Everything you need to succeed as a Home Services company in a digital world.
February 6, 2019 • SAN DIEGO, February 6, 2019 - Housecall Pro, the #1 rated app for home service companies, has announced the January cohort of Superpros. This program is dedicated to defining excellence and identifying the highest quality local home service companies. The Superpro community includes the best Pros in each industry across the country, allowing for a unique opportunity to connect with equal caliber service professionals. Every month, we award this status to Housecall Pros dedicated to providing their customers with a transparent, modern, and online experience from day one, establishing a strong relationship for years to come. At this time, only 5% of Housecall Pro users are awarded with Superpro status. The Superpro Program was relaunched in the beginning of this year with a new application and stricter eligibility requirements. These requirements include offering a seamless online booking experience for customers on both website and Facebook pages, detailed and personable pictures and descriptions for all services to further facilitate an easy and customer-friendly booking experience, an average of 4.5 star reviews across all platforms, and high-account usage. We do a detailed audit of the Pro’s account to ensure they have met all requirements. Once they have been approved for Superpro status, we require the Pro to sign the Superpro Code of Ethics. This Superpro Codes of Ethics is signed by the company promising elite professionalism, quick response times to both customers and other Pros, and overall responsibilities as a Superpro in the home service community. Together, Superpros are dedicated to bringing trust and value back into the trades. Service professionals who have earned this award will have unique badges displayed on their websites and company profiles to distinguish them as 2019 Superpros. This award is earned every year and the status is valid for a year after acceptance. At that time, the Superpro will be reevaluated to ensure that they still meet all of the eligibility requirements.
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
November 26, 2018 • As a home service business owner, it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends and technology so you can provide the best available solutions to your customers. The more you know about what to expect in 2019 and over the next few years, the better you can future-proof your business, take advantage of the available technology, and anticipate changes in customer expectations. Here are some of the emerging trends and predictions that will shape the plumbing industry in 2019. 10 Plumbing Industry Trends to Watch in 2019 1. Online Engagement Will Matter More Than Ever In 2019, online engagement will be more important than ever. This is true for any type of home service business, not just plumbing. Think about it – when a customer is looking for a local business, they’re searching online. That means your online presence will directly affect whether someone chooses to hire your or not – or if they’ll even see your business in the list of results. So, aside from optimizing your website SEO and claiming your Google My Business listing, you should put some effort into your social media presence. Standing out on social platforms is one of the most cost-effective ways to connect with potential customers. Even if you don’t want to invest money in paid ads, you can join and participate in Facebook groups related to plumbing, or home renovations, or even water preservation. Be helpful by responding to consumer questions and share informative articles that would interest your target audience. This not only sets you up as an expert in your field, but also creates a convenient opportunity to plug your business or link to your business page (as long as the group rules allow it). 2. Even More Customers Using Mobile Search If your website isn’t responsive, you’re going to lose out on potential business. Why? Because your would-be customers can’t navigate your website on their phones – which is how a large percentage of consumers are searching for local home service businesses. A responsive website is one that’s built to look great on any screen, regardless of size, so it can be used easily on any device. However, if you’re still using an outdated website that’s not responsive, consumers might not even be able to load the homepage, let alone navigate the site or find your contact information. 3. A Growing Need to Educate Customers Plenty of customers shop around for the most cost-effective services. However, low-cost doesn’t always equate to a great deal – especially if it means lower-quality work in exchange for the lower rate. Since it’s often quick and easy for consumers to compare rates online, it’s important to educate customers about the importance of quality craftsmanship. This isn’t necessarily about justifying the cost, but about helping people understand what they’re paying for and improving your customer relationships. Plus, for many home service businesses, it’s impossible to compete on price alone. If everyone did that, the margins would keep on shrinking – and nobody wins in a race to the bottom. It’s much more sustainable to inform your customer base about the value provided by your expertise. So, whether you invest in content creation (adding a blog to your website and sharing videos or photos on social media) or add an FAQ to your website, you need to find a way to educate consumers and establish yourself as an industry expert. 4. Online Reviews Will Make or Break Your Reputation You already know that your reputation is your livelihood – and that’s not changing anytime soon. But what has changed is the way consumers learn about your business. Customer reviews are one of the biggest factors that influence your reputation. Increase your positive reviews by asking happy customers to write a brief comment about your professionalism. If you do get any negative reviews, it’s best to respond as diplomatically as possible. Try to get to the root of the issue and encourage the customer to give you a call so you can clear things up. Hopefully, you’ll be able to fix the issue – and maybe even convince the customer to reconsider their initial review. 5. Increased Awareness of Water Consumption As consumers become aware of the true impact of climate change, more people are looking for ways to do their part by reducing their environmental footprint. Considering that the average American family of four uses at least 300 gallons of water per day – that’s a conservative estimate of 109,500 gallons annually – it’s about time consumers start to think about how they can minimize their water consumption. Something as common as a running toilet wastes up to 200 gallons of water per day. So, simply hiring you to fix a toilet could reduce their household consumption by two-thirds of the total used by the average family every day. Plus, installing modern toilets allows consumers to waste less water with every flush. According to a 2014 Government Accountability Report, Americans could reduce their water usage by 20% or more by simply switching to water-efficient appliances. You might also start to see more solutions designed to reduce water consumption. For instance, greywater recycling is growing in popularity since it allows consumers to reduce water usage at home. 6. Greater Concern About Aging Pipes Considering that the average age of pipes around the US is 47 years (and some pipes in New York and Philadelphia are almost double that), the problems caused by aging pipes in entering public awareness more than ever. You may or may not find customers asking about pipe relining before an incident occurs, but you’ll definitely get calls from people dealing with the consequence of waiting too long to replace or reline their pipes. This will include a range of issues, from leaking pipes to major plumbing issues to damaged property. To prepare for the influx of issues related to aging pipes, make sure you and your team have the right tools, training, and knowledge to handle these problems. 