HVAC

Boosting Sales in the Slow Season for HVAC Companies

Boosting Sales in the Slow Season for HVAC Companies

Autumn is upon us, which can only mean one thing: the slow season for HVAC companies has arrived. Traditionally, the hotter summer months and the colder winter months bring about a much greater need for HVAC service due to the extreme temperatures associated with both seasons. However, during the spring and fall, business owners often wonder what service an HVAC company can sell during the slow season.

Just because there’s seasonal downtime doesn’t mean that bills stop coming in, and that employees stop wanting a weekly paycheck. Boosting sales and driving growth during the HVAC slow season is important. But how can you do it? We’ve come up with four solutions that can help your field service company thrive during the slow season for HVAC.

Focus on preventative maintenance
It’s a general rule of thumb in the HVAC and field service business world that around 90 percent of customers only call when they have urgent problems that require immediate fixes. Although it makes sense to only call when there’s an emergency, it’s not good for your small- or medium-sized business’s year-round bill-paying and business-growing activities.

What can you do to fix this problem that occurs during the HVAC slow season? You can upsell preventative maintenance during the fall and spring months, which can help your company’s bottom line.

Pushing preventative maintenance during the slow season for HVAC businesses is also good for building relationships with your customers. Since you’re visiting these customers on-site when there’s not an emergency call or specific problem to fix, you’re gaining their confidence, being helpful, providing them value, and learning more about what HVAC services are important to them. Along with this, you can use fall and spring for preventative services to clear the deck for more urgent winter and summer service calls.

Preventative maintenance during the slow season for HVAC ties into connected field service as well. Just in case you aren’t familiar, connected field service is powered by the Internet of Things, or IoT. Connected devices—which are expected to be greater than 80 billion strong by 2025—are capable of sending HVAC performance information to a service shop’s headquarters, which allows your HVAC business to consistently participate in preventative maintenance—even during the winter and summer busy seasons.

In short, you are able to monitor HVAC units, and know when a machine is ready to break down. This technology helps during the HVAC slow season because you can call your client and say, “We need to come out to your site soon for a repair.” It builds a relationship with your customer, and keeps this person’s HVAC unit running smoothly. It’s a win-win. However, connected field service is still far off for some small businesses due to the costs involved with acquiring new technology and investing in infrastructure, but, given how quickly technology is advancing, it will arrive at scale sooner than you think.

Focus on Marketing
The winter and summer seasons are often madhouses when it comes to HVAC client needs, so focus on your marketing efforts during the fall and spring. While in the midst of the HVAC slow season you can:

Attend trade shows.
Send direct mailers and mass emails.
Have your technicians perform the preventative maintenance measures described above.
Bring a brochure or a one-page flyer about other services you offer when on these preventative service calls.
Consider Google PPC campaigns, or local Facebook ads to attract more attention during the HVAC slow season.
Search LinkedIn and Google News for ideas about new companies opening in or relocating to your business’s area of service. These companies may need large-scale SLAs to make sure that their buildings are heated and air-conditioned properly.

Consider sending rebate coupons to existing customers. For example, if a current customer refers a new customer, you give the referring client money back, or take a certain dollar amount off of his or her service contract.
There are numerous creative approaches to marketing and selling for HVAC companies, and the slow season for HVAC companies—particularly the fall—is a perfect time to research and explore these options.

Offer System Upgrades
Manufacturers tend to slash prices during the slow season for HVAC companies in order to close out inventory before the winter year-end mark. Although your company might make slightly less money on an HVAC system upgrade during the fall in comparison to the early summer, it can be a steady revenue stream during the HVAC down season.

Offer Home Performance Services
The rising costs of oil, natural gas, and electricity used to heat homes and business offices alike makes your customers eager when it comes to making sure that their HVAC systems are performing at optimal levels in order to keep utility costs down. Along with this, the cultural shift focused around the emergence of “smart homes” is driving customers to check their HVAC systems’ efficiency levels more often.

One way to drive your business’s bottom line is by offering these services in the fall during the heart of the HVAC slow season. Performance services are a bit like preventative maintenance services because you visit a client who doesn’t have an urgent need, and check on the HVAC system’s overall performance. However, your company can make a slightly larger profit from these jobs by adding in an “overall performance fee” to the preventative maintenance process. The slow season for HVAC companies is the perfect time to put that HVAC CRM to use, and figure out what existing clients could benefit from based on past orders and services.

Here’s a bonus idea:

This bonus idea is for you to try during the slow season for HVAC. It’s less about directly driving revenue, but it will help you grow your company’s bottom line in the future. If you have downtime in the fall or spring, you can use it to restructure some of the inefficient areas of your field service shop.

