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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

Calculating Your Break Even Point In 4 Easy Steps

March 2, 2019 • Starting a new business isn’t for the faint of heart… or for the impatient. In fact, most new businesses aren’t profitable for about three years. But just because you’re not raking in piles of cash doesn’t mean you have to be bleeding it. The first goal toward turning a profit is breaking even. It may not sound as exciting as a free trip to Hawaii, but the moment you break even is actually a big milestone for your business. What is a break even point? Put plainly, your breaking even point (BEP) is when your sales are exactly covering your expenses. But calculating the BEP isn’t as simple as it sounds. You must take into account all of your expenditures, both fixed and variable, and do some calculations about profit per unit. Here is a 4-step plan for how to calculate the break even point for your business. Add Up Fixed Costs Track the Price of Your Services and Products Identify Variable Costs Run The Formula For Your Break Even Point Step 1: Add Up Fixed Costs The fixed costs are the easiest part of your break even point calculation. These are the expenses that remain predictable each month/period. That being said, it’s easy to leave something out of your calculations if you’re not careful. Here is a list of common expenses that will comprise your fixed costs: Rent. The costs associated with leasing your office, warehouse, and/or retail spaces makes up a huge percentage of your fixed costs. Salaries. Executive salaries are likely to remain fixed for the first few years of operation. Property taxes. If you own any property associated with your business, don’t forget to factor in these annual taxes. Depreciation of assets. The depreciation of an asset, from a vehicle to a building, is also considered a fixed cost. Insurance. Regular insurance payments are unlikely to fluctuate significantly from month to month, so put them in the fixed cost category. Step 2: Track the Price of Your Services and Products The next step is to itemize the retail price of each product or service your business offers. This may change as you determine your target profit formula, but you need to get a baseline. For instance, maybe you run a business selling sunglasses and hats. The current sales price of a pair of sunglasses is $5 and the price of a hat is $10. This information is crucial to calculating your break even point. Step 3: Identify Variable Costs On to the variable costs. These are the costs associated with actually producing your sunglasses and hats. Variable costs change in proportion to your production volume. If you produce fewer sunglasses this month than last, your variable costs will also decrease. Variable costs are typically calculated on a per unit basis. Some examples of variable costs include: Labor costs. As you produce more sunglasses and hats, your factory labor costs will increase. If you have a retail location, you may also need more employees to handle the increased sales. Raw materials. Let’s say your sunglasses are made of plastic and metal. As you produce more sunglasses, you’ll need to buy plastic and metal in larger quantities. Sales commissions. If you have employees on a commission schedule for selling your sunglasses and hats, you must also consider the average commission per unit. Packaging. Just as your raw material costs fluctuate depending on production needs, your packaging costs will also go up and down based on the number of units you sell. Step 4: Run the Formula for Your Break Even Point Now you have all of the necessary elements on hand to calculate a break even point. The basic formula is: Fixed Costs / (Price - Variable Costs). The second part of the equation is also called the contribution margin because it represents the dollar amount each unit contributes toward fixed costs. When you’re considering multiple products in your evaluation, you’ll also want to weight the selling price and variable costs accordingly. For instance, maybe your annual sales break down to 40% sunglasses and 60% hats. Let’s use these numbers in a break even point example to show you how this formula is done. Say your fixed costs (rent, salaries, insurance, etc.) are $100,000 per year. The price of your units, as we referenced earlier, is $5 for sunglasses and $10 for hats. Now let’s say your variable costs (materials, factory labor, etc.) break down to $2/unit for sunglasses and $4/unit for hats. Remember we’re assuming your sales are 40% sunglasses and 60% hats. To figure out the weighted selling price, you will multiple the sales price of each product with its contribution to overall sales: = ($5 x 40%) + ($10 x 60%) = ($2) + ($6) = $8 Now let’s calculate the variable costs using a similar weighted formula: = ($2 x 40%) + ($4 x 60%) = ($0.8) + ($2.4) = $3.20 Now you’re ready to run your break even point calculations Fixed Costs / (Weighted Price - Weighted Variable Costs). $100,000 / ($8 - $3.20) = 20,833 units Your company needs to sell 20,833 units per year to break even, but let’s see how that breaks down among different types of product given that you sell more hats than sunglasses. 