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January, 2018 - Smart Service

How To Use Social Media To Grow Your Field Service Business

On January 31st, 2018 by

It seems like everybody has been tweeting, chirping, and yelping these days. The internet suddenly seems like a zoo, crowded and imposing. It is easy to push aside these noises as something only the kids are doing, but social media is quickly becoming a vital part of every business strategy—yes, even for your field service business.

In today’s day and age, social media is vital to growing your field service business. Your field service business’ online presence should start with a website, but not be limited to it. Though social media can seem like it is unimportant, it is more important now than ever before. Social media, if used correctly, can be an excellent platform to lead people to your website which will, in turn, increase revenue for your field service business.

Social media should be viewed as an asset to propel your business into the modern age. The fastest growing demographic of homeowners is the millennial population. That’s right, the group known for living in their parents’ basements are purchasing basements of their own.

So if your potential customers are all on social media, shouldn’t you give them a chance to find your business there? Don’t give people a reason to choose the other guy. Even if they do manage to find your field service business amidst all the others, social media gives your competitors an edge. Social media, when used to brand a field service business, supplies voice, character, and a mode for communication. Social media builds your business’ trust.

Setting the Foundation

Before we go into how to use social media, we should probably explain more about what it is. Now, if you’re the social media wiz, have gone viral twice, and get retweets on the daily, you can skip over this section. But since you’re reading this article, you’ll probably need to know the ABC’s and 123’s before we combine the two in calculus.

The Platforms


Facebook: Treat Facebook like your second website. As one of the first things that appears when people search for your field service business (sometimes appearing even before your website), it should be treated as such. Make sure all your business contact information is listed.

On Facebook, you can post pictures, videos, and messages. It is a good platform to inform customers of specials or updates. It is generally recommended that businesses should always post with a form of media on Facebook, whether it be a photo or video.

Facebook holds reviews that you can view. Oftentimes people will also post on your “wall.” You can reply to and like these posts.

Twitter: Twitter allows your company to truly establish its voice. You communicate to your followers through tweets. Most of the time, tweets are sent out without added media, but you can add a picture or video if you would like. However, try to keep added media at a minimum because that is not the best use of the platform.

Your messages on Twitter must be limited to 280 characters, which is around 50 words.

Twitter users are primarily made up of both male and female millennials. This is important to take note of because you can limit particular specials to this platform that you think would resonate with this group more.

Twitter is often used as a place for people to speak directly to companies they know and use. They voice complaints, comments, and compliments directly to you, providing you an opportunity to issue a public reply. This works in the favor of your customer relations and your public brand.

Instagram: Instagram is used to share pictures. This photographic focus can be utilized in one of two ways: displaying your work or establishing company culture. If your field service business does work that would be visually pleasing, such as landscaping or cleaning, post pictures of your finished work to entice potential clients. Otherwise, you can use instagram to show people the integrity of your field service company. Whatever way you use it, you will make your business more real.

LinkedIn: Your LinkedIn is essentially a professional version of Facebook. It will be used less as a marketing platform and more as a tool to grow your network. However, growing your network is a good way to spread word of mouth about your field service business.

Pinterest: Pinterest’s primary demographic is women of all ages, so your content posted must be reflective of that. On Pinterest, people often post pictures leading to webpages. These posts consist of DIY’s, ideas, solutions, and more. Make sure to use quality and intriguing pictures so that people repin and view your content!

Reddit: Reddit often gets overlooked as a valuable space to grow your field service business. On Reddit, users take part in threads, or long chains of conversation regarding a certain topic. There are subreddit pages, where people with a common interest such as plumbing or HVAC can all talk about that particular topic. It is useful to communicate with other field service technicians, answer people’s problems, and gain new perspectives on the field. You can also share backlinks to your website if it applies!

Social Media Terminology


If you’re feeling overwhelmed at this point, take a deep breath. You’ll only get made fun of a little (mostly by your kids or grandkids) if you mix up a tweet for a post. The internet is a pretty welcoming place, so don’t sweat it too much.

Developing Brand

Now, this is the fun part.

Developing a brand for your field service industry business is your opportunity to articulate the core nature of your business. What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it believe in? Asking these questions is important in developing a consistent image, even if it means redefining that image. Consider it a mid-life crisis without the hefty credit card bill and angry spouse.

Whether you decide your business is trendy, classic, rugged, funny, or a combination of the above, it is important to remain consistent. Communicate brand to whoever will be in charge of your social media.

Brand is particularly important on Twitter and Instagram, with Twitter being the voice and Instagram being the image. While the other platforms should also remain consistent, brand voice and image are particularly clear on these two social media platforms. You can achieve this identity by maintaining tone through your tweets and retweets and through images on Instagram. Again, consistency is key!

Developing your field service industry brand will, in turn, increase your following and reach while establishing company culture.

Communicating With Your Customers

One of the best things about social media is your ability to develop relationships with your customers through direct communication. Customer relationships can be cultivated through interactions directly on the platforms and through reviews. These interactions can serve as another form to mend issues, exchange witty banter, or respond to positive experiences with your company.

Communication

Look at your notifications to see if anybody has tagged or mentioned you. If you find a positive remark, give it a like! Reply to comments to assure you’ve read your customer’s thoughts and appreciate them. Because this interaction is visible to others in their social circle, they will likely wish to do business with your field service company as well.

If you receive negative remarks, show that you care about the commenter’s experience and making it right. Tell them to message you so that you can repair what went wrong. This will show them that it is worth continuing their business relationship with your company and increase your customer retention.

Updates and Promotions

Sharing updates and promotions on your social media is a good way to encourage activity on your platforms. You can make certain promotions applicable only if people share a post and follow your account. This helps spread word-of-mouth! You can also restrict certain promotions to different platforms to see what gets the best results.

Groups

We’ve talked a lot about what social media can do for your field service business’ relationship with your customers. Now let’s talk about what social media can do for your relationship with other businesses. Groups on social media are great ways for you and other professionals in your industry to share information and experience.

