Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is slowly going away as more folks receive their vaccines, the world is currently dealing with another crisis in the form of the material shortage that is greatly impacting many businesses and industries. The HVAC industry is one that has been particularly affected.
Dealing with this material shortage has put a lot of pressure on the HVAC industry and HVAC professionals. The shortage has created significant difficulties in producing and acquiring important heating and cooling equipment, delaying installations and projects.
These pressures have frustrated both professionals and customers alike, making the landscape for incoming HVAC professionals uncertain. With a material shortage affecting the job they do and the services provided, should incoming HVAC professionals and those just beginning their education and training be concerned about the heating and cooling material shortage?
While this shortage is definitely something that heating and cooling professionals need to educate themselves on, fully understand, and account for, it should certainly not be something that should dissuade individuals from a rewarding and important career.
Why is there a material shortage?
First things first, why is there a material shortage to begin with? It is the result of a domino effect tipped off by the coronavirus pandemic. When the pandemic first hit and lockdowns were ordered across the world, manufacturers had to adjust. Many severely scaled back production, some had to lay off a large portion of their workforce, others had to shut their doors entirely.
During this time, the production of materials was limited which meant available inventory was quickly used up without being able to be replaced. That brings us to today. As the world continues to return more and more to normal, demand has ramped back up but that demand is not able to be kept up with due to still-limited labor forces and an almost non-existing inventory.
For HVAC, construction materials, as well as microchips used in smart heating and cooling systems like programmable thermostats, have been the items most drastically affected. Hardships obtaining these materials means HVAC manufacturers have been producing them at a slower rate.
This material shortage WILL end
All indicators are that this material shortage is something that will loom over manufacturers and affect businesses and industries for an extended period of time. However, as difficult of a crisis to navigate as this material shortage is, experts also continue to indicate that it isn’t permanent and it will eventually even out.
Microchip shortages, of particular relevance to the HVAC industry, are predicted to start slowly dwindling over the next two years. While this may still seem like a bit of time, considering the severity of the crisis, the fact that an endpoint is already in sight is a great indicator.
Other materials will follow the same trajectory, some sooner than others, and sooner or later things will return back to normal for the HVAC industry. Until then, your customer service skills as an HVAC professional will be of great importance as you help your customers understand and plan to work around the material shortage.
Set realistic expectations
Some of your customers may be so far removed from the material shortages impacting different businesses and not completely understand why their orders are taking so long to be fulfilled. As a heating and cooling expert, it will be up to you to help educate your customers.
Delays in new equipment installation will undoubtedly cause some frustration with your customers, so the best thing you can do to prepare them is to be transparent about the crisis and set realistic expectations for their projects.
Communication skills are an undervalued soft skill for heating and cooling installers and technicians and navigating the material shortage crisis will require everyone to be at their best.
Customers will still be counting on you
One of the biggest reasons why incoming HVAC professionals shouldn’t be discouraged by the material shortage is one simple fact: despite issues producing HVAC products, homeowners and business owners are going to continue to depend on the valuable service that those in the industry provide.
The summers aren’t going to suddenly stop being hot and the winters are not going to suddenly stop being cold. Across the country, the demand for HVAC maintenance, service, and new installation is not going to stop just because equipment is harder to come by. The world still needs hardworking and skilled professionals to put their skill set to work protecting their homes and businesses.
In fact, in addition to the material shortage, there is a similar labor shortage happening across many industries. This is of course nothing new to the skilled trades, which have been experiencing a need for labor for many years leading up to the pandemic.
Don’t be intimidated by the material shortage. There is still a need for services and there is a need for professionals like you! If you are interested in starting your career in HVAC with the best training available, learn more about the upcoming schedule of HVAC classes right here at The Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning.
HVAC is an incredibly technical field. Becoming a licensed technician or installer takes extensive training and hands on experience, making the “know-how” of the job and every little in and out of the equipment you work on crucial. You cannot understate the value of technical skills in the HVAC field.
That being said, success in the industry is not entirely dependent on how skilled you are at navigating HVAC equipment. A successful HVAC technician or installer must also be adept at soft skills as well.
