The Benefits of Using HVAC Software for Inventory Management

On April 30th, 2018 by

When you run an HVAC business, inventory represents an area of everyday concern. In fact, your success can come down to how you manage your inventory and how you utilize the information your inventory management system provides. While you can keep detailed records by hand, using HVAC software for inventory management can increase efficiency, eliminate mistakes, and even provide new marketing opportunities.

Create More Thorough Work Orders

A detailed work order can save you time and money by preparing your technicians for what to anticipate on an upcoming service call. Ordinarily, a dispatcher will create a work order heedless of your company’s actual inventory situation, simply because they don’t have the relevant information handy. With HVAC software like Smart Service, users can see the inventory on hand, as well as the inventory in each service vehicle:

Inventory Screen

HVAC software makes it easy to assign inventory to a job. Smart Service goes a step further, preventing users from assigning a product to a job if you don’t have that product in stock. This lets you rest assured that you go into each job prepared and ready to work. (Remember those back and forth trips you used to make because you forgot a necessary piece of equipment? Yeah, with inventory management software, that’s a thing of the past.) You can even easily adjust pricing so that equipment prices are uniform and billing is completed correctly!

Know What to Order More Of

When supplies of a certain piece of equipment run low, you can receive alerts to remind you to order more of that item. Set individually specified thresholds on your HVAC software so you are never left short-stocked. Smart Service allows you to set restock points for each item in your inventory:

updates smart service

There’s nothing worse than realizing you’re missing just one piece and realizing it’ll take at least a few weeks to get a replacement shipped out to you. Don’t lose customers to scenarios you can avoid!

Don’t Lose Money

When you run a business, you can lose potential profits in a stunning variety of ways. Pricing your HVAC services well is one of the most basic ways you can make sure you’re not missing out on possible cash. If you are priced too low, you could be going all Robin Hood on yourself. So, listen up! Managing inventory through HVAC software allows you to see what you paid for a part in relation to what you charge for it. Each invoice should reflect positive cash flow for your HVAC business.

Because Smart Service gives you a snapshot of where your inventory is stored, you can also avoid making bad purchasing decisions. You might think you’re out of 9V batteries, but an untapped stockpile may just be sitting in a technician’s truck. Your inventory is taxed, and the last thing you want to do is pay more in taxes than you have to due to stagnant inventory. (Sorry, Uncle Sam.) Start cleaning out those old stockpiles!

Understand Customer Behavior for HVAC Sales and Marketing

When managing your HVAC inventory, you can attain good insight into your customers’ behavior. This helps you develop more strategic marketing and sales efforts. When it comes to selling HVAC equipment, your inventory activity can tell you which items and services to sell more of. This helps you decide to push low-selling items or items that have gotten a good response from your customers. You can also use previous purchases to predict future ones and anticipate upcoming trends. You thought ripped jeans were trendy? Ha! Try air filters—now those are cool right now.

You know what else is cool? You can apply inventory management data from Smart Service to various marketing platforms. For example, you can run a report in Smart Service that isolates customers who purchased a particular HVAC unit:

parts hvac smart service

filters marketing hvac smart service

Once you have this list, you can target an email marketing campaign to these customers, asking them to start a maintenance package for their new investment. Targeting campaigns makes them more personal, thereby yielding better results. You can even use trends in inventory supply to create coupons for items in demand.

Keep Track of Your HVAC Equipment

HVAC software with GPS capabilities allows you to manage your inventory even when it’s not at home base. With HVAC businesses, inventory is rarely stored in a warehouse; each truck in your fleet contains a portion of what you have in stock. Even though your inventory is on-the-move, you should still be aware of its whereabouts, along with the whereabouts of your other assets: your techs. If they’re taking one too many breaks on the company dime, HVAC software with GPS functionality can let you know. (Or it could just be that Bob, your lead tech, has a bladder infection and can’t stop taking bathroom breaks. Get it together, Bob. Be better about drinking water.) This Smart Service screen shows the whereabouts of a company’s technicians:

dispatch map smart service

Thanks to the mobile component of the Smart Service HVAC software system, office users know the whereabouts of company assets at all times. This allows for the easy location of misplaced items and an assurance that nothing goes missing right under your nose. While you should trust the work that your technicians do, sometimes even our best workers make mistakes. With Smart Service, you don’t have to worry about that. You can easily see who ordered what product to correct any issues with your inventory.

Conclusion

When running a successful HVAC business, it can be easy to lose track of all your moving parts (literally). HVAC software like Smart Service makes things easier for you by allowing you to manage your inventory digitally. A central hub for inventory and other administrative tasks gives you an easy way to keep your business in a constant state of growth.