Groups are essentially clubs. Thanks to the internet, people with common interests are able to connect and discuss what makes them excited. This exchange of ideas can inspire you, grow your network, and keep you up-with-the-times. You can find groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as SubReddits (another type of interest group) on Reddit.

Keep Up With Industry

We spoke about how groups can help you keep up with the industry by talking to the industry. Now, let’s talk about how you can use social media to keep up with consumer trends. Hashtags tell you what is trending at a precise moment. Using relevant hashtag allows you to be visible to people who wouldn’t otherwise see your account.

By following other similar social media accounts, you can see what is trending within the industry. This can provide you ideas for how to appeal to your customers through promotion, content, and making sales. Keeping up with the industry is important when trying to grow your field service business.

Develop A Social Media Strategy

Now that you understand what social media is, it’s time to develop a plan for how to use it.

What voice do you want to be heard?

Start off with figuring out what your company’s brand is. Who do you want to identify with? It can be difficult to analyze your brand on the inside, so ask around. Family, friends, and even strangers can offer good insight as to how your brand is perceived by others. Then, write down how you want the world to perceive your brand. This can be used as a guideline or reference when creating social media content.

Who is in charge of your social media?

Assign a person, whether that be yourself, a family member, or an employee, to lead social media efforts. This person should be aware of expectations in regards to timing, content, and personality.

What social media platforms should you prioritize?

Decide on what platforms would be most beneficial to your company. All of them are free, so it doesn’t hurt to use them all. It is recommended to, at the very least, use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you have finished projects to display and want to appeal to the female market, Pinterest is a good addition as well. LinkedIn can be utilized more for recruitment and professional connections.

How often will you be posting?

You should maintain a consistent schedule of posting multiple times a week. Having a regular presence online keeps you on the mind of your followers. Setting time aside every day to develop social media content and work on your following will prove to be very beneficial. A good way to gain a following is to follow accounts who would be interested in your content. Find similar accounts and follow their followers; that mutual interest could result in another lead for your field service business!

What is your budget?

Decide on whether you will be hiring a marketer. What would your ROI be? Social media is a great platform to advertise your field service business. You can sponsor your content on many platforms. This allows people who would not normally see your material (outside of your immediate following) to see it and possibly act on it. The nice thing is that you don’t have to spend anything on social media. Your social media budget can be zilch and you can still reap benefits from it!

Final Notes

Join twitter MacBook Pro
Growing your field service business can be difficult. Social media provides an easy and free resource that you should take advantage of! Through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Pinterest, you can grow your field service business by spreading word of mouth, sending backlinks to your website, running promotions, networking, communicating with customers, and keeping up with field service industry changes. And with this guide to growing your field service business, you will be #following and #liking in no time at all!


You can follow Smart Service on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn! We’d love to connect.


The Best of AHR 2018

On January 30th, 2018 by

Another year, another huge AHR Expo! The Smart Service team proudly exhibited at this year’s just-wrapped AHR Show in Chicago (the world’s biggest HVACR trade show), and we had a great time talking with customers, competitors, and HVAC professionals. During the three busy show days, I personally made some time to bounce around the massive exhibit hall and compile some notes on the booths and innovations that industry pros seemed most excited about.

Generally, the biggest trends are pretty easy to identify. Smart technology (including HVAC software like ours) abounds, everyone wants to go green, and the mystical “Internet of Things” looms precariously over the horizon. While many trends and innovations distinguished themselves, I’ll highlight just five of my favorites in this article. This should serve as a decent snapshot of the scope and variety of the AHR experience. Enjoy!

Milwaukee Carbide Sawzall Blade

Carbite Blade

Visitors to AHR can’t help but notice the giant, bright red Milwaukee booth. Pop/country music blasts through the booth PA as power tools whir and a whole host of crimson-clad Milwaukee employees scurry about. While Milwaukee’s 102 x 77 Spot Infrared Imager came in as a finalist in the show’s Innovation Awards, the booth staffers I spoke with were most excited about demoing their carbide sawzall blade. This blade cuts through even the strongest metals (as evidenced by the carved-up metal pipe booth staffers had on display) in less time than other blades, and without throwing up a whole mess of sparks.

AAF Flanders Sensor360

The AAF Flanders booth features a VR simulation that let visitors see how AAF filtration systems work from the perspective of a particle. It’s a fun gimmick, and it helps highlight the Sensor360, their new cloud-based, real time sensor for HVAC systems. It allows customers, building managers, and AAF Flanders employees (ideally, the company would like to use this device to position themselves as a service provider in addition to a commodities provider) to check an HVAC unit for problems at any time, from any device. Right now, a hog farm in Idaho is running the system in beta. Early feedback indicates that they have a great product, something that helps filter out contaminants in different parts of the facility, keeping the hogs from getting each other sick.

Setra FLEX

Multi room monitor

One of the cool things about the AHR Expo? It allows attendees and exhibitors to step outside their comfort zone. While our company deals primarily with HVAC contractors, the show features articles of interest for a much broader audience. Case in point? The Setra FLEX. This multi-room monitor (which, according to booth staff, might be the only one on the market) would usually get deployed in a controlled environment (such as a hospital or laboratory), where it would track up to six different parameters (pressure, light, temperature, etc.) to keep conditions ideal.

Regal

Regal boasts a big booth with many different brands that offer products in many different markets. The overall trend here is a push to make things smaller, whether that means more space in a refrigeration unit at a grocery store or more space in an HVAC unit on an office rooftop. Their new HVAC motor embodies this philosophy. Significantly smaller than most currently in use, this allows for unobstructed air flow within HVAC units.

Johnson Controls GLAS Smart Thermostat

Smart Thermostat

Johnson Controls and its subsidiaries occupy a huge space on the show floor. Their most buzzed-about innovation, the GLAS Smart Thermostat, promises tremendous home energy savings while offering users voice commands and the ability to control the unit from any device. The biggest selling point though is likely the sleek touchscreen with a translucent surface, a setup designed specifically to look good on any wall.