Soft skills are skills such as creative thinking, conflict resolution, time management, teamwork, networking, and other social skills that can help you succeed in your career. Basically, the opposite of the technical skills you learn throughout your training at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating.
But, for a technical career like this one, why are these soft skills so important. In short, technical skills will help you do your job; soft skills help you do your job better and open avenues and opportunities for you to excel within your career.
Here are just a few ways that developing soft skills can help your HVAC career.
Represent you and your company proudly
For employers, soft skills are important for one major reason: how you conduct yourself, interact with customers, and what kind of impression you make. See, when you arrive at a customer’s home to perform your inspection, maintenance, or repairs you aren’t just there as yourself, you are there as a representation of your company, who wants you to perform your job effectively, make the customer happy, and leave a good impression.
A technician that lacks desirable soft skills or social skills isn’t likely to meet those expectations. Say a technician shows up to a customer’s home late, smelling like cigarettes, grumbles a curt greeting before demanding to see the system, before stomping their dirty boots through the customer’s home. This isn’t just a bad impression on yourself, but the company they are there representing.
A technician who has developed their soft skills will be self-aware enough to realize just how important their professionalism and conduct is as their company’s reputation is on the line with every interaction. Your poor performance can have a serious impact on your company.
Become a more desirable technician
An HVAC technician who is well-spoken, communicates well, and exhibits traits like good work ethic, creative thinking, and strong teamwork is going to be much more desirable than the alternative in several different ways.
The first, and most useful for someone currently going through career training or preparing to begin their training, is obviously landing a job. The technical skills on your resume will obviously be important for getting you an interview, but displaying your soft skills during the interview will help you make the best impression possible and stand out among other candidates.
Once you are on the job, however, being a desirable technician also has its perks. A technician who is charming, well-spoken, and always leaves their customers happy and satisfied can develop a loyal customer base who prefers your services, keeping you busy and well compensated.
Exhibiting a strong work ethic, initiative, leadership, and teamwork skills can also help put you at the front of the pack for promotions and other advancement opportunities.
Better communicate with customers
Communication is a big deal for those working in the HVAC industry. When you have to have conversations with your customer about what is wrong with their system, what it will take to fix it, and, most painfully, how much it is going to cost, tempers are likely to flare.
Soft skills in communication, conflict resolution, and empathy play a big role in customer relations. The ability to not lose your head, remain calm, and truly understand their perspective when someone is upset will help you be able to diffuse any high-tempered situations and calm customers.
The issues you encounter will also likely be very technical and beyond the knowledge of the average customer. Communication skills can help you better breakdown and explain the problem in a way that doesn’t make you sound superior or condescending, while being reassuring and comforting to customers.
How to develop your HVAC soft skills
Learning technical skills is easy enough. They can be learned through classes and hands-on learning, like the one here at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating. Soft skills, however, aren’t so straightforward.
While learning soft skills is an important aspect of the HVAC industry, they aren’t always taught in the classroom. Instead, they are developed in the world outside the classroom. If you want to strive to be a better professional, getting real-world experience interacting with employers, customers, and coworkers is the best resource. Always open yourself up to feedback from others, actively listen to what they have to say, and think of how their feedback can be applied to your work habits. You can also research different courses, classes, or reading material outside of your HVAC classroom that can help you solidify these skills as well.
Looking for a place in the Houston area to hone the technical HVAC skills you will need alongside the HVAC soft skills you require? Classes are in session at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating. Call 281.580.4239 to learn more or reserve your spot online today.
Being an HVAC technician isn’t all just about working on heating and air conditioning systems. Sure, that is a big part of the job and it requires a lot of in-classroom training and education to become a master of that trade. However, often overlooked as another important aspect of life for an HVAC technician – almost equally important as working on equipment – is working with people.
Talking with customers before and after your inspections or repairs is integral to the process of helping your customers fully understand the situation they are experiencing. Chances are, the people you’ll interact with on a daily basis as an HVAC technician won’t be very happy to see you. They are likely going to be uncomfortable, given the condition of their comfort system, and also looking down the barrel of a hefty bill.
