Preventative maintenance contracts are often the lifeblood of an HVAC business; getting clients to commit to anticipatory maintenance in the form of annual tune-ups also goes a long way in keeping equipment running longer and keeping clients happy. However, a quick Google search of local HVAC companies and their tune-up services will reveal no two companies seem to offer the same services as part of their inspections. For example, some companies may advertise a 15-point inspection, whereas others may boast a 21-point inspection.
What does all this mean? Not a whole lot, especially if a company’s HVAC technicians become complacent during these tune-up visits. And unfortunately, this is a common problem. It’s easy to get so accustomed to doing the same inspections repeatedly that these technicians may begin to overlook small details. Over time, these missed details can turn into major problems.
As an HVAC technician, of course you always want to provide your customers with the best service for their money. This perceived value is exactly what will keep your clients coming back time and time again, especially when they want to upgrade or replace a heating or cooling system. Considering this, then, there are some basic tips that HVAC technicians should keep in mind to ensure they’re performing the most thorough inspections and tune-ups possible.
The Importance of Thorough Tune-Up Visits
Inspections are one of the most routine things you’ll do as an HVAC technician, but it’s essential to understand that a thorough inspection should prevent you from needing to come back out for a service call anytime soon. When technicians get lazy with their inspections and tune-ups, they begin missing small problems that can turn into more expensive and involved repairs down the road. And of course, it reflects poorly on the company when a client needs to call you for an issue just a few days or even weeks after you performed a tune-up.
Setting Expectations with Your Client
The first step you should take when visiting a home for an HVAC inspection is to speak with the client one-on-one. Take some time to ask about how the unit has been operating and whether there are any issues that the client would like you to check out while you’re there.
Taking the time to ask about these things is important for a couple of reasons. For starters, it shows the client that you care enough to ask. Meanwhile, your client’s answers also help to set expectations for the tune-up appointment, letting you know what issues need to be addressed with them before you complete your visit. Once expectations are set, this also makes it easier to brainstorm some ways in which you can go “above and beyond” and exceed their expectations. This is what will keep your clients coming back time and time again for all their HVAC needs.
Commonly Overlooked Components
There are quite a few components that can become easily overlooked by HVAC technicians on these visits. One of the most common is that of drainage, especially for residential clients with heat pumps. However, you must check for signs of drain clogs on every one of these visits, as drainage issues can lead to costly water damage that the company (or you) will be on the hook for.
Smaller parts, such as split coils, can also be easily overlooked because they need to be carefully taken apart to be cleaned appropriately. This can be both time consuming and cumbersome, but it’s an important step that should be part of your inspection. The same applies to checking all capacitors, electrical connections, and the like. The last thing you want is to need to be called back out to the same property a few days later because of an issue you could have prevented with a more thorough inspection.
When you’re visiting a new client’s home, it’s also a good idea to check the thermostat to ensure that all readings are accurate. Often times, when something is “off,” the issue is something as simple as a bad seal or a loose wire. However, taking the time to check and fix these small issues will show the client that you’re leaving no stone unturned. This, in turn, gives them a greater sense of perceived value with your service.
Performing a capacity check can also be a great way to show clients first-hand how much your tune-ups are improving their heating or cooling units’ overall efficiency. A capacity check does take some time to complete, but these provide valuable “before and after” snapshots of the unit’s efficiency. After you’ve completed your tune-up, being able to show your client that their unit is running more efficiently makes them feel good about continuing to schedule preventative maintenance services. And of course, clients will enjoy the added value of knowing that they’ll be receiving a slightly lower energy bill due to this improved efficiency.
Respecting the Client’s Home
Another important aspect of keeping customers happy on any service call, including tune-ups, is simply being respectful of your clients’ homes. This means always taking the time to put shoe covers on and clean up around your work area when you’re done. Whenever possible, think about how you can go one step further before leaving a client’s home. At the very least, wipe down and dust your work area and hose down outdoor condenser units. This doesn’t take much in the way of time or effort, but it’s something your clients will certainly notice and appreciate (especially when you consider that these areas have likely been collecting dust for at least the past year).
If you really want to “wow” a client, take a few moments to wax the unit before leaving. This is another thing that your clients will definitely notice and appreciate.
Preventing Property Damage and More
One of the worst outcomes of any service appointment is accidental damage to a client’s property. Many things can cause property damage, with drain backups being among the most common. This is why it’s so important to be thorough in your inspections because you will likely be on-the-hook for any damage that may occur to the property due to negligence or complacency.
For example, if a heat pump drain backs up a few days after your tune-up visit because you failed to clear out a clog, the homeowner may end up with hundreds or even thousands of dollars in property damage that will need to be remedied. Meanwhile, the emotional toll that this kind of incident takes on a client can affect their relationship with the company. This may be especially true in instances where a family heirloom or other irreplaceable item has been damaged.
The Bottom Line
When you’re performing multiple HVAC inspections and tune-ups each day, it’s easy to fall into a routine that encourages complacency — whether you realize it or not. This is why it’s so important to follow your company’s specific checklist for each appointment every time. This will ensure that you don’t miss and overlook any items that could come back to haunt you later on.
Meanwhile, getting feedback from your clients and taking measures to go above and beyond their expectations will help you retain repeat service contracts, keeping business booming. Ultimately, the goal of a thorough tune-up should be to maximize the unit’s efficiency and prevent the client from needing any service calls for the remainder of the season. This keeps the client happy, improves their perceived value in your company’s services, and increases their chances of trusting you with their next HVAC upgrade or replacement project.