No, no, we don’t mean firing people on a whim in order to save your company money by reducing employee wages. What we mean is to think about your business’s operating processes, the products you sell, service contracts terms, and getting everything organized within the shop and office so that you can hit the ground running when the busy winter and summer HVAC seasons strike. A good place to start organizing your HVAC business during the slow season is our Field Service Management software. You can download our guide right here, and contact us if you are ready to get your field service business ready for the busy season!

We put together an eBook on various aspects of service level agreements — a good example of something you can reorganize during the fall. To learn more, download it now.


HVAC Growth Ideas

HVAC Marketing Ideas and Small Business Growth Ideas

HVAC Marketing Ideas and Small Business Growth Ideas

Do you manage a small- to medium- sized HVAC installation and repair business? Do you own a family business that has been operating for years, but is needing to increase sales? If you are searching for HVAC marketing ideas and wondering how to grow your HVAC business and drive profitability, you have probably been searching for innovative approaches that optimize your company’s performance and increase workplace efficiency to drive your business’s bottom line.

Although we are nearing the beginning of seasonal downtime in the HVAC industry, here are six HVAC marketing ideas and strategies that you should consider implementing in order to take your business to the next level. Fostering personal relationships
Larger companies in your product or service market are usually unable to focus on the personal touch element to the same extent as small businesses. Due to these large-scale companies’ numerous employees, technicians, accounts, data, and transactional work, sometimes customers get lost in the mix, creating an impersonal experience among the clients, technicians, and office personnel. These bigger HVAC companies tend to widen appointment windows, or have billing issues because they are handling and managing mass amounts of data.

This is where customer service comes into play when trying to grow your smaller HVAC business. If your business is consistently delivering an efficient, client-oriented experience that makes it easy for the customer to understand not only the services being performed, but the reasoning behind the material and labor prices on his or her bill, you are gaining an advantage over large HVAC companies.

Smaller companies’ HVAC marketing ideas should place a special emphasis on obtaining clients within the community, setting the stage for relationship building among your business and these new or prospective customers. How many times have you seen social media used to recommend services and gather opinions about who to hire to complete certain jobs within a designated mile radius? Your friends post on Facebook about their AC being broken and ask something to the effect of, “Does anyone know a good repair guy?” Remember, that the majority of local business traffic comes in the form of current customer referrals, and the key to gathering these referrals is consistent, quality customer experiences.

Learn more about maximizing—and measuring—that personal touch from a managerial perspective here.

Competitive pricing

It’s hard to avoid discussing cost issues when it comes to maximizing your small HVAC business’s growth. Potential customers—and even current clients—often make decisions on which company to hire based on the price of services or products that are offered. In other words: people are always searching for a bargain, or at least the lowest price among similar goods and services.

The best HVAC marketing idea is to implement competitive pricing. You certainly do not want to undercut the market in your area to the point where your business cannot turn a profit; however, you should reasonably price your company’s field services according to the area in which you operate. Fair and transparent pricing attracts many potential customers, and is the catalyst for successful business relationships.

Ideally, your business should integrate some form of FSM software in order to track costs and pricing, making setting your company’s prices simpler and more effective. There are countless moving parts in an industry such as HVAC repair and installation, and it is imperative that your company accounts for each element that goes into making a successful business—specifically, using FSM software to ease the burden of tracking components that affect the your business’s bottom line.

Diverse product knowledge

Having an in-depth knowledge of your market sector is crucial for success as a small HVAC business. The mid-size and larger HVAC service market generally sells customers on brand-name, mid-quality equipment. However, if your smaller company can offer better, longer-lasting solutions at reasonable prices, you can easily gain new clients.

The key is knowing your market and the customers in that market by analyzing existing client information, and researching industry-specific data such as pricing and sales trends. After gaining more insight into your company’s particular market sector, you should have an idea of what to pitch to your potential and existing customers for the best business results.

For example, some people do not value or even place stock in brand-name products and services, while others are loyal brand-name consumers. The same theory of diverse customer opinions and buying styles is consistent across other platforms like cost, quality, warranty, duration, etc. Your goal: expand your product knowledge to better serve your customers in order to drive sales and gain new business.

Customer outreach and employee representation

Larger field service industry companies tend to budget and spend more capital on marketing campaigns for their products and services—sometimes up to 20% of their yearly revenue! Marketing tactics to grow your smaller HVAC business does not need to be this complicated or costly.

