First of all, let’s talk about the “why” of having an after-hours answering service for your HVAC business. There are three primary reasons:

  1. So your clients can reach you quickly in an emergency
  2. So you can capture new business as it is sent to you via advertising, word of mouth, etc.
  3. To protect your privacy; so you have a life…

If, when your office is closed, the above can be accomplished in a professional way, without error and without hesitation on the part of the Telephone Answering Service Representative (TSR), then your answering service is a credit to your operation, and a money maker. If your answering service TSR’s don’t handle incoming calls properly…it can be a nightmare. (I know this for certain: I’ve owned an answering service for over 30 years, and 96% of our current HVAC clients have come to us from another answering service that failed to deliver. These clients were patient with their previous service, but ultimately found out that every time there was a “failure to deliver,” it meant money off the bottom line and demoralization of staff. So, they switched services.)

Having a “bad” answering service can be a nightmare for the owner, manager and staff of an HVAC. But having a quality service will do much to build the business and to reduce headaches.

The difference between the two scenarios — and I’m not exaggerating — is profound.

Here’s the thing: First, every single one of your incoming calls must be handled as if the Telephone Service Representative (TSR) is employed by you, offering the same degree of professionalism and empathy to your caller. Secondly, but certainly as important as how they talk to your callers, their messages must be delivered quickly and precisely. Of course, the essential element in the HVAC answering service message relay, and the place many answering services fail, is in delivering the urgent message immediately and efficiently.

Defining what is NOT an emergency is critical too, in order to spare your on-call people from issues that can be handled by your office staff during regular office hours.

Here’s something important to remember: A telephone answering service which charges a low price for their service cannot possibly pay TSR’s much more than minimum wage. In any business, minimum wage employees means less qualified people and chronic staff turnover. High quality simply can’t happen when the TSRs who take the calls and deliver the messages don’t stay in the same position long-term. It all has to do with staffing, training and quality. And, an answering service that charges rates much lower than industry leaders probably doesn’t have sufficient TSRs to answer your calls quickly. That means your callers can expect an average long wait before their call is taken. That, in itself, is a very bad thing…

There’s so much more, too, and the search for a quality telephone answering service can be daunting. It will take patience and thoroughness, but take the time. It will be worth it.Note: Centratel CEO and international business consultant Sam Carpenter has written extensively on the concepts of system improvement and the systems mindset. Centratel’s HVAC Answering Service assists hundreds of heating, ventilation and air conditioning businesses during and after-hours, throughout the United States and is, by a variety of statistics, the highest quality answering service available among the approximately 1,500 services nationwide.

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