The Best Podcasts for Contractors

On January 29th, 2018 by

As a contractor, you spend most of your days driving to and from jobs. The commute can be gruesome, but this list of the 10 best podcasts for contractors can help make it go by a little faster—and help you learn something new to grow your contractor business on the way!

We will rate each podcast on a scale of 1-10 for three different metrics: entertainment, educational value, and availability. Each podcast’s total score is the average of these three values. When rating entertainment, we looked at how funny the podcast was and how easy it was to listen to. The educational value rating was determined by the usefulness of the information given. Availability was determined by the number of the episodes, the frequency of them, and whether they are continuing production.

10. The 7 Deadly Sins of Building a Contractor Business: 5/10

Entertainment: 2/10
Educational: 10/10
Availability: 3/10

Karan Dhillon, the self-proclaimed “Contractors’ Coach,” provides 11 episodes. The podcasts cover 7 deadly sins of building a contractor business. These “don’ts” lead into the “dos” in a very informative style that hits the nail on the head.

Because these podcasts are made to be informative, they can run a bit dry. Based off of a book written by Dhillon, the podcasts are built around each of the deadly sins a contractor should avoid.

These episode are highly informative. The densely packed insight comes with an easy-to-digest runtime of one to 20 minutes. This podcast serves as a guidebook for contractors building a business. Real situations serve to show examples to these lessons and the possible ramifications of not taking care when building your contractor business.

Unfortunately, this is not an ongoing contractor podcast. There are only 11 episodes, and it looks like it will remain that way. Though they can run a bit dry, you can easily fit them into short drives to your next job and get a lot of good, organized, and consolidated information on the way.

9. Contractor SEO: 5.3/10

Entertainment: 1/10
Educational: 10/10
Availability: 5/10

Many of the other podcasts lightly touch on SEO and online marketing, but Contractor SEO really goes in depth on the topic. The host, Josh Nelson, is a specialist in digital marketing for contractors.

Josh Nelson is definitely a digital marketing genius. His entertainment skills? Not as good. This podcast is very useful if you’re looking to learn how to use SEO to make your business more profitable. Contractor SEO serves its purpose.

Josh has 10 podcasts ranging in time from four to 30 minutes. There are no more podcasts being produced.

8. Contractor Success M.A.P.: 6.3/10

Entertainment: 2/10
Educational: 10/10
Availability: 7/10

Randal DeHart, a construction accountant, primarily focuses on finances and accounting in construction. He also covers other topics like SEO and construction tools. Randal’s podcasts go extremely in-depth on different facets of accounting in a construction business.

Though Contractor Success M.A.P. is very informative, Randal is very conversational. The information load is tolerable and most episodes don’t run too long. Unfortunately, you’re going to need to turn the speakers up to hear him. The recording and producing system he has doesn’t seem to be the best. The most recent episodes are better quality though, so maybe there is hope that this improved quality will continue!

The availability of this podcast is amazing. Randal DeHart started the show in 2014 and is still continuing them now with over 250 (I know, right??) podcasts! The shows air every Friday. It’s just a shame some are so difficult to understand.

7. Contractor’s Corner: 6.7/10

Entertainment: 9/10
Educational: 7/10
Availability: 4/10

Reese Nazzaro and Ira Malkin talk casually about everything ranging from Reese’s annoying neighbor to gutter cleaning. The comical duo are entertaining to listen to and will sure help pass the time on your commute.

Reese is hyperbolic, handy, and hilarious. He lets the listener in on his life through contractor and not-so-contractor stories.

There are a lot of good lessons in Contractor’s Corner. Some of them can be a bit particular to Reese’s situation and, therefore, not as applicable to every contractor. Because Reese is primarily a commercial contractor, his focus of topics is about 70% commercial and 30% residential.

Unfortunately, there are only five episodes from 2016. However, each episode clocks in at around an hour and a half, so you’ll have some good material to entertain yourself for a bit. According to Two Faces Radio, the station that produces Contractor’s Corner, the podcast is under production for 2018—so hopefully we can expect some more material as the year progresses.

6. The Service Contractor: 7.7/10

Entertainment: 8/10
Educational: 9/10
Availability: 6/10

Todd Liles voices The Service Contractor, using his experience as the owner and business coach at Service Excellence Training to provide residential service contractors the skills they need to increase their business profits and revenue.

Todd Liles is engaging in his 20-60 minute podcasts, using personal stories to effectively teach about running a contractor business.

Todd’s podcasts are loaded with great information, ranging from tips to whole lessons. There are over 20 episodes starting in 2013. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like there are any recent podcasts, so 24 might be all we get.

5. The Roofer Show: 8.3/10

Entertainment: 6/10
Educational: 10/10
Availability: 9/10

Dave Sullivan, a former roofer, shares his advice on how to run a successful roofing business on The Roofer Show. Each week he interviews people in roofing to allow listeners insight into the industry.

Dave Sullivan spends the majority of the podcast interviewing, so the entertainment value really depends on who he interviews rather than himself. Overall, the podcasts are informative and easy to listen to.

Dave Sullivan and the people he interviews provide excellent advice, tips, tricks, and resources. Dave’s own one page business plan can be very useful for those looking to go into the field.

There are over 40 podcasts readily available. Dave produces roughly one episode per week.

4. The Paint Drops and Hops Show: 8.5/10

Entertainment: 10/10
Educational: 7/10
Availability: 8.5/10

Joel, John, Bockelmann, and Andy discuss beer, painting, contracting, and everything in between. Occasionally Alexa, the Amazon smart-home companion, pipes in too. Lead by Joel, this podcast is based in Indiana.

The Paint Drops and Hops Show is very listenable. Even if you aren’t a painting contractor, you will enjoy listening to the playful banter between this easy-going group of guys. They discuss things going on in their lives, painting tips, and business tricks, all while drinking beer.

While they talk about a lot of random things, they manage to get in some pretty useful information. They review painting products and provide insight on topics like customer referrals and the painting industry.

