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The 13 Best HVAC Apps for Every HVAC Technician

February 13, 2019 • Thanks to smartphones, we have access to a wealth of information and tools right in the palm of our hand. Apps have completely revolutionized many industries, from ridesharing to academics to banking. The HVAC industry is no different. As an HVAC technician, it’s important to have your physical tools with you to diagnose and resolve issues. However, virtual tools are just as crucial and can help you enhance your business by allowing you to solve problems more efficiently in the field. Below you’ll find the 13 best HVAC apps that can help you learn HVAC concepts, troubleshoot problems you may face in the field, and calculate loads so you can make accurate choices about furnace or A/C unit size. These apps can help both amateurs and seasoned pros, so read on for an in-depth look at the HVAC apps that’ll help put your new HVAC business on the map. Our HVAC App Categories: HVAC Learning Apps HVAC Troubleshooting Apps HVAC Load Calculation Apps HVAC Business Apps HVAC Learning Apps If you’re new to the HVAC field, it’s important to be committed to becoming an expert and that means you need to absorb all you can about heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. HVAC software allows you to brush up on essential knowledge so you’re better able to handle and resolve issues out in the field. As an aspiring HVAC technician, you’ll need to have a wide breadth of knowledge and be able to answer questions such as: What is a sling psychrometer and what does it measure? What’s the difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump? What is one element you don’t have to consider when you’re completing an outdoor unit install? If you’re not sure what the answers are to those questions, have no fear. The apps below will cover those questions and many more. Even if you’re a professional who has been working for years, there’s always new technology and equipment to learn in the industry. Below are some of our favorite HVAC apps to keep you updated and knowledgeable. HVAC Flashcards by BH Inc – iOS — Cost: $4.99 Best for: “ Studying HVAC technology & theory” This app is a great tool for studying for the HVAC exam and may even make the process a little more fun. It’ll help you gain better understanding of HVAC technology , terms, and theory. HVAC Flashcards covers major areas of the HVAC exam including: Air distribution and balance Gas heat Heat pumps Refrigeration concepts Controls Electric heat Features: Access to over 1000 pre-made flashcards with essential terms, equipment, and concepts Statistics for cards and games you play plus a study-tracker Schedule for reviewing flashcards to help keep you accountable Customization of flashcard color and text color for a user-friendly interface Text-to-speech technology Offline download available for offline studying so you don’t need an internet connection to learn How to use: Choose between four modes: Study, Listening, Quiz, and Matching Study statistics to monitor how well you’re doing among different categories Simply follow the directions on the screen to flip between flashcards The Dictionary: Complete HVAC Dictionary Free — Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Studying HVAC terms” This app serves as a quick reference guide for HVAC terms and concepts. Enjoy learning about more than three thousand terms with expert descriptions covering heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This is great for both professionals and those just beginning their HVAC careers. Curious what parameters make a leak Class IV or Class V? Need to know the difference between an axial fan and a centrifugal fan? Done. With this HVAC app, you’ll have all of the definitions you could want in one convenient place. How to use: Type in your HVAC term right into the search bar Add bookmark to save the term for easy reference later HVAC Practice Test — iOS — Cost: Free Best for: “ Various study modes” Get ready to crush your HVAC exam. This HVAC app boasts thousands of up-to-date questions, tracks your progress for every single question, and optimizes your ability to memorize concepts and terms. You can even challenge your friends to see who has the most HVAC know-how. Instead of one mode where your brain gets bored, your mind is stimulated by multiple learning modes. How to use: Choose between different featured modes: Study, Slideshow, Matching, Memorize, and Quiz Based on your progress, the app will quiz you daily on categories that need more attention Flip between flashcards, test your knowledge with a timed, multiple-choice test, or review your overall knowledge progress Challenge friends to HVAC knowledge quizzes HVAC School – Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Curated information from HVAC professionals” If you’re an Android user, this is one of the best HVAC learnings apps you can get. It will help current HVAC technicians keep their knowledge base current and assist those aspiring techs to learn all they can. Features: Tune in and listen to the HVAC School podcast, an informational podcast about changes in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems you should know about. Read technical articles by professionals in the industry to bolster your understanding of concepts, equipment, and theory in the industry. Use the HVAC calculators integrated within the app to gain a broader comprehension of common HVAC mathematics concepts. How to use: Use the dashboard to search through different categories: Tech Tips, Podcast, Tools, and Search Look up HVAC terms, listen to an industry podcast for insider knowledge, read articles on HVAC theory, and utilize HVAC calculators HVAC Troubleshooting Apps As an HVAC technician, you have an incredibly important job: fix sometimes critical issues that affect customers’ enjoyment and comfort of their homes. Here are some common problems you might face on a typical service call, depending on your particular location: Common problems faced on an HVAC service call Heat pump won’t shut off The actual temperature doesn’t reflect the thermostat High electric bills Heat pump is blowing cold air Steam coming from outdoor unit Cold and hot spots within the home Overly noisy indoor unit Strange odors around unit Hot water runs out too quickly Those are just a few common HVAC issues but you never know what your day in the field will hold so it pays to be prepared for anything. Below are some of the best HVAC troubleshooting apps you can confidently diagnose and fix a problem. iManifold – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Calculating HVAC/R system performance” The iManifold App is a convenient troubleshooting tool that calculates HVAC/R system processes as well as performance. Using user input and dynamic, live system data, you’ll be able to easily hone in on any issues. With over 40 selectable refrigerant options and equipment options, the iManifold app can be customized