20,833 x 40% = 8,333 sunglasses sold 20,833 x 60% = 12,500 hats sold You need to sell 8,333 sunglasses and 12,500 hats this year to break even. Or, if you’re offering services, you need to book 8,333 sunglasses jobs this year and 12,500 hats services. Once you have a break even point based on sales, you can start to outline how long it may take you to actually reach that goal. For instance, if you know it will take 18 months to sell that many sunglasses and hats, you can make the BEP a second year goal. In Conclusion Figuring out the break even point for your business is a crucial step toward profitability. It’s near impossible to meet financial goals without detailed accounting practices, as any new business owner will soon discover. To that end, your business should be taking advantage of Housecall Pro’s QuickBooks integration and invoicing software whenever possible. Are you ready to take control of your business finances and break even? Contact Housecall Pro to learn more about streamlined scheduling and payments for your home services.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Calculator and paper calculating a break even point

Clover vs. Square - Choosing The Best Payment Platform

February 28, 2019 • Working in the field service industry used to present payment issues. Since most home service providers don’t carry a full cash register in their truck (and by that we mean no one does), cash or check used to be the only options. While you might welcome cash, keeping a stash of bills in your truck isn’t the most secure way to run your business. Luckily we’re now in the age of payment processing software . Benefits of a mobile payment platform Thanks to mobile card readers and point of sale (POS) processors that fit in your pocket, you can collect all manner of payments in the field. Whether you work in plumbing, electrical, carpet cleaning, pest control, or another service industry - mobile payment apps are a lifesaver. Some of the most popular features of mobile payment platforms include: Accepting payments on the spot from anywhere, even if you’re offline. Receiving money in your bank account right away with instant transfer. Setting up automatic billing to streamline your cash flow. Putting an end to checking the mailbox for payments. Two of the most used payment platforms are Square and Clover. Which is better for you? Let’s take a look. Payment Platforms 101 First things first: there are some features that most payment platforms consider essential. Before you ask yourself “Is Square better than Clover?”, ask yourself what you need from a POS system. Here are some of the general features of any payment processing software, including Square and Clover. Mobile Readers: Card readers let you swipe client credit cards in the field using an attachment on your iPhone or a mobile terminal. Perhaps the most essential part of a payment platform, the mobile reader securely processes the payment and sends your customer a receipt. Add-On Services: You can customize your POS service by adding on additional services. Square allows you to add on things like appointment booking, payroll, and instant deposit. Clover has features including time clock and tip pooling. Easy-to-Use Hardware: In addition to the efficiency and accuracy of your software, your system should have user-friendly hardware. This includes handheld terminals and phone attachments. Comparing Fees Between Square and Clover Fees are important, there’s no way around it. Lower transaction costs keep your overhead within budget. Square and Clover arrange their fee structure somewhat differently. Here is an overview of what fees look like with each service: Square: Square processing fees include a 2.75% rate for for swiped, tapped, or dipped card payments on a reader or stand. For cards tapped, dipped, or swiped on a Square Terminal, the fees are just 2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction. From a Square register, the fee is 2.5% plus 10 cents per transaction. There is no monthly fee to use terminals or registers. Clover: Clover processing fees include a flat fee and per transaction fees. Your rate will depend on the plan you use, and they may also vary if you use a processor other than Clover. If you get your services from Clover, the fees are as low as 2.3% plus 10 cents per transaction (with a $29/month fee) for a “Register” plan. This is recommended for businesses that do more than $50,000/year of transaction. The “Register Lite” plan costs $14/month plus 2.7% and 10 cents per transaction. An Overview Of Square Square has seven different payment terminal types, and you can use as many or as few of them as you need. Use the Square register inside your office and take the Square terminal (handheld) and Square reader for magstripe with you on the road. Square tracks all customer transactions, and you can sign in from any device to see your dashboard. It’s pretty convenient. Square offers a real-time sales report, which allows you to filter by item or tender type. This makes finding out how many of your jobs are paid for in cash is easy. Square customer service is a bit non-traditional. They don’t offer a public customer service number; once you sign up for their service, you can use your dashboard to receive a customer code that enables you to reach a representative. They also have chat support via the web. What is the Clover Experience? Clover’s pricing plans are somewhat inconsistent due to multiple processors involved with Clover payments. In other words, you may not be dealing with Clover directly. While this gives you some freedom of choice for fees and other features, it could also mean your customer service experience will vary between processing providers. If you want to choose Clover, you likely have some extra research on your hands. Clover has six hardware systems, which allows for a lot of flexibility. This includes their popular Flex handheld terminal and Clover Go for smartphone payment processing. The customer Mini is great for in-store payments. Clover also syncs with hundreds of apps, so you can really customize your POS station.   