This podcast is made roughly every week. Currently, there are 10 episodes with each episode lasting around an hour.

3. The Contractor Fight: 8.8/10

Entertainment: 8/10
Educational: 8.5/10
Availability: 10/10

The Contractor Fight is aggressive—in all the right ways. It challenges the status quo and delivers the message that contractors should fight for their business and their success.

Through Tom Reber’s interviews with contractors, he urges contractors to know their worth and put their business in their own hands. The interviews provide focused lessons through contractors’ experiences in the contractor business.

There are over 130 episodes starting in 2015 and continuing today.

2. Protractor Podcast: 9/10

Entertainment: 9/10
Educational: 8/10
Availability: 10/10

Protractor Podcast is led by Martin Holsinger, an internet marketer who specializes in contractor businesses. Martin interviews various professionals in the field, gaining valuable insight and lessons from each of them.

Martin picks some amazing guest speakers with inspirational stories. This is a podcast you’re going to want to listen to if you’re looking for a boost in motivation.

Each of the guest speakers provides a slightly different background and a slightly different lesson. Perspective is a great way to learn something new, and this podcast sure offers varied perspectives.

Martin Holsinger started providing us with his brilliant podcasts in January of 2017. Now there are 71 installments. That’s more than one a week! Martin hasn’t started his podcasts again this year yet, but 2018 is still young. Each episode ranges from 10 minutes to longer than an hour.

1. The Wealthy Contractor: 9.3/10

Entertainment: 9/10
Educational: 9/10
Availability: 10/10

Brian Kaskavalciyan, the marketing strategist behind The Wealthy Contractor, has been featured on Entrepreneur Magazine, HGTV, and OPRAH Magazine, among other major publications. He interviews home improvement professionals to provide guidance in building a contractor business.

The episodes are entertaining and varied while maintaining focus on growing a contractor business and increasing profits.

The Wealthy Contractor has over 30 episodes, starting in November of 2016. There are a few episodes every month. They are continuing to record, so you can expect more in 2018!


How To Boost Your HVAC Sales According To Psychology

On January 26th, 2018 by

After a long career working in HVAC, you could probably repair an air conditioning unit with your eyes closed. Sleeping. With your hands tied behind your back. You know the ropes of installation and repair, but selling your services might pose a bit more of a challenge.

Does pitching a service or product to a customer make you nervous? Sweating so much you think your AC unit might need repaired? Well, fret not! An entire field in psychology dedicates itself to understanding consumer behavior! We’ve put the most valuable tips from this discipline in a list to help your HVAC business get more leads, retain more clients, and sell more services.

1. Understand the customer.

back of technicians shoes

Appeal to emotion

We’ve all heard the phrase. You never know what HVAC needs someone has until you take a walk in their shoes. Now, before you try fitting your size 13’s in a size 6 pair of heels, take a step back! When you assess a need a customer has, taking a step back can help you understand the person you are dealing with. Imagining their needs and wants can lead to a better knowledge of what you should sell and how you should sell.

Reading body language and hearing tone of voice can better equip you, as an HVAC technician, to respond. When you arrive at their home, take in your surroundings. Is there anything else that needs replaced that your customer hasn’t noticed yet? Making these assessments and utilizing your HVAC expertise could potentially save lives by preventing unforeseen emergencies like AC fires.

Understanding the customer can also play a role when pitching a service or item. Appealing to emotion, then justifying your appeal with facts, is a key psychological tactic often used in ads. However, even though these appeals are primarily used in controlled formats like commercials or print, they also easily transfer to field service! Understanding the emotional value of an item can help you sell bigger ticket HVAC equipment like a high-end AC unit, heater, or refrigerator. Ka-ching!

2. The more they see you, the more they like you.

Mere Exposure Effect

If you see something all the time, odds are you’re going to like it. This concept may seem counterintuitive, but its real-life applications are shown time and time again. Studies show that people rate someone they’ve seen multiple times before as more attractive than a complete stranger. That’s right, playing hard to get doesn’t work (shocker, I know).

This concept can apply to symbols and objects as well. You know when something new becomes fashionable and at first you hate it? “Those shoes are horrific. Who in their right mind would wear those?!” Then you start to see them around more often. They become tolerable, you suppose. A little more time passes and BOOM! You look down and they’re on your feet. You! You in your right mind slowly but surely came to like those ugly, ugly shoes and wear them too!

Sound familiar? This is known as the mere exposure effect; the more you see something, the more you like it.

Your HVAC business can use this technique to generate new leads and increase customer retention. Sending out the same technician to a repeat client can ensure their continued business with your company. (If you can’t send out the same technicians or don’t want to, this effect can also be seen if your technicians wear a uniform and your trucks are wrapped with your logo.)

Increasing your HVAC business’ brand visibility should be a vital part of your HVAC business plan. It is just another great way for clients to view you as a more appealing choice! Basically, the more you see something, the more you look at it through rose-tinted glasses. When deciding between your HVAC business and another, guess which one a person will pick. That’s right! It’s you.

3. Ask small first.

Foot-in-Door technique

Agreeing to something small makes a person more likely to agree to larger things later. This is called the foot-in-the-door technique. Saying yes to something mild creates a bond between two people, setting a precedent for that relationship. Saying no afterwards threatens that bond, meaning a person is more likely to say yes afterwards to a larger request.

For example, an HVAC technician could start by asking the client if they could sign a document. Since that is a minimal request, the answer is very likely to be yes. Questions should lead up to the scale of the big request (let’s say, asking if they would like an air filter change), further strengthening the bond. The customer would then be more likely to agree to a large request—like a new fridge—than if that was one of the first questions.

4. Or ask really big.

Door-in-the-face technique

Funnily enough, the opposite is true as well. The door-in-the-face technique (no, I’m not making these names up!) says that one is more likely to agree to a request when a deliberately humongous request is made beforehand. So asking a client first if they want a new AC unit is a great way to ensure an air filter sale.