If you would like to learn more about managing inventory with HVAC software, call us at 888-518-0818 or schedule a demo today!


What Google Guarantee Means for Your Field Service Business

On April 25th, 2018 by

In the past couple decades, field service businesses have had to adjust to some changes. With the dawn of the internet and the inevitable end of yellow pages, the industry has had to either adapt or get left behind. These shifts are not over yet. Google just released a new vetting system for home service businesses called the Google Guaranteed Program. Right now the program is still in beta, but it looks like something that may become crucial for field service businesses in the future. So, let’s talk about it!

What is Google Guarantee?

The Google Guarantee comes in the form of a simple verified green check mark that presents itself alongside your business name in Google search results. Essentially, the check mark indicates that Google is vouching for your business to consumers, complete with a $2,000 refund paid by Google if customers are not happy with your service.

To earn Google’s backing, your business has to go through an extensive background check, provide license and insurance, and maintain a high customer review rating. Jump through all those hoops and Google rewards you with a solid green pat on the back, distinguishing your business from the competition in those all-important Google search results. When potential customers call your business through the Google ad, Google takes note and charges your business $10-$30 for the lead.

Who will be affected by Google Guarantee?

phone google guarantee

In the past few years, Google Guarantee has spread across the United States. The program began in California as a response to scam artists creating fake businesses through Google Ads. Currently, Google Guarantee is available in 15 states for home service businesses. We’ve compiled a list below to make it easy to find out if the program has reached your city yet. Keep in mind, however, that the list is always expanding. If you’re not sure if it has hit your city yet do a Google search, typing “[Your Industry] in [Your City]”. If verified results show up (complete with those coveted green checkmarks), you’ll know.

Google Verified Google Guaranteed Map Google Guarantee

As of April 25, 2018

With the service now rolling out at a much higher speed, it doesn’t seem like Google will be stopping it any time soon. Eventually, it seems that everybody across the United States (and perhaps further) will be using Google Guarantee. Because the program has been built with consumers in mind (helping them avoid scams and other dangerous situations), your customers’ service-shopping habits will surely be affected.

 

Arizona

Phoenix, AZ

California

Los Angeles, CA

Riverside/San Bernardino, CA

Sacramento, CA

San Diego, CA

San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Stockton, CA

Colorado

Denver, CO

Florida

Miami, FL

Orlando, FL

Tampa, FL

Georgia

Atlanta, GA

 

Illinois

Chicago, IL

Maryland

Baltimore, MD

Massachusetts

Boston, MA

Michigan

Detroit, MI

Minnesota

Minneapolis St. Paul, MN

Montana

St. Louis, MO

Nevada

Las Vegas, NV

New York

New York, NY

 

North Carolina

Charlotte, NC

Ohio

Cincinnati, OH

Oregon

Portland, OR

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Pittsburgh, PA

Texas

Dallas, TX

Houston, TX

San Antonio, TX

Washington

Seattle, WA

Washington, D.C.

How will Google Guarantee change things for your field service business?

You are not likely to see many changes at first as the Google Guaranteed Program starts to roll out across the United States. Right now the majority of your customers are probably returning clients. Only a portion of your new leads come from Google if your marketing efforts are as broad as they should be.

When the program does come round to your city, you may have to shift your marketing budget to include the PPC fees associated with Google Guarantee. Leads from the service can cost around $10-$30,so make sure to adjust your budget if you need to.

You will also have to take greater care concerning customer reviews. While you should already care about your business’ star ratings, now you have even more reason to do so. The Google Guarantee symbol is only given to businesses with high enough ratings to make Google’s $2,000 promise worth it. They’re not going to promise excellent service to customers if you’ve had a long record of 2 star ratings. Start asking customers for reviews in your follow-up email after a job if you need more quality scores, and make sure you continue to provide the high quality service that inspires excellent reviews.

If you are a one man operation and have been using your home address as your business address, you may feel the hit harder than others. It could be worth looking for a storefront as Google will only grant the Google Guarantee to businesses that have one. Google wants to prevent scammers from taking advantage of Google Ads, but this unfortunate side effect can negatively impact your business if you don’t prepare accordingly.

How can you become Google Guaranteed?

Getting that green checkmark by your business name isn’t difficult. Google provides an easy application form and makes the steps clear. The procedure involves signing up for ads on Google Local Services (formerly Google Home Services) if you haven’t already, undergoing a free background check, and verifying your operating licenses and insurance.

Should you be worried about Google Guarantee?

It depends.

How are your reviews? Do you have a storefront? If you answered no to either of these questions you may want to reevaluate your business operations to prepare for Google Guarantee. Changes may need to be made to ride the Google wave. Surf’s up!

