HVAC Contracting — There’s an App for That
Apps save contractors time and energy while increasing communication on all fronts
Chances are you’ve heard the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” That’s because, there is. Or there will be in the near future.
Need a babysitter? Check out the Sittercity app. Want food from your favorite restaurant, but it doesn’t deliver? Grubhub delivers. Horrible with directions and reading maps? Waze will get you there. There are apps designed for nearly everything a consumer could possibly want.
That’s why the HVAC industry is turning to apps. Currently, apps are mostly utilized by HVAC contractors for customer information and technical support. However, there are several apps available that can streamline the job and, in turn, increase the bottom line.
The NEWS spoke to a few contractors to find out what apps they’re using to save time and energy and to increase communication on all fronts.
CRAFTING A CUSTOMER CONNECTION
It’s not always easy to make the sale. Maybe new technology is a little too pricey. Perhaps the customers can’t visualize the product you’re trying to sell in their home. Or, maybe they just purchased something similar a few months ago. With an app that provides the technician with the tools to show the customer all of this and more, it makes communicating with and selling to the customer that much easier.
ESC Mobile Tech works anytime, anywhere with ESC software to access critical work order information, customer data, and more from a tablet or smartphone. Rich Morgan, CEO, Magic Touch Mechanical Inc., Mesa, Arizona, uses the mobile application as part of the company’s content management system (CMS) software.
“The ESC Mobile app allows our technicians to review all of the clients’ service and installation history, previous repairs, and view if they are a maintenance agreement holder and, if so, what level plan they have,” said Morgan. “Having the customer and equipment history helps tell the story of what technicians have found or noted on previous visits and allows us to deliver a better customer service experience.
“It also allows technicians to capture a customer signature, payment, etc.,” he added.
Bryan Beitler, vice president and chief engineer, Source Refrigeration & HVAC, Anaheim, California, said his company utilizes two apps for sales purposes.
“Our sales team utilizes Salesforce, and our dispatch call center uses Wennsoft,” said Beitler.
Salesforce allows the sales person or technician to log, manage, and analyze all customer activity in one place. Also, the user can monitor everything from sales leads to support tickets and channel marketing to website analytics.
Wennsoft, now called KEY2ACT, is field service management software and an app that allows users to access field service information, such as work orders, dispatch schedules, service estimates, etc., and it can also help with asset and fleet management.
The team at Welsch Heating & Cooling Co., St. Louis, uses Quick Sale, an app they modified in-house to use for their sales needs.
“The app allows us to prepare an invoice or bid and to review inventory right at the customer’s table,” said Butch Welsch, owner, Welsch Heating & Cooling. “Also, it allows us to send emails directly to the customer at the time of the appointment. Lastly, it also stores every bid or proposal generated by the salesman.”
Richard Glowacki II, director of energy management services, HVACR division, City Facilities Management LLC, Burlington, Massachusetts, increases customer communication through an app called Survey Tool.
“It’s a configurable app which allows customers to use City’s field workforce to collect different types of information about their sites or for City to collect information relevant to improving the services it provides to its customers,” he said. “Using this app, our real-time reporting commitments to our customers are met.”
TRACKING AND TECHNICAL SHORTCUTS
Let’s face it — tracking is one of the biggest hurdles every HVACR business faces, especially in companies with a large staff and fleet. Therefore, contractors are looking to save time when searching for or ordering parts. There are apps that make the process easier, so your technicians can get the job done faster.
While out in the field, if a technician needs to stop by the hardware store to purchase supplies, he or she can track their purchases in real-time using the American Express app. That way, a contractor can see exactly what the technician bought and when.
“The American Express app allows crews to take pictures of receipts and match to purchases in real time,” said Elizabeth Gerber, general manager, Professional HVACR Services Inc., Avon Lake, Ohio.
The techs also use the WEX Telematics app to track their fleet.
“Telematics allows us to internally set up notifications based on mileage and vehicle history to keep up to date on our maintenance,” said Gerber.
Using My Jobs, an app City Facilities Management developed through its in-house service management system called Mercury, a technician can manage all work assigned to them.
“My Jobs is an app that facilitates the scheduling, updating, parts ordering, and general management of all work assigned to a technician,” said Glowacki. “Aside from having all of the information about a fault at hand, the technician can use the My Jobs app to order parts, update statuses, make requests for additional assistance, or manage a quotation process where work exceeds pre-agreed delegated authority limits. This reduces the time a technician would normally spend speaking to different departments, thereby increasing their overall efficiency and repair times for our customers.”
Troubleshooting and tech support have never been easier now that there are apps to facilitate communication.
“The GoTo SeeIt app allows technicians, installation crews, and sales people to send live streaming video of a job site, equipment, etc. to our in-house tech support, some manufacturer tech support representatives, and other technicians,” said Morgan. “The support representative can annotate with text, arrow, circles, etc., which appears on the technician’s screen in real time. It is the equivalent of having a technical support representative looking over a technician’s shoulder or possibly allows a salesman to better communicate job site conditions that pictures may not show.”
“The Super Cool HVAC app has lots of good stuff for troubleshooting,” said Jacob Lindsey, service manager, Hunter Heat & Air LLC, Ardmore, Oklahoma.
The Super Cool HVAC app provides solutions to the diagnostic issues. It provides the user with an interactive experience, possible solutions, on-screen instructions, and guides the technician through each step of repair work.
These are just a few of the apps available to contractors today.
From inventory management to customer history to troubleshooting — pretty much whatever the situation — there is an app for that.
“By 2020, mobile apps are forecast to generate around 189 billion U.S. dollars in revenues via app stores and in-app advertising,” according to statista.com, the statistics portal.
So, if you haven’t already joined the future of HVACR contracting, consider visiting the App Store to download and try some of the new technology designed to transform the way contractors do business today.
Publication date: 1/15/2017