5. Give before you take.

The Reciprocity Principle

You’ve just moved into your new house. You’ve barely started unloading the moving boxes, and you hear three swift raps on the door. Knock, knock, knock. Lo and behold, it’s your neighbors, eager-eyed and faces hurting from the bright smiles adorning them. They’ve brought you cake, and with that one kind act, your neighborly transactions begin.

What if I told you your neighbors were taking advantage of a psychological technique called the reciprocity principle? When somebody does something for you, you feel inclined to do something in return. If your HVAC technicians start off by providing a service for free, the client is more likely to agree to another service in return. Don’t know what to offer for free? How about an estimate? The returns on this HVAC business plan will make it worthwhile!

6. Be wanted.

Exclusivity

Let’s face it, we all want what we can’t have. When an option is scarce, it becomes more valuable. We hear “Limited Edition” and our hearts start racing. Saying that you’re out of a particular model or part puts the blame on your business, but saying that an item is sold out at the moment makes it exclusive.

The exclusivity principle can be used when selling an item as well. Positioning an item as scarce and wanted sets the pressure on your client; if they don’t get that new unit today, they may never be able to get it.

Exclusivity can also be used to validate a purchase. Even though they were already making the purchase, saying they got the last one makes them more satisfied in that decision and less likely to have buyer’s remorse.

Other applications of exclusivity in selling include setting a time-constricted deal or a wait list for particular HVAC equipment.

7. Set your expectations high.

Pygmalion Effect

This tactic is unique in that it can be used in both HVAC management and by the technicians. The pygmalion effect, besides being a very effective tongue-twister, essentially manifests one’s expectations in reality; if you think it, it will be. A study on this effect discovered that teachers’ expectations shaped the students’ progress (or lack of) at the end of the year.

As an HVAC business owner or manager, having high expectations for your technicians will result in better results from them. This works regardless of whether or not they know your expectations for them are high!

As an HVAC technician trying to make a sale on a service or an item, expecting a successful sale also increases the odds of a positive outcome. When you exude confidence and expect success, the HVAC sales and HVAC leads will come!

8. Set the stage.

Framing Questions, Decoy Effect

Selling is all about the pitch. Your pitch has to be persuasive, colorful, and logical for somebody to want to make a purchase. After all, people typically don’t make HVAC purchases on a whim, do they? Informing the customer while convincing them is important when selling an HVAC item or service.

By framing your pitch, you can control the way your client processes the information you give them. Set the path for your argument and the sale will follow. Another way to do this is by using the decoy effect in your item pricing. When someone makes a decision between item A and item B, they will likely to choose the cheaper one. Adding a third item as a “decoy” option can change which item the customer would normally choose.

decoy effect explained through HVAC furnaces with cost

Let’s say you normally sell a basic furnace for $900 and a high-end furnace for $2500. When comparing only these two options, most of your customers choose the $900 option. However, if you added a third medium-level fridge for $2300, the high-end fridge will look like a steal.

This effect can also be utilized in selling service packages. If a filter change costs $30 and an AC unit repair normally costs $150, changing your pricing can influence purchases. Instead price both the AC unit repair and a combined filter change/AC unit repair at $165. Guess which option is going to look like a steal?

The decoy effect when used in selling HVAC can also be a useful way to generate HVAC leads online. Keep in mind that your decoy option should not be middle-level in all aspects. Its value should be close to the first option, and its price should be close to the other option. Otherwise, people have a tendency to choose the option in the middle.

9. People just want to fit in.

Conformity

What would convince you to use an energy-saving mode on your heater?
1. Saving money.
2. Morality.
3. Everybody else is doing it.

Most people like to think that morality would make that decision for them. If not, saving a few bucks off the energy bill would do the trick, right? Wrong!

According to a study done on this very subject, what you think everybody else is doing has the largest effect on energy conservation.

We don’t like to think of ourselves as sheep, but the fact of the matter is that if all our friends were to jump off a cliff, we’d probably jump too. (Sorry, mom.)

Once you know this, you and your HVAC company can use this to your advantage. Casually mention that everybody else in the neighborhood has purchased preventative maintenance, and sure enough, you’ll sell another plan today.

To Conclude

Selling in your HVAC business can be intimidating, but incorporating a few psychology-based tips and tricks into your HVAC business plan can help make it easier and more effective. The psychologists did the work to test these effects. Now, it’s up to your HVAC business to reap the benefits!


Update 100: Set Defaults for Posting to QuickBooks, Inactive Equipment, Photos in iFleet Service History

On January 24th, 2018 by

The first update of 2018, Smart Service Update 100 adds some great new features to the field service management system. Watch the overview video and read about the new additions below.

Set Defaults for Posting to QuickBooks – New default options allow everyone in your company to post to QuickBooks your way, every time. To set defaults for posting to QuickBooks, click the Setup button, continue to the defaults tab, then toggle the options within the new “Post Work Orders” menu.

Hide Costs in iFleet – If you do not want your field service technicians to see the company costs associated with line items, you can now hide this information by clicking the Setup button, continuing to the iFleet tab, and checking the new “Hide Cost On Line Items” box.

New History Sort Options – Prior to update 100, customer service histories were always organized by date. Now, you can organize and parse this same information using a plethora of other parameters, including Type, Status, and technician.

A customer's sortable service history in Smart Service.

Additional options allow you to reorganize or hide columns within a customer’s service history. This will help your company more easily make sense of the past work done for customers.

Inactive Equipment – Your longtime customers can often accumulate a massive equipment service history. Sometimes, having access to too many old equipment records in iFleet can get confusing. Now, office users can inactivate pieces of equipment in Smart Service. Doing this will preserve the equipment record in Smart Service, but hide it from appearing in the customer’s records when sending new jobs to iFleet. This will help field technicians focus on the details pertinent to each job.

Photos in iFleet Service History – Customers who use Dropbox in conjunction with iFleet can now view the photos associated with each previous job preformed for a customer (rather than viewing all the photos in a single group). This will make it much easier to check out pictures of the most recent service call, or to check out what a job site looked like when work began.