7. More Solar-Powered Water Heating Solutions More than ever, consumers are concerned about the environmental impact of their household appliances. This is contributing to one emerging trend that you should keep on your radar: a growing preference for energy-efficient water heaters. As homeowners take an interest in environmentally-friendly alternatives, you can expect to see more solar-powered water heaters. Consumers opt for solar heaters for the twin benefits of saving energy and lowering their heating bill. Here’s why this matters for you: when consumers first make the switch, they’ll need a local plumber to handle the installation. So, make sure you add solar heater installation to the list of services on your website. 8. You Might Encounter Self-Diagnosing Pipes With the technological advances and the power of artificial intelligence, smart appliances are popping up in just about every industry – including yours. If you haven’t encountered brain pipes in the wild yet, it’s likely only a matter of time before you do. These smart pipes are able to self-diagnose leaks and alert the consumer before much damage has a chance to occur. It detects where leaks are located, which makes your job easier and keeps your customers calm in what could otherwise turn into a homeowner’s nightmare. 9. Trenchless Tech is Becoming More Popular Technology isn’t just good for saving your customers money on water usage, it can also help you work more efficiently. For instance, trenchless technology offers an alternative to the traditional method of installing and repairing pipelines. Unlike traditional sewer lines, this tech provides a faster, cost-effective solution that requires considerably less manual labor. Rather than digging up the client’s property to install the pipeline, you only need to create small openings at both ends of the pipe. Plus, it’s easier to figure out what’s going on when plumbing issues arise – because you can view the inside of the pipe with a camera. 10. The Competition is Growing – But So Is Demand There are a lot of plumbing professionals out there. In fact, in 2016 there were almost 470,000 plumbers in the US – and that number is only increasing. More people are entering the trade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the plumbing industry will grow by 24% from 2014 to 2024. But just as the competition is heating up, so is demand for plumbers. In fact, reports suggest that no plumbing company holds more than 1% of the market share in terms of revenue. To improve your odds of success? Keep up with the latest industry best practices, never stop learning about your trade, and take advantage of everything Housecall Pro can do to streamline your business.
November 20, 2018 • Recurring service agreements are a great new way for you to generate dependable revenue for your business, strengthen your employee relationships, and increase your customer loyalty. They allow you to develop revenue streams to help smooth out those seasonal variations in your business while keeping you well-connected to your best customers. HVAC, plumbing, and electrical companies have been using recurring service agreements to help grow their business, especially during the times when the incoming calls slow down. Businesses aren’t the only ones that win by offering recurring service agreements. Both your customers and your employees benefit from them too. Customer Benefits Preventative care Most homeowners don’t realize that HVAC, plumbing and electrical emergencies could be prevented with simple upkeep and continued maintenance. By participating in recurring service agreements, your customers can save themselves from the unnecessary stress that comes from a pipe bursting, or an ac unit crashing in the heat of summer. Value of home The longer your customers have lived in their home, the more wear and tear they’re doing. By automatically maintaining the infrastructure of their home on a regular basis they will be able to increase their resale value without having to do any major work. Lower costs Recurring service agreements are often offered at a discounted rate, but that’s not the only way your customers save. By regularly having preventative work done on the foundation and utilities of a home, your customers will avoid unplanned emergency expenses. Plus - they save on utilities when they keep their plumbing, electricity, and HVAC unit running efficiently. Maintain warranty Most long-term warranties require frequent maintenance in order to keep their validation. By participating in a service agreement, your customer will put that maintenance on auto-drive. Employee Benefits Quick and reliable jobs Because recurring service agreement jobs are frequent your employees know what to expect. These quick, predictable jobs make for a pleasant experience for both your customer and your employee. They know that they’re doing what’s right for the customer and can always leave on a positive note. Steady work Not only are the jobs easier, but they’re consistent. Sometimes, it’s hard for your employees to feel valued during the slow season when there aren’t as many jobs to keep them busy. Recurring service agreements allow them to feel secure in their job, knowing they will always have work to be done. More money Consistent jobs mean a reliable paycheck, but that’s not the only way your employees can benefit financially from recurring service agreements. Most companies that offer recurring service agreements also incentivize their employees to sell them to new customers, for a commission. This allows your employees to feel even more involved in the benefits of recurring service agreements and driven to increase the number of contracts you have. Company Benefits Reliable revenue In any industry, businesses have to deal with financial ebbs and flows of their market. That’s why money management has become such an important focus for maintaining a healthy and stable company. Recurring service agreements allow businesses to have dependable income throughout the year, giving some relief during those slower seasons, and making it possible for business owners to continuously invest in their growth. Customer loyalty We cannot stress enough how valuable recurring service agreements are to your customers. By maintaining the structure of their home, providing a positive customer experience, and saving them money, you’re building a trusting relationship that’s sure to bring reviews or referrals. Resale value Recurring service agreements can help increase the value of your customer list when you're ready to retire and sell your company. A list full of recurring service agreement customers is far more valuable to a potential buyer than a long list on one-time customers. Make it easy In order to reap the most benefit of service agreements for everyone you want to make sure you’re keeping your schedule organized, your payments automated, and your communication streamlined. Learn how you can start automating service agreements with Housecall Pro here.
Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator
November 2, 2018 • If there’s one thing that’s holding back many home service businesses, it’s uncertainty. Fluctuations in revenue and cash flow can make it difficult to make investments in equipment, create a marketing strategy, hire new team members, or just plan for the future. There are often many question marks about what’s to come and how to handle it. Home service leaders are looking for new strategies to deal with uncertainty and build a more stable and predictable business. One of those strategies is to structure the business to take advantage of recurring revenue. What if the majority of your work wasn’t dependent upon timing and one-off projects? What if you could build your business on a schedule of regular customers who paid for recurring services on a regular basis? That’s the dream, right? Recurring revenue can help you not just get a grip on your current workload, but it can give you the space, freedom, and confidence that you need to plan for the future. Here are some of the ways that these kind of deals can help you manage and grow your business: Creates lifelong customer loyalty Improves the customer experience Stabilizes revenue and cash flow Simplifies scheduling and dispatch Streamlines workflow Let’s take a look at how this approach works in practice and how you can implement Create Lifelong Customer Loyalty (And a Better Customer Experience) Competition for most home service businesses can be cut throat. If often seems like there are new competitors coming and going every single day. And, it’s no secret that it can difficult to compete--it might feel impossible to stand out in such a crowded market. In hypercompetitive industries like HVAC, garage doors, and appliance repair, this problem can be especially pronounced. But you’re not alone. In fact, some studies have ranked achieving customer loyalty as the #1 challenge for small businesses. Many customers simply don’t have a strong attachment to a particular company or vendor. When they have a problem, they do a quick Google search, compare some options, and decide who to call. But this also means that most contractors are losing out on a huge opportunity to turn a one-time call into a loyal, lifelong customer. Even if you provide incredible service to a new customer, there’s a strong chance they could start their search from scratch next time they have a problem--and they may end up on your competitor’s website rather than yours. So how do you convert these opportunities and create lifelong customer loyalty? Offering packages that include multiple services can make it simple for you--and seamless for the customer. With Housecall Pro, you can easily offer recurring services like maintenance or inspection with customers and schedule out work--and revenue--in advance. Best of all, it provides a seamless and modern experience for your customer, too. Rather than having to remember to call and schedule regular service calls or worry about major, unforeseen problems, your customers can rest easy. They’ll know that they have a professional who will keep an eye on their home or appliances, perform essential maintenance, and identify any needed repairs before they become major problems. With Housecall Pro, you can even save customer payment information and completely automate the process of scheduling recurring service appointments. But let’s not forget that service agreements aren’t just about the customer--they’re also about growing your business. Boost Revenue and Lock-In Cash Flow Most service businesses generate about 70% of their revenue in just a few months out of the year. A big part of that, of course, is inevitable. It’s just the nature of the industry. You’ll always have peak season for services like HVAC and painting. But that doesn’t mean you’re helpless when it comes to cash flow. While we can’t change the seasons, recurring packages do help companies make their revenue more predictable and can also provide a bump in earnings and profit. For one, maintenance and service contracts can be an untapped opportunity. It’s estimated that 90% of customers only call home service professionals when there’s an emergency. This means that most one-time customers could be converted in ongoing customers if they’re offered a package deal that would give them some peace of mind. If most of your revenue is coming from emergency service calls, then you could see a huge increase in revenue by using service contracts that will also stabilize your workload. The truth is that while service pros know all too well how important regular maintenance and preventative repairs can be, customers often just need to be told about the benefits and cost savings. Secondly, having a stream of recurring revenue allows you to plan for that future cash flow. You can predict much more accurately what your revenue will be in the future and then make smarter decisions about how to grow your business, make strategic investments, and plan operations. Introducing Service Agreements with Housecall Pro Here’s the thing about providing ongoing services: While they’re great in theory, they can be a huge burden to manage without the right tools. Keeping track of agreements, scheduling, and collecting payments manually can quickly end up being an overhead nightmare. So, even if they may be a lucrative opportunity, many companies simply don’t have the time or capacity to put them into practice. That’s what makes Housecall Pro your secret weapon. With our new service agreements features, we make it simple to start generating more recurring revenue and locking in loyal customers today. Simply schedule a recurring service agreement monthly, seasonally, or yearly and let Housecall Pro do the rest. All you have to do is sign up the customer and collect their information once. When it's time to send a tech out on recurring calls, Housecall Pro takes care of the logistics, schedules the job, and even handles payment from the customer’s credit card on file. Using these new features, service pros can build a hassle-free recurring revenue program. Check out everything Housecall Pro can do here. Or, if you’re already a Housecall Pro customer, read all about service agreements here.
