Top 5 Ways to Maximize HVAC Maintenance Visits
Intro: Are you a technician who wants to set yourself apart? Then the Trusted Technician Podcast is for you. I'm your host, Dr. Krista Fabrick, with SBE, and on this podcast, we will have top-performing technicians and experienced HVAC coaches and trainers sharing their tips and strategies to help you be more successful.
Krista Fabrick (Coach): Hello, everybody, and welcome to today's episode. Today I have with me Derrek Hofrichter, one of our very own coaches and trainers here at SBE. Thank you for coming to talk to me today, Derrek.
Derrek Hofrichter (Coach): I'm excited.
Krista Fabrick: As promised, today's episode is about how to make the most of maintenance visits when this episode goes live. We know that many techs are in the midst of going on almost nothing but HVAC maintenance agreements. Good as it might seem. Right? And what we've heard over the years of working with tech is that a lot of techs hate going on maintenance visits, but Derrek, is that the right mindset to have?
Derrek Hofrichter: It is not the right mindset to have.
Spoiler alert. Haha. But you're right. Oftentimes when, you know, we're talking to technicians, or especially technicians who are newer into our program, there is this belief that they're not worthwhile, right? There are no opportunities. The system's running fine. The homeowners aren't gonna be interested in spending more money on their system because they already bought the maintenance agreement, and if you look at the data at the top-ranking technicians and you'll see that they're actually bringing in a lot of their revenue from these maintenance visits. When a technician is really into the process and has been doing it. They'll actually start to turn this corner and say, "No, I'd actually rather go run maintenance calls."
I like running maintenances. Sometimes it's the demand calls that are actually limiting because the homeowner just wants to get the system up and running. But when we can go out on these maintenance visits, there's a whole host of things that the homeowner is potentially interested in taking care of, but it has to be done correctly. If the call isn't done correctly, this is the key: a really consistent process that gets followed 100% of the time.
What I mean is that when technicians run into issues, it's inconsistent. So, sometimes they ask for these things, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they make a good first impression. Sometimes, they don't. But when they can dial it in and have a process that they follow on every single maintenance call that they go out on, that's when the revenue and the opportunities really start to present themselves.
So if we start to think, okay. You know, maybe if you're a technician listening to this and you're of that opinion that they're not worthwhile, then maybe now you're interested. Let's kind of get into tho those opportunities. So one of the things, if we're talking about a younger system, like a system younger than five years, and we're running maintenance, you might really think, man, this system's new. Nothing's gonna be wrong with it. Why am I being sent out to run these? But all the data and market research shows that when that system is zero to five years old, that is when the homeowner is most interested in getting into IAQ and add-on products.
Krista Fabrick: Yep.
Derrek Hofrichter: The maintenance visit is the perfect time to have those conversations. It's much harder on a demand call when the system is broken to also get them interested in an air scrubber or a UV light, right? Because there's a crisis that has to be dealt with, but when the system is working fine, according to the homeowner, and it's that newer system, they're still remembering the kind pain of the investment of getting into that new system.
They're gonna be really interested in ways that they can protect that investment, ways that they can keep it from getting dirty. Especially, let's say, three or four years, and it starts to need a cleaning. So, hey, let's look. It's starting to get dirty. Let's prevent this from developing rust. Let's prevent this from developing the dirt. They're very interested in hearing about those things to protect that investment.
Krista Fabrick: Yeah. And that's what we hear all the time from techs, is it's A. They don't like maintenance visits, and they especially don't like the ones on the less than five years old. I love hearing that there is that opportunity for those add-ons when it's still new because why would they invest a lot of money on an add-on when it's 10, 12, or 14 years old?
Derrek Hofrichter: Exactly. It's like when people purchase a new vehicle, at what point in their ownership of a vehicle do they spend more money on car washes? Waxing it, protecting it, shampooing the seats, paying money for tinted windows, and, in spoilers and accessories. It's not when they've had the vehicle for eight or nine years.
Krista Fabrick: Okay.
Derrek Hofrichter: It's when they just purchased the vehicle. They just spent the most money, but they're willing to spend more money to keep it running, new, and to keep it smelling nice, and to keep it looking new. It makes sense when we think about other purchases, even homes. Right?
Krista Fabrick: Right.
Derrek Hofrichter: When do people tend to put a lot of money into the remodel? Right after they bought it.
Krista Fabrick: Yeah.
Derrek Hofrichter: Right. Because they wanna protect the home and keep it up. It's no different with the HVAC system. They'll be looking for those opportunities. But how do we go about getting to those opportunities and bringing them up is very important. It has to fit again into the process by uncovering the pain points that people have with their homes. They're in their home, especially with COVID. They've maybe been inside their home more than they've ever been inside their home. They're working out of home offices. They're converting bedrooms into home offices. They're much more now aware of every noise, every hotter room, colder room. Maybe they didn't use to have allergy issues, but now that they're home all the time, now that they're noticing and they're spending money trying to solve that problem already. You have to be able to uncover those things and connect the dots to the solutions that you might have to those pain points that the homeowner already has.
Krista Fabrick: Right. And so, Derrek, what would be your tip for somebody who's new to this idea of uncovering problems and pain points? What would be a way to start that conversation? How does the tech start to figure out what those pain points are?
