleshooting of new equipment, and larger groups can train at once with less equipment needed. As reported by HVACInsider, “VR minimizes the risk and cost because attendees can use virtual components before migrating to real materials.” HVAC equipment and business software will continue to evolve as new technology gains momentum. But with it comes new opportunities for improved professional training and customer service.
Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator
September 7, 2018 • The initial growth of many small single-proprietor HVAC businesses comes from word-of-mouth and local advertising. And then you reach a point where the growth plateaus. This is an indication that small-business tactics are no longer enough. While things like customer recommendations remain important, to reach the next level of growth, you need to add new promotion and sales strategies, as well as a technology infrastructure to support your growing business. 1. Invest in opportunities to differentiate your company You already know that, in order to compete against huge regional or national chains, you must differentiate your business. Initially, it was easy enough to set yourself apart by providing better quality service that led to repeat customers and word-of-mouth recommendations. But when you’re trying to take your business to the next level, quality service isn’t enough in and of itself. So how do you differentiate on a larger scale? Invest in marketing efforts tailored to your company’s strengths and specialties. Experienced HVAC tech and contractor Dave Miller recommends targeting a different audience than your competition through specialization. If larger companies put a lot of promotional efforts toward installing multi-split units, for instance, don’t try to outdo them — focus on something else. When you become the expert in a specific area of service, Dave explains, “you can easily craft your sales pitch to be more appealing.” Of course, you don’t need to stick to one specific service, but putting a lot of effort into one or two can help focus your marketing efforts. Dave also suggests marketing heavily to a specific region (what he calls the “sniper approach” where you can build up a strong reputation and people will get used to seeing your service vehicles and logo. As you grow, you can expand that area wider and wider. Facebook allows you to run ads on a specific zip code, which can be a good place to start this micro-local marketing. 2. Invest in SEO and CRO site optimization The majority of people want to work with a local company as opposed to a national chain, so they’re looking for a business like yours. But can they find you? A recent survey showed that 97% of people search for local businesses online and 85% of folks surveyed trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations. In order to be found, your site needs to be optimized for local searches by using a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. As SEO expert Bradley Shaw explains, “Local SEO is essential for HVAC marketing. You need to be found in your city listings. It helps drive organic search traffic to your website. Organic traffic is ‘free traffic’.” Optimizing your site for local search includes things like: Figuring out what people in your area are searching for and making sure those search terms are found throughout your site Linking to your website from local listings such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google My Business. While there are simple things you can do on your own to increase your search rankings, to compete with larger businesses, especially chains, it’s worthwhile to invest in expert help. Even a one-time cost of a detailed SEO audit could help you generate dozens or hundreds of new inquiries each year. If you’re already on top of the SEO game, the next site investment with a big payoff is conversion rate optimization (CRO). How well is your site set up to convert site visitors into new customers? A CRO audit can show you different ways to improve your call-to-action on your site, which should always be linked to your online booking page. 3. Invest in technology that makes your job easier Are you equipped to handle a rush of new business? Even if you have a large enough team ready to handle the work, new customers mean more customer calls schedule, and estimates and invoices to write. Successfully growing your business relies on having scalable processes in place to handle this additional work. Step one is automating as many business processes as possible, such as automated invoicing and taking online payments. Step two is moving from separate management tools to one unified platform. When you’re stringing together different software — one for dispatching, another for invoicing, etc. — it requires lots of time and effort to get information from one app to another. This is what Housecall offers HVAC and other home service industries: one unified solution to manage your entire operation. And it doesn’t just make your life easier; it also adds value to your customers. For instance, Housecall offers new opportunities for customer engagement, such as live chat. Per one recent customer service survey, 79% of businesses polled said that offering live chat has increased sales, revenue, and customer loyalty. The secret to becoming a bigger business is thinking about what you’ll need in the long-term and making smart investments that will get you there. Investing in finding and securing new clients needs to coincide with infrastructure investments. Find new business, and be prepared to handle it. These three strategies are proven, time-tested investments that, when done well, will become central to your ongoing growth and success. With the right positioning, the right online presence, and the right technology, you’re set up to reach new heights. Download Field Guide: How to Hire & Grow HVAC Your HVAC Business Without the Headache
Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator