What do customers want from their HVAC company? It’s a challenging question, and the answers reveal a path to a more successful and customer-centric company. There are numerous articles written that offer consumers advice on choosing an HVAC company. In the simplest terms, wouldn’t it be possible to ‘reverse engineer’ that advice to provide a roadmap to guide HVAC companies in how to succeed?
Often, consumers’ concerns surround whether a company is a reputable and/or a well-managed business. Answering questions about basic requirements, such as insurance should be easy.
Another element of consumer-oriented advice on choosing an HVAC company is to find one that is qualified to do the job. For example, able to work on the specific type of equipment a consumer has, whether central air conditioning, humidifiers, heating sources, or whatever. From the perspective of the HVAC contractor, this advice points to a need for constant training and updating of skills related to various equipment types.
Customers may be looking for specialty service, specific to a certain type of equipment or type of installation
Consumers are also advised to seek out specialists in the work they need doing, whether a repair, a new installation or related to a specific type of equipment. Contractors must both understand their own strengths and weaknesses and be able to communicate them clearly to put customers at ease. Consumers will also be looking for contractors, who are experienced in repairing the brand or type of system they have.
Customers may be looking for specialty service, specific to a certain type of equipment or type of installation. Contractors should constantly evaluate their skills-sets, their strengths and weaknesses, and provide full transparency to enable customers to make the most informed decisions. Better to walk away from a job than to overextend or misrepresent a contractor’s skillset. Such overreach never ends well and can damage a contractor’s broader reputation.
Customers will also be looking to evaluate the size and stability of the HVAC company that they work with. HVAC contractors come in all sizes, of course, and the size of a company does not necessarily reflect on the quality of work. However, stability and a good reputation are essential, especially for a smaller company or one-man shop.
Consumers are often advised to ask for references, especially if dealing with a smaller contractor. HVAC businesses can be proactive in this regard by keeping references handy and even collecting customer testimonials to share with prospective customers.
Online reviews, hopefully all positive, are another element that can help to put prospective customers’ minds at ease. Ideally, if an HVAC contractor is doing a good job, positive reviews, testimonials and references will happen organically.
Consumers are often advised to ask for certifications to document an installer’s skillset, so keeping up with the related paperwork will ensure that a customer is comfortable with any contractor’s skill level.
Specific contractor license requirements vary by state and even at the local level
Specific contractor license requirements vary by state and even at the local level. Required license numbers should be displayed on websites and promotional materials, and most states have an online directory listing of licensed contractors. Be attentive to other requirements, too, such as the special EPA certifications required to use refrigerant.
Consumers expect their HVAC contractors to guide their buying decision, whether determining the correct size HVAC unit to serve a specific home size, analyzing flow rates, or recommending systems to meet specific needs.
Delivering on these expectations requires a delicate balance between simplicity and technical detail. The customer needs to be comfortable that the installer knows his stuff but does not want to be overwhelmed by arcane technical discussions or puzzling acronyms.
Best by far is to keep it simple (and be willing to provide additional detail – described in layman’s terms – if the customer has questions). Membership in local trade associations can provide additional credibility to a contractor, and provide additional sales and networking opportunities, too.
Warranties are another critical issue for consumers. Everyone offers manufacturers’ warranties, but there is an opportunity for HVAC contractors to offer even more, whether an extended warranty, inclusion of labor, as well as parts, work guarantee on repairs, and/or an extended maintenance contract.
Availability 24/7 could enable a contractor to take work away from a competitor
Customers should be warned that maintenance or repairs performed by an unqualified company may void the manufacturer warranty. Availability in an emergency or on short notice is another way HVAC companies can differentiate themselves among consumers. Availability 24/7 could enable a contractor to take work away from a competitor who is closed for the weekend.
Customer service also requires a personal touch, so an ability to communicate well with potential customers can generate extra business. Emphasize listening skills and make sure customers know they are being heard.
In all dealings with customers, be straightforward and honest in order to build long-term trust. To grow a successful HVAC business, prepare proactively to answer the questions customers are most likely to ask.