Derrek Hofrichter: Okay. Your process needs to include the ability to spend time with the homeowner.
Having ways that the homeowner's going to be involved with you. And the most ideal thing is that the homeowner is moving around the house with you. You arrive to do maintenance before you grab your tools, before you grab your ladder before you get down and actually do the maintenance. Have the homeowner give you a tour and go through the home.
You need to know where a lot of these things are. This is the perfect opportunity. So it's not just like standing at the doorway and having a little mini conversation. You're moving through the home, and you're asking questions about everything that you see. Do you like this thermostat? How do you use it? What temperature do you set it to? Why did you buy this type of air filter? "Hey, I noticed you've got this office over here. A lot of people that I help out tell me that when the home is laid out like this, they have a problem cooling or heating this room. Do you have that problem?"
Homeowner: Going outside. "How old is your system? How long do you want your system to last?" So asking a ton of questions. The maintenance visit itself needs to just be a whole series of you asking questions and not just stopping there. You ask the question. The homeowner gives an answer. You ask another question, another question, another question, another question at the end of that kind of funnel of questions, even asking the homeowner, "Is this something that you see me helping you with?"
Krista Fabrick: Mm-hmm.
Derrek Hofrichter: Or "How could I help you solve this problem?" and let the homeowner tell you. Hey, if there were a way that I could wake up every morning and not have a stuffy nose, I'd be interested in that. If there were a way that I could work year-round out of this office and not need to wear a parka or not need to wear my beach clothes in that office, I'd be really interested in that.
Now when we actually get ready to go to work with our tools, we might have a whole list of things that the homeowner has said to us that now we just have to do our technical, mechanical side and find out what's causing those issues.
Krista Fabrick: Right. Yeah. And that's so different than what a lot of techs see as a maintenance visit. They have a checklist, so things are just gonna go in the door, get through those items as fast as they can, and get out and onto the next call.
Derrek Hofrichter: Yeah. Viewing a maintenance visit as a hit-and-run is such a massive opportunity loss.
Krista Fabrick: Yeah.
Derrek Hofrichter: Again, these should be the ones where you do the opposite. Slow down a little bit. Ask a ton of questions. This is really important too, not just to uncover opportunity, but to renew the maintenance agreement because that is an important aspect of running these, is that, maybe not on the first visit, but for sure on the second, but really both are building the value.
Krista Fabrick: Yeah.
Derrek Hofrichter: So that the homeowner sees the value in being a maintenance agreement customer and wants to continue that relationship. So again, if you're treating it like a hit-and-run and a checklist, the homeowner's sitting there thinking, "I don't know if this was actually worth it. They didn't find anything. They didn't cover anything. They didn't give me any ideas or solutions."
Instead, listening to the homeowner, hearing what they're saying, exploring those things you might uncover, things that the homeowner cares about. Maybe on this visit, you take care of two of them. Now, when you come out on that second visit, "Hey, homeowner, remember how we talked about all of these things, and we took care of two of them, and now maybe we take care of two more, but we also get the renewal, and then the next year we take care of two more."
Then the next visit, we take care of two more, and now we're building a pipeline where we've got opportunities every time we come out there. And eventually, that pipeline is gonna result in a new system, and we've had this relationship where we show value every single time we go into the home. Why would they want to get a new system from anyone else at that point?
It's gonna be from you because you spent time with them. You got to know them. You got to know what would be the actual best system for their home because you've learned how they operate in their home, and you've learned everything about it, how they use the system inside their house.
Krista Fabrick: Yeah. And hopefully, you've taken good notes along the way and pictures and videos. So not only do you have that information, but you can show them again, "Hey, the last time I was here, this is what I noticed."
Derrek Hofrichter: Right.
Krista Fabrick: So that's important.
Derrek Hofrichter: Document everything.
Krista Fabrick: Yeah. Document everything. So what I'm hearing from you are the key points for somebody who's new to thinking of maintenance visits as an opportunity to slow down.
1. Make sure you're asking questions to uncover those pain points.
2. Document everything.
Is there anything else we wanna make sure sticks out in the tech's mind?
Derrek Hofrichter: It's a long-term game. It's a big picture. And no matter what, when you go into a home, there are opportunities.
So if you're leaving homes consistently without the homeowner asking you to solve some problems, there's a flaw in the process. So we need to go back from step one and evaluate everything from, again, the first impression to the conversations and the questions when we find things, how do we even bring it up and present it to the homeowner? There's so much opportunity there that by having a consistent process, you can start to capitalize on it.
Krista Fabrick: Yeah. Consistency is what you started with and what we're going to end with. That is, once you figure out the process of how to do your maintenance visits in a better way, make sure you're doing it the same way every time.
Derrek Hofrichter: Absolutely. Yep.
Krista Fabrick: All right. Well, techs, our time is up here. It's been about 12 minutes. I try to keep these episodes short for you, but thank you so much, Derrek, for this awesome information. Techs, I hope you guys go out there and try this new way if you haven't done it this way already. And thank you for tuning in.
Outro: Thank you for listening to the Trusted Technician Podcast. If you would like to learn more about SBE, you can find us at sbeodyssey.com. And if you enjoyed today's episode, we would appreciate it if you would leave us a review. Thank you for tuning in, and we will see you next time.