The circumstances in which you’ll find your customers necessitates the need for HVAC to know exactly how to talk to customers. Much like the art of knowing how to fix an air conditioner, correctly dealing with customers who are going to be emotional or even disgruntled is equally an art that takes time and practice.
How to talk to customers is an aspect we cover in-depth here at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning, so let’s cover some of the basic principles here now.
Be respectful at all times… no matter what
You’ve just broken the news to a customer that they are going to have to spend a couple of thousand dollars on repairing or installing a new air conditioner in the middle of summer: tempers are going to be high. Customers may get mad, they may even get downright nasty with you.
What is important in this situation is no matter what happens, it is the responsibility of the HVAC technician to remain calm, cool, and collected at all times and be respectful to the customer. Always keep your voice down, always address your customer as “sir” or “ma’am,” and never ever stoop to any nastiness, even if they start it first.
Always keep in mind that your behavior and how you conduct yourself doesn’t just affect you. When you are on a call and interacting with a customer, you aren’t just representing yourself, but you are also representing the company you work for.
Leave the technical jargon at the office
Heating and cooling technicians possess a skill set and knowledge that few do. The training you go through that gives you the ability to look at, understand, and repair an HVAC system requires an understanding of a certain set of words, terms, equipment, and lots of technical jargon to go along with it.
While commonplace to you, the terms you use during the course of your job are completely foreign to your customers. Using words and terminology that your customers are likely not going to be familiar with puts them at a disadvantage in the conversation and can make them feel like you outsmart them in the conversation by talking circles around them.
While you of course do have a better understanding of the situation than your customer does, you never want your customer to feel talked down to. So, keep all the technical jargon back at the office when you are talking to your coworkers. Always keep any technical talk with customers in a manner or presentation that they can easily understand so they don’t feel out of the loop. It is their system after all.
Give it to them straight
A lot of times as a technician you have to give customers bad news. Something is broken, it needs to be fixed or replaced, and it may not be cheap. Think about how you would want to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot. Would you want your service tech to dance around the facts, throw around a lot of hypotheticals, relying on technical jargon, and wait to dump any information on you until after you have received the estimate?
Or, would you prefer your tech to give you the news straight and upfront so that you know exactly what the issue is and how you can fix it? We imagine, like us, you prefer option two. Bad news is always going to be bad news. But, if the person delivering the news is honest and upfront, it always tends to soften the blow a bit.
Dealing with customers the right way is just as important as fixing their heating and cooling systems. That is why at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning this is a subject that we spend a lot of time on. If you are interested in beginning your career as an HVAC technician, learn more about our available and upcoming classes by calling us at 281.580.4239.
Over the course of doing their job, HVAC technicians, like other professionals in the home service industry, have the unfortunate task of dealing with difficult customers. While that isn’t unusual for professionals in other fields of work, there are a few reasons why it can happen so frequently for home service professionals.
Perhaps the most relevant reason why is that HVAC technicians rarely interact with a customer when they are having a wonderful day. The entire reason you are there is that they are in a difficult situation, either something is wrong with their heating or cooling system and they are super hot, cold, or uncomfortable making them agitated or unhappy before you even arrive.
In addition, because of your service, they are likely looking at a somewhat sizable bill. While HVAC technicians provide an important service, they aren’t always the bearers of great news. Unhappy customers may feel more inclined to voice their displeasure because they are in their own home as well, especially if they’ve had a poor experience in the past.
Combine all the factors that can make a customer unhappy along with any feeling they may get that they received poor service or the job wasn’t performed to their liking and you’ll likely find yourself with a difficult customer.
While you may or may not be at fault, dealing with a difficult customer isn’t fun. But if you do, use these helpful tips to help defuse the situation and find the best resolution possible.
If an unhappy customer gets nasty with you, especially if you are in a hot and humid house, it can be easy to lose your temper and get nasty right back. This is the absolute worst-case scenario. If you lose your cool with a customer, it is only going to get uglier, there isn’t likely to be any positive resolution, and the customer is likely to take the complaint up the chain of command and get you in even deeper trouble.