Choosing a Payment Platform Asking yourself “Should I use Clover or Square?” is a loaded question. If you want easy access to customer service, Clover may be the answer. If you care more about dealing directly with the creator of your hardware and software, Square could meet your needs. Square has more mobile phone POS hardware, which draws in users who want to turn their smartphone into a payment station, while Clover boasts the ability to set up a loyalty program so you can grow your leads. Pros & Cons Of Using Square: Summed up, here are our Pros & Cons of using Square as your payment platform for your small business: .tg {border-collapse:collapse;border-spacing:0;}.tg td{font-family:Open Sans;font-size:14px;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;}.tg th{font-family:Open Sans;font-size:14px;font-weight:normal;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;}.tg .tg-oe15{background-color:#ffffff;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:left;vertical-align:top}.tg .tg-4eds{font-size:24px;background-color:#ffffff;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:center;vertical-align:top}.tg .tg-5crt{font-size:28px;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:center;vertical-align:top} Pros And Cons Of Using Square Pros Cons - Several different payment terminal types - Real-time sales reports - 2.75% transaction rate - Non-traditional support - must receive a customer code before getting in contact        Check out Housecall Pro vs. Square Pros & Cons Of Using Clover: Here is one last look at the benefits and setbacks of using Clover as your processing software: .tg {border-collapse:collapse;border-spacing:0;}.tg td{font-family:Open Sans;font-size:14px;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;}.tg th{font-family:Open Sans;font-size:14px;font-weight:normal;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;}.tg .tg-oe15{background-color:#ffffff;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:left;vertical-align:top}.tg .tg-4eds{font-size:24px;background-color:#ffffff;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:center;vertical-align:top}.tg .tg-5crt{font-size:28px;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:center;vertical-align:top} Pros And Cons Of Using Clover Pros Cons - Freedom of choice with fees and features - Very customizable - Fees as low as 2.3% per-transaction plus .10 - Multiple processors means you might not be dealing with Clover directly Consider Housecall Pro as your payment solution You can also look outside these popular options to other payment platforms. Companies like Housecall Pro are developing payment processing systems designed just for home services businesses. Our features allow you to get paid in minutes with Instapay, keep customer cards on file, and process payments via card reader, built in processor, or ACH. All with some of the lowest fees possible. Bottom line: If you haven’t entered the 21st century with your accounts receivable, it’s about time, and you have lots of options.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Clover vs. Square logos

9 HVAC Marketing Strategies That Can't Fail

February 27, 2019 • It can be hard to stand out in a field like HVAC. As most home service business owners know, competition is fierce. Unfortunately, making a sale isn’t as simple as pitching a prospective customer and scheduling an appointment (trust us, we wish it was, too). In the crazy world of selling, studies show that up to 80% of all sales require at least five follow-ups to close. That means it can take five interactions with a customer—which may include five refusals—until a customer may be ready to close the deal. Annoying? Yes. Essential? Also yes. If you’re looking to stand out in the digital world but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for HVAC marketing strategies that deliver results , to help you get a leg up on the competition and drive HVAC leads who will turn into lifelong customers. Our 9 HVAC Marketing Strategies Build a Website Make Sure Your Website is SEO-Friendly Start a Blog Build an Optimized Google My Business Page Build Credibility With Customer Reviews Create Useful Video Content Build Brand Awareness and Foster Relationships On Social Media Expand Your Social Media Reach Even Further Through Facebook Advertising Drive Repeat Customers With Automated Marketing #1: Build a Website In today’s digital age, there’s one truth:  if you don’t have a website, you don’t exist. Today’s digitally-savvy customer looks to company’s website for legitimacy. The proof is in the facts: 85% of consumers use the internet to find a local business—which leaves you in the dust if you’re not online. Teach your customers about your business Think of your company’s website as the digital HQ for your HVAC marketing. It’s your