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:
• Technical knowledge.
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
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:
Strategies & Key Messages
o Company Website
o Social Media
o Media (radio, TV, print)
Implementation Tactics & Tools
o Lunch & Learns
o Monthly or Quarterly Newsletter
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.
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!
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!
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 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
⎫ 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.
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
- Dry cleaning
- Fuel oil & gasoline
- Moth balls
- Non-electric space heaters
- Sealing caulks
- Upholstery fabrics
- 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.
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.
The HVAC industry is changing rapidly to meet the various building code requirements for energy efficiency and the demand for more sustainable products. As a commercial HVAC contractor, you are likely being asked to get more and more involved in the overall management of the commercial building operation. Your expert input is required, in order to assist the manager and owner in maximizing their HVAC system’s efficiency and its contribution to a sustainable environment, as well as increasing the facility’s profitability.
Here are some things to consider when working with your commercial HVAC customers to ensure that you are bringing them valuable knowledge to assist with solving their building operations’ energy challenges:
- Think Smart – Owners/managers are looking for “smart-building” solutions and they expect their HVAC contractor to bring those solutions to the table. These building owners/managers recognize the return on investment that is available from energy management systems (EMS) and connected sensors that allow facility owners and operators to capture more data about energy consumption and building performance. These solutions are not “novel” ideas anymore, so commercial contractors should make sure they are providing the right EMS for their commercial owner to ensure the best building performance.
- Net zero – With the various building materials, construction techniques and higher efficiency products available, reaching a net-zero building status is now becoming more common, as the industry moves past LEED® and ENERGY STAR® certifications. In competitive commercial markets, commercial builders are presenting their buildings as Net Zero energy designs as a means of differentiation. Make sure you are knowledgeable about all the ways the HVAC system can be designed and maintained to assist the building in reaching its Net Zero goals.
- Integration – HVAC has become the nexus of HVAC building integration and the commercial HVAC contractor should take a lead role in ensuring that HVAC is at the forefront of how disparate building systems work together to maximize energy efficiency for the building. The single integrated system increases convenience for building owners, and occupants to monitor energy usage and collect data for smarter business decisions. There are a variety of Energy Management Systems and they all have their proprietary solutions for integration. You should familiarize yourself with some of the most popular systems to ensure that you can work within the system the architect/contractor will be using.
- High-efficiency HVAC – Building owners/managers are looking for the most high-efficient HVAC systems to ensure that they are maximizing their buildings efficient use of energy. Since HVAC systems typically account for 40 – 60% of the energy used, it is important to be aware of the various products and systems available for the building’s application. Carrier Enterprise carries a wide portfolio of high-efficiency HVAC products for both residential and commercial buildings, and can help you select the best one for your next commercial project.
- Daylighting – More architects and designers are relying on natural light to avoid the cost of lighting fixtures and reduce electricity costs. Although this is a great way to reduce direct expense for energy, the addition of additional windows, skylights and light tubes also increases the heat being allowed into the building, which increases the demand on the HVAC system. Commercial HVAC contractors should work closely with the architect, contractor and building owner to ensure that the HVAC system is properly sized and integrated into these types of buildings.
The summer season is upon us, so your technicians will soon be extremely busy working long days and nights keeping your customers cool. Being busy is a great thing and will lead to your business having a successful year. However, when your technicians get busy, they can sometimes forget to follow basic safety guidelines that are important to their health and wellbeing. Before your crew gets too busy, make sure to share these simple tips with them, so they can enjoy the summer with their families also.
- Wear your gloves – To prevent refrigerant burns, cuts and potential electric shock, make sure you are wearing your gloves. Make wearing them a habit and you can minimize the possibility of cuts, burns or other issues that could seriously damage your hands .
- Safety glasses – They may not be attractive, but safety glasses are very important and can save you from flying debris, spewing refrigerant, oil or steam. Putting on your safety glasses before you do any close up work on an HVAC or refrigeration system is critical to preventing any damage to your eyes.
- Proper placement of ladders – Your extension ladder is an important part of your job. However, if it is improperly placed, it can be a real health hazard. Don’t be in a hurry to set up the ladder. Make sure it extends at least one foot for every three feet of height. This will prevent you from falling backwards. Also, make sure that the ladder extends at least three feet above the floor.
- Gloves & masks required – You’ve all changed an HVAC filter that was full of mold, dust and pet dander — and all of those things contain bacteria. Especially in the heat of summer, make sure when changing air filters that you wear gloves and a disposable mask to protect you from touching and breathing in all those contaminants.
- Gas cylinders in trucks – In the summer, your company truck can reach temperatures of 100 degrees and above. Combine that heat with a cylinder of R410A and you end up with a pressure of 366 psig. A large cylinder may be 1500 square inches, bringing the total pressure inside the cylinder to 549,000 psig. In these hot temperatures, if it falls and is damaged, the cylinder can take off like a rocket.
- Summer attire – If you wear cotton undershirts, you should try sweat-resistant athletic undershirts for the summer. They absorb the moisture in your skin and allow your pores to breathe.
- Work smarter, not harder – If you have a partner on a job, determine the amount of time each of you will spend in the attic, indoors and outdoors before you get to the job. Switching up the time in the heat will ensure that neither of you is getting overexposed to high temperatures, and this will help you to stay alert and safe on the job.
- Hydrate to beat the heat – The best way to keep yourself alert and stay safe this summer is to drink water or other electrolyte-rich drinks constantly throughout the day. You should avoid sugary, high caffeine drinks, as they will give you a temporary energy boost, but don’t provide the necessary electrolytes your body needs when working in the heat.
- Use the right tool – Take a look in your tool box and make sure that you have all the latest tools for your job. There are many new smart device-enabled tools on the market that can help you to do your job easier and more safely. Most of these tools use WiFi-enabled applications that can assist you in reading airflow, temperature, humidity and pressures without climbing a ladder or attaching gauges to a hot refrigerant line. Use today’s advances in technology to help keep you safe and more productive in the field.
- Your truck’s condition – Make sure that your truck/van is in good working condition and that you’re A/C is working well. It is very important that you can get to the service call easily and comfortably. Take your truck in for service now to make sure that it’s running well and in good condition when you going to be in it for 10 to 12 hours (or more) a day during the busy summer season.
CE cares about the safety of the industry’s HVAC/R technicians. We know they are the lifeblood of the industry, so we carry a wide variety of items for your technicians that will help keep them safe on the job. Visit www.carrierenterprise.com to find all the products your technicians need to ensure their safety and wellbeing this summer and beyond.