Staying aware and understanding industry trends will help you educate your consumers, leading to loyalty and a better bottom line.
Originally Published in HVACR Business Magazine.
A fad, by definition, is a short-term event — some might say, “a flash in the pan”. A trend, however, has the potential of becoming a long-term influence on the future of a market. The two may resemble each other, but a fad usually can be characterized as having an absolute beginning and a definitive end.
The distinguishing factor between a fad and a trend is its duration. For instance, air duct cleaning was once thought to be a fad. Over the years, a need for air duct cleaning evolved. According to National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems have been shown to act as a collection source for a variety of contaminants including mold, fungi, bacteria and very small particles of dust. The removal of such contaminants from hvacr systems should be considered as one component in an overall plan to improve indoor air quality, and one that also allows for industry growth.
Some of us remember when the cold beer method of charging an air conditioner was used. In other words, by holding your hand on the suction of the refrigerant line, you could tell if a unit was properly charged. Ideally, the line should be as cold as a can of beer just out of the refrigerator. If it didn’t feel cold, the unit was considered to be low on refrigerant. If frost appeared on the suction line, it was now over-charged or had restricted airflow. Fortunately, this method was just a fad.
As times change, technology advances. We learn better methods for servicing our customers and equipment, and customers also are more educated via the internet and expect more. We must meet their needs and exceed their expectations.
Technicians have to carry the newest tools and equipment, and be outstanding in service and monitoring. What was used 10 years ago is no longer adequate for the precise degree of measurement needed today.
Looking back a decade or two, can you imagine technicians needing a meter that measured DC Micro Amps, OHMs, AC and DC voltage, microfarad, temperature and continuity? Probably not, But today, these are required for efficient and accurate diagnosis. Strict charging methods, proper metering devices and stringent leak tests all work together to ensure peak system performance.
Accuracy should never be construed as a fad in our industry, but must be considered a trend-setting staple in the very core of business!
Most dispatching and scheduling systems are now about 90 percent paperless. Technicians receive and acknowledge all service calls via digital phones. In addition, this software allows communication back to a server, notifying the dispatcher when they are traveling, starting and completing a service call.
Less than a decade ago, we used a daily planner for all of our scheduling. We actually passed the book around the office depending on who answered the phone. These technology improvements have allowed for faster response time for customers and improvements in overall business operations.
If you’re tired of hearing the term, “Going Green” you may want to change your thinking. In the hvacr industry, thinking of the environment and implementing changes can be very lucrative for your company.
Our profession provides an opportunity to share knowledge about improving indoor air quality for customers. We can help make the environment better by not only encouraging environmentally-sound equipment purchases, but by also performing combustion tests on furnaces.
Fine-tuning can decrease or eliminate certain emissions into the atmosphere. Riding your bike to work every day in Alaska may not be an option, but properly sizing a system or sealing ductwork can and will conserve energy in any part of the country.
By now, most of us are on board with switching to R410-A. Regardless, the date for the HCFC phase out still stands, so it’s time we get beyond yesterday’s thinking and start taking advantage of the opportunities we have today. The consumer has more information available via the Internet than ever before, and if we don’t give them what they want or expect, someone else will.
We can take charge of the messages consumers receive and make sure they are accurate. For example, McAfee Heating and Air Conditioning Co, Inc., recently partnered with a waste management recycling company and a water purifying company to produced an hour-long infomercial on conserving energy and going green in the Dayton area. It was a great educational tool for consumers, helped create awareness about green issues and shaped our relationship with the community. McAfee received a lot of positive feedback. By shifting our thinking about changes in our industry, the initiative impacted our market performance and bottom line.
With our economy limping along, now is not the time to lay off people and reduce marketing and advertising. Now is your opportunity to help consumers save money by providing more education about efficient alternatives to comfort. Talk about how cleaning coils, tuning up furnaces, and installing programmable thermostats can and will save money. In some cases, they pay for themselves in the first year. You also know that performing preventative maintenance on hvacr systems during the year will not only save the customer money, but will prevent problems from arising in the critical seasons. If you fail to spend $30 on an oil change for your trucks every 4,000 miles, it could cost you a $4,000 engine. It works the same way for hvacr systems, but customers have to be reminded and won’t know if you don’t tell them.
The trend of having to compete with big box stores and utility companies is real and here to stay. However, most consumers still want personal, face-to-face service with a company they can trust. By continuing to educate your consumers, using the latest tools, offering more service agreements and outstanding quality service, you are sure to keep and attract loyal customers.