Conclusion

When Google makes a change, businesses don’t have much choice but to comply with that change by adjusting their marketing efforts. Take advantage of Google Guarantee by signing up as soon as you are able to. If you do not have a storefront, it may be worth evaluating your assets and determining whether it would be a good investment to acquire an operational address separate from your home address.

Stay on the lookout for Google Guarantee and be prepared for it, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Google can be fickle, so it would not be wise to make it your only marketing focus. Google could scrap the program overnight, so you want to make sure you have new business coming in from a variety of other sources.

Ultimately, when Google makes a change it’s us who have to accomodate it if we want to keep our business growing. However, if taken advantage of, Google Guarantee can mean more business than you’ve ever been used to and maximum profits for your field service business.


How to Become a Better HVAC Technician Through Understanding Climate

On April 24th, 2018 by

As an HVAC technician, you know the ins and outs of how HVAC systems work. Heating and cooling? You got this. Humidity? You know it all. However, understanding parts of a system (or even all of the parts) is very different than understanding the system as a whole. Having a complete understanding of climate can allow you to apply bigger concepts to HVAC. After all, what is HVAC if it’s not reconstructing climate out of thin air?

What is climate in HVAC?

According to NASA, weather is the “temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, brightness, visibility, wind, and atmospheric pressure, as in high and low pressure” in an area. Climate is simply the average weather over a certain period of time.

While climate is normally viewed as a description of geographical areas, the concept can also be a applied when looking at indoor air quality. Looking at a property holistically and assessing its HVAC needs involves looking at its geographical location, as well as assessing microclimates that may exist as a product of its location or structure. For example, the midwest as a whole represents a standard, semi-humid climate. However, a property’s location in a valley within the midwest could alter the way its HVAC system should be set up. The valley produces a microclimate that differs from the climate of its region.

Climate can also have an effect on the diversity of living organisms within an area. There’s a reason for all the diversity in tropical climates, and it comes down to temperature and humidity. When the climate is humid and hot, it creates the perfect environment for growth. While these conditions work perfectly for naturally stunning landscapes or your mother’s well-kept garden, they may not make sense for the inside of a home. (After all, you don’t want weird bacteria strains taking off in your bedroom, do you?) Joshua Stevens, a lead technician at Sears Heating and Cooling, applies his knowledge of climate to his own HVAC work, “Throw humidity off or throw temperature off or put an animal in there that wasn’t there before and it’s going to affect the ecosystem.”

Greenhouse Effect

The Greenhouse Effect receives its name from what happens in a standard greenhouse. Greenhouse structures, made primarily of glass or another transparent material, allow light and heat inside while simultaneously not allowing heat to leave. This creates an energy-conserving climate that allows plants to grow and flourish, despite off-season weather.

This concept is reflected in the way Earth traps and maintains heat. Earth’s atmosphere, a protective layer of gases, keeps the sun’s rays from hitting the Earth with too much strength. Survival on Earth is fundamentally dependent on the delicate relationship we have with climate, stemming from our optimal distance from the sun and the (also optimal) atmosphere blanketing the planet.

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap energy from the sun, reflecting about 30% off into space. Human activity, however, and an overproduction of carbon dioxide and methane gas artificially create an enhanced layer of greenhouse gases. In essence, this makes a comfortable blanket much thicker, trapping more heat inside and warming up the planet.

When applied to HVAC, technicians should take into account not only changing climate zones where buildings may be located, but also if buildings themself are creating their own “greenhouses.” A room with south-facing windows could produce a similar effect, requiring different HVAC conditions than a neighboring room or building. Trapped gases should also be of consideration. Issues with air flow and humidity can contribute to bad air quality and the health of the inhabitants.

Temperature, Moisture, and HVAC

The standard HVAC system involves an inflow and outflow of air, with water as a byproduct of cooling air. While your customers tend to think of air conditioning as strictly cooling air, one of its primary functions is maintaining a comfortable level of humidity. When this humidity falls outside of that range, it can be a sign of something wrong with the system and could potentially result in catastrophic damage to the building and comfort levels.

Residential and Commercial HVAC:

Adjusting levels of humidity in accordance to the purpose of the building and potential microclimates is important if you would like to provide HVAC systems that work with people rather than against them. Special care units in hospitals require a different level of air quality than, say, houses and should be managed with more attention.

Air quality is often overlooked by residential and commercial property owners as it is an unseen and unfelt concept. However, it’s still important. A hidden killer, bad air quality contributes to 4.3 million deaths a year. Regularly changing out air filters and incorporating air purifiers into air systems is vital if we want to change this statistic.