There are numerous avenues with which your business can reach people, including:

  • Having an email database to send customers and prospective clients helpful updates about heating and cooling systems.
  • Setting up automation prompts to send promotional emails to people on their birthdays.
  • Actively monitoring your Yelp page along with other service ratings sites.
  • Creating and implementing Google AdWords for “[name of city] heating and cooling” to draw in local business.
  • Be yourself, and DO NOT break the bank. (We know some agencies that help HVAC companies thrive, if you would like a referral.)

When growing your small HVAC business, much of your HVAC marketing ideascare geared toward improving local perception. Every time a service representative goes into the field, they are going to be marketing your small business through his or her worksite efficiency, knowledgeability, and attitude. Make sure that your technicians realize that they are representatives for your small business’s brand.

Participate locally

Get involved in your business’s community! Create a Make-A-Wish group, or sponsor a local little league softball team. The best HVAC marketing idea and strategy is to get your business’s name out there.

We know a plumbing company (not HVAC, but with a similar business model) who sponsored a little league team in Texas, and ended up getting every set of parents as a customer—as well as many of their friends. By simply providing uniforms and equipment, this business gained 30+ new customers. That’s a huge return-on-investment, and a great example of how to grow your HVAC business.

HVAC eBook


Better Service

Keeping Your Clients Warm This Winter with Better & Quicker Service

Keeping Your Clients Warm This Winter with Better & Quicker Service

HVAC usually has two up seasons (summer for cooling needs and winter for heating) and two corresponding down seasons (logically, fall and spring). Good news: You’re about to enter into a strong revenue season and you’re no longer worried about boosting hvac sales. Bad news: If heating mechanisms even remotely falter, everything becomes “urgent client need,” and it will feel like you’re a rat on a treadmill. HVAC business seasonal downtime has some pros and cons and winters can get busy in this world.

Keeping your clients warm is important. We’re not necessarily talking about bringing them a blanket, but hey — in the interest of solid service work, you do whatever is necessary for you. (Mostly kidding.) Rather, you can make sure you’re consistently on top of their needs around heating — especially if you live in a colder-weather climate where on-the-fritz heating becomes a major issue for people. Long story short, you just need to keep your hvac clients.

With all of this in mind — including your busy winter season — we rolled out a couple of new updates to our field service management software this fall. A few of the notable elements that will be of value this winter include:

Inventory list enhancement: Our mobile users had been running into an issue where they tried to pull items from inventory lists that were already negative. That’s been fixed and overall, inventory lists are more reactive to inventory counts. You can also get desktop alerts when inventory is being removed. Better inventory management = higher first-time fix rate = happier customers = more retention and referrals. That’s an across-the-board win.

Calendar scheduling enhancement: Because scheduling was previously done on an annual basis, we didn’t incorporate the year into the schedule. We changed this to better accommodate holidays and specific days off. It should also be noted here that there are many holidays throughout the winter, including all those pesky Presidential birthdays.

Technician routing feature: You can now route and optimize routes by specific technicians. Some companies use a technician routing software, which is great, but you start running into issues when you have a lot of different programs that you’re attempting to integrate manually. On the schedule board, “route assistance” will now rearrange routes to be fully optimized according to the destinations scheduled. This is a huge update because, well, see the equation above. Technicians being routed better also leads to happier customers, which again leads to referrals and retention.

If you’re a service manager and have been considering field service management software, we can make it easy for you. Check out our checklist for choosing a field service software here. But one of the things we run into a lot here when working with interested parties who don’t necessarily sign the checks is this question: “How do I convince my boss that the price tag on FSM software is worth it?” Your job can be a bit more… undefined. Convincing takes time, and oftentimes in field service, numbers. Well, if you look above, you’ll see “happier customers” twice. In a perfect world, that would be enough — but we’re not naive, and we know it’s not the whole deal. So we put together an entire eBook on how to convince your boss that FSM software is a good investment. Grab it, print it out, circle key elements, and go from there. Any questions? Ask us. We look forward to helping you drive revenue in the freezing winter days!

Key Information


FSM Software

Increase HVAC Customer Satisfaction with Integrated Field Service Software

Increase HVAC Customer Satisfaction with Integrated Field Service Software

HVAC is an industry within field service where time and efficiency are crucial. If a client’s heat goes down in the winter (in most parts of the world) or his or her AC goes down in the summer (ditto), it could mean millions of dollars of lost revenue and affected parts and machines if an HVAC technician can’t be dispatched quickly and fix the problem the first time out.

Despite this need for more effective integration of services in HVAC companies, research has found that 74% of such companies — essentially 3 in 4 — aren’t using any field service management software systems. Of the 26% that are, most use GPS-enabled scheduling software (66%) or GPS routing optimization (61%).