for your specific HVAC/R needs. For advanced options, you can upgrade to iManifold Report Pro, Charge & Airflow Report, and Mechanical Inspection to take your HVAC business to the next level. How to use: Calculate HVAC/R system performance by inputting variables directly into the blank fields Look up equipment information, system profiles, and troubleshooting guides HyTools – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Hydronic calculations” HyTools by IMI Hydronic Engineering delivers a handy, intuitive hydronic calculator app for HVAC pros. This isn’t just any app, it was built by industry leaders in hydronic distribution systems and temperature control, IMI Hydronic Engineering International SA. More than 100,000 projects all over the world and years of experience helped to build this app so you know you’re getting the best, most accurate information. Need to make a unit conversion? Confused about pipe sizing? Find all the answers you need with this app designed with the HVAC professional in mind. Features: Pipe sizing Unit conversion Hydronic calculator (input two values and get the answer) Power – flow – temperature difference Flow – valve setting – pressure drop Flow – Kv/Cv – pressure drop Dirt and air separator pressure drop calculation Valve sizing and presetting Radiator power estimation (panel as well as column) Run-time selection of localization and run-time selection of language How to use: Input values into the empty fields to find common HVAC calculations Use answers to guide any necessary corrective actions or to determine replacement needs Refrigerant Slider – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Pressure-to-temperature refrigerant conversions” This app comes from the engineering experts at Danfoss who specialize in refrigeration, air conditioning, heating, motor control, and machinery. If you’re looking for an app that acts as a quick, efficient pressure-to-temperature refrigerant converter, this is your app. The Refrigerant Slider covers 69 different types of refrigerants including natural ones. You’ll be able to dive into a world of refrigerant knowledge thanks to this app’s in-depth description of different refrigerant types. Features: View Global Warming Potential (GWP) and Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP) of refrigerant materials Ability to switch between AR4 and AR5 values according to European F-Gas regulations App built according to NIST Refrigerant Properties and uses Antoine equations for conversion See both dew and bubble point for refrigerants Switch between Metric and Imperial units How to use: Using the left side of the screen, a slider will help you determine the pressure or temperature reference Using the right side of the screen, you’ll see the pressure and temperature in exact measurements Type in a specific pressure or temperature reading and the slider will give you instantaneous answer corresponding to your input Test and Balance/Commissioning Calculator – iOS and Android — Cost: $9.99 Best for: “ Pressure-to-temperature refrigerant conversions” If you’re an HVAC technician out in the field, you will want to be prepared with the right knowledge. And with HVAC issues, that means you must have various formulas and mathematic equations close at hand at all times. The Test and Balancing/Commissioning Calculator has common calculations you may need when you’re out trying to fix different HVAC issues. How to use: Find Cooling MBH Calculation: By using inputs of altitude, CFM, entering and leaving dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures, this calculator determines the work performed by the cooling coil in total, sensible, latent MBH, tons of cooling and condensate gallons per hour. Find Water MBH: By using the known GPM and entering and leaving water temperature, the calculator will tell you how much heat is transferred into water. Find Sheave Change: Helps you determine the necessary sheaves and belts to either add or subtract to the fan RPM to get to the correct CFM. It also determines the required BHP for change, the length of the belt, and delivers both motor pitch and fan pitch diameter. Find Heating MBH Calculation: Utilizing the known altitude, CFM, and entering and leaving dry bulb, the calculator will deliver the sensible heating load data. Find Humidification: Using the known altitude, CFM, and entering and leaving dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures, the calculator will tell you the work being reintroduced into the air stream. For example, “steam pounds per hour,” “total MBH,” and “gallons per hour”. Find Traverse Points: By inputting the duct size and whether or not there is an internal liner, this calculator will give you location points to perform traverse in ducts, both rounded and rectangular. Find Psychrometric Properties: Delivers all psychrometric property data from any dry bulb and wet bulb temperature of air at any given altitude. Find GPM: Determine the GPM based on one of the combinations below: Known Cv & ΔP (PSI) Known design ΔP of fixed Orifice, Design GPM, Actual ΔP (PSI) Known design ΔP of fixed Orifice, Design GPM, Actual ΔP (Ft) This is one of the pricier apps on the list, however, it’s also one of the most comprehensive pieces of HVAC software. HVAC Load Calculation Apps The load calculation is how you determine the right size furnace and/or air conditioning unit for a client’s home that properly balances heating and cooling needs. When the HVAC industry was in its infancy, technicians would make an educated guess to ascertain the heating gains and losses for a given property. Usually this number was derived from the actual size in square feet of the home and it wasn’t necessarily an accurate number. Because HVAC companies needed to make sure the unit would be big enough for the house, they usually erred on the side of caution and installed a bigger-than-needed unit. A too-small unit in a house that doesn’t properly balance cooling and heating losses means that the unit won’t effectively cool or heat the house. A unit that’s too large for a space or property, however, isn’t great either. A too-large unit results in hot and cold spots throughout the house. The HVAC industry changed radically when the Air Conditioning Contractors of America was formed. The organization came up with standardized ways to calculate a home’s heating and cooling losses involving complex mathematical equations. Unfortunately, doing those calculations by hand meant a lot of time and effort was expended. In the modern HVAC world, apps and software do the mathematical heavy lifting. Here are some of the best HVAC load calculation apps to make sure your service responds to your clients needs. HVAC Load Plus — iOS — Cost: $24.99 Best for: “ Sizing cooling and heating units” HVAC Load Plus is the perfect companion when you’re out in the field. It’ll allow you to size cooling and heating units, show those results to the client, and email the data to your home office to analyze the