When deciding how often to change air filters, take into account geographical details. The HVAC needs for buildings in the city will differ from those for buildings in the countryside, and that difference needs to be understood by homeowners and HVAC technicians alike.

HVAC in Zoos and Conservatories:

Sometimes, less common HVAC service locations happen to be the ones that require HVAC services the most. Zoos and conservatories rely on constructed climates to maintain artificial environments. Mimicking a natural phenomenon takes a very important role in wildlife conservation, helping endangered organisms like the striking white polar bears in the arctic and the vibrant lotus berthelotti on the Canary Islands.
polar climate hvac
tropical climate hvac
Now, what these two species have in common is also what sets them apart. The environments they require are vastly polarized and require very different methods to sustain their lives.

While chilling seems fairly straightforward, keeping an indoor structure hot and humid while avoiding mold can be more difficult. Stagnant air is a culprit that afflicts indoor air quality in residential, commercial, and conservational environments. A dome structure, as seen in the Eden Project, is a smart way of combating this. Air can be blown against the sides of the dome, creating a circular air pattern that artificially mimics natural air flow. Air flow and inorganic materials keep the structure sound and limit mold growth.

These ideas can be utilized laterally in other areas of HVAC. Ensuring air flow in residential and commercial buildings through strategically-positioned vents can maximize the return of an HVAC system and keep the air quality at a good level. This can limit pockets of stagnant air and prevent structural issues or health complications in the future.

Other Applications of Climate in HVAC

While you can certainly use the climate approach to HVAC in your everyday work, there are some other applications that can prove beneficial both inside and outside of your HVAC business.

Environmentally-Friendly HVAC

Encourage environmentally-friendly HVAC options to your customers. Whether that be setting up a smart thermostat or using refrigerants that are better for the environment, the small changes will make a difference in maintaining Earth’s “HVAC” system, lessening the greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. Greener technology will make many of your customers feel better about themselves (and, even if it doesn’t, they’ll certainly appreciate the tremendous energy savings).

Future Trends in HVAC

When you run an HVAC business, it is important to keep your eye on future markets to stay ahead of the curve. There is no telling how fast an industry will change, so why not be the HVAC business that is ready for it?

Vertical Farming

With the world population continuing to increase, there are more mouths to feed and not enough land to feed them. Weather represents an uncontrollable factor that makes traditional food production a gamble. Vertical farming, a modern system that involves a multitiered approach to indoor farming, provides a solution to population-dense areas like China, increasing crop yield while reducing carbon emissions that come from transportation. HVAC plays a role here in maintaining the HVAC systems in vertical farms so that they stay equipped to provide the environment and air quality crops need to flourish indoors.

Better Conservation Efforts for Endangered Species

As animal and endangered species conservation rights gain momentum in an increasingly-connected world through avenues like social media, changes are being made in the way we protect them. Quality of life for endangered species has become a prominent issue for zoos, with HVAC representing a primary solution.

Large-Scale Constructed Environments

You’ve heard the name “Elon Musk,” right? The founder of Tesla, Musk is the modern-day Einstein, spearheading efforts in renewable energy and life on Mars. Yes, you heard that right; Musk aims to be the first person to colonize a location outside of the planet. With that comes the need to create and maintain entire environments through HVAC.

While some people look out to space, others have their eyes on the ground. They argue that it is far easier to fix what is broken than to make something from scratch. Maintaining climates here on planet Earth is another avenue that those specializing in HVAC may have an avid role in.

To Conclude: Applying Climate to HVAC

When you become an HVAC technician, you start by learning the parts of an HVAC system and how it works, but only with experience and further learning can you begin to view HVAC as a part of a greater whole. Viewing HVAC as an artificially constructed indoor climate allows you to take a holistic approach to HVAC and become a better HVAC technician.


How to Get Your Field Service Company to Stand Out from Competitors

On April 20th, 2018 by

When you run a business, chances are you have some competition. Because you work in field service, your customers are likely to be local. Competing for the same group of people with dedicated rivals can get tense, but have no fear—there’s no need for a western style showdown between you and the other guys! We’re breaking it down for you so you understand how and why your customers choose you over your competitors.

When looking to hire a field service company, your customers pay attention to three things:

  • Trust
  • Accessibility
  • Prices

Knowing what your customers are looking for is one thing, but understanding what these factors are and how they can result in you landing the job can make all the difference in setting you apart from your competition.

Trust

Establishing a trusting relationship between your field service company and customers can help in both developing leads and increasing the amount of customer retention. Establishing that trust, however, can be a tricky feat. “Trust” is in essence a product of human-to-human interaction. A company, while made up of hardworking people, is not an innately human entity. So your job is making it one. This can be done through your company directly, your technicians, and your customers.

