Tons of studies have been done on how to increase Web site hits and usage. Of all of this research, one clear message stands out. Use of videos on your Web site (and with your social media posts), increase the rate of interaction with your site (and social posts.) You don’t need a high end studio to produce great videos. From instructional to testimonial, videos are easier to create than you might think. A simple Webcam or even a quality cell phone camera can create videos to share with your clients. There are many online (free) tools to help with video editing. YouTube offers a simple tool called Video Editor. One of the benefits of this is you can edit and post all in one spot. Videos should show your personality while engaging your clients. Keep them short, 2 – 5 minutes, and informative. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun. Humor is one of the best ways to engage your audience. We use a great online tool called Powtoon to create presentations, training videos, informational videos and more. There is free version available and it is easy to learn. So don’t be afraid to spend a little time creating some short clips about your company or team members. Even the most basic videos can go a long way to increase your Web presence.
“ZIP” stands for “ZIP code” – 5 little numbers that the installer keys in to automatically set up the ZIP Economizer for maximum energy savings in a given climate zone. No consulting temperature curves, no cross-referencing with energy codes, no operation manuals and no erroneous factory default settings.
This new product features onboard setup and diagnostics, alarm notifications, an automotive quality LCD and more. It also offers expansion modules for more functionlities, such as two-speed fan and Demand Control Ventiliation. There is even a communications module that provides alarm output and firmware updates.
The ZIP from Belimo will save contractors time and money when installing new or retrofit economizers. For more information, click here Belimo ZIP Economizer
ACCA, the nation’s largest association of indoor environmental systems professionals, recently published a great article urging manufacturers of heating and cooling equipment and controls to adopt universal communication protocols for “equipment commissioning and on-going diagnosis for the purposes of ensuring that HVAC equipment is properly installed and maintained.” Many manufacturers maintain proprietary protocols for communications, creating many different systems for technicians to learn and limited cross platform between different manufacturers’ systems.
Here is a link to the full article: ACCA Urges Manufacturers to Develop and Adopt Universal Communication Protocols
There are many factors that impact the usability of a Web site. From the look of the site to how easy it is to navigate, can impact a customers decision to do business with you. Also remember, effective Web design is judged by your customers, not you.
When designing (or redesigning) your site, you first must determine what you want users to get from the experience. This will guide the look and information you include on your site. Also keep in mind, customers using the Internet tend to want information quickly, so be clear and make the information easy to understand.
Don’t get cute with fonts. It is easy to litter a site with too many different fonts. San serif fonts work the best. Try to not use more than 3 fonts in your site to keep it simple.
Navigation is key. This determines how people move around your site. Use breadcrumbs (links at the top of the page to navigate users back to a particular page), arrange content into sections, keep menus simple and easy to understand.
Finally, studies show people scan computer screens in an “F” pattern, first viewing the top and left of the screen. Use this natural behavior to cater to your customers.
There are many great Web site building tools available online, so you don’t have to be a designer or a coder to create a beautiful and usable site. Take queues from the sites you visit often and don’t be afraid to make changes if you are not getting the results you expect. Happy Web site building!
There are so many systems developed to help you manage your time. Problem is these systems manage “clock time” – or the 24 hours in a day. Unless your job and life are so structured that you can actually plan the day around every minute, clock time management is not very useful. “Real Time” management is the key to making the most of your day. And possibly relieving some of the stress of feeling like you have to manage every minute of clock time.
Real time is a mental process. We create real time. Real time drags or flies by. The good news is we can control real time because it is in our heads. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, there are only three ways to spend time: thoughts, conversations and actions.
Here is a link to the full article with 10 tips on how to manage your time. It’s worth your time to read it!
I’ll admit it – I used to be one of THOSE people. You know, the person who never bought the extended warranty or service agreement on anything. “Pssh,” I would tell my husband, defiantly. “It’s just another money-sucking mechanism. It’s another way to drain more money out of customers with no real return on investment.” Basically, I was a salesman’s worst nightmare.
