HVAC Industry Prepares for Summer Demand… in Light of a PandemicBilly Pell
As states start reopening, temperatures are rising to create the perfect industry storm.
Industry professionals from four states shared how they are responding to the global pandemic during Aeroseal’s recent panel discussion. Each contractor is handling the crisis differently, based on how their state is responding. But three common goals stood out.
- How do we keep our EMPLOYEES feeling safe and comfortable?
- How do we keep our CUSTOMERS feeling safe and comfortable?
- How do we continue to maintain REVENUE streams?
The verdict… COMMUNICATION IS KEY.
As an essential service, the HVAC industry is being counted on. It is imperative that we maintain smooth channels of communication and reassure employees and homeowners that we are doing everything we can with their best interests in mind.
Create a safe and comfortable work environment
The root of a strong business lies in the ability to perform what you promised. It does not matter how much money you have and how much work you have lined up if you do not have the employees to provide service.
Robb Buonomo, HVAC Manager for Beck Cohen, is focused on giving techs what they need to succeed. “We make techs feel safe enough to go into other people’s houses by having PPE readily available – boxes of gloves, boxes of masks, anything they need or request. Techs come to our vestibule, instead of coming into the office. If they need anything, they give us a list. We collect the items and spray everything down before handing it over to them.”
“Every single morning, our techs got an update and a piece of comfort before going to someone’s home.”, said Russell Harshman, Vice President of Sales at One Hour Myrtle Beach.
Harshman adds that while performance indicators have not changed, he has positioned them differently.
“We took the urgency away. We did not want technicians feeling pressured into doing anything that does not need be done while people are struggling. By doing what is right for the customer and not focusing on quotas, we are maintaining good numbers.” – Harshman
Give homeowners a reason to trust
If you cannot gain the trust of those you serve, then you have no business. It is imperative that gaining their trust and reassuring their safety is the number one priority to restore faith in your service.
Buonomo notes, “For every install and service call, I send homeowners an outline of our protocol and safety procedures.” Letting homeowners know the protocols in place before, and after, a service call has been very well received. ”The statistics speak for themselves. For a promotional email, you are lucky to get a response from 5 to 10%, these emails have gotten responses upwards of 25-30%”
Jorge Solis, Sales Manager at Atlas Home Energy, echoed the need for building homeowner trust, stating the most difficult customers to close are those who feel uncomfortable.
“We created call scripts stating every step from the very start of the day when our guys come into the shop. This approach helped us get a lot of our pipeline back onto the schedule.”
“We created call scripts stating every step from the very start of the day when our guys come into the shop. This approach helped us get a lot of our pipeline back onto the schedule.” – Solis
Simple Tech is revolutionizing business fundamentals
This crisis has flattened the technology learning curve for HVAC contractors. Communication has greatly changed over the last few months and looks to be sticking around as we move forward.
Solis was initially skeptical of using technology to conduct a service that could be viewed as technical or complex. “We were worried video estimates weren’t going to work but its lead to better customer engagement. One older customer was very receptive and willing to get into her attic. She’s telling me all her comfort issues, she goes into her attic with her iPhone and is taking pictures, she’s digging out and finding holes. It made it easy for us to see where we would need to seal her home, where insulation would need to be added and identify moisture issues on her ceiling. The customer understood everything and was completely invested in the process. We even put together a quote and she approved it on the spot.”
Reposition your focus to meet the emerging IAQ demand
There is no question as to why homeowners are more receptive to IAQ products. With stay at home orders, working from home is the new normal and homeowners are spending even more of their time indoors where problems or concerns have become very apparent.
Harshman states, “For once the world is educating our clients and creating the needs for us, often when we go out to a home, indoor air solutions are a passive need. We found ourselves answering more questions instead of having to present something they didn’t know was an issue, making it a lot easier to sell solutions.”
Solis has seen a demand increase for duct cleaning and sanitization. “Traditionally, we wouldn’t focus on duct cleaning but as demand fell in other areas it only made sense to take on those calls. We even bought a duct fogging machine, due to demand.”
Kelli Lammert, Owner of Iron Fireman, has had a similar experience. “We have bought more duct cleaning equipment to make sure we don’t have customers waiting until September due to our large backlog,” said Lammert. “Our company is already focused on IAQ but we have a tremendous amount of people asking questions about UV lights and disinfecting duct work.”
“This is a perfect opportunity to expand our IAQ department. People are not only worried about their household air quality; they are inquiring us about what they can do to make it better. This is the business that we are in and if we don’t shift to indoor air quality then we’re going to be left in the dust.” – Buonomo
Think outside the box to keep employees busy.
“We have worked really hard creating work for everyone. They are mowing lawns around the office, they are sorting screws.”, said Lammert. She also encourages her team to openly share ideas and make everyone feel included in those conversations. “You never know, the youngest person on your crew may have the best idea” Lammert adds.
Buonomo’s team is taking this opportunity to get caught up on tasks that typically were pushed off, such as breaking down used equipment. “We’re having our guys do extra things in our yard like breaking down units we’ve pulled from customers’ homes to recycle them.”
Even when work is slow or non-existent, there is still opportunity to build loyalty and secure your skilled labor. Harshmans team noticed certain roles were not as busy and made a choice that he says was costly but worth it. “We took their average hours per week and matched that to make sure they were able to meet their needs with their families”.
In every crisis…a silver lining.
This pandemic has certainly taken its toll, but often times the greatest challenges present the greatest opportunities. Opportunities to learn, opportunities to grow and opportunities to reshape the “norm”.
“This crisis has really forced us to really think out of the box and do things we normally wouldn’t do and consistently, everyday ask what can we do to make this work.” – Lammert.
Solis added, “This time has created a rebirth, where we realized we had gotten complacent in a lot of areas like the way we built our business and were getting our customers. It’s allowed us to be really creative in seeking new avenues of getting leads and projects, and problem solving around the shop for ways to grow.”