information further for more insight. Plus, you’ll save time by inputting data in the field and returning to your office for a more thorough analysis. Features: Weather for more than 1000 cities in database Data for hundreds of construction types for ceilings, windows, doors, floors, roofs, and more Additional input variations such as number of people, number of bedrooms, ventilation airflow, and more Ability to download a full HTML report of all data including a spreadsheet attachment Easily transition from Imperial to Metric units Equipment location services Bonus module: HVAC Quick Load – will allow you to perform rule-of-thumb heating and cooling load calcs based building type, square footage, and the number of people How to use: Create and store an unlimited number of projects – plus, you can copy existing projects to new projects for simple recycling of data Use calculator and report feature to see a full breakdown of the cooling and heating load report which includes further breakdown by opaque load, window load, skylight load, ventilation load, infiltration load, and internal load contributions Duct Calc Elite – iOS and Android — Cost: $6.99 Best for: “ Calculating ductwork sizing” Duct Calc Elite helps you make the most of a customer’s HVAC system. Duct sizes that are too small means that the entire system has to work more to keep the property heated and cooled to comfortable temperatures. Conversely, if the duct size is too big, the velocity is compromised so you might not be able to feel it at all through the vents. To calculate ductwork sizing, you’ll need to know the following: Square footage of the home Square footage of each individual room Cubic feet per minute Duct’s sizing friction loss rate Or, you can simply rely on the Duct Calc Elite which does all the work for you. This useful HVAC app boasts an intuitive, user-friendly interface so you can enter values for each calculation with total confidence. Features: Duct Size by Airflow mode Duct Size by Dimension mode Pressure Drop mode How to use: Use the included calculator to find the following: Duct dimensional units: inches, centimeters, or millimeters Airflow units: cubic feet per minute, cubic feet per second, cubic meters per second, or liters per second Velocity units: Feet per second, feet per minute, or meters per second Pressure loss unit: inches of water per 100 feet or Pascals per meter Duct material type: aluminum, concrete, fibrous glass duct liner, flexible duct-metallic, galvanized steel, PVC plastic pipe, smooth liner, spiral steel, or uncoated carbon steel Air temperature: Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin Elevation: feet or meters HVAC Check and Charge – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Refrigerant charge calculations” HVAC Check and Charge from Emerson Climate Technologies delivers on-site refrigerant charge calculations for air conditioning applications. Features: For use with R-22, R-410A, R-32, R-407C and R-134a Airflow calculator Superheat calculator (non TXV) Subcooling calculator (TXV) How to use: Technician chooses subcooling, superheat, or airflow setting Enter the specific system temperature with latent and sensible environmental loads Resulting calculation is the proper system charge Final value tells you whether or not the charge amount should be altered HVAC Duct Sizer – iOS and Android — Cost: $5.99 Best for: “ Ductwork sizing” This is another highly-rated duct-sizing app for both Android and iOS users. Essentially, it’s a virtual version of a traditional duct sizing measurement tool. How to use: Find Size by Airflow: Choose the total airflow in CFM (or L/S), the aspect ratio and either velocity of air or the friction loss per 100 feet (or 30 meters). The resulting calculation delivers both exact and rounded estimations of height, width, and diameter dimensions, the equivalent diameter (for rectangular and oval ducts) and the calculated velocity and friction loss. Find Size by Dimensions: You can examine an existing duct system by punching in the present duct dimensions and either the airflow or velocity numbers to arrive at the calculated duct friction loss. Add in custom parameters: Duct shape: rectangular, oval, round Duct material type Duct roughness Air temperature Air pressure HVAC Business Apps If you own your own HVAC business, you know how important it is to stay organized. With clients, multiple technicians, ongoing projects, emergency calls – HVAC businesses are known for being dynamic, busy organizations. So, it’s important to ensure that you have all your bases covered with regard to scheduling, clients, and project progress. For example, you can make it easier for potential customers to go about hiring an HVAC technician to fix a heating, cooling, or refrigeration issue by allowing online booking through social media and review sites. You may also want to consider a business app to help you digitize all the important information you’re dealing with day to day like client information, messages, projects, schedules, employee messages, and more. For all of your HVAC business needs , HouseCall Pro is the app that’ll help streamline your workflow and build your company. Housecall Pro – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Trial Best for: “ Managing your HVAC business” If you’d like an app that does it all, look no further than the Housecall Pro app. This app will serve as your business hub where all of your business-critical matters are in one convenient location. Message clients when you’re on your way, dispatch technicians based on proximity to clients, allow customers to pay with their credit cards for instant payment, send out automated emails without marketing services – there’s truly no other app like it. Don’t waste your time half-heartedly trying to market, let us handle that for you while you focus on higher-value tasks that are important to your business. How to use: Use the intuitive dashboard to navigate to each category and section to carry out your essential HVAC business tasks: Online Booking Schedule and dispatch Custom invoicing and estimating Payment Instapay Live map Service agreements QuickBooks Online Automated marketing Messages to clients Pay by credit card, cash, checks Send jobs to employee calendars Set recurring jobs Send notes and photos while on a job Send invoices via text Sync data to secure cloud Set employee permissions Export customer data and job information at any time HVAC Apps for every project HVAC apps aren’t the only way to get a job done right the first time, but they’re a helpful tool to make the most of your time, knowledge, and skillset. As an HVAC technician, you’re tasked with the important job of making sure people’s homes are comfortable. Using apps like Housecall Pro helps make your business more efficient and responsive. Tackle each HVAC job with the confidence that comes from knowing you have all the information you need right in your pocket.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