October 29, 2018 • As a home service business owner, you’ve almost always got your hands full. Thankfully, there’s plenty of technology available to make running your business a little bit easier. Just as you use home service software for handling your day-to-day business needs, you should consider using a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to manage your sales and customer data. A CRM platform is a tool that makes it easy to keep track of sales opportunities, including new leads, open estimates, and repeat business. It stores information about your customers and handles all the data, so you can just focus on your growing business. Why should you use a CRM for your home service business? Among its many benefits, a CRM platform helps streamline your sales process, which can mean increased productivity, better customer service, and higher profit margins. Let’s take a look at some of the specific reasons to use a CRM for contractors and home service businesses. 1. Easily visualize your sales pipeline Do you know how many potential sales opportunities you have on-the-go right now? Or exactly how many proposals and estimates your team has given out recently? Or how close any of those opportunities are to closing? A home service CRM puts all of this information into an easy-to-digest visual format that you can understand at a glance. From leads to prospects to repeat customers, you can see who’s at which stage of your sales pipeline, which potential customers are closest to booking appointments, and whether you have enough leads coming through to hit your revenue targets. 2. Spend less time managing customer data As your business grows, it gets harder and harder to keep track of everything that’s happening with your sales process. The bigger your pool of leads and potential customers gets, the more reasons you have to consider switching to a CRM platform. One of the biggest benefits of a CRM for contractors is the ability to keep sales data organized without even trying. Whether you’re currently tracking leads and sales opportunities in an excel sheet or keep an informal list of contacts you’re hoping to turn into customers, you have better things to do with your time than entering sales data into a spreadsheet. 3. Deliver better customer service Since a CRM allows you to track all customer communication in one place, it provides value to your team as well as your customers. A CRM gives you a better understanding of your customers, which improves the customer relationship and creates a better service experience. Furthermore, a CRM makes it easier to share information internally. Everyone on your team can access the same information about the client, which means they’re better prepared to handle every customer interaction. For instance, a CRM allows you to track customer requests from sales call to house call. So, if a lead mentions a specific need on an early sales call, you can make note of it in the CRM so your technicians are aware of it when completing the job. 4. Never forget to follow-up with leads In many ways, sales is a numbers game – and it pays to be persistent. So, always remembering to follow-up with potential prospects means you can land more new customers. If you make the effort to put together an estimate for a potential client, you sure as heck better be following up to ask if they’re ready to book. You can use your CRM to schedule reminders to connect with open estimates if you don’t hear back from them within a certain timeframe. They say 80% of sales take five follow-ups to close (and only 8% of salespeople bother to follow-up that many times!), so a CRM can help you win new business by simply reminding you to follow-up consistently. 5. Forecast revenue more accurately Sales forecasting can be tricky, especially when you’ve got a bunch of potential customers and jobs that could turn into sources of revenue – but you have no idea when they’ll close, if at all. When all of your customers and opportunities are tracked in a CRM, you can visualize the likelihood of each deal closing, which means you can predict future revenue much more easily and accurately. Since forecasting is crucial for budgeting and keeping your business running smoothly, this is one of the most powerful arguments for using a CRM for contractors. 6. Use data-powered insights to perfect your sales process A home service CRM can help you uncover insights about your sales process. Since all of your sales data is stored in one central place, you might recognize patterns that you might not have noticed otherwise. You can see where each sales opportunity is in your pipeline – from new contacts and leads to open estimates and prospects you need to follow-up with to long-term customers. Furthermore, you can easily measure and track important sales metrics. This includes metrics like average close time, average job value, and what percentage of estimates turn into deals, as well as data related to specific customers, service people, and sales reps. Tracking these metrics allows you to finetune your sales tactics to close even more deal in less time. 7. Find ways to maximize your revenue Not only will you gain a better understanding of your sales process, but you’ll also find new ways to optimize customer revenue. Because a CRM provides you will a bird’s-eye view of your sales pipeline, you can see where there might be any untapped opportunities. For instance, you can use the information you have about various customers and prospects to up-sell them on higher-value services, perhaps by increasing the scope of a particular job. Or, you might find an opportunity to cross-sell complementary services related to their original estimate. This might include something like offering a preventative maintenance plan after an HVAC installation. [potential image here depicting cross-selling and up-selling?] 8. Better ROI on your marketing efforts Even if you figure out how to maximize your sales revenue, it’s important to ensure your marketing budget is being put to the best use possible. Since your CRM stores so much customer data, you can identify details like the best times to reach out to make a sale and your most profitable customer types. This gives you a better idea of who to spend your marketing budget on and when to target them with ads for the best return on your investment. 9. Your information is secure yet accessible on-the-go A modern CRM for contractors allows your team to securely store and access your data from anywhere. All of your is data stored safely in the cloud, so your service technicians can find the information they need on their smartphone wherever they happen to be working that day. Employees with access can make notes on a client’s file, adjust estimates, request specific materials, and move opportunities from one pipeline stage to the next.