And then the motor burned up on our condensing unit. In the middle of February. When we had twin infants in the house. The cause? Well, if you would have just taken a look at our measly little 1-inch furnace filter, with an embarrassingly low MERV rating, which had not be changed in probably six months, it was easy to figure out why. Now, in my defense, I hadn’t yet made my foray into the HVAC industry; sure, I knew it was important to change your furnace filter from time to time, but I didn’t worry about it! I could pick one up at the grocery store next time I went. And then I would forget. So, I put it on my list for the next visit; and then I would forget again. $600 later, I vowed I would never make THAT mistake again!
Living in our home for 4 years, we had never had the a/c “tuned up”? Why would we need to do that – to improve its efficiency – it works just fine…right? Wrong – as evidenced by the fact that we literally, just this summer, shelled out a cool $4,000 for a complete system replacement.
Maintenance agreements, if presented in the right manner, and showcasing tangible benefits can be a great asset to any contractors’ service offerings (and could have saved our family a ton of money). Too often, customers are not given the right reasons to purchase a maintenance agreement. The maintenance agreement is often offered as a passing service without the real benefits being discussed with the customer. To effectively sell a maintenance agreement the contractor must provide the customer with true benefits and options.
A Range of Offerings
Maintenance agreements are not a one-size-fits-all product. If providing maintenance agreements as a value added service, make sure you have a few different options available. They must be semi-customized to fit both the customer needs and price-range. If you give the customer options and accurately sell the benefits of each, you’re more likely to sell more agreements.
Services provided in each maintenance agreement must be clearly defined. Let the customer know up front that the first tier maintenance agreement provides for two system tune-ups per year, and why a semi-annual tune up is essential for the systems overall efficiency, especially when it pertains to energy savings (customers always want to know how they’ll save money). If the first-tier maintenance agreement doesn’t offer filter changes, make sure the customer is aware of this. Chances are, if the customer can count on the contractor to take care of filter changes and the price isn’t that much higher, they’ll upgrade to the next tier agreement.
This one is probably the most important element. Sure, you may have some really great maintenance agreements providing some really great value-added services for the customer. If you have a service or install technician or a “salesman” that really doesn’t know how to present the benefits of a maintenance agreement to the customer, you might as well not have one at all. This definitely explains why I was so hesitant, for years, to add on maintenance agreements or extended warranties.
Look, it’s easy to say “Buy this service agreement – it costs $400 and we’ll tune up your system twice a year!” Are you confused why the customer doesn’t want to sign on the dotted line? They weren’t given the reasons WHY they should purchase that service agreement! Isn’t it just as easy to say, “With the purchase of a service agreement, we’ll take care of six filter changes a year for you. Filters need to be changed regularly to ensure the proper health of your system. A new filter also helps prevent against unwanted allergens in the air, such as pet hair, dander and dirt, which can really affect the overall health of your entire family. We can take care of that change for you, so you never have to worry about it!”
There are endless benefits to offering maintenance agreements to your customer (and offering them the right way). Increased sales and repeat business from customers who are going to come back to you for many years are just two. Jackson Systems has a variety of sample maintenance agreements we can provide you that you can customize to fit your own needs. Give us a call at 888.652.9663 and we will gladly email these to you.
Article courtesy of Gordon McKinney, ICOR International, Inc.
From the onset, the federally mandated phase out of R-22 has been rife with controversy, and the confusion created by fluctuating prices as well as the never-ending supply and demand uncertainty has left refrigerant distributors, users, and equipment owners, extremely vulnerable.
A number of obscure companies have been selling R-22 alternative refrigerants that are marketed as Natural Refrigerants, and Drop Ins. They boast that these refrigerants are Inexpensive, Do not require any certification to purchase, and Can be mixed with R-22. The horrible truth is that these so called Natural Refrigerants, are comprised primarily of highly flammable gases such as propane and they are illegal for use in AC applications.
The FBI has recently issued a warning to be on the alert for refrigerant substitutes that have not been approved by the EPA. Reports are on the rise worldwide of explosions, fires, and severe injuries, including fatalities, as the result of these flammable refrigerants being used in unapproved ACR applications. In 2013 the EPA took action against at least one U.S., company for selling an unapproved flammable refrigerant, yet many believe that without an increased enforcement effort, this problem will lead to even greater safety hazards and tremendous liability issues.