TOPIC: Technology

What Is Field Service Management Software?

February 5, 2019 • If you work in a home-services industry — and especially if you manage a team of professionals who make house calls — there’s a good chance you’ve heard about field service management software. But exactly what does this term refer to, and is field service management software applicable in your specific line of work? To help you gain a clearer understanding of what field service management software is and how your business might use it, here’s an overview of everything you need to know about this revolutionary way to streamline your workflow. What Is Field Service Management Software? For businesses that make house calls, field service management, often abbreviated as FSM, simply refers to the allocation of off-site resources required to serve customers. FSM comes in many different forms and can include everything from scheduling appointments to dispatching workers to determining the locations of your vehicles. Over the years, FSM has evolved from a rudimentary pencil-and-paper process into a sophisticated set of computer-based tools that leverage the latest technology. These computer programs are collectively known as field service management software . Computer-based FSM has existed for decades in the form of industry-specific programs, such as HVAC software designed especially for specialists in that field. Today, however, the leading FSM platforms are feature-rich, web-based tools that can be customized to suit any type of home-service business. And because these tools live in the cloud and are accessible from any internet-connected device, they make running a home-service business easier than ever before. What Type of Businesses Use FSM Software? A growing number of home-service businesses use FSM software, including workers in traditional trades such as electricians and carpet cleaners, as well as providers of more-emergent services like solar panel installation and home automation. Here’s a quick — but far from complete — list of professions that stand to benefit from FSM software: Housekeepers Electricians Window Cleaners Landscapers Pressure Washers HVAC Specialists Plumbers Garage Door Installers How Does Field Service Management Software Work? Different FSM solutions work in different ways, but today’s most popular tools largely revolve around online dashboards and mobile apps. The online dashboards provide business administrators with a bird’s-eye view of a company’s entire operation at any given time. They also allow easy access to nearly every facet of the business within just a couple of clicks. Mobile apps, on the other hand, are generally optimized for workers in the field and provide them all of the information they need about upcoming appointments. These mobile apps also facilitate communication with customers and team members back at the office. The beauty of today’s FSM tools is that they allow everyone in an organization to instantly and effortlessly access the information they need from wherever they happen to be. But the best field service management software offers far more benefits Top 10 Benefits of Field Service Management Software If you’re curious about how field service management software can streamline your operations, here’s a rundown of 10 of the many benefits a modern FSM solution can bring to your home-service business. Simpler Management: Manage your workforce in the field more effectively — and more effortlessly — than ever before. An Up-to-Date Dashboard: Access a bird’s-eye view of your entire business anytime and from anywhere. Speedier Payments: Issue invoices at the touch of a button or instantly collect payment for completed projects. Simplified Scheduling: Give customers the freedom to schedule appointments online based on your team’s current availability. Enhanced Appearance: A sleek customer interface lets you appear every bit as professional as the biggest names in your industry. Empowered Employees: Allow your workers to deliver better service by giving them instant access to customer information. Improved Customer Communications: Increase customers’ peace of mind by providing them with real-time updates about appointments and ETAs. Automated Operations: Remove repetitive tasks from your to-do list by automating time-consuming processes. Reduced Confusion: One central location to view all day-to-day operations ensures every member of your team is always on the same page. Integrated Information: Import customers, calendars, and accounting information by integrating with other tools you’re already using. Try Housecall Pro Today! The advent of field service management software has revolutionized the way businesses that make house calls operate. But not all FSM software was created equal, and not all platforms will be right for your business. If you’re searching for field service management software to bring your company into the 21st century, Housecall Pro could be exactly what you’re looking for. We offer three tiers of tools and services built specifically with businesses like yours in mind. Our comprehensive packages make it easy — and affordable — for companies in a growing number of industries to operate more efficiently and profitably, than ever before. If you’re ready to experience the difference Housecall Pro can make for your home-service business, book your free demo today.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

