Professional conduct and ethics sound at first like something we all know and don’t need to be told. In regards to the way we treat ourselves and fellow HVAC contractors, this is probably true. However, the definition of professional conduct and ethics needs to expand to include our treatment of customers, employers, and employees as well.
Ethical standards of treatment should apply to everyone in the HVAC industry. Potential customers and employers particularly deserve a professional contractor. While there are no established ethics and code of conduct for HVAC contractors, there are a few universal ethical principles that most people will appreciate seeing. Let’s take a closer look at what those principles are.
Helping Customers vs. Upselling
Any time money is involved, the greed factor comes to play, and with greed comes deception and dirty tricks. This is in no way exclusive to any one group.
For example, let’s say you go to work for a company that pays you a fair wage and you give them a fair day’s work for that wage. There is no reason for you to earn anything except the amount you agreed to work for. At the end of the week, you’re happy with your paycheck, your boss is happy with your work, and the customer is happy with the services you provided. This type of win-win-win situation is fairly common with many business models. However, if the business owner is only interested in sales and offers a high commission only if you sell new systems, customers are at your mercy because they truly have no idea of their options. Unfortunately, businesses focused more on selling new systems than helping people pay about triple what a truly honest business would. This is when greed sets in and businesses forget how to help customers and just sell HVAC systems. This dishonest business practice is far too common.
Pro Tip: Customers just want to make an informed decision without pressure and upselling from you as the contractor. Answer their questions honestly and help them find the best choice for their homes.
Ethical Behavior for an HVAC Contractor
Be honest with the customers and give them all the options. It’s not our job to decide what is best for them, and it’s certainly not ethical to hide options from them.
The same thing comes to being professional in our dealings with one another in the trade. HVAC techs should never feel above performing an installation, for instance. It’s all part of the job.
Red Flags to Watch For
If you notice these red flags after leaving an HVAC training program, take them as a sign of which companies to avoid:
- No recovery or vacuum pumps and equipment on the trucks
- No brazing with nitrogen flushing
- Selling used refrigerant
Practices like these are why it’s so important for us as HVAC contractors to self-police our trade. These shoddy companies either need to get in compliance or out of business.
Maintaining a High Standard
Professional conduct for an HVAC contractor goes beyond simple customer service and courtesy. You must also understand exactly what your client wants and provide it, rather than trying to create more work and thus more profit for yourself. After all, a happy customer can easily become a repeat customer through ethical treatment.
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Customers have high standards for anyone they choose to hire for HVAC work. After all, few people would debate that a well-maintained ventilation system is essential for comfortable living in a hot city like Houston. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prove that you’re worth your clients’ trust.
Signs of a Good HVAC Contractor
Just as clients look for potential red flags when searching for someone to hire, they also look for “green flags”–in other words, good signs about a potential hire. By doing your best to know and display those green flags, you can earn yourself more loyal customers! Here are a few of these good signs:
- Fully in compliance with applicable laws
- State-of-the-art HVAC units and equipment
- Quality work and service
- Written warranty
- Emergency services
- Excellent testimonials
1) Fully in Compliance with Applicable Laws
Most states require extensive licensing for anyone working in the HVAC field or handling coolants in their work. In addition to providing proof of a license, make sure you’re familiar with the EPA’s standards for indoor air quality and can demonstrate your adherence to them in your work. Your clients will be glad to know they can trust you to comply with legal requirements and maintain a high standard in your work.
2) State-of-the-Art HVAC Units and Equipment
Clients want the best for their home HVAC systems, even if that means the units they end up purchasing are expensive. A quality air conditioning or heating unit will last a long time, require few repairs, and save the homeowner money on their energy bills. Are you able to offer these exceptional units to your clients? Do you know how to work on them with excellent results?
Pro Tip: Take the time to evaluate your tool collection as well. Does anything need replacing? The quality of your work is directly related to the quality of your tools.
3) Quality Work and Service
Anyone with excellent customer service skills but no knowledge of an HVAC system makes a poor air conditioning technician. Likewise, you can have extensive knowledge of how home ventilation systems work, but without customer service skills, you may not be rehired. Learn to strike the proper balance of excellent work and approachability to best appeal to a wide range of clients.
4) Written Warranty
Even if the HVAC hardware and parts come with a written warranty, what about the work you do on them? Clients will generally feel far more comfortable knowing that hardware and labor alike is backed by a guarantee in writing. Make sure you can provide this for your customers, whether on your own or through your HVAC employer.
5) Emergency Services
A home’s heating and cooling systems are essential to homeowners’ comfort. If the AC stops working in the middle of a hot Houston summer, the HVAC technician had better be available to come and fix it immediately! Offering 24/7 emergency heating and air conditioning services will go a long way toward keeping and retaining clients.
6) Excellent Testimonials
Finally, customers still love seeing good ratings and glowing customer reviews. Make sure to request good reviews from satisfied customers, and reach out to try solving any problems mentioned in negative reviews. The more positive stories you have to share, the better your chances at gaining new customers will be!
Earn Clients Through Quality Services
Ultimately, clients look for a candidate that can provide both quality HVAC work and excellent customer service. If you can show that you are able to provide both, not only will potential new clients seek you out, but your previous clients will also be likely to hire you a second time for future work. Hard work and good service will pay off!
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Any job where you’ll be interacting with customers regularly requires excellent customer service skills. Considering the nature of an HVAC career, where you regularly enter your clients’ homes to examine their AC units and discuss plans for repairs, customer service is more than required to be successful.
As an HVAC technician, you’ll spend a good part of your workday talking to customers. Good customer service skills are absolutely essential to maintain strong relationships with your clients and build your long-term career. Let’s look at just a few customer service skills to develop for a future career in the HVAC field.
Respect the Clients’ Home
The majority of jobs you’ll be working on will be in someone’s house or apartment. Though it’s a more relaxed environment than an office, remember that you’re a guest in their home. Ask the homeowners’ permission before sitting on any furniture, using their bathroom, etc. Make as little of a mess as possible and clean everything up before you leave. Your ultimate goal should be to make it appear that, except for the now-working air conditioning unit, there’s no evidence you were ever there.
Pro Tip: If you’re replacing a faulty unit, ask the homeowner what they’d like done with the old one. Some don’t mind if it sits in the yard before being hauled off, but some prefer to conceal it in the meantime.
Develop Courteous Communication Skills
How well do you communicate? Coming across as too rigid will make your customers wonder if you’re upset while being too friendly could make clients uncomfortable. Your job is to find the perfect balance. Professional speech and behavior is sure to spark confidence in your clients.
There are times, however, when you can and should be understanding. Remember, no client plans for an expensive repair such as a faulty air conditioning system. While your ultimate job is to analyze and fix the problem, you should also offer empathy to the customer as they plan to handle this issue. Work with them as best you can to fix their ventilation systems quickly and to their satisfaction.
Present a Professional Image
You might have the best empathy and communication skills in the world, but if you show up to a job in filthy clothes and leave trash around the house as you work, your customers will lose faith in you rather quickly. A huge part of customer service is presenting a professional image. Along with the professional behavior required for your job, make sure your work clothes and vehicle send the same message. Most of all, remember that actions speak louder than words. Even with professional behavior to back you up, your client is not likely to call you back or recommend you if they have to clean up a mess once you’re gone.
Developing Great Customer Service Skills
When dealing with a professional, such as an HVAC technician, clients expect a professional attitude and a regard for the customer. As an HVAC worker, 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. Your investment in bettering your professional image could earn you new customers and repeat jobs!
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