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HVAC Contractors – Angie’s List is Now Free

Review site Angie’s List recently removed their paywall for customers, allowing homeowners and others seeking maintenance or repair services to freely access the site’s reviews. The site announced the paywall removal in March 2016 and recently opened up the reviews to the general public; in the past, a member had to pay a $40 annual fee to access reviews. This change will impact far more than just consumers; it will have a significant effect on the way service providers market their businesses and manage their online reputations. Read more

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Certification Speaks Volumes

 

CERTIFICATION SPEAKS VOLUMES Whether you are an HVAC manager, engineer, technician, or contractor, the little letters that follow your name could make a huge difference in how you are viewed by your customers! When you study for and earn credentials in your particular line of work, you are demonstrating much more than you might think. Being certified in one or more areas sets you apart from those just passing through your field. It also speaks volumes about your:

• Dedication.

• Determination.

• Expertise.

• Interests.

• Passion.

• Professionalism.

• Skills.

• Technical knowledge.

• Training.

If you view HVAC as your career-of-choice, proudly display your designations after your name. They will tell the world a lot about who you are! Here are some HVAC Certification programs and licensing requirements by state: http://www.hvacclasses.org/certification

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How to Design a Communications Plan?

Regardless of the industry—including HVAC—the components of good public relations and communication campaigns are similar. Just as is true in achieving your mission and bringing your vision to reality, you cannot expect to reach your communications goals unless you and your team have a clear picture or plan for doing so.

Designing your plan is like building with blocks, one layer at a time. So let’s take a look at the blocks you can use to build your communications plan and get it all down in writing:

 Goal

 Audience/Target Markets

 Objectives

 Strategies & Key Messages

 Communications Conduits

o Company Website

o E-mail

o Social Media

o Media (radio, TV, print)

 Implementation Tactics & Tools

o Events

o Sponsorships

o Speeches

o Networking

o Lunch & Learns

o Monthly or Quarterly Newsletter

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What are Your Key Messages?

If you’ve never thought about this question, now is the time start! Identifying, repeating, promoting, and publicizing your key messages is extremely important to achieving your organization’s mission.

Not only should business owners and managers deliver your key messages in every interaction, but also everyone in the company should have a clear understanding of exactly what they are.

Case in point: If your HVAC business has a penchant for keeping up with technology and you want customers to know about your many high-tech products, how might you craft a message that relates this to your target audiences? Perhaps it would be something like, “Our company leads the way by understanding and providing cutting-edge smart products that will make your life easier and save time, money, and energy.”

Not only does this message alert customers to the availability of these special products through your company, but it also positions you as ahead of the crowd (leads the way), knowledgeable (understanding), customer-focused (makes your life easier), and efficiency-conscious (saves time, money, and energy).

By carefully crafting your messages, you can say a lot about what and who you are in just a few words. When you follow this process—based on concepts, issues, and values that mean the most to you—the results in your bottom line may astound you.

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Making Social Media Work for You

Over recent years, social media has become increasingly popular, not only in social circles, but also as an integral component of business marketing. Today, even presidential hopefuls use it as a way to get their messages out! Exactly, what is social media? If you Google the term, you’ll find almost countless definitions. In short, social media connects people through online communications. This may take place through such sites and apps as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In addition, some people consider all electronic media, such as blogs like this one and even company websites to be social media components. In spite of how you define this relatively new trend, it is definitely here to stay, and not just for 20-somethings and younger. Businesses of all sizes in all industries are regularly using social media to connect with their current and potential customers. In the HVAC industry, social media is an excellent way to keep your business top-of-mind in regard to such things as trends, what’s new on the market, and tips for more efficient and effective troubleshooting. If you want to build a leading-edge marketing program, don’t omit this important tool!

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Get to Know Your Customers

The most important thing in any organization’s success is the relationship it builds with customers.
Do your customers return to your company time and time again, even when there are plenty of other HVAC businesses that could fill their needs? If so, it’s likely because they feel connected in some way. This connection (or relationship) likely depends on the customer’s feelings of familiarity, satisfaction, trust, loyalty, and even convenience. Given this assumption, what might you do to ensure that your customers’ experiences and interactions lead to positive feelings about your HVAC company?
Here are several ways to build relationships that create true customer loyalty:
• Adopt a companywide “Customers First” philosophy, and publicize it as often as possible
• Truly LISTEN to what your customers have to say
• Devote the time and energy required to effectively solve all issues and problems customers encounter
• Survey your customers to find out what they like and don’t like about your company
• Provide opportunities for one-on-one customer interactions
• Create ways your customers can offer suggestions
• Don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk!

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Smart Hiring is Key!

Savvy managers and contractors know the importance of being proactive and hiring the right person for each job. This approach helps prevent hiring mistakes and the need to start the process all over again. Use this checklist to make sure you don’t take shortcuts when choosing new members for your HVAC team:

⎫ Search for good talent through a variety of methods.

o Referrals o Internal job postings

o Networking

o Online trade schools

o Job boards

⎫ Seek out the right abilities and personality traits for your company’s culture.

o Willingness to learn

o Communication skills

o Ability to fit in

o Team player

o Honesty and trustworthiness

o Dependability

o Integrity

⎫ Ensure that a thorough hiring process is in place.

o Extensive interviews

o Background checks

o Drug screenings

o Possible test assignment or work-for-a-day o Input from team

⎫ Pay what is deserved and provide good benefits.

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The Inside Story on VOCs

Due to its very nature and purpose, our industry is concerned with indoor air quality, as well as temperature. Hence, it’s important that we understand the health risks of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), a large group—literally thousands—of carbon-based chemicals. Some VOCs have odors and some don’t—and some are much more toxic than others. Below is a list of the types of VOCs that are commonly present in our daily environment:

  •  Air cleaners that produce ozone
  •  Air fresheners
  •  Carpets & adhesives
  •  Cleaning & disinfecting chemicals
  •  Composite wood products
  •  Cooking odors
  •  Cosmetics
  •  Dry cleaning
  • Fuel oil & gasoline
  • Hobbies
  • Moth balls
  •  Newspapers
  •  Non-electric space heaters
  • Paints
  •  Photocopiers
  •  Sealing caulks
  • Smoking
  •  Solvents
  • Upholstery fabrics
  •  Varnishes
  •  Vehicle exhaust in a closed garage
  • Vinyl floors
  • Wood burning stoves

Although not all of these are toxic, there can be health-related risks for your customers who have allergies or breathing problems. For more information on VOCs and how to control them, visit the NIH’s Toxnet.

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Making Sound Business Decisions

Is there a place for trusting your intuition when confronting business decisions? According to economist and researcher Shabnam Mousavi of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, the answer is yes. As the lead author of a paper—Risk, Uncertainty, and Heuristics—Mousavi has found that top-of-mind conclusions are sometimes better than depending on in-depth calculations. This is good news for busy managers, who heretofore may have felt compelled to use only objective and often time-consuming decision-making methods. Although Mousavi definitely acknowledges the importance of contemplative methods for making business decisions, she has found that managers regularly find value in relying on their “gut feel.” For more information, click here.