Your Company

Your company’s image can start with a simple google search. When someone types your company name into an internet browser, the search engine will spurt all the good, the bad, and the ugly attached to your field service business’ name. Your website, reviews, and social media collectively create your company “voice” and persona. Your online presence is key, particularly with millenials, the fastest growing group of homebuyers. Having an avid online presence establishes legitimacy.

Your website is a storefront for you, and often the only storefront customers familiarize themselves with when interacting with your field service business. Like any store, you want to make sure it is clean, presentable, and actively maintained. If you don’t, you might send potential customers running for the hills (and to your competitors)! Use your blog to show your knowledge on the field and angle your business as an expert and market leader in your field service industry.

Social media can be used to create a company voice, share company culture, and send out awesome deals. This all makes your business “real” and personable. Let your business’ personality shine through! Be fun and unique to get people to choose your field service company over your competitors.

Your Technicians

It is likely that your technicians conduct the only face-to-face interactions your customers get to have with you field service company. Do not take the importance of this lightly! If your customers do not trust your technicians, they won’t trust your company. That means your competition will take what was already in your pocket.

At the very least, practicing honest business when it comes to pricing and service will establish a baseline of trust between your business and your customers. You can add to this by following up with your customers after a job is completed. Transparency is a wonderful tactic for establishing trust. Email your customers directly through your field service management software after each job with an overview of the job and pictures detailing what your crew did. Service that follows through is service that will get people to choose your field service company over your competitors!

DID YOU KNOW?

You can email your customers from Smart Service and iFleet letting them know you’re on your way to their location!

Your Customers

Word of mouth is possibly the oldest form of marketing. People tend to trust those they know, so recommendations from your customers can very well mean more leads for your field service business. While this giant game of “telephone” is all good and fun, modern changes in technology (hello smartphones) and the way people receive information (hello internet) means the game has changed as well.

The rules of the game, however, remain the same. While it’s no longer solely friends and family that relay reviews of your company, reviews are still heeded. Online reviews have taken over the way we shop for goods and services. Your field service company is no different. Websites like Yelp and Google provide an endless supply of experiences that new consumers can use in their purchasing decisions. So don’t forget to ask your customers to rate you online if they are happy with your service!

Keep your eye on those reviews. You never know when you’ll gain (or lose!) a customer because of .2 stars on Yelp. While this thought is scary, you can use this to your advantage. Reviews as a whole are not fickle. Averages tend to be fairly representative, so your awesome service will not go unnoticed. Schedule a time every week to see what reviews people are leaving you! If they are bad, see what you can do to fix the issue; sometimes customers can improve or delete their negative rating after a commendable follow-up. Similarly, create a system (like an email blast to customers you serviced in a given week) to regularly solicit positive reviews from your customers.

Accessibility

Making yourself as accessible as possible is important if you want to set your field service company as a better choice than competitors. After all, if your customers can’t find you, you’re not even in the running with your competition. Accessibility, while still tied into the old school concepts of proximity and convenience, also includes the less-obvious-but-arguably-more-important factor of visibility.

Convenience

When choosing between your field service business and a competitor, convenience is certainly a deciding factor. This can include proximity, availability, and even available payment methods.

Proximity is a difficult factor to accommodate. You can only travel so far before servicing a customer ends up becoming a loss for your field service company. However, you can always have a special mileage fee for people who live out of the area. Some neighboring businesses even do trades, referring certain customers to each other if they are too far to service in-house. Friendly competitors are the best kind of competitors, aren’t they?

Most people have busy schedules with little leeway when it comes to appointments. Because people often wait until something goes wrong before calling you (we all know the type), emergency appointments need to be done now and only now. If you use a smart scheduler, you can find out exactly where you have openings, so you can fit in as many appointments as possible without worrying that you’ve accidentally double booked someone. If you have to cancel or reschedule, you’re increasing the chance of that customer turning to another company who can perform the service sooner.

Remaining open to different payment methods is necessary when running a modern-day field service business. No, we’re not talking about trading a maintenance service for some chicken eggs! Accept on-site card payments, cash, check, and—heck—even money transfer apps like Venmo or Paypal. The key is to be available and make payments as easy as possible for the customer.

Visibility

Did you know that according to psychology, the more visible you are, the more people like you? Being on the minds of customers will increase the chance of them choosing your field service company over your competitors. This visibility can be achieved with traditional and nontraditional advertising.

Traditional advertising includes email marketing, commercials, billboards, wrapped vehicles, and more. Nontraditional is a little bit trickier. Filling your website and blog with SEO and social media content will bring more people to your website, where you can easily advertise your field service business, spending next to nothing out of pocket. It is also important to have an online presence so you are available when your customers search for a field service company to hire. If they can’t find you, they can’t hire you. Don’t give customers a reason to choose your competition over you!

Whether you go with traditional or nontraditional advertising (or preferably both!), be sure to maintain a consistent voice and presence. The goal is to be recognizable and available. So stay funny and keep up with it too! Posting intermittently will not do much in terms of gaining new field service leads.

The Deal

We all know that money talks. Whether that be in regards to you choosing an awesome field service software or your customers choosing an awesome field service company, sometimes it can come down to the numbers. However, just because it may be down to the digits, it doesn’t mean that numbers are all that counts. In addition to low prices, packages and unique products can also help seal a deal.

Having lower prices than your competitors is always an advantage, but when you have mouths to feed and your employees’ pockets to fill, dramatically undercutting your competitors isn’t always an option. However, low prices are not the only option when it comes to sealing the deal. Package deals can help lower overall costs for customers while you increase profits for your field service business. Field service packages can include multiple services in a single package for a discounted price, or even a recurring service membership.

Your field service company could even offer a unique service or product. If there is a market for that product or service and your business is the only one who offers it, you have more room to charge what you would like for that. If you’re the only HVAC company in the area that offers smart system setup, that is a feature you would want to accentuate. You could even throw in an Amazon Alexa to incentivize the package further! Being the only one in the market for a unique (and wanted) product or service eliminates the decision making for your customers as there is no competition.

Conclusion

When people choose your field service company, that means they are choosing you over somebody else. Understanding what factors into that decision making process allows you to step higher than your competitors and increase your field service business profits. Through establishing trust, increasing accessibility, and strategizing your prices, you can leave your competitors biting dust and help people choose your field service company over theirs.


Why HVAC Training for Veterans Makes Sense

On April 18th, 2018 by

Military service is a path taken by around 7.3% of Americans. While some are unsure of where a military career will lead them, all know that it will help shape and guide them even after their service ends. While military careers can span a lifetime for some, others use them as a starting point for future civilian careers.

Joshua Stevens, the lead technician at Sears Heating and Cooling, didn’t always know HVAC was what he wanted to do. He first became introduced to the concept of the trade when he worked on aircraft electrical and environmental systems as an Airman in the Air Force. “The Air Force gave me where I was going to go in life,” Joshua recounts of his time in the military.

The military can function as a place to discover pathways and also as a place to develop marketable skills. Many skills gained through training are transferable and highly sought by HVAC and other field service industries. In the military, veterans learn disciplinary, leadership, and technical skills that provide a good foundation for learning HVAC. HVAC is already a very mechanical and technical field, but with growing advancements in HVAC technology and the rise of HVAC business software, it is important that new hires be able to keep up. Businesses like knowing that their new hires are going to be able to handle the work and apply it; a military background helps them meet these expectations.

Finding jobs can be tough enough in a vacuum. For those who have been out of the civilian job market for a while, the act of job seeking can seem even trickier! Some seek out HVAC as a post-military career because it offers job placement immediacy in a way that other fields cannot. While many careers require years of education or prior experience in order to yield a livable salary, an HVAC technician average salary is around $20 an hour.

HVAC training for veterans can be found through many different avenues. Many HVAC businesses offer apprentice learning positions so veterans can start earning money immediately. With the GI Bill, veterans can even pursue further education for free while working in HVAC. And who doesn’t like a two for one deal?

“I knew I didn’t want to get a four year degree. I wanted to work with my hands so I really jumped on indoor air quality.”

 

After service, some veterans can find it difficult to transition from military to civilian life. This comes as no surprise; office work can seem very monotonous when compared to the hands-on, adventurous work of military life. Who cares about water cooler chit-chat and paper supplies after you’ve dealt with life and death situations for years?! Many veterans find that HVAC provides an easy transition because it maintains a level of physical and mental stimulus akin to military work. Joshua’s experience was similar. When he finished with the Air Force, sitting down all day was not an appealing choice. “I knew I didn’t want to get a four year degree. I wanted to work with my hands so I really jumped on indoor air quality.”

The HVAC industry also offers an ample supply of open jobs. With baby boomers retiring from the field and not enough people filling those open spots, HVAC businesses are desperately looking for people with interest in heating and cooling. Advances like HVAC business software have helped optimize business operations, but there is still a great need for HVAC technicians. The need for HVACR mechanics and installers is expected to increase by 5.5% a year moving forward!

HVAC training for veterans can result in more than just economic benefits. It can be very rewarding to see a direct positive impact made in the lives of clients through HVAC work. “I didn’t expect the kindness and the relationships I built through work,” Joshua remarks. “Seeing the small things make a difference with customers. I get to help customers improve their lives with the knowledge I have.”