A focus on GPS technologies within HVAC makes sense — it makes sense for any field service business, of course, because technicians drive revenue by being in front of clients, not by sitting in their trucks — because speed is crucial for many HVAC clients. They need technicians there now because their HQs are overheating and machines are potentially being damaged.

While scheduling and dispatch being GPS-enabled is crucial, field service software programs will typically integrate much more of the core business processes.

Typically, this refers to:

Scheduling
Dispatch
Inventory
Billing/Invoicing
Routing

… although it can incorporate other practices as well, such as an HVAC CRM, dependent on your business model.

The overall idea is tied to the customer journey or customer experience. If a customer or client has a field service need, you want this person to go onto your website or app (or call you) and be able to schedule the appointment when it is convenient for him or her. On your end, this scheduling of an appointment should be ‘speaking’ directly to dispatch — knowing where techs are and what their days and weeks look like. (And hopefully involving GPS, as the stats above note.) This also needs to be ‘speaking’ to inventory, so that you can identify what parts are needed for this newly scheduled job — and then make sure the technician will have access to those parts. The final component is billing and invoicing; the tech needs customer data loaded into his or her phone so that billing can take place on-site.

It’s important to remember that, based on recent research, the value of customer experience is trumping the value of having a strong, well-known brand.

This has always been true in field service — in HVAC, your “product” is essentially the skill and professionalism of your technicians — but as digital tools (such as field service software) make it easier for others to enter your local market, it’s more important to remember than ever.

When you integrate the bullet points we listed above — the different aspects of your business — the customer is usually happier. It’s what is sometimes called an “end-to-end solution,” meaning the customer receives the same transparency, information, and quality service no matter who he or she speaks to at your organization. This ability comes from integrated processes, as opposed to each silo operating in its own way.

The simplest way to integrate your business processes is through a field service software program where all the different variables can ‘speak’ to one another and be seen holistically. If you try to integrate core operations, without field service software, it can become painstaking and tedious and silo mentality can take over, whereby dispatch doesn’t communicate properly with inventory, and the end customer is disappointed.

When a customer is disappointed, you tend to lose money in the intermediate to long run.

That’s the basic equation here:

Integrate processes = happier, more consistent customers and clients
Happier, more consistent clients and customers = more revenue

If you’d like to know more about delighting your HVAC customers, we’ve put together an eBook on that exact topic. You can download it now. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

HVAC eBook


HAVC Efficiency

Improve HVAC Field Efficiency with Field Service Management Software

Improve HVAC Field Efficiency with Field Service Management Software

If you run an HVAC company and are concerned about the efficiency or effectiveness of your technicians, there are a few different considerations you need to run through.

Step 1: How are you measuring effectiveness?This varies by HVAC company. The most widely used metric for technician effectiveness is probably first-time fix rate, although some companies will use revenue generated, new contracts generated, or percentage of completed jobs vs. invoiced jobs. Obviously, you should choose what’s best for your business model — basically what KPI actually shows that your business is growing, or fading, so that you can adjust. The important thing in this stage is to make sure you track something with value. If you track nothing and use “gut feel” to say, “I believe our technicians are effective,” that’s not going to cut it in a more data-driven business environment of 2016 and beyond. Lesson: determine, track/measure, analyze, make decisions from that.

Step 2: Where are your technicians falling short? Even if you’re making tons of money and showing growth, nothing will be totally perfect. There are always areas where your technicians can improve. Now comes the delicate balance part, however: you don’t want to over-extend your technicians, or heap more responsibilities on them. You are a service business, and thus are mostly evaluated by the quality of service. The quality of service comes directly from the technicians, so you want to make sure their focus is two-fold: (1.) providing great service and (2.) understanding those metrics from Step 1. They shouldn’t be doing 900 different things for you while seeing clients. This will burn them out. That said, in each case — each specific technician who works for you — there will be some obvious strengths and some obvious weaknesses. How can you maximize the strengths while minimizing the weaknesses? Quick tip: consider pairing technicians together in a kind of “mentorship” or apprenticeship arrangement to help skills flow between them (from strong in one area to weak in the same area).

Step 3: What major organizational system are you using? This is key. In most examples of technician shortcomings, the issue is less about technician skills or aptitudes. It’s more about how the technician gets information from the office and how he or she uses that information moving through different appointments in a day. The best field service organizations — and especially the best small businesses where resources are tighter –have an organized, integrated system that allows for mostly open (some proprietary information will always be protected) dialogue between office, technicians, and customers. Think of it in these terms:

● If a technician is going to be late, the customer can be automatically notified

● If there is a change to what the customer needs fixed, the technician can be automatically notified — and his or her GPS and inventory needs can be updated.