What is field service management software (FSM)

Feature Focus: Segments

January 28, 2019 • This weeks Feature Focus is about setting up segments for return jobs or jobs that require you to take a deductible, deposit, or bill an insurance company. We're going to go over the three keys to setting up your segments correctly. 1) Name your segment What’s the reason you’re segmenting the job? Is it because you need to take a deposit? Is it part two of the first job, or an extra repair? One of the reasons it’s important to name your segments is so you can look back and know what happened that day at a glance. Keep in mind this segment name will also appear on your customer’s invoice, so make sure it's professional.  2) Double check your lines items You want to go through and make sure you have all the correct information on your invoice. When creating your line items, you have a couple of options. You can copy them from the previous day or add new ones, if the work is going to be different. 3) Make sure you schedule it A lot of our Pros don’t realize that when you add a segment, the schedule doesn’t copy over. So just make sure you’re going in and scheduling the job for the correct date and time. So remember - when you’re using segments - name it, update your line items, and add it to your schedule. Now that you have your checklist, go through a segment you’ve already created and make sure these three steps are completed so that you’re ready the next time you add one. To learn more about segments check out this help article.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

FeatureFocus Segments

Feature Focus: The 4 P's to Succeeding with Online Booking

January 7, 2019 • This weeks feature focus is about setting up and optimizing your online booking with the Four P's. The Four P's are: Pricing, Pictures, Personability, and Promotion. 1. Transparent Pricing Don't be afraid to show your prices. Today’s consumers like to shop around, and don’t like to guess. Listing your prices gives you the upper hand and shows transparency. 2. Use Pictures When it comes to pictures I cannot stress this enough, do not use stock photos. There’s nothing more in-genuine, than a model in an unworn polo and a fake tool belt. 3. Be Personal You also have to make sure your online booking pictures are personable. Get your phone out on the job and start snapping. Capture working, lifting, smiling, and just being yourself. 4. Good Promotion Finally you need to promote your online booking. There are a lot of great ways to do this, like running Facebook and Google ads, notifying customers through your voicemail, or setting up an auto-text. In Housecall Pro, you can send email and postcard campaigns with directions on how to book online.You can also advertise your online booking on your business cards and truck wrap. So remember:  Pricing, Pictures, Personability, and Promotion. By optimizing your online booking, you’ll start to see those numbers increase, while building trust with the homeowners. And that’s the key. I challenge you to implement these 4 Ps into your online booking.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Feature Focus Online booking