Customer and Internal Purchase Orders – Companies that do a lot of commercial work often receive purchase order numbers from their customers. This can create confusion if your company also uses its own internal purchase order system.

Smart Service stores customer and internal purchase order numbers separately

A new field in Smart Service allows your company to easily track these purchase order numbers separately.

Apply New Schedule Times to Job Recurrences – This new feature concerns the optional, premium routing module Smart Routes.

Smart Service users who use recurring routes in Smart Routes now have the option to easily apply a change to a route to all future instances of that route. To do this, simply make a change to a route and then click the new “Apply New Schedule Times to Job Recurrences” button.

Apply New Schedule Times to Job Recurrences

This new button makes it easy to add, subtract, or adjust stops within your recurring routes.

Other Resources

Click to view the complete 10.100 release notes.

Click to update Smart Service.


3 Things Any Field Service Business Must Do in 2018

On January 19th, 2018 by

As technology advances occur more and more rapidly, field service managers find themselves in an era of non-stop new tech adoption. With all the issues this rapid adoption creates, how do you balance customers’ growing list of technical requests, technicians’ ongoing training needs, and the cost of new technology? Of course, there’s no easy way to balance the growing technology needs of a company, but we do have some best practices to offer.

1. Collect, Analyze, and Review Data

All technology you use to manage things in the office and the field should produce rich datasets you can use to improve every aspect of your business. If your tech doesn’t produce this data or you’re not using it, then it’s time for an upgrade.

According to the 2017 Field Service USA Benchmark Report, “the new field service paradigm will be driven by how effectively data can be captured and then used as a source of insights to improve customer satisfaction.” But it’s not just customer satisfaction that can be improved by using this data. Use employee time and expenses data gathered from field service and payroll tools to assess training needs and optimize hiring plans.

Align your company’s goals with the data you track and how you use it. Whether you’re looking to cut down on inventory costs, improve the quality of communication with customers, or streamline your work order process, the technology you use should be a significant resource in tracking and completing these goals.

Taking the time to set up and review reports that show your progress toward business goals will increase the ROI from each piece of technology you’ve invested in.

2. Invest in Internet of Things (IoT) Technology

Internet of Things (IoT) refers to technology that makes an object “smart,” meaning that it (and the software that runs it) collects and learns from data. Service industries use IoT tools to create new continuous streams of information from a consumer’s residence or business back to the company. The Field Service’s Internet of Things report lists a number of ways that IoT technology will disrupt field service industries. Here are just a couple:

IoT will move field service from a break and fix model to a prediction-based model, “where products alert when they need to be serviced before downtime ever occurs.” Companies can also gather information about customer needs with these tools, which would communicate with other smart tools in ways that provide deep data about the environment in which the tools work.

IoT will change the role of a technician. “The greater the integration of objects that can report on their status into digital networks, the more able a technician will be to follow a procedural approach to repairs, as opposed to diagnosing an unknown malfunction.”

IoT technology is not cheap, but it’s one of the best investments you can make for your business. Prepare for this investment; it will be a game changer.

3. Schedule consistent continuing education

For years, the industry has faced a talent shortage. In a 2016/2017 survey, Manpower Group found that 40% of the employers surveyed had difficulties filling job openings, with skilled trade positions the hardest to fill. Finding employees that can keep up with the rapid technology changes is a big part of the issue.

One part of the solution to having tech-savvy employees is to offer continual training opportunities for your existing workers. Many companies find that implementing a human resources software that includes a built-in Learning Management Software component eases this transition and provides new opportunities for learning in a technician’s free or downtime.

Bruce Breeden, author of Intentional Field Service Engineer, explains why continued education is so valuable:

“…continuing education helps lead to a clear and articulated common service vision for how technology will be used in the organization. The need for innovation and the adoption of new technologies and skills also drives the development of continuing education and self-development plans throughout the organization.”

Education doesn’t just need to be about technology. Useful continuing education can include customer interaction skills, stress management, fostering leadership skills, and other soft skills that promote business goals.

For instance, Mike Karlskind explains why teaching your dispatch team decision training skills is so important:

“Dispatch decisions are the bedrock of efficient service and high customer satisfaction. Making the right decision at the right moment can make or break a technician’s day (or week), and result in customers gained or customers lost.”

Increasing soft and hard skills can reduce job stress, improve employee confidence in doing their jobs, and increase their overall company loyalty.

Since one of the main reasons people leave their job is the lack of growth opportunities, continuing education can reduce employee turnover when accompanied by ways to move up the company ladder. To this end, Field Service Matters suggests identifying your top 15% of technicians and “make an effort to get them everything they need.” That means ensuring that they have the skills, tools, and time off or benefits that keep them happy. And who knows? Maybe some continuing education is the difference you were missing between a mediocre and outstanding technician.

Jera Brown is a writer for TechnologyAdvice. She left a career in UX/UI to write full-time. She believes in user-centered design and advocating for diversity in the tech field.


Smart Service Trade Show Schedule 2018

On January 18th, 2018 by

This trade show season, Smart Service will be at AHR, WWETT, ACCO/PHCC, NAID, and IDA.


ShowBooth #IndustryLocationDate(s)
AHR 20183553HVACChicago, ILJan. 22-24
WWETT 20186266Septic / Wastewater / PlumbingIndianapolis, INFeb. 22-24
ACCO/PHCC 201818 / 19HVAC / PlumbingColumbus, OHMar. 8
NAID 2018127Document DestructionNashville, TNApr. 13-15
IDA 20182338Garage DoorLas Vegas, NVApr. 27-28

5 Reasons To Attend Your Field Service Industry Trade Show

On January 17th, 2018 by

You’ve been thinking about attending your field service industry trade show, but don’t quite know if it’s worth the effort. I get it. Attending field service industry trade shows can provide your business opportunities to grow and flourish, but doing so can cost a pretty penny and put the brakes on job production. Even so, you should view going to a trade show as an investment. You have the chance to meet people in similar fields, check out products that could give your business a boost, and learn a new skill.

