Working in HVAC is very rewarding – and one benefit for technicians is the ability to finish a day’s work with tangible evidence of a job well done. However, no HVAC business wants to receive callbacks from dissatisfied customers to address continuing problems or inefficiencies.

For this month’s mission, we asked our Mission: HVAC students to discuss one of the headaches of working in the industry: callbacks. Find out what some of the most common causes of callbacks are – and how they impact HVAC business.

Glenn: A Range of Perspectives

I am going to give three perspectives on the cost of call backs. One is from Jennifer who receives calls from customers and at times deals with customer complaints over the phone, the second is from a veteran HVAC tech named Trevor, who must deal with the customer face to face and try to remedy the situation. And the third is myself, who is just getting started and experiencing the world of HVAC. Callbacks happen to every HVAC company and technician. Everyone tries to avoid them as much as possible. No one was able to give me a percentage of callbacks, but an educated guess would be around 5%. Sometimes they are due to a Technician getting behind on his calls for the day or getting in a hurry trying to make up time. Other causes of callbacks could be owners booking too great a workload for the day or even a customer not correctly explaining the issue they are experiencing.

Jennifer’s point of view is it can cost the company a lot of money, time and customer frustration on a delay of trying to resolve an issue. Charging for a repair that maybe didn’t resolve an issue and then the company eating the cost of a more expensive repair and having their reputation damaged as a quality HVAC company makes a huge impact. Most customers are understanding and understand things happen, but not all are so forgiving.

Trevor, a journeyman HVAC Technician who has dealt with a few callbacks, told me to just own up to any mistake, learn from it and move on. Most people will respect you more by just being honest.

From my own experience as an apprentice, there was a time when I was out by myself preforming basic checks and the customer asked for a seasonal checkup. However, what they really needed was a more experienced Journeyman for a non-operating A/C unit. This lack of communication resulted in needing a second visit to resolve their issue. At the end of the day, solving an issue and making the customer happy is what matters.

Jackson: Honor Your Customers

Jackson Mission 4In this mission I was asked to write about how callbacks affect HVAC companies. I had the opportunity to interview my father’s business partner, Clint Morgan. Clint, like my father, was born into the HVAC industry. His father owned and operated a small service company while he was growing up and learned the trade through hard work and on-the-job experience. Being in the industry for so long, Clint has lots of experience dealing with callbacks.

I asked Clint how big of an impact callbacks can have on a company, he responded, “Lots of callbacks can be detrimental to a company, especially one as small as ours”. They can be so harmful because when you get a callback the company is now losing by performing the work for free. Callbacks are often done for free just so the company can “save face” and not lose a customer. “The customer needs to know that if we make a mistake we are going to honor it and make it right.”

When I asked Clint what some of the most common reasons for customer callbacks are he said, “When you get to a call and the unit is not running, all you’re thinking is, what does the system need to work? You start to get tunnel vision.” What he means by that is sometimes once you make the equipment run you don’t continue to analyze the system and make sure that it is operating properly. We believe these callbacks occur because as a technician you just get in too much of a hurry and try to do as many calls as you can. Another thing that creates a callback is the customer not wanting to pay to have their equipment fixed correctly and just want the cheapest way out.

Clint believes that a good way to prevent callbacks is to come up with a company checklist for your technicians to carry and fill out every time they do a service call. This ensures that the service tech is checking everything that needs to be checked to ensure that the equipment is running properly. Clint says that at our company callbacks occur less than once, which is about 5% of the time. “I don’t know if it’s because we are that good or people just don’t call us back if we have made a mistake.”

Callbacks can be devastating to a company. If you take your time and do things right it can help prevent them. As a business owner you should honor your work and stand behind what you do, whether it was good work or a mistake you made.

Stefan: Take Pride in Your Work

My interview was conducted with Donald J. Laurent of KID Air Conditioning.

As a budding AC service technician, it is always very valuable to sit with an experienced contractor or technician every chance you get. Mr. Laurent has been in the industry for decades and is a deep well of industry knowledge and trade evolution.

Q1: What are the most common causes of callbacks?
A: Time and diligence are the most common reason for callbacks. So many easy mistakes are made by ignoring the basics and fundamentals. Check all connections, pressures, etc. Overlooking these things inevitably leads to a problem down the road, whether it is within hours, days, or weeks.

Q2: How often do callbacks occur?
A: Callbacks are elusive to track on paper. There are so many factors like which tech, what equipment is getting serviced, etc. that can affect the frequency that callbacks happen. The easy answer: if a call back happens at all, it is too often.

Q3: Why do these issues occur?
A: Once again there is no rhyme or reason to why a callback might happen, but most often it is because of lack of diligence. Taking the time to properly work your way through all connections and system components can ultimately limit the callback occurrence.

Q4: How do callbacks impact your company?
A: The callbacks affect the company in the most important way possible: Financially. The callback is the lost liter. There is no way to recoup the lost revenue and time that a callback causes the company.

Q5: How can technicians prevent or lower the chances of receiving callbacks?
A: Being more methodical and diligent in your approach to even the simplest of tasks. To be successful in life there has to be a certain amount of pride taken in your work. Be patient, be thorough, and the limiting of callbacks will take care of itself.