The ROI of Quality Field Service Software

September 18, 2018 • If you’ve been in the field service industry for a while, you know how important it is to use quality management software. A good tool allows you to coordinate many components of field operations from a single platform. For instance, the five most requested features of a field service management (FSM) solution include scheduling, work order management, job in progress tracking, job management, and service history tracking. Any decent field service tool at least manages those five things and does it will. With a well-designed platform, your business efficiency and customer service improves — and so does your revenue. This is what Gartner discovered when they surveyed 35 companies in different field service industries that had implemented a field service management (FSM) solution. On average, the software paid for itself in nine months. The highest reported improvements were a 60% increase in technician efficiency and customer satisfaction. And these results were just the averages across different solutions. As with any investment, you’ll see a better return when you choose the right tool for your company. So how do you know what the right field service tool is? When you’re comparing different solutions, one place to start is looking at industry trends. This awareness will help you choose a solution that will offer the most value over a long period of time. In this post we look at six industry-leading trends and important features to look for in a FSM solution. Three Important Trends in Field Service Technology 1. Software-as-a-Service offers the Most Versatile Solutions Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions are hosted online (or in the cloud) by the vendor as opposed to software you need to install on your own networks and computers. SaaS products are subscription-based and usually come with customer support built into the monthly or annual fee. When you’re managing a field service operation, one of the most important factors of picking a tool is whether you can actually use in the field. This is the biggest advantage of SaaS solutions over those you can only operate from your office. As you’ll see when we look at the benefits of mobile apps, as well as features like automated invoicing, your ROI dramatically increases when technicians have easy access to your management tool. This is just one of the reasons why more field service companies are moving to SaaS platforms. Blumberg Advisory reported that the cloud-based FSM market was valued at $1.2 billion in 2017, and they anticipate that number to double by 2022. Benefits: Saas solutions allow you to use the technology from any device (including in the field). They require less time and resources to set up and manage. It’s easier to scale with a SaaS solution as your company grows. SaaS software more easily integrates with other tools, such as   CRMs   and accounting software 2. Mobile-Friendly Solutions Provide New Value for Technicians There are many reasons why over half of field-service companies believe that investing in mobile technology is critical to their performance. Mobile technology provides workers in the field access to valuable troubleshooting resources, as well as offering many ways to improve customer service. Nasrin Azari, CEO of Mobile Reach, also explains how mobile apps can keep field technicians safe: “When it comes to the mobile applications technicians use every day, simplified screens, background automation, and simplified error handling reduce the likelihood of an accident.” Benefits: Being able to collect data in the field increases job accuracy They can improve time management in the field and keep customers informed of technician’s arrival times They give technician’s access to a customer's history and troubleshooting resources, as well as access to other team members They improve customer service by providing immediate estimates and invoicing 3. Integrations with Other Software Field service business use a number of tools to manage their companies, including accounting software, inventory management solutions, customer relationship management tools, as well as your social media platforms. When a field service tool integrates with these other tools, it saves you the hassle of entering information twice. For instance, we’ve found that by allowing our customers to sync their invoices and payments information from HouseCall Pro to Quickbooks, we’re saving our customers an average of fifteen hours a week on redundant paperwork. Benefits: Less employee time spent on paperwork More information available to all systems can create better reports and overall improved functionality. Four Features to Look for In Field Service Solutions Hopefully you see the value of mobile-ready SaaS solutions, but even then, there are dozens of tools on the market to choose from. When you’re comparing FSM platforms, it’s important to know what popular features might be giving other companies a competitive advantage, as well as what features your customers are coming to expect. Here are four popular features to look for in a field service platform. 1. Live Chat Improves Customer Satisfaction Rates Fewer customers want to call for customer service. One study found that 42% of customers prefer live chat over the phone. Not only do they prefer chat over phone, but they’re also most likely to be satisfied with the experience. According to a report from Zendesk, 92% of customers gave the experience a positive rating compared to just 88% who used voice service and 85% using email. Satisfied customers are more likely to stay customers, which is why live chat functionality can improve your customer retention rate. Another benefit: more leads. Thornton and Grooms, a heating, cooling, and plumbing company in Michigan, receives about twelve leads per day via live chat. According to their marketing director, the majority of those leads become customers. ROI: Improved customer retention, more customer leads. 2. GPS Tracking Improves Technician Punctuality Another feature that improves customer retention is GPS tracking. According to a survey by Software Advice, nearly 70% of customers polled wouldn’t rehire a company whose technician was up to an hour late. A quarter of them had a cut-off time of 16-30 minutes. GPS tracking can help keep workers on time by increasing accountability, as well as the ability to make scheduling and route changes in real time. An overwhelming 95% of field service companies that implemented GPS tracking saw an improvement in their technician’s punctuality. They also found decreased fuel costs, as well as an increase in work orders completed per day. ROI: Improved customer retention, increased number of finished work orders. 3. Automated Invoicing Gets You Paid Faster Take information captured by your technicians in the field, and immediately send follow-up info or requests for payments to the customer via email. Automating this process reduces the time and cost of invoicing. It also improves accuracy, since paper invoicing requires more steps where something can go wrong. Automated invoicing reduces costs, such as employee hours. One study found that moving from paper invoices to online invoices reduced the cost of each transaction from $20 down to $4. They also help you get paid faster. Aberdeen Group found that the average service-to-payment cycle is 34 days. Having lots of open invoices can create a cashflow bottleneck.  Sending invoices via email, as opposed to paper invoices via mail, reduces this payment cycle. Field service tools that allow technicians to invoice in the field significantly shortens that payment cycle even more, especially if they can take payments directly from the customer. Your customers are getting used to taking payments via mobile devices. Juniper Research predicts that mobile payments will make up almost a quarter of all point-of-sale transactions by 2023, estimating 87 billion transactions annually. ROI: Faster payments with less associated costs, improved accuracy of invoices, improved customer satisfaction. Online Booking Just like live chat, 70% of consumers want to book services online rather than over a phone. Whether they’re on your website, on your Facebook page, or browsing your Yelp reviews, ideally you want customers to be able to see your availability and book your services. Using online booking can dramatically increase the number of service requests. By adding convenience to your customers, it also aids in customer retention and satisfaction. Online booking also saves employee time by automating the workflow. As soon as a customer creates a service request, technicians can be automatically assigned the job and have access to the customer’s history. ROI: Improved customer retention and satisfaction, reduced employee time spent on the phone and scheduling work orders. Some Benefits are Harder to Track Some of the benefits of a good FSM tool are easier to track than others. Once you’ve implemented a solution, you can compare the amount of work orders completed, the average amount of time per job, compare monthly revenue, and use surveys to gauge its impact on your customers. Other benefits may be harder to track, but just as important. For instance, a good system that improves workflow can reduce the stress of your employees and make their jobs easier boosting company morale. Well-designed technology can be easier to learn and reduce the time it takes to train new employees. And finally, having better work reports and statistics can give you a better sense of how your company is doing and what you can improve. Overall,  the benefits (and ROI) of having the right field service solution — one that’s cloud-based and mobile-ready add up when you start to consider improvements to workflow, technician’s accuracy, customer satisfaction and retention, and employee satisfaction. If you’re looking for a field service solution that offers the features live chat, GPS-tracking, as well as scheduling and dispatch, estimates and invoicing, online booking, and many other services you need to run your field service business, try out HouseCall Pro.