centralized place in the digital world where prospective customers can come and learn about your business. That means it’s your opportunity to speak directly to potential clients and show them why you’re the best choice for their HVAC needs. A well-designed website educates prospective leads, but also provides them a contact phone number and online contact form on each page of the site, so that an appointment with you is right at their fingertips. Do it yourself While building a website once required the help of a professional web developer, these days anyone can do it using all-in-one website builders. It’s as simple as choosing your domain name (URL), selecting a site template, and filling it with content about your HVAC business. However, it’s also important to optimize your website for mobile users. If your site won’t load on a potential customer’s smartphone, guaranteed they’re going to head elsewhere and book someone else’s services. It’s also important to make sure your site loads quickly; 53% of mobile website visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. #2: Make Sure Your Website is SEO-Friendly Google is the new Yellow Pages. Those in need of HVAC services once turned to that big yellow book for answers; they now turn to Google. It was once enough to simply purchase ad space in your local Yellow Pages—but those days are over. Today, Google receives tens of thousands of searches per second. Now, putting your business in the faces of potential customers is an entirely different beast. You have to obtain great rankings on Google, and that’s a bit more complex. That’s where the next HVAC marketing strategy comes into play: optimizing your site for SEO. What is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Here’s the basic principle: make your website as search engine-friendly as possible.  The better your SEO, the more likely it is that your website will appear when someone Googles “HVAC services”.   SEO sounds technical and intimidating, but for a small business, it’s fairly simple. Here’s what you need to do to make your website SEO friendly: 1. ) Select your keywords and phrases In order to reach potential customers, you must first think like potential customers. Make a list of all of the different phrases that users who need your services may search for in Google. This will become the list of words you want to “rank” for, meaning that when a user searches these phrases, you want to appear as high up as possible on their Google search results. That may include things like: Heater repair Los Angeles Best heater repair company Same day heater repair Compile a list of keywords like this for the most important services you provide. 2.) Incorporate your keywords and phrases into your site content Every word on your website is an opportunity for you to improve your Google ranking. Once you’ve compiled your list of keywords you’d like to rank for, it’s time to start incorporating them into your site content. That includes your headers, title tags, and page copy. Be sure to write naturally. Overuse of keywords in your site copy in an attempt to rank (known as “keyword stuffing”) is a big Google No-No. One simple way to incorporate a lot of keywords in a single place is to build a Services page. Here, you can list all the services you offer, allowing you to improve your ranking for a variety of keywords. Remember that improving your SEO does not happen overnight. It’s a gradual and ongoing process. The sooner you begin, the sooner your rankings will begin to improve! If you already have a website and want to see how optimized your SEO is, use our tool for FREE . #3: Start a Blog While customers who are ready to move forward with their HVAC service are searching for phrases like “heater repair Los Angeles”, there are plenty of potential customers who are still in the discovery phase. They’re wondering things like which heater suits their needs the best, whether they should go with energy efficient products, or how much they should expect to pay for an installation. As an HVAC professional, you’re chock full of answers. That’s precisely why an HVAC blog is an invaluable HVAC content marketing strategy . By maintaining an HVAC blog, you can attract customers with articles that rank for keywords those customers are searching, and win them over with your wealth of knowledge and expertise. Hello new bookings, and hello more money! To begin your HVAC marketing blog: 1. Select your keywords and phrases Unlike users who are ready to get moving on their HVAC project, users in the discovery phrase will utilize Google and other search engines for research. That could include phrases like: Best heating system Heating options for large home Cheap heating systems Again, compile a list of keywords and phrases for your most important services. 