October 29, 2018 • Dealing with upset customers can be one of the hardest parts of running your field service business. Unfortunately, it’s also unavoidable. Mistakes happen, it’s impossible to please everyone, and sometimes customers are miserable for reasons beyond your control. Whatever the case, you’re bound to encounter an upset customer at one point or another. Rather than treating customer complaints as an unpleasant fact of life, you should look at them as a chance to improve. Even better, if you’re able to go above and beyond to remedy the situation, a bad experience or service issue presents an opportunity to transform an unhappy customer into a long-term, loyal advocate for your business. This is a phenomenon known as the service recovery paradox. When everything goes according to plan, it’s difficult for customers to see or appreciate the amount of effort that goes into the fantastic work you do. The smoother things go, the less of a chance you have to show customers how committed you are to delivering great service. On the other hand, a mistake or service failure creates an opportunity to improve the customer’s experience, demonstrate your dedication to your craft and your customers, and, strengthen the customer’s loyalty. However, you can only take advantage of the service recovery paradox if you know how to recover from a service failure. The tactics listed below will allow you to respond to upset customers in a way that turns negative experiences into long-term customer relationships. 11 simple yet effective tactics for handling upset customers 1. Be responsive Your first goal is to de-escalate the situation by addressing the customer’s concern. This means acknowledging and responding to questions or complaints as quickly as possible. For instance, if they’ve left an angry voicemail, call them back as soon as you can. If they left an angry review online, respond immediately. The longer a customer goes without hearing from your company, the more frustrated they’ll be when you do get around to talking to them. A quick response communicates that you’re prioritizing the customer’s concerns and are serious about making the situation right. 2. Get on a first-name basis People love the sound of their own name – especially if the alternative is being called ‘ma’am’ or ‘sir.’ Using a customer’s first name is an easy way to make your apology feel sincere and reiterates that you’re just a person talking to another person, rather than a company addressing a generic customer. It humanizes the situation. This is particularly powerful if you’re speaking to a customer on the phone rather than face to face. Saying their name establishes a stronger connection and makes them more likely to sympathize with the fact that you’re doing your best to correct the situation 3. Express gratitude Thank the customer for choosing to hire you in the first place as well as for their patience while you work through the issue. You can say something like: “I really appreciate you bringing this to my attention and can’t thank you enough for your patience and loyalty while we figure this out.” Simply voicing your appreciation can go a long way in strengthening customer relationships. It acknowledges that you understand their frustration, which is why you’re so grateful for their patience. 4. Practice active listening Oftentimes, the best thing you can do for an unhappy customer is to hear them out. They want to know that their concerns are being heard and acknowledged. So, when they first contact you with a complaint, give them a chance to vent. Don’t interrupt or try to present a solution right away. They need an opportunity to voice their frustrations before they’re able to shift their focus to thinking about possible solutions. If you feel the urge to interject before the customer has finished explaining their concerns, you can even put yourself on mute. This forces you to sit and really listen to what a customer is saying. 5. Repeat the issue back to them If a customer is emotional when they contact you, it can take a bit of digging to find out what the root of the issue actually is. For this reason, we recommend that you always repeat their concerns back to them before attempting to respond with a solution. Calmly state what the issue seems to be so that the customer can clarify if need be. This ensures that you know what they’re actually upset about, shows that you’re listening, and helps calm down a stressed-out customer. Plus, it gives you a starting point when it comes time to present a solution. 6. Show some empathy Sometimes all a customer wants is to have their feelings validated. So, empathize with their experience and emphasize that you understand their concerns. For example, you might offer: “I understand you’re still waiting on flooring samples that were scheduled to be delivered last week. I know how frustrating this must be for you, especially since you’re renovating on a tight schedule.” Once you’ve established that you empathize with the customer’s situation, it’s time to apologize so you can shift the focus towards solving the problem. 7. Say sorry (and mean it) A sincere apology is key to mending customer relationships. In fact, saying you’re sorry can make a bigger impact on how a customer feels about the situation than offering credit or discounts on future services. More specifically, a genuine apology can double customer satisfaction with the outcome of service issues. According to Nicereply, a study from the Carey School of Business found that only “only 37% of upset customers were satisfied when offered something in return for the issue. However, if the business said sorry on top of the credit, satisfaction increased to 74%.” The secret to an effective apology is that be specific to the individual customer’s situation. That means acknowledging why they’re upset, accepting ownership for the problem, and then offering to fix it. 8. Present a path forward Now that you’ve established a common ground by identifying the issue and started to rebuild your relationship by apologizing, you can start to talk about next steps. Before you propose a solution, consider what your customer is most looking to get out of this situation. For instance, if they feel they didn’t get enough value from the transaction, you could offer them a discount for future services or throw in a freebie to help mend the relationship. Or if a customer is unhappy with the end result of work done by your company, you should offer to evaluate the situation in person and (unless they’re being unreasonable) you could offer to re-do the job so it’s up to your professional standards and they’re happy with the result. 9. Provide multiple options When presenting potential solutions, you can give the customer control by letting them choose from a number of viable choices. For instance, you could say: “I have a few ideas for how we can make this right. Let’s talk about some of these options together, so we can choose the best course of action together.” If they continue to reject every solution you propose, you should ask the customer directly what would make them happiest. Either way, you’ve managed to turn the situation from a combative you-vs-them dynamic to a collaborative effort focused on reaching a resolution. 10. Turn negative feedback into positive change Just because you’ve resolved the issue this time, doesn’t mean it won’t crop up again with another customer. That is, unless you use the negative customer feedback received from this experience to fuel change within your company. Start by pinpointing the exact cause of the issue. Where did it start? Who was involved? Once you identify what went wrong and how the situation could have been avoided, you can use that information to minimize the chance of a similar problem occurring in the future. For instance, if the problem was related to customer service, you could consider additional training for your field techs or look for ways to improve employee onboarding. You could also encourage your team members to discuss tips for handling or preventing common customer service issues. 11. Follow-up and share any improvements When all is said in done, you should check in one more time to make sure the customer is satisfied with the outcome. Ask if there’s anything else you can do for them and thank them again for their patience. Following up builds credibility, reassures the customer, and increases the chances that they’ll become a loyal client and potentially an advocate for your business. It’s also a good idea to walk the customer through any changes you’ve made to prevent it from happening again. The more details you provide about the steps you’re taking to fix the issue, the more clearly the customer will see how hard you’re working to deliver amazing service.
