HVAC professionals around the country are most likely experiencing steady demand for their services. Despite the economic downturn of 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, people still require comfortably cooled and heated homes with optimum indoor air quality. To stay competitive and at the top of the industry, individual HVAC contractors and larger HVAC companies should consider hiring an answering service to improve their customer service and streamline the efficiency of their operations. Below, we offer an overview of the general growth trends within the HVAC industry. When then outline how hiring an independent answering service can help HVAC contractors exploit the opportunities that will arise from that growth.
Growth in the HVAC Industry
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technologies provide environmental comfort in homes and buildings through heating and air conditioning. They also improve indoor air quality through ventilation techniques that do not jeopardize the energy efficiency of homes. Just a generation or two ago, most homes were uninsulated and depended on energy-intensive wood or coal stoves for supplement heat. Temperatures within homes tended to fluctuate widely, depending on the outside climate.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and today the vast majority of homes have come to expect artificially cooled, heated, and ventilated homes as a requisite for basic levels of comfort. Homeowners have become so accustomed to HVAC technology that today almost half of home energy expenditures stem from the heating and cooling of our interior spaces.
This almost universal adoption of heating and air conditioning has led to continued and solid growth within the HVAC industry. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, “employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029… Commercial and residential building construction is expected to drive employment growth, and job opportunities for HVACR technicians are expected to be good.”
Furthermore, the HVAC industry in the United States alone employed over 528,000 workers and generated $96 billion dollars in revenue. Despite the economic crisis of 2020 (and most likely carrying over into 2021), the HVAC industry should remain relatively stable. Heating and air conditioning is considered a primary expense by most families, and when emergencies arise, most people have no choice but to invest in repairs or new HVAC equipment.
Also, continued government energy efficiency incentives and programs should also continue to drive growth within the industry and are projected to benefit industry operators. The Federal HVAC Tax Credit is available for any new equipment purchased and installed between 2018 and 2020, and will most likely be renewed for the coming years. Energy efficiency gains in furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners, ERVs/HRVs, and other HVAC technology will also continue to push the market forward as consumers seek to update to more environmentally friendly, efficient, and cost-effective technologies.
Increased Competitiveness in the HVAC Industry
All of these growth factors within the industry might certainly seem like good news for HVAC professionals, contractors, and businesses. However, the better the market, the more competition there is going to be. Transparency Market Research reports that “competition in the global HVAC equipment market has reached unprecedented levels with the major market players working overtime to invent better business strategies.” Similar competition should be expected for HVAC installers as well, as larger market players attempt to eliminate smaller players.
There are well over 105,000 HVAC providers scattered across the United States. In most cities and towns, several heating, ventilation, and air conditioning companies will service the same area or region. While some homeowners might use online contractor directories to search for the most reputable HVAC companies, most people will simply flip through the Yellow Pages or revert to a quick Google search to find an HVAC company that can offer them quick and professional service. Excellent customer service, then, is one of the best strategies to help small and medium-sized HVAC professionals increase their customer base.
The Importance of Customer Service in Growing an HVAC Business
Despite the growing importance of social media, and the internet in general, customer service surveys have found that most people continue to prefer interacting with businesses via the phone. One recent poll found that upwards of 60 percent of customers preferred to communicate with small businesses by phone. Similarly, additional surveys have found that almost two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents would switch to a company that offered text messaging as a communication channel.
For busy, independent HVAC contractors, however, responding to dozens of phones and text messages will most likely be extremely time-consuming and take away from other important business priorities. Answering phone calls is certainly not conducive when traveling to client´s homes or installing ventilation ducts in a hard-to-access attic. Hiring a private secretary or receptionist will add a significant expense to your payroll, and might not be financially feasible for many small companies. Independent, third-party answering services, on the other hand, offer the benefits of improved customer service at a fraction of the price.
Advantages of Hiring an Answering Service for HVAC Companies
Answering services can ensure that your phones are answered throughout the day and night, thus guaranteeing that your customers’ needs are met and questions are satisfied. Because it is impossible to know when a central furnace might suddenly decide to break down, HVAC companies generally tend to operate as 24/7 businesses. Instead of staying “on-call” throughout the night, answering service can also efficiently be available to both new and existing customers around the clock.
Other advantages of hiring an answering service include:
Appointment Scheduling: The best answering services will not only be able to answer your customers´ questions but can also schedule appointments for future dates. The use of customer relationship management (CRM) tools will allow the answering service to sync with your existing scheduling software for seamless integration.
After-Hours Answering Service: Another benefit is that answering services will be able to respond to your customer calls at all hours of the day and night. Not only will this increase your customer base, but trained phone personnel will be able to tell when a customer complaint or situation is a true emergency. Instead of being called to a client´s home at midnight because they don´t know how to operate their new smart thermostat, an answering service will only contact you in moments of a true emergency.
Message Delivery Options: Lastly, the best answering services will also have various options for how they receive and translate messages to you and your team. Answering services such as those provided by Hartley & Associates will be able to diligently screen and vet your client messages and relay them to the delegated members of your team.
The installation of a new central air conditioning system generally costs between $5,000 and $8,500. By missing just a few customers calls each day, your HVAC business could be missing out on tens of thousands of dollars of revenue. Hiring an independent answering service is one of the most efficient and cost-effective strategies to never again miss out on an opportunity to grow your customer base while simultaneously improving your customer service.