“Get into it, educate yourself, and be the best you can by bettering people’s lives.”

 

In life, sometimes the twists and turns lead you where you need to go. For Joshua, the approach he takes in working in HVAC isn’t all that different from the Air Force. “Get into it, educate yourself, and be the best you can by bettering people’s lives.”

And the best part about working in HVAC? Joshua says it’s the amount of dogs he gets to see every day.


4 Ways Chimney Sweep Software Can Boost Offseason Sales

On April 11th, 2018 by

While springtime can offer a relaxing break from the fall and winter chimney sweeping madness, it can be difficult to adjust to the slower business associated with this time of year. Your customers won’t likely use their fireplace again until late fall, so to them, chimney work can be out of sight and out of mind. Without the pressure of looming cold months, your customers will probably focus on spring cleaning instead. Fortunately, chimney sweep software offers a solution that can help you gain visibility during the warmer months, maximize your profits, and generate leads to give your winter sales a run for their money.

1. Scheduling Chimney Sweep Jobs More Efficiently

Spreading out jobs on your schedule is a good way to ensure regular cash flow rather than small bursts of it. Irregular business during the warmer months can be tough for your wallet. It can be difficult to pay your employees and yourself when your business only has moments of spectacular highs and desolate lows.

Scheduling software like Smart Service allows you to look at your schedule as a whole, giving you a chance to better space out your jobs. You can even schedule similar jobs or jobs in close physical proximity to each other on the same day to maximize your efficiency.

2. Email Marketing for Chimney Sweeps

When reaching out to customers and leads, it can be tough to reach the groups you want to target all at once. Putting together an email list by hand is difficult and painstaking. With new clients signing up and lists changing every day, it’s no wonder email marketing efforts for your chimney sweep business always get pushed to the backburner!

The marketing features in Smart Service use your QuickBooks customer information to isolate emails by job type or other user-defined fields. That way you can target specific groups in springtime email campaigns!

Reach out to customers that need repairs. The winter weather probably made it difficult to schedule a few specific repair jobs, but now spring is here! This is the perfect time (with ample sunshine and warmth) to get masonry jobs done.

Springtime discounts can help boost sales in your offseason, but only if your customers know about them! People don’t like to get work done unless they absolutely have to get it done. This is why they typically do it right before the holidays, right when it gets cold. Discounts with a specific deadline provide an incentive to order chimney services earlier, giving customers the same sense of urgency that inspires sales when winter approaches. Letting your customers know about sales through email marketing is an easy and effective way to get the word out. Title the email with something fun like “Chim Chim Chu-hurry! This springtime special on chimney sweeping won’t last long!”

DID YOU KNOW?

You can create user-defined fields through Smart Service. Tags like “considering scheduled maintenance” or “considering masonry work” can help isolate groups of customers or leads for future targeted email marketing campaigns!

3. Optimized Routing Between Chimney Sweep Jobs

A large part of your chimney sweep business expenses go towards gas and mileage to get your team to and from jobs. This cost is inevitable when you run a field service business. However, optimizing your service routes allows your team to save time, preventing you from zigzagging all across town.

Whether it’s cold or warm outside, you should let your schedule work for you. Since cutting down on costs is especially important during the slower months, saving time and money should be prioritized during the offseason.

With Smart Service chimney sweep software, you can make your job routes more efficient in two ways. Use the color-coded schedule to to assign jobs in the same area to a particular day and chimney sweep. Then, take this one step further by creating an optimized driving route through Smart Routes, reducing drive time!

4. Generate Easy Chimney Sweeping Quotes

Offering free quotes is a good way to attract leads and seal deals during the chimney sweep offseason. You might normally charge for estimates when chimney services are in high demand, but foregoing this fee in the offseason can encourage new business on an otherwise slow stretch of schedule. Creating quotes in the office or on the job is easier than ever with Smart Service software for chimney sweeping. The softwareIt even incorporates the tax so that there’s no confusion when the bill comes.

Smart Service integration with QuickBooks also allows for other nifty pricing options. Springtime discounts can easily be incorporated into quotes and invoices without anyone having to individually reprice every single item. Discounts can be messy and cumbersome, but with software you can easily incorporate them in your workflow to give spring the “spring” it needs.

Conclusion

While the chimney sweeping offseason can be difficult for even the most successful of businesses, Smart Service chimney sweeping software offers solutions to help combat the driest of seasons. This software solution can generate leads, maintain a steady flow of business, and save you money, keeping even your offseason going strong.


