- Posted by Ally Roos
- On 11/07/2018
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals work hard all year long. However, with seasonal highs and lows, they often depend heavily on revenue generated during a single season to carry them through the year. In December, customers want their AC units running on full blast to combat 40-degree weather. Yet, in June, need heating units to stay warm during the chilly winter nights.
While these months are the most profitable of the year for HVAC businesses, they can also be the most stressful. Contractors need the right tools and processes to manage the influx of calls, so they don’t lose track of business coming their way. If services are ever rushed in order to meet the high volume of requests, customer service and quality of work often suffers.
Before you resort to crisis counselling when next winter rolls around, here are some things you can do to stay ahead during HVAC’s busy seasons.
Empower your technicians with mobile tools
Whether it’s in homes, schools, businesses, or government offices, HVAC technicians are always out in the field. This is why they shouldn’t be wasting time in the office, especially during the busy season.
Mobile field service management (FSM) apps give your technicians the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently. By taking advantage of location tracking and GPS routing features, your technicians will know the fastest route to any job site. They can also use the app as a timesheet, to record their progress and billable hours. As a result, no time is wasted, documentation processes are more streamlined, and staff can focus on tackling the backlog of work orders.
Without a good scheduling system, you run the risk of missing appointments and losing customers. Instead of using spreadsheets to keep track of your schedule, FSM software like WorkBuddy are far more intuitive. You can view all appointments and upcoming projects in a centralised calendar. If there are scheduling conflicts with a technician, you can simply assign it to the next available technician.
WorkBuddy can help remind technicians by:
- sending reminders about where they need to be,
- when they need to be there, and
- what they need to bring.
This reduces return trips to the office that often lead to delays in service and customer dissatisfaction.
WorkBuddy also allows you to track workers’ and customers’ locations, which can help you schedule jobs more thoroughly. If there’s a job in Chatswood, for instance, you can check staff locations and schedules. This allows tasks to be assigned to someone nearby rather than someone who’s just finishing up a project in Wollongong.
Eliminate the likelihood of mistakes
Taking an hour to plan a project from start to finish may seem counterproductive. However, if will reduce the need for changes during the installation or repair phase.
For an AC installation job, make sure you’ve sorted out details like:
- Where should the AC unit be installed?
- What brand or type of cooling unit is required?
- What are the dimensions?
- Will an air purifier be required to maintain indoor air quality?
Then, lay out a standard process for your technicians to follow for every installation and repair job, whether it’s during the busy season or not.
Having these finer points settled beforehand will help your technicians work faster and make fewer mistakes, which leads to lower costs and increased customer satisfaction.
Minimise the paperwork
One of the biggest headaches you’ll face during the busy season is invoicing. You don’t want to collect crumpled pieces of paper from your technicians every day, or spend nights wading through invoices. WorkBuddy integrates with accounting software to streamline the entire process.
When both systems are integrated, all the data collected from your FSM app (e.g., hours worked and materials used) will sync with your accounting database. This allows you to give accurate, real-time price quotes and invoices for products and services. Then, all you need to do is click your mouse to approve the invoice and email it directly to your client. Most FSM software integrates with online payment systems like PayPal, so you can link up the technician’s services, invoicing, and customer payment.
This significantly reduces the number of office trips by technicians and maximises revenue-generating hours. But more importantly, FSM software will help you get paid fairly and quickly, which is nice when you’re flooded with work.
Communicate clearly with clients
The heavy workload shouldn’t get in the way of providing solid customer service either. Although it may be tempting to accept every demand your client makes, it’s better to set their expectations early rather than to over commit and under deliver. Make sure they know when your services are fully booked. Don’t be afraid to let them know that service might be slower than usual because of the massive backlog.
Beyond setting expectations, you should also use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to keep track of:
- client contact information,
- work order and billing histories, or
- personalised notes.
Keeping this information on hand at all times will help you and your technicians provide better customer service. After all, customers are more likely to be lenient with your company if you’ve managed to build rapport with them beforehand.
Even though it may not feel like a good time to allow employees to take a few hours off, it should be highly encouraged during the busy season. From a legal standpoint, technicians are entitled to take breaks between projects. So, be sure to provide enough time for rest if you don’t want an overworked-technician mutiny on your hands.
What’s more, when people are overworked, they often fail due to the additional pressure they feel. This means less work gets done and more mistakes are made. This creates serious bottlenecks that prevent you from being as profitable as you can be.
When planning your weekly roster, leave enough room in the timetable for technicians to have some time to recharge. You can even enforce mandatory breaks by setting automated reminders in your FSM software so technicians don’t get burned out.
Surviving the busy season requires a lot of preparation, discipline, and world-class tools. To learn more about how you can manage the HVAC season and FSM software, call WorkBuddy. We offer cutting-edge solutions and services to ensure you not only survive the stressful months, but actually thrive in the slower months, too.