But, if you manage to keep your cool and keep your emotions out of it you will be able to focus on how to deal with the problem and not simply get emotional about the situation. If you are able to speak clearly and calmly, the customer may be encouraged to calm down and follow your lead. Then, once both parties are calm you can focus on finding a solution.
Hear them out
While the service industry saying goes “the customer is always right,” sometimes they simply aren’t. They may indeed have the situation all wrong, be upset and directing their anger about something outside of your power at you, or simply just being altogether difficult. No matter how wrong they may be or how nasty they are about the situation, at least hear them out.
By listening to the customer instead of trying to correct them, talk over them, or argue with them, you can start building rapport with them. It demonstrates to them that you are paying attention to their concerns and listening to them are actively trying to understand and get to the root of the problem. By actively listening and repeating and acknowledging their concerns, your level of care about your job and the situation becomes apparent.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep
While it is important to take the concerns of a difficult customer seriously and to do everything in your power to resolve the situation to their satisfaction, it is also important to realize that the issue may be something outside of your control or something you simply can’t resolve right then and there. For that reason, tell them you will do everything you can to fix the problem but never make a promise you know you can’t keep.
Making and breaking a promise to a customer is a bad road you don’t want to go down. When you break a promise with an already angry customer they feel betrayed and will only flare tempers even more. It also puts you in the unfortunate position of having to backtrack and most likely need to apologize.
It’s OK to fire a customer
Sometimes there’s just no winning with a customer. If a customer is getting downright unpleasant and it is obvious that there is no pleasing them. In the end, you are just going to sink excessive time and energy into them and not see a dime. We call these kinds of clients “tire kickers” and sometimes it is OK to simply fire them.
You hear it all the time from the other perspective, a customer firing their service provider, but it can work the other way too. If you reach a point where the unpleasantness of a customer is too great to handle, refusing to offer your services is a viable, albeit fairly drastic, option.
Don’t take the argument online
If a situation isn’t 100% resolved by the time you leave or you are put in a position where you have to fire a customer, it is a good possibility that they may try and take their complaints to the internet, leaving a negative review or comment. How a home service professional handles themselves online is just as important as how they handle themselves in person, so it is important that you handle negative reviews carefully.
First of all, treat every review respectfully and don’t continue whatever disagreement you may have had in-person online. When you argue with a customer online, you air your dirty laundry in front of anyone who cares to look and can only serve to drive away potential customers. But, if your response is cordial, calm, and inviting for them to contact you directly to once more try and resolve the issue, potential customers will see that as well and see your positive reaction to difficult situations.
Customer service skills are one of the most important skills HVAC technicians need to have in their toolbox, along with the knowledge and skills to repair and install heating and cooling systems of course. Having a thorough understanding of how to provide customer service and deal with difficult customers can help any technician succeed.
Communication and customer service are two areas we focus deeply on during our course here at the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating as we prepare up and coming Houston HVAC technicians dealing with difficult customers. Contact us to learn more about our classes and enrollment.
Being an HVAC technician involves a lot of very technical and precise work, particularly when it comes to AC installation. This is why a proper education and training is so important for a long and successful career in the industry.
Unfortunately, not all technicians get things right during AC installations. In fact, there are a few practices that HVAC technicians actually get wrong more often than not. Why is that? It could be many things from displacency to simply not receiving proper education.
So, why is it important to talk about the shortcomings of AC technicians? In such a precise field that so many people rely on for their important service, these shortcomings are unacceptable. For those that are considering pursuing a career as a certified HVAC technician it is just as important to know the wrong way as the right way.
As an HVAC professional, you want to strive to provide the best care and service to your customers that depend on you to stay safe and cool. Knowing where others in the industry fall short can help you know where you can avoid the same pitfalls and become a more successful AC technician.
Keep in mind these common mistakes that HVAC technicians make during AC installation. You’ll notice the biggest pattern that emerges from these improper installation missteps is that they each can have serious negative impacts on the performance, efficiency, and lifespan of the air conditioning unit.
