There are 50,000 HVAC companies in the United States and the huge majority of the successful ones use a 3rd party answering service. With this, they assertively serve their customers, their potential customers, and their staff, 24/7/365.
These robust, profitable enterprises have other easy-to-measure traits too, such as an established physical office, trained long-term professional staff, and documented procedures and protocols. They have workers-comp for their employees, they don’t take cash from customers, and they have backup personnel for their critical staff positions, both inside and outside. There is ongoing training. There is a solid succession plan for top leadership. The owner of the company is not in the field doing the work.
And these successful companies almost always have low debt as they consistently show a great bottom line.
They’re growing too, with the owner thoughtfully and assertively doing what needs to be done do make that happen; to keep the wheels spinning fast and int he right direction.
But back to the question of an outside answering service. The “mom-and pop,” operation often has a key person (or two) who takes after-hours customer calls at home and then attends to the customer problems personally. Often this is the owner or a key management person.
It’s a shaky way to go. Will the customer or potential customer actually reach someone after-hours? Here’s the problem, posed as a question: can an employee – or an owner for that matter – really be 100% effective when they work all day and then must attend to after-hours customer calls?
Oh, but there are a lot of HVAC operations just like that! They typically have just a small staff, and they are not growing. Each is a seat-of-the pants, fire-killing enterprise…and the owner, typically a man, is usually quite proud of his fire-killing skills both during the day and after-hours. A master of the universe; a Renaissance man (or yes, woman) who can do it ALL…and as a result there’s no room to think about growth. And, for these hard workers, business and personal life are bedraggled, on the defense. And so it’s typical that after-hours calls too often go to dead-end voice mail.
Of course, customers will deal with this if they have no choice but, to say it politely, an unanswered phone, during or after-hours, is not an “optimal strategy for success.”
And, word gets around. People go elsewhere when they have a problem, and so do their friends…
One of the first steps for moving a struggling HVAC operation into the ranks of the successful, is to get after-hours and overflow daytime traffic under perfect control, to attend to every single call that comes in, to capture new clients and keep existing ones, and this means using an outside answering service.
In a nutshell, here’s why:
- Call capture. If a potential new customer calls, they want to know the company is substantial. Any degree of flakiness (e.g., dead-end voice mail) in that first attempt at contact will drive them to the competition. Can this cost-of-lost business be measured? No, it can’t. The potential customer who ends up with another company after attempting to reach you is gone forever
- Current Customers are coddled. Regular customer-calls, whenever they come in, must be handled promptly and professionally by an actual human being,. If not? Word gets around…
- Preservation of home life for owner and staff. A high-quality answering service will, using the HVAC owner’s precise instructions, screen calls, separating the urgent from the non-urgent. Often, the answering service telephone representative will simply ask the caller, “is this an emergency?” and if it is, will then pass the call on to on-call personnel. When non-urgent issues can be quietly set aside until tomorrow, home-life gets better
- A chance to plan ahead. For the owner, there is room to relax, breathe, and think. The enemy of thoughtfulness is fire-killing. How can an owner calmly ponder and then execute the necessary steps for growth when there is a constant flow of interruptions day and night?
Employing an elite, high quality answering service is the first step to success for any smaller HVAC operation. Exactly where do you stand? Are you a fire-killer? Do your potential and current customers reach a human being every time they call, day or night? And especially telling,:is home life bedraggled?