This organizational system uses the field service office as a central hub, with the technician and customer as spokes — but everything is interconnected and integrated so that everyone is happy (customer) or productive (technician).

The common name for this system is Field Service Management software, and it comes in all shapes, sizes, and customizations. Somewhat surprisingly, there are stats out there that only about 3 in 8 (37-40%) of FSOs use this right now; especially among the small businesses, you still see a lot of pencil-and-paper backed up with filing cabinets.

Step 4: Pricing FSM software will cost you money, yes. And it might be expensive relative to the number of users you need to onboard onto it, and/or the pricing structure of the FSM software option you choose. Pardon this cliche, but oftentimes you need to spend money to make money. This is one of those times. Field Service Management software will improve your productivity and efficiency — and if you’d like to learn a little bit more about how exactly that happens, download our complimentary eBook on technician efficiency now. If you have any questions, definitely let us know. We love to help SMB FSOs develop a plan for productivity, customer engagement, and growth.

Technicians Efficiency


Plumbing Techs

3 Quick Tips to Keep Your Plumbing Techs Productive

Boosting Sales in the Slow Season for HVAC Companies

Autumn is upon us, which can only mean one thing: the slow season for HVAC companies has arrived. Traditionally, the hotter summer months and the colder winter months bring about a much greater need for HVAC service due to the extreme temperatures associated with both seasons. However, during the spring and fall, business owners often wonder what service an HVAC company can sell during the slow season.

Just because there’s seasonal downtime doesn’t mean that bills stop coming in, and that employees stop wanting a weekly paycheck. Boosting sales and driving growth during the HVAC slow season is important. But how can you do it? We’ve come up with four solutions that can help your field service company thrive during the slow season for HVAC.

Focus on preventative maintenance
It’s a general rule of thumb in the HVAC and field service business world that around 90 percent of customers only call when they have urgent problems that require immediate fixes. Although it makes sense to only call when there’s an emergency, it’s not good for your small- or medium-sized business’s year-round bill-paying and business-growing activities.

What can you do to fix this problem that occurs during the HVAC slow season? You can upsell preventative maintenance during the fall and spring months, which can help your company’s bottom line.

Pushing preventative maintenance during the slow season for HVAC businesses is also good for building relationships with your customers. Since you’re visiting these customers on-site when there’s not an emergency call or specific problem to fix, you’re gaining their confidence, being helpful, providing them value, and learning more about what HVAC services are important to them. Along with this, you can use fall and spring for preventative services to clear the deck for more urgent winter and summer service calls.

Preventative maintenance during the slow season for HVAC ties into connected field service as well. Just in case you aren’t familiar, connected field service is powered by the Internet of Things, or IoT. Connected devices—which are expected to be greater than 80 billion strong by 2025—are capable of sending HVAC performance information to a service shop’s headquarters, which allows your HVAC business to consistently participate in preventative maintenance—even during the winter and summer busy seasons.

In short, you are able to monitor HVAC units, and know when a machine is ready to break down. This technology helps during the HVAC slow season because you can call your client and say, “We need to come out to your site soon for a repair.” It builds a relationship with your customer, and keeps this person’s HVAC unit running smoothly. It’s a win-win. However, connected field service is still far off for some small businesses due to the costs involved with acquiring new technology and investing in infrastructure, but, given how quickly technology is advancing, it will arrive at scale sooner than you think.

Focus on Marketing
The winter and summer seasons are often madhouses when it comes to HVAC client needs, so focus on your marketing efforts during the fall and spring. While in the midst of the HVAC slow season you can:

Attend trade shows.
Send direct mailers and mass emails.
Have your technicians perform the preventative maintenance measures described above.
Bring a brochure or a one-page flyer about other services you offer when on these preventative service calls.
Consider Google PPC campaigns, or local Facebook ads to attract more attention during the HVAC slow season.
Search LinkedIn and Google News for ideas about new companies opening in or relocating to your business’s area of service. These companies may need large-scale SLAs to make sure that their buildings are heated and air-conditioned properly.

Consider sending rebate coupons to existing customers. For example, if a current customer refers a new customer, you give the referring client money back, or take a certain dollar amount off of his or her service contract.
There are numerous creative approaches to marketing and selling for HVAC companies, and the slow season for HVAC companies—particularly the fall—is a perfect time to research and explore these options.