Online Review Sites Are Killing the Service Industry: How Field Service Management Can Help

On April 6th, 2018 by

We’ve all done it. We’re in the market for something new or talking to our significant other about trying a new place for dinner Friday night. Rather than going in blind, or taking what feels like a risk, we turn to online review sites like Google or Yelp for feedback from other consumers.

While this can be helpful for buyers, for business owners, a few bad reviews can have seriously negative consequences. Consider this: 94 percent of people say that a poor review has convinced them to avoid a business. There are those who don’t believe that online reviews are legitimate, but that doesn’t stop the majority of consumers from trusting them, to the tune of 77 percent.

With so many people utilizing online review sites, it’s critical that businesses take them seriously and do their part to mitigate the risk of bad branding. This is true for every industry, including the service industry, which is taking a pretty big hit as of late.

As a business owner, outside of scouring the internet to try to respond to every bad review day in and day out, what options do you have to lessen the likelihood of them happening in the first place? Consider field service management (FSM) software.

When we take a look at the root of most bad reviews in the service industry, there are several areas that FSM software can address immediately.

Scheduling

Maintenance scheduling is one of the biggest complaints from customers. Customers take time off of work, wait around all day, only for the technician to show up late or not at all. Understandably, this is a huge frustration. The cause, however, is largely due to a communication issue between dispatcher and technician. Rather than dispatching via phone or at the office early in the morning, FSM software provides real-time scheduling that immediately lets a technician know when a job has been scheduled. It also lets dispatchers know exactly where a technician is at any time, and how much longer they’re expected to be at their current job. Additionally, it allows both dispatcher and technician to optimize their jobs by planning the best route between them.

Stronger Skills Match

As strong as your technicians are, some have better skill sets in certain areas than in others. Field service management software can use deep technician data to ensure that you send technicians to the jobs that match their expertise, and in turn, your customers get the best service possible for their particular problem.

Centralized Knowledge Base

Having access to a database at your fingertips that can immediately tell a technician whether or not they’ve serviced a client before, along with all relevant historical details, is a game changer. No more looking through old files or starting from scratch with a client. No more relaying information through several people or waiting for office personnel to call a technician back. Customer information stored in the field service management application or an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) tool is accessible immediately, providing faster and more thorough service to the customer.

Task Lists

Another complaint customers will often make is that a job wasn’t done well, was rushed, or that a technician seemed to have “cut some corners.” With field service management software, you can set up task lists for each type of job a technician will do. Before leaving a job, they will go through the task list to make sure each item has been completed. This list of tasks can be shared with both the home office to check technician quality and with customers for quality assurance.

Reporting

Business intelligence (BI) is everywhere now, and for good reason. Having data gives us a big picture overview of what’s going on, including the performance of our teams. FSM software allows you to generate reports so that you’ll be able to see trends in the performance of your technicians. Run reports that show where your technicians perform best and where there may be skills gaps and opportunities for additional training. Feed these reports into your HR software or performance management software to track individual technician training and certifications.

Customer Communication

Likely the one thing a customer most appreciates is communication. At the end of the day, they just want to know what’s going on. FSM software allows technicians and dispatchers to communicate with customers through customer alerts, and customers can communicate back with the company through consumer portals or mobile apps. This means fewer missed phone calls, less time away from work, and more appointments met throughout the day.

While we don’t have a lot of control over what people will say about us online, we can meet them where they are and minimize the risk of a bad review by ensuring we’re providing excellent service. Consider the use of FSM software that makes your service so good they can’t help but leave a five-star review.

Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.


Smart Service Appoints New COO (April Fools 2018)

On April 1st, 2018 by

Columbus, Ohio (April 1, 2018) — Smart Service, a scheduling software for field service businesses, announced today the appointment of Stella Stringfield as Chief Operating Officer. Stella is the first canine to ever be hired by Smart Service.

Previously a Smart Service contractor, Stella has always been an excellent source of employee morale, and we hope this will continue in her new leadership role. As a member of CEO Skip Stringfield’s immediate family, we are assured of Stella’s loyalty to Smart Service and its continued success.

From its creation over 20 years ago to its continued development today, Smart Service strives to remain on the forefront of innovation. This bold hiring choice speaks to the firm’s continued commitment to taking the steps necessary to deliver a terrific customer experience.

Benjamin Yackshaw, Marketing Manager at Smart Service, is excited about the new addition to the field service software company. “I think it’s great. I like Stella and think she’ll be great with the customers.”

For her part, Stella issued the following statement in accepting her new role:

Woof woof

Stella graduated Summa Cum Laude from Obedience School. Though colorblind, Stella has learned to overcome this shortcoming through hard work and a pawsitive attitude. When she isn’t retrieving sales for Smart Service, Stella likes chasing her tail and pulling April Fools pranks.