Most businesses can provide really good customer service when the conditions are perfect. If a business can’t accomplish this, they best close up shop.

In the HVAC contracting world, this equates to the shoulder seasons. You know, when it’s not too hot or too cold in your area of the country. As the phones stop ringing at a rapid pace, it should be a lot easier to make sure each caller gets a great experience. This, of course, changes in the frigid Michigan winter or scorching Arizona summer.

Those are the times where the truly great contractors rise to the top by providing that same type of service to the floods of homeowners calling the business. Another such time is when a natural disaster hits.

I had the privilege of talking with HVAC contractor Tom Caprio of Florida Cool Inc. in Naples, Florida, recently and he shared how his company weathered the storm of Hurricane Irma in September. Caprio’s business had emergency plans for just this type of situation, so they were in position to prosper while most companies were just trying to dig out.

After the hurricane hit, Caprio came into the office the next day to assess the damage. He found the building still in good condition with the phone and internet working. The only thing they did not have was electricity, which was quickly rectified with a generator.

And, with that, it was time to get to work.

“We just started going, and our phones rang like crazy,” Caprio said. “The second day, a few technicians showed up, and, the following day, a few more showed up. We had a process going. Everyone who called in was very impressed.”

He is quick to point out that he did not force the technicians to come back to work so quickly.

“I left the policy at ‘if you can make it, come on in. If you can’t, we understand, and what can we do to help?’” Caprio said. “The employees wanted to come in because we have a great team atmosphere. My commitment has always been to my customers because, without them, there is no business.”

This went on for about three weeks with the phones ringing off the hook and Florida Cool taking care of them. Caprio said a lot of companies were forming out of thin air to make a quick buck, and others were misdiagnosing problems to make even more money.

As with any good contractor, homeowners with maintenance agreements got top priority. Homeowners that were already his customers got moved to the front of the line. You can be sure that will be a strong selling point when his employees are out selling maintenance agreements in the next couple of months.

Accomplishing all this was no easy task. There were long hours, and tasks like removing the down trees in Caprio’s own yard had to take a back seat to the customers calling his company in their time of need.

The question is, how many contractors would be up for that challenge? If you are going to be, you better have a plan in place before the emergency hits.

It was no surprise that Caprio rose to the challenge. He has been putting the customer first for years now. There is a legendary story that all new employees inevitably hear about the time a customer called at midnight with a thermostat issue, and Caprio took the thermostat off the wall at his home to install for the customer.

“My wife couldn’t believe it,” he said.

Now, this is just one story about one contractor. I am sure more than a few contractors in Florida and Texas rose to the occasion to deliver for their customers in truly brutal conditions. As an HVAC contractor, make sure you are prepared to respond in a similar way, planning accordingly for your area of the country

Publication date: 12/4/2017

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