October 10, 2018 • So, business is booming and you’re looking to grow your team? That’s great news! But don’t stop to celebrate just yet. While having so much work you need to expand your team is certainly a worthy achievement, you’ll soon discover (or, more likely, already have) that hiring field service technicians comes with a whole new set of challenges. If you’re having a hard time finding and hiring talented technicians, you’re not the only one. According to a survey from the Service Council, 32% of field service businesses are grappling with a talent shortage – and that statistic is expected to rise to 71% over the next decade. A survey by Aberdeen found that only 59% of service businesses were meeting their employee turnover goals. That means the other 41% are struggling to hang onto their field service technicians. The unfortunate lesson here? Hiring great people – and keeping them on board – can be hard enough without shooting yourself in the foot. If you want to hire talented techs who will stick around and perform up to your standard, avoid the common hiring mistakes discussed below. 5 Mistakes that Kill Your Chances of Hiring Great Field Service Techs 1. Hiring someone just because they’re family It’s one thing to hire your family member if they’re a talented professional in your field. It’s something else entirely to hire a relative solely because they’re related to you. Whether they’re your second cousin, sibling, or in-law, hiring family members can complicate your workplace situation and strain your relationship in ways you might not expect. For instance, family members might feel entitled to special privileges, like the best shifts or more frequent raises. This sense of entitlement can create tension among the team and resentment from your other employees. Another concern is that, if you hire a family member who turns out to be under-qualified or a poor fit for your business, firing or reprimanding them can lead to a ton of avoidable drama. As a general rule, you should only hire people who you would be willing to fire if necessary. If you do decide to hire a relative despite these risks, set clear expectations from day one. Communicate that their job security is dependent entirely on their performance and has nothing to do with their blood relation to you. 2. Using a generic job description If you don’t clearly explain the job requirements and duties in your listing, you won’t attract the right type of candidates. So, instead of copying and pasting a generic job description, take the time to think about what skills are necessities vs. which are simply nice to have. This will help you be as specific as possible when outlining desired experience, knowledge, and qualifications. If you want to go a step further, consider that adding a personal touch is more likely to resonate with potential candidates and get top field techs excited to work with you. You should include a few details about your business and the types of customers you serve. This will encourage top candidates to apply as well as incentivize them to put more effort into their applications, so you get a better sense of what they have to offer. 3. Skipping over the technical test Just because a job candidate looks great on paper, doesn’t necessarily mean they know what they’re talking about. Sooner or later you’ll run into a candidate that has trouble applying their knowledge in practice or pads their resume with skills they don’t actually have. The good news is that a simple written or on-site skills test can give you a clear picture of someone’s actual skill set and abilities. A technical test can also help you narrow down the pool of applicants in two ways: only those who are serious about working for you will bother to take the test and the results will allow you to identify the most qualified applicant. This is a crucial part of the hiring process for field technicians, especially if you don’t have the time or resources to provide on-the-job training before sending a new technician out on their first job. 4. Focusing only on technical skills Technical know-how and experience are likely at the top of your wish list for new field service techs. But here’s the thing: with the right candidate, technical skills can be taught and improved with time. However, someone’s personality traits, soft skills, and willingness to learn are unlikely to change. So, if you have the time to train and mentor a novice technician, you should weigh their hard skills (like industry knowledge and specific technical abilities) against their soft skills (like communication, empathy, and ability to think on their feet). Most importantly, never ignore red flags because you’re smitten with a candidate’s skill set. Remember, whoever you end up hiring is going to represent your business when interacting with clients. The way they handle themselves, the level of service they provide, and the quality of their work will all reflect directly on your business and your livelihood. 5. Overlooking the value of culture fit Culture fit is one of the most important indicators of employee satisfaction and loyalty. And since recruiting technicians can be quite time consuming, the longer a new hire stays with your business, the better your return on investment. Not to mention that it can be difficult for everyone if you hire technicians who clash with your existing team members. Even if your techs typically work independently, it’s crucial that their approach and work ethic align with your expectations. Someone who respects their coworkers is more likely to stick around for the long haul, even if your business is going through a rough patch or dealing with an unexpected rush.
