A computer — I don’t even know how to turn one of those things on.

Remember hearing this from your mother, or perhaps your Aunt Mabel?

That ideology, for all intents and purposes, is extinct. Right? I mean, not only can my mother turn on a computer, she also maintains a Facebook page. Doesn’t yours?

If you plan on having any sort of success going forward, your operations will certainly be conducted before some type of screen. While there’s no need to re-enroll in collegiate courses on computer science, the ability to learn and utilize technology as a boon is certainly a crucial step in future contracting success. Because, let’s face it, while you may have inherited the business from your grandfather, this isn’t your grandfather’s business anymore.

HVAC 3.0

By utilizing new technology, every aspect of your job can probably be done more efficiently — and we all know that time is money.

More and more technicians are solving problems from the comfort of their iPads, Android tablets, or smartphones. Gone are the monstrous manuals and archaic pamphlets of yesteryear. Industry charts and slide rules are now accessible in the app stores. Technicians may navigate the process using digital invoices, credit card scanners, and estimating software. Zoning designs can be constructed in minutes — offering homeowners accurate labor and equipment estimates, as well as credible predictions on installation time.

Apps also allow contractors to micromanage every aspect of their fleet. Each vehicle can be scrutinized, as information detailing the route it took to get to a specific job, how many miles it traveled, how long it idled, etc. may now be relayed to the office in seconds. If you save 10 miles a day, every week, 365 days a year — or dispatch a technician already in the area to a nearby emergency — the savings is quite considerable.

More specific, complex solutions also exist in the cloud, including product specs, recommendations for replacement compressors, refrigerant pressure suggestions, combustion safety guidelines, refrigerant charge calculators, and more. Why waste valuable time flipping through pages of technical manuals or phone books when you can accurately search and solve problems in seconds?

Consumer Comfort

Apps benefit consumers as well. When shopping for a replacement, customers can research units and compare performance based on system size and efficiency, all likely to trigger a dialogue with a contractor, as they’ll likely have questions that need answering.

Technology also allows nearly all aspects of a thermostat to be monitored and maintained on a smart device. Through an Internet connection, homeowners can turn their residence’s heat up on their way home, disable air conditioners while on vacation, and compare monthly energy-use metrics.

In addition to using a smartphone to order a pizza and schedule a haircut, consumers may also arrange HVAC maintenance. Many apps allow customers to retain service history, and even receive alerts when it’s time to change a filter or clean ducts. Their phone beeps, they call you, and your techs are on their way. These reminders may also be sent to your team’s customer service representative, who can then call and remind the customer that work needs to be done. Does it get any easier?

And, don’t worry, you don’t have to be Mr. Wizard to decipher these programs. For many, you simply visit the app store, download the app, and, voila, you’re done. If you can surf the net, you can access these valuable tools — many of which are available for free. You should consider offering these free services to customers; it could be the deal maker that motivates a tech-savvy consumer to give your company a chance.

Being Social

Here at The NEWS, we’ve done our fair share of preaching about social media, and you can expect those sermons to continue, as the proof is evident. Social media offers you an opportunity to establish an identity with multiple demographics. The more you engage your customers, the better chance you have of scooping them up as lifelong clientele.

Numerous social media platforms exist (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, Instagram, FourSquare, etc.), offering various opportunities to interact with your audience, both in close proximity and those around the world. The majority of your customers are likely utilizing these programs to interact with friends and family, and advertising is quickly becoming a part of the equation. While the individuals seeing your Tweets or Facebook posts may not be paying the bills, their parents are. One clever tweet may be all it takes to hook a prospective customer, and it doesn’t cost anything. You may tell yourself that it’ll never work, but, until you give it a try, how will you ever know for sure?

Publication date: 9/9/2013

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