1. Build your network.

empty seats in an auditorium
A trade show is the perfect place to network with others in your field. Located in major cities, trade shows attract people within a common professional field. Oftentimes, even international workers in your field attend these events. A trade show provides a great place to meet and reconnect with people. You can also network more casually afterwards in the city or at networking events sponsored by the trade show.

Trade shows often teem with people who work in various areas of your industry. You can meet people who will promote your business if you promote theirs. This “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” arrangement doubles as an excellent way to market your business, increase your client base, and develop a lifelong symbiotic business relationship. Get scratching!

Ultimately, networking is a wonderful tool to grow your business and expand your reach. You never know who will recommend your business because they met youand liked youat that one trade show you went to.

2. Get new ideas.

Trade shows host a seemingly endless supply of businesses promoting their products at booths. These trade show displays could present a solution to a problem you weren’t aware of or offer ideas for how you can boost business. Last year, many businesses who didn’t know about Smart Service saw our booth at the WWETT Show and were able to become more profitable as a result. Who knows what solutions you could discover?

A trade show is a perfect place to get you out of a rut. It can provide that needed inspiration to push your business one step further! Why pass up an opportunity to actually follow through with your New Year’s resolution to grow your company? (After all, as New Year’s resolutions go, attending a trade show is a lot more fun than going to the gym or eating a salad every day.)

Convention centers can hold a lot of booths, and that means a lot of ideas that may spark your next business move, promotion, or change.

3. Everything is in one place.

When business owners, industry leaders and teachers, and product promoters are all consolidated to one area, it provides a chance to do a lot in a small amount of time. You can get up to date on industry trends, discover new products, and discover ways to increase business for your company.

If you’ve been looking for a way to make your business run smoother or attract more customers, attend your industry trade show to kill two birds with one stone. Trade shows offer visual examples of what is popular. Which booths have the biggest crowds? Large crowds could imply a new or popular product or industry trend. Since everything is in one place, you can also compare companies offering similar products. A consolidated event means easy access to information and a more efficient way to make business decisions.

4. Learn a new skill.

people writing notes in a convention center auditorium
Many trade shows or conventions offer demonstrations or educational talks. These are excellent for learning a new skill applicable to your industry. Discovering what events will be taking place is easy. Go to the website of the trade show you want to attend. Some will likely feature compelling educational sessions on the main page. Generally, you’ll find a complete list on the website’s show schedule.

If you are a licensed technician, attending one of these talks could satisfy a continuing education requirement. For example, HVAC professionals attending the AHR Expo can earn six professional development hours from just a full day course!

Trade show demonstrations or talks are also a great platform to grow your network. Leaders in your industry are likely to be the ones providing these demonstrations. These people can provide insight to how they gained their success and could even become a contact for your company for the future.

Oftentimes, these talks will teach a particular skill that could give your business an edge in the industry. You could learn things like marketing your business to a particular group or a new technique to use on the job. Next time somebody says that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you can tell them that you learned multiple new tricks at the last trade show. Ha! Take that!

5. What do you have to lose?

I suppose, when it comes down to it, the best reason to attend your industry trade show is that there is no reason not to; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Many trade shows are free if you register in advance. If the trade show isn’t free, part of the cost could be written off in your taxes as a business expense (just be sure that you are doing this lawfully). Overall, you should look at attending your industry trade show as something that will yield a return of investment. Attending your industry trade show is an investment in your business and your future.

On top of the practical reasons to attend, there are some fun perks too! Trade show booths often offer free and useful items as promotional materials. Things like water bottles, cell phone add-ons, and candyand that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Oftentimes, trade show vendors have special discounts on their products, raffles, or contests to encourage passerbys to check out their trade show display. You’ll leave feeling like you just won the showcase prize on The Price is Right.

Besides, a business trip can be a lot of fun! Because trade shows are normally held in large cities, attending your industry trade show can be a good way to check out a place you always wanted to go to. With your busy schedule, it can be difficult to fit in a trip to Chicago or Las Vegas, but attending a trade show is great way to justify such a vacation. So put on your flip flops (or skis) and pack your bags!

Key Notes

Attending your industry trade show should be viewed as an investment. Trade shows and conventions offer a place to build your network, spread the word about your business, and learn new skills. Plus, you might get to discover a cool new city! Rather than asking yourself if you can afford to go, you should ask if you can afford not to.

 

This trade show season, Smart Service will be at AHR, WWETT, ACCO/PHCC, NAID, and IDA. Check out the details here!


Smart Service Spotlight: Nuwriy Nienkirchen

On January 16th, 2018 by

Every month we will be doing an employee spotlight, showcasing someone on the Smart Service crew. This month, we’ll talk to the new Customer Support Manager, Nuwriy Nienkirchen, about his new promotion, his love for oldies, and his hedgehog, Koh. Nuwriy joins us from the comfort of his office, warmed by his space heater and a hot cup of Rooibos red tea (his favorite).

First off, how do you say your name?
Like “Corey”, but with an “N” instead of a “C”.

What is your role at My Service Depot?
My duties include overseeing the Help Desk and the people they’re calling on a day-to-day basis, making sure their schedules are available, making sure any scheduled appointments are coordinated, as well as running administrative duties for where we see our product going in the future.

What are you listening to these days?
I listen to quite a bit, and that’s because I have interest in music myself; I’ve been a singer, I play guitar, bass, and keyboard. I play a couple different instruments, so the type of music I listen to is fairly broad. There are always the great staples like Buddy Guy, a blues musician, or Frankie Valli. Frankie Valli is fantastic.

Have you been reading anything?
I’m reading 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

Do you have any pets?
I have two fish and a hedgehog. One of the fish’s names is Sozan. The hedgehog is named Koh. We haven’t decided on a name for the other fish yet.

Before working here, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
My family has always started their own businesses, so I’ve always been helping with whatever they did. My father does home restorations for Victorian homes. That involves everything from painting to pocket doors, and repairing them. That gets sort of complex and kind of weird because you have to see what you can find or make it yourself.