There are safe, and well established, non-ozone depleting refrigerants, like ICORs NU-22B, that are EPA approved for servicing R-22 systems in a wide range of applications. However, some HVACR product distributors, and refrigerant users, have been lured into supporting inferior products because of their cheap price. Along with the many hazards that flammable refrigerants pose to users and equipment owners, there are a few other cheap R-22 alternative refrigerants being misrepresented, and subsequently misapplied, that are leading to serious losses in system efficiency and compressor failures. Products like R-407C are relatively inexpensive, but are not suitable for use as a direct replacement for existing R-22 applications without changing the mineral oil to POE oil and flushing the line sets. The cost of the additional system conversion requirements make R-407C, and other products with similar requirements, the least practical option for servicing existing R-22 equipment.
The long term liabilities associated with selling and using hazardous, and or inferior R-22 replacements, are causing many to realize that cheap options are very seldom the best options.
If you know of anyone distributing or using flammable refrigerants in unapproved applications or non-EPA approved refrigerants and counterfeits, notify the FBI or the EPA immediately. Doing so will save lives.
AHRI recently released the May 2014 data on U.S. shipments of heating and cooling equipment. For May 2014, gas warm air furnaces are up 8.7%. Oil furnace shipments are down 1.1% for this time period. Y-T-D gas warm air furnaces are up 7.4%. Y-T-D shipments of oil warm air furnaces are up 9.2%. Air conditioning and heat pump shipments were also up for May at 8.8% combined. Y-T-D these units are up 9.9% driven by a 17.1% increase in heat pump shipments. Click here for the full report: AHRI Shipment Data.
Steve Coscia, founder of Coscia Communication, has generously donated his time and expertise for a live online event hosted by the Women in HVACR organization. This live podcast will take place on Thursday, July 17 at 2pm ET. Steve will share “Extreme Customer Service Values and How-To’s”. No matter our position in this great industry, we can all polish our customer service skills on a daily basis. Steve is a widely published and quoted authority in the customer service industry.
To save your spot for this limited opportunity live podcast, click here Steve Coscia Live Podcast.
The Lyric thermostat from Honeywell is ideal for customers who are on the go and want optimal comfort and savings they don’t have to think about.
The Lyric uses “geofencing” to determine occupancy. This technology uses the homeowner’s smartphone location to automatically adjust temperature as they come and go. The Fine Tune feature considers both indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity to reach set point, ensuring 72° really feels like 72°.
The Smart Cues feature sends homeowners maintenance notifications and extreme conditions alerts to help extend the life of their HVAC equipment.
The Lyric thermostat is now available from Jackson Systems. For more information or to place an order go to click here: Honeywell Lyric Thermostat or call 888.652.9663.
AHRI recently released the April 2014 data on U.S. shipments of heating and cooling equipment. For April 2014, gas warm air furnaces decreased by 3.7%. Oil warm air furnace shipments increased 36.1% for this time period. YTD gas warm air furnaces are up 7.1% with oil warm air furnaces increasing 10.9%. Air conditioning and heat pump shipments were also up for April at 2.6% combined. YTD these units are up 10.4% driven by a 16.1% increase in heat pump shipments. Click here for the full report: AHRI Shipment Data.
Zoning is becoming more and more popular in the residential and commercial markets. In residential applications, accessing duct work can present a challenge in existing construction. When bonus rooms and room additions are considered, there may not be duct work running to these areas.
The Motorized Zone Register (MZR™) from Jackson Systems is a low-cost, rugged, metal, motorized zone register designed to work with most forced air zone control systems. It can also be used as a stand-alone register with a wall-mounted thermostat to eliminate over-heating and over-cooling in bonus rooms, sun rooms, guest rooms and basements.
This easy-to-install zone register allows zoning to be installed in almost all residential applications. It is designed to fit most register boots and comes in many sizes, most in both tan and white. There is also a polymer version available for side wall installations.
The MZR is a standard register with a 24VAC spring open/power close actuator. It uses standard gauge thermostat wire (plenum-rated wire may be required if running through duct work.)
The MZR can be wired to a stand-alone thermostat for control of the register in single zone applications, or it can be wired to a zone panel and for multiple zone applications. Up to 6 Motorized Zone Dampers can be connected to a single zone.