EJ Brown

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5 Ways Technology is Changing the HVAC Industry

September 17, 2018 • New technology, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, are changing the heating and air conditioning industry in every way. To keep up, HVAC professionals need to understand how customers are using this new technology to monitor their energy usage and plan equipment maintenance. Here are five technology trends that are impacting HVAC companies. 1. New sustainable homes use alternative heating and cooling options New buildings are being designed to use minimal energy to heat and cool the property. According to Grainger, green building strategies go beyond sealing and insulation and even energy-star appliances. For instance, builders are rethinking ventilation systems to use more natural airflow, and specialized building materials provide a more constant building temperature which reduces the need for high-powered HVAC systems. Solar and geothermal systems are becoming more cost-effective options. 2. Smart thermostats connect to home monitoring services In a recent survey by Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions, seventy-five percent of thermostats will be Wi-Fi-enabled by 2019. And these Wi-Fi-enabled programmable devices do more than just pre-set a temperature. Consumers search for products that can connect other smart home systems, such as Samsung SmartThings or Amazon Echo. Smart thermostats allow residents to monitor their home — including energy consumption and temperature — wherever they go. Download Field Guide: How to Hire & Grow HVAC Your HVAC Business Without the Headache 3. Smart systems increase preventive maintenance Smart HVAC systems are predicting when maintenance is needed before there’s a real issue. This new trend can change your relationship with your customers from someone they call in an emergency to someone they reach out to for regularly scheduled check-ups. While preventive maintenance might cut down on emergency house calls, smart systems open up new avenues to provide service and expertise to your customers. It’s becoming more common for residential and commercial customers to have systems designed for remote monitoring. HVAC professionals can begin to monitoring energy usage, suggest maintenance, and offer personalized suggestions for ways to improve energy efficiency. 4. Customers expect tech-savvy services and technicians Customers expect HVAC services to be easy-to-book and easy-to-pay with more information about their work order readily available in one place. They want tech-savvy customer-service options, but they also want tech-savvy technicians. In a recent study by Verizon Telematics, two-thirds of consumers said they wouldn’t use a home service professional a second time that wasn’t tech savvy. This works out well for the 78 percent of service professionals already using mobile apps on the job. According to the same study, 92 percent of technicians reported that their productivity increased using mobile technology. When you employ mobile-savvy technicians, consider training them on more than just your company’s internal business tools. Samm’s Heating and Air Conditioning owner, Paul Sammataro, explains how his technicians often demo smart-home automation to their customers using their own cell-phones and tablets. 5. Virtual reality (VR) training for HVAC professionals Virtual reality is becoming a cost-effective way to train new employees or current staff training on new equipment or working on advanced certifications. For instance, Tauris McBride, founder of Tauris Tech, uses VR training to prepare his students for the New York City Refrigeration license exam. Check out his training simulator on Youtube. Using virtual simulators, you can walk technicians through the installation and troubleshooting of new equipment, and larger groups can train at once with less equipment needed. As reported by HVACInsider, “VR minimizes the risk and cost because attendees can use virtual components before migrating to real materials.” HVAC equipment and business software will continue to evolve as new technology gains momentum. But with it comes new opportunities for improved professional training and customer service.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

