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Preparing for High Traffic Service Season

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It’s to be expected that on the hottest day of summer or the coldest day of winter, you’ll get more service calls than on a mild weather day. As people’s units kick into high gear to deal with the demands of inclement weather, they will run into mechanical issues.

It is vital to keep up with the demands of emergency calls so that you can hopefully satisfy those callers and gain life-long customers. However, it can hard to stay on top of so many calls coming in at once. After all, manpower is limited. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do that will help you during this hectic time.

Have Backup on Call
Take a look at employees who used to work for you. Have any gone on to other careers or perhaps retired but might want the opportunity to work occasionally? These are your best bet for backup during those times when the work load is larger than your current staff can possibly handle.

Another option is to team up with a smaller company in the area that you find trustworthy. Of course, the danger with this method is that you also risk losing your customers to this other company.

“During high traffic times, we put every hand on deck,” said J.R. Davis of Davis Heating and Cooling. “This means that even the management might be out on service calls that day.”

Another idea for having the extra help you need during high traffic times involves taking on trainees/apprentices. Even though they might not be able to go on a call alone just yet, that extra set of hands can help the licensed HVAC technicians with the larger jobs.

Invest in Software
Make sure your software is up to date, but that any updates are completed well before peak times. Any upgrades in software should be so seamless that your staff and customers don’t notice a difference in service. A study conducted by Evolven found that downtime even on something as simple as a company blog can cost businesses big money.

The same is true for downtime on software used to schedule appointments or keep things running efficiently. Every minute lost trying to recover lost information or schedule things without the benefit of software that makes these tasks easier costs your company money and potential customer calls.

Make sure the software you invest in is scalable. If your call load suddenly increases by 50%, can the system easily handle the load? If not, then look into what you need to do to upgrade your software and systems so that you are ready for those peak times.

Hire Temp Help for the Office
Many HVAC companies have one or two people who answer the phones for the business. This might work very well on a typical day, but if the calls coming into your office suddenly increase, that might mean other tasks are put off or the phones aren’t answered in a timely manner. This can result in lost customers as they will simply call another HVAC company to service their problem.

Instead, if you know it is going to be extremely cold or hot in the next week or two, hire in some temporary help from an agency to help answering phones or doing other tasks that free up your own staff to answer the phones.

“The drawback with hiring in temporary workers is that they aren’t trained in your best business practices and customer service,” added Davis. Davis recommends bringing people in before you need them to make sure they are up to speed before the busy season hits. Otherwise, you should simply delegate simple tasks to them and let other employees, even management, answer the phones and be the direct line of service for your customers.

Prioritize Current Customers and Leads
It might sound a bit cold, but if you want your business to grow and have continued success, you may have to make some hard decisions about which leads to prioritize and which current customers to keep happiest.

Although focused on software, the ideas that the recurring revenue from your current customer base can make up a large amount of your annual revenue (as much as 75%) holds for many service industries. While your recurring revenue may not be quite that high, you definitely want to keep the customers who are loyal and give you repeat business.
However, you also need to look at incoming leads that are going to generate recurring revenue. For example, commercial contracts may bring in more annual revenue and ongoing business and referrals. If you get two leads and only have time to take one, choose the lead that has the potential to bring in more revenue over time.

Preparing for high traffic times in the HVAC world takes a lot of planning, some preparation, and understanding revenue margins. With a little forethought, you’re sure to pick up at least a few new clients who will help your business grow over time.

Lori Soard

Posted In: Management, Money

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