Offer System Upgrades
Manufacturers tend to slash prices during the slow season for HVAC companies in order to close out inventory before the winter year-end mark. Although your company might make slightly less money on an HVAC system upgrade during the fall in comparison to the early summer, it can be a steady revenue stream during the HVAC down season.

Offer Home Performance Services
The rising costs of oil, natural gas, and electricity used to heat homes and business offices alike makes your customers eager when it comes to making sure that their HVAC systems are performing at optimal levels in order to keep utility costs down. Along with this, the cultural shift focused around the emergence of “smart homes” is driving customers to check their HVAC systems’ efficiency levels more often.

One way to drive your business’s bottom line is by offering these services in the fall during the heart of the HVAC slow season. Performance services are a bit like preventative maintenance services because you visit a client who doesn’t have an urgent need, and check on the HVAC system’s overall performance. However, your company can make a slightly larger profit from these jobs by adding in an “overall performance fee” to the preventative maintenance process. The slow season for HVAC companies is the perfect time to put that HVAC CRM to use, and figure out what existing clients could benefit from based on past orders and services.

Here’s a bonus idea:

This bonus idea is for you to try during the slow season for HVAC. It’s less about directly driving revenue, but it will help you grow your company’s bottom line in the future. If you have downtime in the fall or spring, you can use it to restructure some of the inefficient areas of your field service shop.

No, no, we don’t mean firing people on a whim in order to save your company money by reducing employee wages. What we mean is to think about your business’s operating processes, the products you sell, service contracts terms, and getting everything organized within the shop and office so that you can hit the ground running when the busy winter and summer HVAC seasons strike. A good place to start organizing your HVAC business during the slow season is our Field Service Management software. You can download our guide right here, and contact us if you are ready to get your field service business ready for the busy season!

We put together an eBook on various aspects of service level agreements — a good example of something you can reorganize during the fall. To learn more, download it now.

30 Days eBook


HVAC Busy Season

Managing the HVAC Busy Season with Field Service Management

Managing the HVAC Busy Season with Field Service Management

We’re now into the busy season for HVAC service management: the summer months. In much of the first world, the summer is pretty hot — to extremely hot in certain areas. With global temperatures rising, this trend is most likely to continue for years.

It’s undoubtedly your busy season, which is a good (more revenue) and bad (a lot of balls to constantly juggle) thing for your small business HVAC company. When you have 5-10 (or more) clients all with urgent needs around their offices or machines being properly cooled, how do you make sure you’re managing everything in the most effective way possible?

You start with a basic idea: ‘busy’ is not the same thing as ‘productive.’ Many people often confuse those two words, and/or think they are synonyms. In fact, they are closer to opposite words than the same word. ‘Busy’ implies completing a lot of tasks. That is important during HVAC management busy season, of course. There’s a lot to do, and things need to be completed.

But just because you’re completing tasks doesn’t necessarily mean you’re productive. The concept of productivity during HVAC busy season means you’re establishing and continuing good relationships with clients, building the business out, growing revenue, and making sure internal issues (e.g. technician engagement) are taken care of.

So first, understand what ‘busy’ looks like and what ‘productive’ looks like. The end result of ‘busy’ is often more work, and/or feeling like you’re running in circles. The end result of ‘productive’ is a healthier business.

How do you move from ‘busy’ to ‘productive,’ then? Especially during your summer busy season?

Most companies we’ve worked with have embraced some type of field service management software tool. The No. 1 advantage of such a tool is integration. Oftentimes this feeling or notion of being ‘super busy’ comes because you have to track down information that doesn’t necessarily belong to you. Let’s say you work in scheduling, but you need customer information for a new HVAC job to schedule and dispatch. Unfortunately, someone else owns customer information — but he or she is on vacation. (This happens often in the summer.) You need to figure out the system, dig through his or her information and files, etc. It takes time. All the while, the customer wants a resolution.

With FSM software, everything’s integrated. Essentially, all the information the business needs is stored in the same place, and is mobile-friendly. So if you go out to lunch and there’s an urgent client need and your co-worker is on vacation, you can still find the information, solve the problem, and schedule the tech. It makes life so much easier.

Here’s the rub, though: FSM tools do cost money. If you’re a small business with tight purse strings, you need to make a case to your bosses or financial decision-makers on how exactly this FSM software will benefit your company. You need “a pitch.”

We know that’s hard to design and set up, so we did some of the heavy lifting for you. We put together an eBook on making the case for FSM software, which you can download now. It has ideas about making presentations, designing arguments, and contains the types of research you need. Take a look and feel free to use it as a guide. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Key Information


Boost Revenue

Boost Revenue with Reporting on KPIs

Boost Revenue with Reporting on KPIs

HVAC is usually one of the faster-moving field service verticals (clients need their locations cooled or heated immediately), but also one of the verticals least likely to adopt traditional FSM planning tools. According to research, 74% of HVACs don’t use any FSM software (such as a potential CRM) — and the 26% that do use it tend to only use GPS-enablement technology.

The idea of measuring success is tied to the concept of KPIs, or key performance indicators. These are aspects of your business that you measure, and when they’re doing well, the business is doing well. When they’re not, you’re in trouble. Their performance is a key indicator of business success in the field service vertical.

As you build and grow a small business field service organization, you have a variety of different challenges. Most of these arise from a lack of resources compared to some of your bigger, enterprise-level peers and competitors. When resources are a challenge, one of the best ways to counter that is through solid planning. Unfortunately, many organizations aren’t great at planning. They tend to overfocus on task work at the expense of priorities, and overwhelm new ideas and revenue-generating concepts with process. This happens in many small businesses we’ve worked with, as well.

The cornerstone of effective planning is the alignment of strategy (the big picture) with execution (what needs to be done day to day to support the strategy). When strategy isn’t aligned with execution, what happens is that each department determines its own priorities and workflow. Then the departments become disjointed and, instead of everyone on the same page at your company, people are operating from four to five different pages.

Aligning strategy and execution is hard for many organizations, especially because people often confuse ‘strategy’ (which refers to longer-term vision) with ‘operations’ (which refers to how things get done day to day). In addition to that, companies often don’t know what success should look like — i.e. how to measure it — aside from “We are making money.”

This idea of measuring success is tied to the concept of KPIs, or key performance indicators. These are aspects of your business that you measure, and when they’re doing well, the business is doing well. When they’re not, you’re in trouble. Their performance is a key indicator of business success.

Depending on which vertical of field service you work in, your KPIs take different forms. Many organizations use first-time fix rate as a major KPI, because it tends to correlate directly with customer satisfaction. Many also use percentage of billable hours, because it tends to show the effectiveness of your techs and processes in getting techs successfully to customers. Again, though, KPIs can vary by organization.

There’s one important thing to remember about how to tie KPIs to ultimate revenue growth, though. Oftentimes corporate leaders will say something in a meeting like, “We want to build a data-driven culture,” and regular employees aren’t exactly sure what that means — so it sounds like a series of buzzwords.

In reality, you should want to build a data-driven culture. Many companies claim to do that, but instead the data is only accessible by a few top people and maybe some analysts. It’s hard to have a data-driven culture without transparency, and it’s hard for KPIs to mean anything without a data-driven culture. Here’s how you can get better at this:

Embrace transparency: Some of your information is proprietary or needs to be guarded, but not all of it is. Have your data in one system — ideally an FSM software tool — and let everyone look at it. You can use different permission levels in terms of how much access different people can have, but your entire company should be able to see various performance data.

Provide weekly insights: Every Friday morning designate one person — be it an analyst or someone in sales/marketing — to send an e-mail to the entire staff recapping the past week in terms of key data points, website traffic, and anything else worth noting. This is crucial to building a culture where people really understand and care about KPIs and data. That type of culture will help you drive revenue. On the other hand, a culture where data is clustered among only a handful people and KPIs are never mentioned will help you drive task work and high turnover.

Tie everything back to goals and KPIs: If you launch a new project or marketing campaign, explain it to everyone working on it in the context of company goals and KPIs. Don’t just say, “We’re doing this because X-person said so.” Any time a person at your SMB field service organization works on a project, he or she should clearly understand the goals of the project and how those goals will be measured. What will success look like? If he or she doesn’t understand that, this person’s work is essentially happening in a vacuum. If you have too many projects occurring in a vacuum, it’s very hard to drive revenue.

These are complex topics even for the best-organized companies, so we put together an eBook on revenue growth in your FSO. Because it was written to be read across multiple types of field service, it doesn’t address every possible pain point for your specific company — so if you read it and have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ve worked with hundreds of SMB FSOs and would love to help yours. For now, begin by downloading this eBook.

HVAC eBook


Good CRM

5 Benefits of a Good CRM

5 Benefits of a Good CRM

What are the benefits of a good CRM, then?