September 21, 2018 • Offering the cheapest rate isn’t the only — or even the best — way to compete against other service businesses. It may earn you more customers, but you have to work more jobs to make up for the gap in rates. There’s a better way: one in which you’re compensated fairly for your time, and you still stand out against the competition. It’s simple: fine tune your customer service. Now we know that you’re already offering quality service, but there are always improvements you can make that improve customer loyalty and overall satisfaction. Aberdeen, a market research company, found that organizations with customer satisfaction rates of ninety percent or higher saw a 6.1 percent growth in service revenue and nearly four percent growth in overall revenue. And who doesn’t want four percent more revenue every year? Here’s what to do. 1. Hire Staff with People Skills Quality customer service relies on friendly and efficient employees. Even if an employee is strong on the technical side, if they aren’t polite and professional in the field, their performance can damage your relationship with your customers. While some customer service skills can be taught, you need a strong foundation to begin with. Mike Moore, Founder and Director of Training for Lennox Learning Solutions, recommends that field service companies “look for attitude, communication skills and work ethic, first” in new candidates. He goes on to explain that it’s easier to teach technical skills to willing employees than develop these other traits. 2. Treat Each Customer Like More than a Job Creating a first-rate on-the-job experience is the most important thing you can do to strengthen your relationship with each customer. And this first-rate experience relies on the customer feeling heard. Train your technicians on customer service strategies. This includes things like reading non-verbal clues about how a customer is feeling and using their name multiple times while on-the-job. One of the most important customer service skills is active listening. Client service and leadership experts Molly and Meghan Fitzpatrick recommend paraphrasing back what a customer just said. Among the benefits, they believe this tactic “communicates our respect for the other person” and “ensures we have truly understood the issue at hand so we can contribute effectively to the solution.” This active listening technique is just as important for prospective customers that have questions about your services. Treat each perspective uniquely to earn their business. 3. Respond Quickly to Customer Emails and Calls Your technicians and office staff share the responsibility of quality customer service. While field employees listen to customers on-the-job, customer service staff manage customer questions over email, phone, and, increasingly over social media. With so many channels for customer questions to come in, it can be difficult to keep up within a timely manner. And yet, speed is more important than ever. Also consider a live chat service to engage with customers in real-time. With live chat, you decrease the risk that a potential customer will find another business who responds faster. Ideally, faster responses to customer emails and service requests also leads to quicker work requests. The real reason a customer is reaching out is because they have a problem. The faster this issue is resolved, the more satisfied they’ll be. 4. Keep Your Technicians Happy Happy technicians are more likely to do good work. Ensure that your technicians are well-prepared for their jobs. Providing continuing training opportunities doesn’t just help your technicians do more efficient work, it also builds up their confidence which leads to better customer service. The other component of preparing technicians is having the right tools. A recent survey found that 56% of field-service companiesbelieve mobile technology is critical to their performance. Mobile apps provide troubleshooting resources and enable your techs to easily reach out for help when they need it. 5. Make it Easy for Customers to Schedule If prospects have a difficult time booking your service, they’ll go elsewhere. As customers spend increasingly more time online, 70% of consumers want to book services online rather than over a phone. Customers should be able to see your availability and book your services off your website, as well as other places your business is found, such as your Facebook page or Yelp profile. Online booking will increase the number of service requests, as well as the number of satisfied returning customers. It also saves staff time, making it a win/win for employees and customers alike. 6. Encourage Satisfied Customers to Leave Reviews Positive reviews and testimonials can increase the reach and reputation of your business. 73% of customers are more likely to trust a local business that has positive reviews online, according to a study by BrightLocal. With 97% of customers searching for local businesses online, it’s imperative that your business maintains a positive presence across the web. While it’s important to have testimonials on your business website, this isn’t the only place where reviews will show up. Folks will search sites like Google My Business, Angie’s List, Yelp, and other local business review sites to see what past customers have to say. 7. Respond to All Reviews In the same study, BrightLocal found that 30% of customers found it very important for local businesses to respond to reviews. It’s important to respond to both positive and negative reviews so that customers know you’re listening. Schedule time each week to look at places where your business is listed and respond to reviews. Better yet, take time in your business to consider how to incorporate their feedback into your company. 8. Reward Your Top Customers When you have a fan, you want to keep them. Reward long-time and engaged customers with discounts or upgrades on their next service. You can also send them a handwritten letter just to let them know you appreciate their business. Make sure to personalize these offers and messages. Russel Lolacher offers an attempt to personalize an email backfired. Russel was a fan of the company sending the email and was disappointed when he received an impersonal email from the company he valued. The email started out: Hey there, It’s not everyday that we reach out to users personally — but I just wanted to send you a note to let you know you’re one of Canva’s most active users! Here’s Lolacher’s response: “When you say ‘reach out to users personally’ and then express it in a form letter that is anything but personal, you’re not showing you value me as an individual customer. ‘Hey there’ to you too.” When customers feel valued, it nurtures their customer loyalty. Maintain this loyalty through personalized correspondence and offers. 9. Use Technology To Engage Customers Between scheduling service calls, invoicing customers, managing your books, and everything else you do on a daily basis, adding new responsibilities may seem overwhelming. Thankfully, field service management (FSM) software can automate a lot of these tasks. HouseCall Pro automatically sends customers emails before and after their service call. You can request feedback and help customers feel heard without any additional effort. On the day of service, your customers will receive updates about the arrival time of your technicians. Text and email updates offer convenient real-time information to your customers, and automating these interactions keeps your customers happy without adding more to your plate. Ultimately, standing out from other local businesses in your area boils down to a top-notch customer experience. This starts when someone finds your website for the first time and extends to when you follow up about their experience after they’ve paid for your quality service. Use a mix of on-the-job and automated customer service techniques to ensure that a satisfied customer not only returns for more work, but tells their friends about you.
Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator
September 4, 2018 • Having a hard time finding good technicians? You’re not alone. The country’s unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in half a century, and fewer young people are going into skilled trade work. But don’t lose hope. Quality folks are out there. And, this guide is full of tips to help you find them, hire, train, and manage a successful team. Finding HVAC technicians First, let’s look at a couple of traditional ways companies find skilled technicians. Download Field Guide: How to Hire & Grow HVAC Your HVAC Business Without the Headache Placing job ads Place ads in local newspapers, on job sites, and hanging fliers in supply houses. This used to be the easiest way to get the word out to experienced candidates looking for a job. Nowadays, however, most skilled workers are already employed and not necessarily looking. With fewer skilled technicians on the market, you might need to employ other tactics in addition to the ads to ensure you have the best pick of candidates. Strengths: Ads — especially online — cast a wide net and can help you find folks that aren’t already in your network. Weaknesses: The downside of casting a wide net is that you end up with lots of responses from folks who are not a good fit. Either they’re not qualified or they are trained, but there’s a good reason why they’re unemployed. Tip: Techs might be looking for better rates or benefits, or more hours. Make your ad stand out by clearly stating what you have to offer over other local companies. Examples would be offering a guaranteed forty hours or dental insurance. Vocational schools With a shortage of skilled workers, companies are relying more heavily on HVAC schools for new hires. Strengths: Folks fresh out of school are cheaper, moldable, and eager to learn. You can start fresh instead of being forced to break bad habits and perspectives that don’t align with your company. Weaknesses: It can take months or years of on-the-job training to get a green worker to the same level as an experienced hire. Tip: Want to find the cream of the crop? Maintain friendships with the instructors and ask for introductions to their best students. Your network Even newer companies have connections, and it’s probably a wider network than you realize. Ask local contractors, suppliers, and other trade professionals that you work with to spread the word for you. If you’re a member of the local union, contact them, as well. Don’t forget that your network includes your current employees! In a recent survey, 35% of trade companies hired technicians based off of employee referrals. Strengths: Other trade professionals are likely to know—and be able to vouch for—good workers. Weaknesses: This approach is hit-or-miss, especially when few professionals are looking for work. Tip: Pay it forward by always being ready to connect professionals. When folks have earned work from your connections, they’ll be more prepared to help you out in turn. Hiring the right HVAC technician There’s a lot to consider about each candidate, including their work history, credentials and technical know-how, as well as their soft skills and how well they fit into your existing team. Taking the time to make the right hire will save you effort in the long run. Weed out candidates with a technical skills test You might not always have time to train someone and need a capable technician ready on day one. This is where a technical test comes in handy. Technicians can say whatever they want on their resume, but do they really know what they’re talking about? Weed out candidates with a written or on-site skills test. Check out example questions from the NOCTI Job Ready Assessment test. Contact multiple references Asking multiple references about a person’s work performance and character can give you a more honest and complete sense of how they’ll be on the job. HR expert Bruce Anderson recommends asking for the names and contact information from your candidate’s previous employers instead of simply asking for general references. Prioritize soft skills and a willingness to learn Companies often face the dilemma of prioritizing technical skills and experience or soft skills and personality fit. If you are able to do more on-the-job training, consider prioritizing soft skills — like customer service and promptness — over technical knowledge. According to soft skills trainer Steve Coscia, “more 80% of a mechanical worker’s future success will be based on his or her soft skills.” In the long run, it’s easier to teach a hard worker technical skills than it is to nurture a stronger work ethic. Personality assessment tests can help you discern whether a candidate would be a good fit for your company. Of course, a general aptitude for skilled trade work is necessary and isn’t for everyone. Candidates should at least be able to pass basic mechanical aptitude tests. Training HVAC technicians on the job No matter the experience level of your new hire, everyone will require some training, whether it’s understanding your specific company’s culture and expectations or on-the-job technical training. After you’ve made a hire, set clear expectations about what is expected of your employee in these first few months — and in general — from people that work for you. Train on technical and soft skills ACHR News recommends training new employees in four areas: mechanical skills, time management, customer service, and troubleshooting. For instance, even if they have a good understanding of HVAC systems and how to repair them, how good are they at troubleshooting for basic or advanced problems? These can be two very different skill sets. HVAC systems aren’t the only technology technicians need to be trained on. Have your new hire practice using your internal systems — such as updating arrival times, setting estimates, and invoicing — before they need to do these with your customers. Institute a trial period Set a 30 to 90 day trial period with clear expectations about what they should be able to do and understand by the end of the trial. Your new HVAC techs should also understand what will happen if they fail certain parts of their assessment. During this trial period, your new hire will do a mix of training and job shadowing and slowly taking on more of their own responsibilities. A well-documented trial period eases the process of letting someone go who isn’t do a good job. Offer incentives early on Offering incentives for hard work and exemplary service sets a precedent that good work is not just expected, but will be rewarded. Incentives — such as raises, bonuses, or time off — build goodwill and company loyalty and can counterbalance the anxiety of the trial period. Managing HVAC techs According to Steve Howard, founder of an HVAC training and consultant group, one of the top reasons that HVAC businesses close is the failure of the owner/technician to fully move into a managerial role. As you grow your business and your team, so do your responsibilities. So what does it take to manage a successful team? Encourage autonomy from Your employees The goal is to employ a team of technicians that are capable of managing themselves. When you’re confident your team can do their jobs without being micromanaged, you can focus on the big picture. Hold each team member accountable for their performance through weekly or monthly required reports. When these reports are available to the entire team, individuals can track their performance compared to that of their co-workers. Be honest and transparent about how they are performing individually and collectively. Maintain incentives for good performance Incentives aren’t just for new hires. Matt Michel, CEO of Service Roundtable, explains, “Pay wages for time on the job and you will get time on the job. Pay incentives for productivity and that’s what you will get.” He goes on to explain that incentives don’t have to be financial. Recognition can be just as rewarding. Bruce Breeden, founder of Field Service Resources, LLC, suggests offering incentives for advanced training, such as licenses and credentials. Use the right tools The right technology can make managing a team simple and efficient. Keep track of your team with a live map. Keep them up-to-date about new service requests and changes to old jobs with a centralized scheduling and dispatch tool. These tools should be easy-to-use for you and your team. Making the most out of each employee is critical to the success of your business. Throughout the entire process — from hiring to managing employees — honest and clear expectations, and a willingness to train and reward each industrious person will pay off.
Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator