August 20, 2015

The importance of gas furnace inspections for fall

wall calendar calendar with needlesWith the busy summer season just beginning, marketing gas-furnace maintenance may be the last thing on your mind. Even though you’re focused on cooling equipment, don’t wait until fall to begin promoting and educating your customers on the importance of early furnace inspections — Your business could miss out on some big benefits.

So why should you start marketing gas furnace maintenance now?

  • It flattens sales peaks and valleys. Sales can be unpredictable when moving between the slow and busy seasons, but scheduling furnace maintenance appointments well before the heating season can add consistency to your cash flow.
  • It keeps you busy during the slow season. Filling up your late summer and early fall schedule with furnace inspections will keep your business productive during the slower seasons and it allows your technicians more time to devote to each customer.
  • It helps you sell maintenance agreements. Demonstrating the benefits of preventive maintenance through early furnace inspections will show customers how valuable and convenient a maintenance program can be.

Even though it makes business sense to market gas furnace inspections now, how can you help customers understand the importance of scheduling a furnace tune-up for the fall?

  • It’s for their safety. Customers may not realize it’s unsafe to turn on a furnace for the first time in months before it’s been inspected. In order to maintain a safe and healthy home environment, gas furnaces should be inspected before the heating season begins.
  • It benefits their schedule. HVAC systems need an annual checkup to ensure they’re in good condition, and scheduling fall maintenance now gives customers a better chance at getting an appointment — maybe even with a discount or promotional price.
  • It’s a sound investment. A $100 tune-up is always preferable to a full furnace replacement. Make sure your customers realize getting their gas furnace inspected early can prevent future challenges and keep a little money in their pocket.

Using these strategies to market gas furnace inspections now will keep your customers from being left out in the cold and help your business stay successful during the slow season.

From tips for technicians to advice for dealers, I offer daily insights on Facebook and Twitter — join the conversation today!

August 18, 2015

Preventative maintenance contracts the right way

idea concept in silhouette of humanMost HVAC companies offer preventative maintenance contracts, but very few are truly successful at implementing them. If you plan to offer maintenance agreements to your customers, there are a few factors to consider first.

Maintenance programs deliver steady business during the slow season while serving as a reliable and sophisticated marketing platform for sales lead generation. Preventative maintenance contracts also help you establish relationships with customers and build their trust in your services.

Here are some things to keep in mind when implementing a maintenance program in your business:

  • Don’t think in terms of preseason. For example, performing seasonal maintenance throughout spring and summer is more efficient than scheduling an overwhelming number of presummer tune-ups in the a few weeks before the busy time. Think of planned maintenance as seasonal heating or cooling checks rather than preseason service calls.
  • Use a quality scheduling software. As your number of maintenance agreements grows, scheduling can be a challenge for your business. A reliable system will help keep you organized and accountable.
  • Train technicians to excel in customer communication. The best companies have the technicians open the door for possible solutions, such as equipment replacement, and then have Comfort Advisors  follow up with detailed information. This only succeeds if you have expert technicians who know what’s in the best interest of the customer and can make recommendations accordingly.
  • Develop dedicated maintenance technicians. Having technicians who specialize in preventative maintenance provides flexibility in scheduling.  Instead of seeking a versatile technician who does everything, which would be a challenge anyway considering the HVAC labor shortage, hire people with the right personality and invest in technical skills for training focused on maintenance.

When offering preventative maintenance contracts, keep these items in mind to have a better chance at implementing your program in a beneficial way for your company and your customers.

Guest blogger Gary Oetker is the Lennox Business Coach and a consultant for HVAC Learning Solutions.

August 13, 2015

NATE Recertification Pt. 2

NATE recertification part 2In Part 1 of this two-part series, I discussed what NATE is and why it’s important to obtain your certification. Today, I’d like to talk about changes in the NATE recertification process and the benefits of being recertified.

 

How has the NATE recertification process changed?

In the past, your NATE certification stayed active for five years. You then needed to complete 60 hours of continued NATE-certified education and mail in your class certificates, paperwork, and a $125 processing fee to apply for recertification. Many technicians would lose their credentials simply because they had difficulty locating NATE-approved courses and couldn’t accumulate the required hours.

NATE has now modified the recertification process to help technicians complete the requirements in a timely fashion. Technicians need to attain only 16 hours of training every two years, upload completion certificates to the NATE website, and pay a $25 processing fee to be recertified.

What long-term benefits does NATE recertification provide?

NATE recertification keeps technicians on the cutting edge of the technology. Let’s face it, this industry changes each year with new government mandates and technology upgrades. We can’t change the basic HVAC system operation, but we must change the way these systems are built. As equipment gets more complicated and computer-driven, technicians must stay NATE certified to learn the newest HVAC trends and technologies.

How can HVAC Learning Solutions help?

HVAC Learning Solutions has taken steps to make NATE recertification easier for you. We make sure all of our classes are NATE certified, so you’re guaranteed to get your required training hours. In fact, enrolling in any two instructor-led, one-day course will earn you all 16 necessary hours. To lessen the burden of logging your information, we record your NATE ID in your class profile and automatically upload your training hours to NATE’s website after each class, whether online or instructor-led. We want to be the trusted training partner that helps you focus on servicing the customer, becoming a better technician, and moving up the managerial ladder.

Guest blogger Jose De La Portilla is a senior technical training consultant for HVAC Learning Solutions. For more information on HVAC tips and trends, check out Jose’s vlogs on our YouTube channel!

August 11, 2015

NATE Recertification Pt. 1

NATE recertification part 1

Remember the story of Jack and the beanstalk? Jack finds the goose that lays golden eggs, and as long as he takes good care of the goose, he and his mother will be set for life. However, if he neglects the goose, she’ll die and his golden eggs will disappear.

You all have your own geese that lay golden eggs — your careers. If you continually feed your career, you’ll have a quality income source to care for yourself and your family, but the minute you don’t think you need additional training, the goose will die and you’ll lose your golden eggs. That’s where NATE recertification comes into play.

What is NATE?

North American Technician Excellence (NATE)  is an industry-standard certification program designed for technicians who have been in the HVAC industry for around five years. In order to become NATE certified, you must pass two exams. This first is a rigorous core exam about general HVAC knowledge that anyone in the industry must know, and the second is a shorter specialty test based on specific topics (A/C, gas furnaces, air distribution and duct design, etc.).

What are the benefits of NATE certification?

Being NATE certified sets you apart as a quality technician, and a company with NATE-certified technicians  demonstrates that they hire only the best. These credentials prove that you know the HVAC industry and how it works. Additionally, you’ll be quicker to diagnose problems on service calls, more efficient at installing equipment, and better able to maintain a higher overall skill set than noncertified technicians.

Once you’ve become a NATE-certified technician, you must continuously be recertified to show your expertise of current HVAC equipment, technology, and procedures. In the second part of this blog, I’ll discuss recent changes to the NATE recertification process and the importance of staying NATE certified throughout your career.

Guest blogger Jose De La Portilla is a senior technical training consultant for HVAC Learning Solutions. For more information on HVAC tips and trends, check out Jose’s vlogs on our YouTube channel!

August 6, 2015

Price is not a dirty word

Price is not a dirty wordDon’t treat price like a dirty word — the less afraid you are to talk numbers, the more comfortable your customer will be. So why are Comfort Advisors hesitant to talk about price upfront?

For many homeowners, replacing an HVAC system is an unplanned expense that creates a drain on their budget. Plus, the average customer buys only one or two systems in his or her lifetime, creating the “sticker shock” expression when homeowners are advised of the price. Many Comfort Advisors fear this situation and avoid the pricing discussion until the very end of the sales presentation, which can create anxiety for both him or her and the customer alike.

There are a few steps you can take to soften the pricing blow and help the customer choose the best and most affordable HVAC option for his or her home.

  1. Get on the same page. Immediately when you arrive, confirm the primary reason for your visit with the homeowner.
  2. Start a conversation. Sit down with the homeowner and find out about the current HVAC system before going to see the unit. Discuss his or her likes and dislikes about the unit, the effect of the system on home comfort, and the budget for upgrading.
  3. Reduce the shock factor. Help the customer understand that he or she has the power to decide which system to purchase and how much to pay. Provide a cost range to set pricing expectations for the low and high ends, and then offer “basic, good, better, best” options that will best address their needs. Discussing opportunities for financing may also relieve the stress of paying the full price immediately.

As customers and buying habits change, your approach to pricing must evolve accordingly. Savvy shoppers have done research on different brands and know what they want in a HVAC system, so think about how you can establish the value of your company and your products with the customer and ultimately make the sale.

Guest blogger Linda Rummans is a senior instructional designer with HVAC Learning Solutions. For more advanced sales tips to help improve your HVAC business, enroll in our BuildASalesperson™  or Master $elling®  classes today!

  • Meet Mike Moore

    Mike Moore isn't just an HVAC expert;
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    HVAC employee training. As one of
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    and Director of Training, his biggest
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