2. Write blog articles based on these keywords and phrases These keywords and phrases will dictate the topics of your blog articles. You can write a top 10 list of your favorite heating systems, or an article on the best heating systems for small, mid-sized, and large homes. The best part about your blog is that you have knowledge to write the content all on your own—no research required! #4: Build an Optimized Google My Business Page Google My Business is a tool offered by Google specifically for local businesses. It allows you to build a profile for your business that will appear in Google searches and on Google maps. If you’ve ever searched for a gas station or restaurant on Google or Google Maps, you’ve likely interacted with a Google My Business profile. Google My Business is a totally free opportunity to improve your HVAC digital marketing. Building your Google My Business profile is simple. Here are the steps to building an optimized Google My Business (GMB) page: 1.) Create an account at google.com/business Fill in all requested information, including your NAP (name, address, phone number), website, hours of operation, and more. Be sure to include your service area, so customers know whether or not you make house calls to their location. 2.) Verify your business A verified business tells Google that your page is legitimate. There are a number of ways to verify your business with Google, including via postcard, phone, email, and more. 3.) Optimize your Google My Business page The more information you can provide Google about your business, the more legitimacy your business will have with Google. In addition to your NAP and website, add categories (i.e. services you offer) and a description of your business. Be sure to utilize your SEO keywords and phrases whenever possible. Finally, add images and videos if available. #5: Build Credibility With Customer 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 . When it comes to building credibility, customer reviews are king. According to a 2018 survey, 91% of 18-34 year old customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That’s up 15% over the past 5 years, and that number is expected to continue growing. If you run a business with lots of happy customers, there’s no reason not to incorporate them into your HVAC marketing strategy. Here’s how to build a customer review strategy into your HVAC marketing plan: 1 . Build profiles on popular customer review sites You’ve already mastered Google My Business, so building profiles on other review sites should be a cinch. Besides Google My Business, Yelp is the head honcho when it comes to local business reviews. Yelp profiles are built quite similarly to GMB, so you should be able to repurpose most of what you’ve compiled for your GMB profile. Other must-haves include Angie’s List, Home Advisor , and more! 2. Ask customers for reviews While it may feel a bit awkward to ask, satisfied customers are often more than happy to put in a good word for your business. Note that it’s against the rules to incentivize reviews, but a simple ask can go a long way! Provide links to your Yelp and Google My Business pages from your site, so that happy customers are just a click away from a rave review. 3. Respond to reviews, no matter the rating Responding to a positive review is simple. It’s a matter of thanking your customer for their patronage and expressing your gratitude to them, which isn’t hard work. But what do you do when you receive a negative review? The fact of the matter is that bad reviews happen—even to the best HVAC companies. The smallest mix-up may drive an unhappy customer to leave a negative review of your business. But even the most scathing review can be helped by a response from the business owner. A study by the Harvard Business Review showed that by simply responding to customer reviews—positive or negative—businesses saw their overall rating increase by 10%. Don’t make excuses Remember that when responding to a negative review you’re not here to make excuses for their bad experience—you’re here to make it right. A simple response that acknowledges and takes responsibility for the experience, plus a request for them to contact you and give you the chance to right the situation, is all that’s needed. Will the customer follow up? Perhaps. But what’s more important is that prospective customers who read the reviews see a company that’s honest, hardworking, and responsible.   #6: Create Useful Video Content Though you may know it best for funny animal clips and viral videos, YouTube is a search engine just like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, with 149 million active users every month. Just like websites and blogs, YouTube videos are searchable by keyword and show up in Google search results. That means that a well-made YouTube video can show up not only to the 149 million monthly YouTube users, but also in the 105 billion monthly Google searches. That’s a lot of people! Think of it like building a blog Incorporating YouTube content into your HVAC marketing strategy works just like building blog content, though the final product is a video rather than an article. Think about what your potential customers might be searching for videos of. Tutorials are a great option. Create YouTube videos that show how to complete simple repairs that any DIY-savvy homeowner can do (and may not be worth your time). This will help establish you as an expert in HVAC and the go-to repair service when a more technical issue arises. If your lack of professional videography skills has you doubting yourself, push those fears aside! YouTube tutorials don’t need any pizzazz or frill. Your smartphone camera is surely sufficient in terms of quality, and your tutorials don’t need to appear professionally produced. They simply need to be clear and easy to follow.   #7: Build Brand Awareness and Foster Relationships On Social Media Social media isn’t just for keeping up to date with your ex’s latest adventures. It’s a powerful marketing tool for local businesses to build and connect with potential leads. Through your company Facebook page, you can grow awareness of your business, find new leads, and engage with new and long-time customers. Building out a Facebook page is just like building our your Google My Business profile. Be sure to fill your page with relevant information like your NAP (name, address, phone number), services, business hours, and more. Some other benefits of using social media You can also enable reviews on Facebook. Not only will this be helpful to potential customers, but your reviews will also appear in Google searches for your business. Potential customers will see a result from Facebook that includes your company name, address, and star ratings. Facebook is also the perfect place to highlight any images you have of your company. This could include team photos, before and after images of various projects you’ve done, or any other photography related to your business. Even more free ways to incorporate social media into your HVAC marketing strategy include: Participating in industry-related Facebook groups where you can share your knowledge and establish a reputation as a local professional Host a giveaway on Facebook that encourages users to interact with your page to get more reach and exposure #8: Expand Your Social Media Reach Even Further Through Facebook Advertising With more than 1 billion users, Facebook is ripe with opportunity for your HVAC marketing strategy. While organic social media is a great start at reaching prospective customers, the key to unlocking a steady flow of leads is through Facebook advertising. With a small monthly budget, Facebook advertising will allow you to reach thousands of users potentially in need of your services. Facebook advertising seems complex, but it’s really a simple addition to your HVAC digital marketing strategy. Here’s how to set-up a Facebook advertising campaign: 1.) Set up a Facebook ad account and connect it to your business’s Facebook page 2.) Create a traffic campaign This tells Facebook that you’re aiming to get as many potential leads to your site as possible. Set a daily budget that you feel comfortable with. As small as $10/day can reach more than 1,000 people daily! 3.) Build your target audience Building your audience is your opportunity to reach the users you’d like to connect with. With the magic of Facebook advertising, you can build and target the precise audience you’d like. For an HVAC marketing campaign, you may want to target: Users within your service area Users within a defined age range Homeowners   Landlords Business owners 4.) Design your Facebook ads Facebook ads contain 3 different elements: text, an image, and a link. Your Facebook ads should clearly and concisely explain who your business is, what services you provide, and why prospective leads should choose you over the competition. Some examples of compelling copy points may be: Servicing the community for 25 years 5-star rating on Yelp Family owned and operated First time customer discount Your images should convey your business’s personality, for instance: A team photo of your smiling service technicians A technician shaking hands with a happy customer A before and after of a particularly compelling project When it comes to links, always link back to your website. Be sure that the page users land on includes a contact form and a phone number, so they can easily make an appointment with you. 5.) Launch your campaign! Simply turn your campaign on to get the traffic flowing to your site. Test various different audiences, as well as several different ads featuring different combinations of texts, images, and links to see what performs best. You’ll begin to reach prospective customers in no time! Make sure their experience is great - 71% of consumers that have a good social media service experience are likely to recommend a brand to others. #9: Drive Repeat Customers With Automated Marketing Experts estimate that it costs 5x more to earn a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. In an industry like HVAC, customers are bound to need your services more than once over the course of a few years. So how do you ensure that your customers keep coming back? HVAC automated marketing services help you do just this. By setting up an automated email campaign, not only will you be able to send service reminders and thank you follow-ups automatically, but you’ll be able to do so much more. Some ways to use an automated email campaign: Incentivize email signups by offering a small discount to users who sign up for your email newsletter Set up automated reminders for heating maintenance in the Fall and air conditioning maintenance in the Spring Automate a “We’ve missed you!” coupon for a discounted service to customers who haven’t booked an appointment in over a year    Send a bi-yearly recap of the latest and greatest in HVAC technology to incentivize upgrades Digitizing your HVAC marketing strategy is an essential step to get a leg up on your competition. By incorporating the above tactics into your marketing plan, you’ll be driving a steady pipeline of leads with little ongoing effort. Happy marketing!

Emily Bauer

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

White hands holding red and blue HVAC gauges

What Is An Automated Billing System?