The MZR is another innovative solution from Jackson Systems designed to make zoning easier and more profitable for HVAC contractors. For more information, visit zoningregister.com or call is at 888.652.9663.
Selling zoning systems and smart thermostats is easier than you might think. Homeowners want to be comfortable and save energy. Zoning systems and smart thermostats provide both of these benefits. And just by observing and asking a few simple questions, you can easily sell comfort through controls.
When speaking with homeowners, analogies to other familiar home appliances and features can help them understand how it works. Explaining to consumers the two zones of a refrigerator, one for fresh food and one for frozen food can be helpful. Or ask them if it would make sense to have only one light switch that turns all of the lights in the house on or off. That is essentially what a single thermostat does with the HVAC equipment. One switch heats or cools the entire home.
When you are in the home, look for finished basements or room additions. These can be areas of comfort problems. Ask your customers if they are interested in lowering their utility bills. Independent tests have shown that zoning systems with programmable thermostats can save up to 30% or more on heating and cooling bills. And who is going to say no saving money?
Another revenue stream for your business is smart thermostats. According to the research firm Nielsen, the United States smartphone market is now 55% penetrated. Consumers are using their phones to control alarm systems and entry to their homes. They are viewing their favorite TV programs and movies. Some apps even allow control of television sets. And the list goes on. So much of our world is connected and consumers are hungry for more. So why not control their comfort from their smart device?
As technology continues to get more sophisticated in the smart device market, it is also happening in the HVAC controls market. There are many thermostats on the market that allow control through any smartphone, tablet or computer and most offer free apps to make this control even easier. And consumers are demanding more. In today’s market, there are so many options for smart thermostats. From basic Wi-Fi controlled thermostats that require no additional equipment to more sophisticated, feature-rich models that provide more control of IAQ equipment, there is an option available for nearly any budget and application.
Offering customers better comfort through HVAC controls is a smart business decision, but it is also a great service to your customers. Sometimes just asking a few simple questions can benefit you and your customers. Happy selling!
1. In most cases, it will not be necessary to modify the duct sizing when installing a zoning system.
2. It is good practice to size the smallest zone to handle approximately 25% of the system CFM.
3. Never undersize ductwork.
4. Upsizing registers in the smallest zone to the next larger size should be considered.
5. You can double the rated CFM of a register before it starts to get noisy.
6. Two-stage equipment is always a better choice.
7. It is always better to slightly undersize the HVAC equipment than to oversize it.
8. Never locate a thermostat in a hallway.
9. Dampers should be installed at least 2 feet away from the plenum, when possible.
10. Always use a separate 24 volt transformer to power the zone panel. Do not use the equipment transformer.
11. Always tag wires, especially from dampers and thermostats.
12. Some basements may require setting the zone thermostat in the auto mode during the cooling season due to cold walls, uninsulated ductwork or leaking ductwork.
For more information on our zoning products, visit jacksonsystems.com.
The new Honeywell Wi-Fi 9000 universal thermostat with voice control features voice activated recognition and control, allowing the temperature setting to be adjusted in the home by talking to the thermostat. This thermostat uses “Far-Field Voice Technology”, so it recognizes voice commands from across the room, even in a busy home.
With the same great features as the Wi-Fi 9000, this attractive thermostat lets your customers remotely monitor and manage their home’s comfort and energy usage anytime from anywhere. These aesthetically-pleasing touchscreen thermostats connect directly to your customers’ home Wi-Fi in a few simple steps. The plain language on-screen setup and redesigned terminal blocks mean an easier installation for you. The remote access via any smart device means more comfort control for your customers. And the Cloud-based voice recognition software will automatically update as Honeywell adds new voice commands and other enhancements.
Honeywell Wi-Fi 9000 with Voice Control Product Brochure
Well, not really. But it can be if you lose the trust of your customers. Trust is defined by Merriam-Webster as “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” But trust means so much more to our customers. Trust is sacrificing time and sometimes money to make sure we get it right. Trust is doing things that are difficult because it is in the best interest of our customers. Trust is why our customers rely on us and why they continue to do business with us. Break that trust and it will become a four letter word.