How would you describe My Service Depot?
Close, especially with the Help Desk. Everyone knows everybody. We are a very close group, it’s almost family like. We’re a small company and we like to pass that feeling off to our customers as well.

What has been your favorite interaction with a customer?
On the end of a training class I asked if they had any questions and the lady asked if I wanted to buy some ducks. They had some baby ducks they were trying to sell, but she was in Texas. That was pretty funny.

What has been your favorite project to work on at My Service Depot?
The online manual. That’s something I found very interesting, not just from the web design aspect of it, but also creating the videos, articles, and stuff like that. With the music stuff I do, I’ve always had a passion for writing. It was fun to go out of my comfort zone and, instead of writing lyrics or stories, to write something technical.

Any random fact about anything you could share with us?
Before nuclear non-proliferation, we came up with a way to get to the moon and mars via a nuclear powered rocket ship. It’s still the fastest way to travel through space, but we don’t use it because it’s, well, nuclear.

Other Smart Service Spotlight profiles:
Lucas McCarty, Account Executive


How To Market Your HVAC Business To Millennials

On January 11th, 2018 by

Look out! Millennials around the United States are leaving their parents’ basements and cutting down on avocado toast to purchase their first homes. Aged between 20 and 34, this “delayed” generation is finally starting to settle down. According to Zillow, “Half of all buyers are under age 36, meaning the Millennial generation is driving more of the housing market than we previously understood.” This means a new demographic for HVAC businesses to deal with. While new prospective customers are exciting, HVAC companies may need to learn some new tricks to effectively market themselves to this demographic—the fastest growing group of homeowners.

The Millennial Experience

The millennial generation, known more for spending money on experiences and traveling than houses, are now starting families and moving to the ‘burbs. However, that doesn’t mean they’ve totally altered their behavior. They still go online to research and seek advice from reviewers before making a purchasing decision.

A millennial’s experience and relationship with your business can also come from following you on social media. Keeping up to date on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can establish a mode of communication between your business and consumers while creating your company’s “voice.” Your company gains a personality through its social media presence, dictated by its tone, culture, and values.

A consistent voice is necessary in creating your company’s personality. If you are funny on one platform, try to be funny on all. Don’t be curt on Facebook and then sassy on Twitter. Instead of using brand loyalty to dictate purchases, millennials tend to shift between products and companies. Giving your business a personality can help overcome this “switching consumer” mentality of millennials. It helps customer retention, especially in the millennial generation, by creating a direct and friendly personal relationship between the customer and the company.

The idea of voice cohesion and brand identity can also be applied to more visible ares, things like your technician’s uniform and your company’s vehicles, slogans, and logos. The idea is to always be recognizable as you.

You know what else millennials like? Their phones! Millennials check their smartphones an average of 43 times a day. Their flow of information is consolidated to those devices. Take advantage of this! You can use field service software to send text notifications, alerting your customers when your technicians are on the way.

Are You Fine Online?


When millennials have HVAC needs, the first place they are going to go is online. Your website, social media, and reviews are excellent resources for someone who wants to learn more about your HVAC business.

Website

Because millennials do most of their shopping online, you can be confident that this means shopping online for their heating and cooling needs as well. Websites have replaced storefronts, and this grants internet users the ability to compare prices, products, and companies in the blink of an eye.

When you have a store, you want as many people as possible to get into that store. The same principle applies to your website. You want a steady stream of shoppers online. A good way to ensure this? Grab a top place in the search results when someone searches “AC repair in [your city].” To do this, incorporate SEO-friendly content into your website. A website blog allows for regularly updated SEO content and a better chance of users getting redirected to your website after a websearch. Research shows that companies that published blog posts at least 16 times a month got over four times as many leads as companies that blogged less than five times a month. That means potentially four times as much revenue!

Social Media

Besides the selfie, use of social media is arguably the most defining characteristic of the millennial generation. Social media has surpassed television as the leader in advertising and marketing. 71% of millennials use social media daily, compared with only 60% of millennials who watch television daily.

Using social media to market your HVAC business to millennials can allow for a much closer relationship with your customers, leading to customer retention and new leads. Communicating directly with your consumers makes your company relatable and builds trust. 41% of people say they have discontinued engagement with a company due to poor personalization and lack of trust.

If your business is not available on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you run the risk of going unnoticed by millennial users. Embracing social media can give these new homeowners a reason to pick your company over another, and then continue doing business with you.

Reviews

We all understand the value of word of mouth. When we trust someone, we tend to trust their recommendations as well. With websites like Yelp, Facebook, and Angie’s List, word of mouth scales a lot larger. Compared with ten years ago, 50% more people use reviews and others’ experiences to decide on a purchase.

Millennials are very conscious about where they spend their money. Before making purchases, they like to compare prices and reviews for the product or service they are thinking about buying. This need for purchase validation is displayed in the high amount of millennials using brand evaluation to make buying decisions. Before making a purchase, 93% of millennials like to read reviews online.

#Trending

Hashtags and trends are an excellent way to boost your revenue and differentiate yourself from other HVAC businesses. Millennials are conscious consumers. With the vast supply of similar products and business, millennials like to know that not only are they getting a good deal, but that their purchase decision is also contributing to something good.

Some trends in millennial consumerism include going green and shopping local. Thus, it can help to highlight your energy efficient units. If you are a family business, emphasize that. Show that doing business with you is an investment in the community and an investment in the environment. While getting sustainable cat litter might be going a little too far, finding an environmentally-friendly AC unit might actually make a difference for both their wallets and the environment.

Final Thoughts


Focusing on customer experience, bringing your business to the social age, and being aware of consumer trends are excellent ways for your HVAC business to appeal to the growing number of millennial homeowners.

Millennials may have entered the real estate market a little later than their parents and grandparents, but they are finally starting to move to the suburbs. If you market your HVAC business to millennials, it can help you move forward through this shift in customer demographics. Make sure your business embraces this change!

For information on Smart Service, the industry-leading field service software for scheduling and customer management, simply click here!



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