February 16, 2019 • Tired of invoicing your customers manually? You’re not the only one. There comes a time in every business owner’s journey where tabulating monthly bills simply becomes a time suck. The answer to your problem may be easier than you think! With an automated billing system (ABS), you’ll become more efficient, eliminate billing errors, and have better payment tracking at your disposal. Let’s take a look at what an automated billing system can do for your business. Automated Billing 101 An automated billing system sends out invoices to your clients on a regular interval so you don’t have to manually populate and send them. In other terms, it streamlines your revenue management. Who really needs ABS billing? Most large businesses (think your credit card company or insurance provider) were early adopters of automatic billing. When you have thousands of customers, automated billing slashes your accounts receivable costs. On the contrary, many small businesses believe they can manage manual billing just fine, and an ABS seems unnecessary. However, there is more to the story. Go paperless in your payment process ... more than 56% of Millennials pay their bills online and many prefer automated channels Even a streamlined invoicing process is not as efficient as automated billing. As people switch to digital payments  across the board (the use of paper checks fell 50% between 2000 and 2012) paper bills are becoming a thing of the past. In fact, more than 56% of Millennials pay their bills online and many prefer automated channels. If you can generate a paperless bill, why not automate the process? PRO Tip: Have a customer who is late on payment? Give use the info about the past bill, the level of urgency you wish to convey and we'll send them a letter & track the progress of the dispute...for free. Send a collection letter today. Key Benefits of Using an ABS Automated billing services could be a lifesaving addition to your growing business. Invoicing five or six clients every month is manageable, but at some point billing will likely get away from you. At the very least, you’re probably working late nights at the end of the month when you don’t have to. Here are some of the ways an ABS can keep your accounts receivable process from making you cross-eyed.    More efficient process. An automated process means no more plotting out individual invoices or organizing a client’s monthly charges on the 30th. Tracking your client’s charges online and sending an automated bill saves more hours than you’ll be able to count. Faster payments. When a client receives their invoice like clockwork, payment becomes a habit. When you send an email with a click-to-pay option, you may soon find that you’re spending fewer resources contacting customers to remind them about their invoice. If cash flow is an issue, faster payments could be the solution. Automated follow-up. Many ABS software options also automate invoice follow-up. That means even when a customer does fall behind on payment, they will receive an automatic reminder without so you don’t have to worry. Accurate payment tracking. Which customer accounts are up-to-date? With an ABS you can easily access payment records and see the history of a client’s account. Searching for an invoice in your files or on a computer requires time and effort you could be putting elsewhere. Fewer payment errors. Tracking due invoices automatically and receiving online payments can also reduce errors. You’re only human. You can make an accounting error on a manual invoice that an ABS would have caught and corrected. Is an Automatic Billing Service Right for Your Business? When you start to rethink your accounts receivable, you’ll have some questions. How do I choose an automated billing system? How much money will I really save? To decide if automated billing is really right for your business, consider the following. Calculate the current hours spent on billing. How much time do you and/or your staff currently spend on invoicing? Calculate the salary expenses currently associated with this work at your company. For instance, if your accountant earning $30/hour spends 25 hours monthly on invoicing, your annual cost is $9,000. Consider how many hours you’ll save. Now, let’s look at the bright side. Consider how many hours your accountant can save when she has ABS on her side. Let’s say she cuts her time invoicing down to 10 hours per month. That’s an annual savings of $5,400 in raw figures. Factor in the cost of using an ABS. Of course, your automated billing system will have its own expenses. Some automated billing services start at just $100/month. Let’s say you spend $200/month. With $5,400 in salary savings and $2,400 in ABS costs, you could still save $3,000 per year by switching to automated billing. Think about relocating resources. How will you use the freed-up time? This is how you maximize savings. If your accountant doesn’t make use of her newly available time, you could end up losing money rather than saving it. Find ways for your in-house staff to take over duties you previously outsourced or create ideas for new revenue streams.   Do your research Finding an invoicing system that works for you in half the battle, and making sure you implement it will bring you home. Thanks to the ease of use for most automated billing systems, you can begin to free up time and money almost immediately. Your customers may even thank you. That’s a win-win.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Gold cash register for automated billing system