70% of technicians don’t follow proper vacuum procedures
One of the most important things technicians ignore not following proper AC vacuum procedures during installation. Vacuuming is important because it helps remove any excess moisture left within the system. Over time, moisture build up can cause long term damage from poor performance, corrosion, and even freezing with the AC system. Never skip this important step in the post-installation process.
70% of technicians don’t adjust for proper air flow
Ensuring an air conditioner has been adjusted for proper air flow ensures that it can efficiently and easily keep in-home air cool and comfortable for the customer. Proper air flow lets air more easily reach all the nooks and crannies, ensuring no random hot spots. When not adjusted properly, the system has a harder time performing and has to put in extra effort to keep the home cool, which not only can shoot up a customer’s utility bill but also causes AC’s to burn out faster than they should.
70% of technicians don’t charge unit per manufacturer recommendations
Correctly charging your customer’s AC system will ensure there is proper refrigeration to pull out hot air and keep their home cool. However, despite the fact that most manufacturers provide step-by-step instructions and offer their best practice recommendations, this correctly charging units often gets overlooked. The result is either an undercharged unit that can’t keep up with the heat and overwork itself or an overcharged unit that is loud and draws far more energy than it needs to.
90% of air conditioning installations are incorrect
Since these three steps during AC installations are so important, it may not be surprising to hear that more installations are done incorrectly than not. But, for an industry that prides itself on hard workers and providing a necessary service to its customers, this is a number that simply cannot continue to last.
Here at the Training Center for Air Conditioning and Heating, we are attempting to lower the statistics through a comprehensive training and education program for the next generation of HVAC technicians. The course is designed to teach students the skills and techniques required for entry-level employment into the residential and light commercial heating ventilating and air conditioning so that they can not just install and repair heating and cooling systems, but do it the right way to better serve their customers and help make them a more successful professional.
Interested in enrolling in an upcoming class? Learn more about how to join here.
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is expected to grow 14% before 2024 – double the typical growth for most industries. Becoming an HVAC technician is a great way to ensure your skills will always be in demand. Besides the technical skills, in this field, technicians also use practical skills that lead them to success.
For those looking to step foot into the HVAC industry, it is important that you know how to communicate calmly and effectively with those you encounter. When working with many clients, it is important to understand that these clients may be stressed since things are not working the way they are supposed to.
You will need to be able to effectively explain what you are doing in order to help solve the problem at hand. A majority of your customers will not know the technical terms of the industry. Because of this, you will need to be able to explain what you are doing in a way that your customers will be able to understand.
Clients already have high standards for anyone they choose to hire for HVAC work. By explaining the procedures, they will be much more comfortable and confident in your abilities as a technician.
Problem Solving Skills
Troubleshooting is one of the most important skills someone can possess in the HVAC industry. A majority of the time, technicians will receive a call about a system before they have a chance to diagnose the problem. Being able to effectively identify an issue is just one skill necessary to be successful at problem-solving. However, a job may not always be as straightforward as it seems.
When the problem is different than what you originally thought, some quick, creative thinking will help you get the job done. This requires asking the client some questions and working with the system to see what may have failed. The faster you can figure out the problem and design a solution to fix it, the more effective you will be as a technician.
Many technicians deal with multiple calls a day and they have to be able to efficiently finish each task in order to move on to the next call without delay. Staying organized is a large part of being successful as a technician. You must be able to maintain accurate records of each visit, the work that was performed, and any equipment that was used.
Customer Service Skills
Any job where you will be interacting with clients regularly requires excellent customer service skills. Interacting with homeowners, property managers, and building superintendents takes a certain level of finesse that a great technician should have.
Clients often expect a professional attitude and general regard for the customer. As an HVAC technician, demonstrating excellent customer service to your clients will leave an excellent impression on them and encourage them to call you again the next time their air conditioning breaks down.
Developing Your Skills
There are many skills necessary for you to succeed in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry. There will always be HVAC systems which means there will always be people that need repairs and replacements. To be successful in this industry, you need to have an exceptional list of skills and strengths. This may sound difficult, but for the right kind of person, it’s a fun, rewarding, and challenging career.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can succeed in the HVAC industry, contact us today.