We’ll begin with a quick personal story that might resonate with your business. One of our collaborators at Optsy used to work for a different company, not within field service, in a marketing role. At that company, the CEO, CMO, and CIO would often come to mid-level employees complaining about the CRM, or customer relationship management platform. The complaints varied:

It’s not customizable enough

I can’t find what I need

I don’t know who’s a legitimate client and who’s a lead

The interface is confusing

It doesn’t integrate well with my other systems

Over time, the people tasked with executing the CRM became overwhelmed with the complaints — and the company had to shift to a new CRM, which is costly and runs the risk of key customer information or contacts being lost in the transition.

That’s not good for any company. While changes do happen and companies will turn over their CRM, it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. To make sure it’s not, you need to understand key benefits of a good CRM — i.e. what you should be looking for.

This applies in all verticals of field service, but especially in HVAC, which tends to be an interesting field service application. HVAC is usually one of the faster-moving field service verticals (clients need their locations cooled or heated immediately), but also one of the verticals least likely to adopt traditional FSM planning tools. According to research, 74% of HVACs don’t use any FSM software (such as a potential CRM) — and the 26% that do use it tend to only use GPS-enablement technology.

What are the benefits of a good CRM, then?

Efficiency

This is potentially the No. 1 benefit. A good CRM replaces manual processes and fixes organizational ineffectiveness around paperwork, integration of key business operations, and billing.

Collaboration

An entire customer experience lifecycle can’t possibly be managed by one or two people, even in a small business. Customer experience has so many touch points in an HVAC field service organization — from back-office to scheduling and dispatch to inventory to billing to technicians. Everyone needs access to the same customer information and needs to be able to make notes and edits to it. Another feature of the collaborative nature of CRMs is that it moves your HVAC company away from being silo-driven. Now everyone is seeing the same information and working together.

Sales Growth

According to Hubspot research, 75% of sales managers — across multiple industries — reported that their CRM systems helped them increase sales. Those are pretty good odds for your small business, right?

Data Management

By 2016, hopefully your HVAC SMB understands that your data — about both techs and customers — is a valuable strategic asset. Your CRM can (a) house the data and (b) allow you to slice and dice the data in visually appealing, decision-driving ways. It’s really hard to compete on data strategically without a single clearinghouse for it, or a way for everyone to have access to what’s going on. A CRM provides both.

Positive Customer Experiences

With a CRM, typically these are some things you can do regarding your customer base:

Easily and accurately segment them in terms of needs and resources you send them

Accurately track their histories and information

Interact with them at the right time, as opposed to ‘too much’ or ‘too little’ or ‘when they don’t have any need for field service’

Good customer experience means repeat business and referral business, and those mean revenue. That’s excellent for an HVAC small business.

We realize one of the key issues in small businesses, though, is that any type of CRM or field service management software platform is going to cost you money. You may not have the resources — or you may want to direct your resources elsewhere. We put together an eBook on the benefits of FSM software planning, and within the eBook, we even talk about making the case to senior decision-makers about the importance of a CRM or FSM software planning tool. You can download the eBook, and feel free to contact us with any questions after you’ve gone through it.

HVAC eBook


HVAC eBook

eBook: Delight Your Customers with HVAC Field Service Management

eBook: Delight Your Customers with HVAC Field Service Management

HVAC — or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning — is an industry within field service where time and efficiency are crucial. If a client’s heat goes down in the winter (in most parts of the world) or their AC goes down in the summer (ditto), it could mean millions of dollars of lost revenue and affected parts and machines if an HVAC technician can’t be dispatched quickly and fix the problem the first time out.

Despite this need for more effective integration of services in HVAC companies, research has found that 74% of such companies — essentially 3 in 4 — aren’t using any field service management software systems. Of the 26% that are, most use GPS-enabled scheduling software (66%) or GPS-enabled routing capabilities (61%).

In short, it seems that within the HVAC sector of field service, GPS technologies have caught on but not broader FSM programs. How could the latter benefit HVAC?

FSM programs are a huge value-add to HVAC companies, often in the following ways:

Integration of core business operations
Achievement of KPIs
Happier employees
Better use of data

Those are a fairly ‘big four’ in terms of business achievements — alignment, KPIs, more productive employees, and better use of data — but the elephant in the room is typically cost.

The old adage is ‘spend money to make money,’ and that’s true here too. But that doesn’t mean your CFO and other decision-makers want to spend the money. You need a path to convincing them of the value-add and ROI.

In this new eBook we wrote on the topic of FSM software in HVAC companies, we give you some of the ROI arguments to help you make your case. (We’re nice people.)

You can download the eBook as a way to get started thinking about how to move out of that 74% who doesn’t use FSM software tools. Once you’ve looked it over, let us know if you have any questions about specific pain points in your business. We love to help out small business HVAC companies and can work with yours as well.

HVAC eBook