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Anatomy of a Service Business Website That Grows Customer Trust [Infographic]

August 4, 2018 • Your website isn’t just a marketing tool, it’s also a relationship builder. A site that stands out among the competition is one that clearly depicts a company visitors want to work with. We’ve broken down the components of a service business website that not only help convert site visitors into clients but also reflect who you are and what you value. Each section is filled with tips on how to get your business found online, establish trust and introduce the personal elements about your business. 1.Personal, professional branding Branding is arguably the most important aspect of any site. Everything from the color and layout you choose to the site’s images and text offer visitors a first impression of your business. You want that impression to be professional and memorable. What do you care about or do better than the competition? Use a logo and tagline that are memorable and unique to you. Especially when people are shopping around for different services, offering more than the standard stock photography and generic list of services will help them remember and return to your site. 2. “About Us” section offering a real glimpse into company Home owners want to know what it would be like to work specifically with you. In a survey about local business websites, 46% polled were more likely to trust a business that included an image of the business owner, so be sure to include images of yourself and your team. 3. A call to action linked to an online booking form You want to make it as easy as possible for people to contact and book your services. Your primary contact information should be easy to find on your site. Encourage clients to contact you or book a cleaning with a strong call-to-action (CTA). Make sure your CTA links to your online booking page. According to a recent survey, 70% of consumers prefer to book through a website, Yelp, or Facebook page, rather than on the phone. Using online booking is a way to make it easier for your customers to utilize your services. It shows that you care about their time and convenience. 4. Other convenient ways to contact you Communication is one of the most important aspects in building a relationship between your business and a customer. While an online booking page is an important means of communicating with customers, it can’t be the only way. Even if 70% of consumers want to book online, that still leaves 30% who prefer other options. Make sure you have other contact info available and easy to find for folks who want to contact you directly. To foster a happy relationship with your customers, don’t ignore the importance of providing a phone number or address where people can contact you directly or reach you immediately if there’s an emergency. 5. SEO optimization via your unique offerings Building a great website is just the first step. Now you have to help people find it, and that’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. The most important step is using the right keywords throughout your site that people search for when they’re looking for house cleaning services. To find out what people are searching for in your area, search for house cleaning and the name of your local region. Google will offer other popular related searches. For instance, keywords for Denver would include prices, deep house cleaning, move out cleaning services, and apartment cleaning. Next, identify the search terms that describe what your business is best at and make sure you have that information on your site. Stand out (to both Google and to customers) by offering detailed descriptions about these terms. For instance, you don’t want to simply say you provide move out cleaning services. You want to explain why your move out cleaning services are unique. 6. Transparent testimonials & customer reviews Adding testimonials from your current clients can do wonders to secure new bookings. Customers want to hear from other customers. For instance, one company, raised their online sales by 35% when they added reviews. And a survey about consumers searching for local businesses found that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from people they know. These online reviews shouldn’t just come from testimonials on your website. Customers expect to be able to find your company in business directories, such as Google My Business, Angie’s List and  Yelp. Having your business listed in these places offers legitimacy to your company, increases your site’s ranking in web searches, and shows a willingness to be transparent about your services. Follow and respond to all reviews of your business. This shows that you’re willing to listen and communicate, two values that can go a long way to meeting the concerns of homeowners. 7. Warm invitation to new customers Consider offering a new customer discount as a way of sending a warm welcome for folks to try out your business. This discount will pay off in long run. Most satisfied customers won’t balk at the price increase for continued service. American Express found that seven out of ten consumers will spend more on businesses that deliver exemplary services. 8. Resource hub for site visitors and existing customers When you add a blog to your website, you turn it into a resource hub about your business and your areas of expertise. Blogs can help with SEO and branding and can help you show off the things you know best. It can also add new value to long-standing customers. Especially when you offer online bookings, you’re already giving clients a reason to continue visiting your site. Reward them by adding current-customer-only special deals and promotions into your blog. 9. Add a personal touch to everything on your site Make sure that your site’s history and values are listed either on the homepage or an “About Us” page. Anytime you add something new to your site — whether its a new offer or a new blog post — ask yourself if it sounds like you and reflects your values. It’s small personal touches that will truly make your site stand out to visitors. Whether you have an existing site you’re looking to improve or building a new one from scratch, you can use these nine tips as a check-off list to ensure your site has everything customers are looking for.

EJ Brown

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