Dispatchers play an integral role for any field services business, often serving as the first point of contact between customers and your service techs. Dispatchers need to demonstrate keen insight about the scope of services your company offers, possess critical thinking skills, and perform under pressure. They should also provide unmatched customer service to every type of customer, whether that’s a large commercial client or an individual homeowner.
While some HVAC businesses rely on manual processes and paper schedules to run their day-to-day operations, the best way to streamline operations in the field and the office is to use an intuitive dispatch software tool.
Best-in-class HVAC field service management software, like ServiceTitan, effortlessly helps field service businesses cut time-consuming manual processes, while also:
Optimizing job scheduling and routing
Improving communications with customers
Enhancing customer satisfaction
Tracking technician performance and revenue metrics
If you’re looking to level up dispatching to help your business run more efficiently, consider these nine HVAC dispatching tips for using a modern dispatching tool:
To find out how ServiceTitan streamlines your dispatch process and provides a full range of tools to manage your entire workflow, schedule a free personalized demo here.
Tip #1: Schedule Dispatcher Ride-Alongs
Successful HVAC companies understand the importance of a clear connection between dispatchers and service technicians. Without an understanding of the HVAC tech’s day-to-day responsibilities, skill set, and processes, dispatchers could send an inexperienced technician to the job site, or fail to understand the scope of a repair.
To help the office more clearly understand what HVAC techs experience in the field, Vanessa Gonzales, owner and co-founder of Albuquerque Plumbing, Heating & Cooling and ServiceTitan’s Senior Manager of Product Utilization and Customer Experience, recommends scheduling your office staff to join field techs for periodic ride-alongs.
“The office people get a different perspective on what it’s like to be a service technician,” Gonzales says. “It also lets the techs get to know the customer service representatives (CSRs) and the dispatchers, and it builds camaraderie.”
Gonzales suggests scheduling ride-alongs with your office team and field technicians during shoulder season—when demand for HVAC services typically drops. HVAC techs also benefit from spending time in the call center learning how CSRs and dispatchers handle service requests and technician schedules.
Tip #2: Streamline Customer Information
Having to store customer information in multiple tools wastes time and leads to poor customer service if mistakes are made. For example, you might use software to log customer calls but keep equipment and job details in an Excel spreadsheet or paper file. Matching up the information to schedule a new HVAC job for a customer is laborious and reliant on a super-efficient CSR to ask the right questions and note the salient details.
From there, a dispatcher needs to calculate which suitable technician is available, how long they will need to do the job, and find the right time slot that suits the technician and the customer.
An all-in-one HVAC software solution, on the other hand, stores your customer information in one place and lets you pull together all the relevant details so you can assign the right tech with the right skills to each job, every time.
With ServiceTitan’s dispatching software, the workflow begins as soon as the phone rings. Our call booking feature automatically shows the CSR if the caller is a new or existing customer and guides them through the booking process so all the necessary information is gathered for booking the job.
If the caller is an existing customer, the CSR can access their name, address, property information (including age and size), job and technician history, and equipment details without keeping the caller waiting while they search through paper files.
Having all of these details in one place means CSRs can easily spot opportunities to upsell additional HVAC services such as equipment upgrades or service contracts, and avoid promoting services they have already bought.
With ServiceTitan, you can also store notes with customer records (such as the gate code for their property, or that they want to discuss replacing their air conditioning unit at their next follow-up visit). Everyone at the company can view important customer information at any time, so nothing gets missed.
Tip #3: Optimize Routing and Scheduling
Dispatchers don’t just answer phones and book service calls; they need to plan a full schedule each workday to maximize revenue, send the right technician to the job, and optimize routing to reduce drive times. Today, many HVAC shops use dispatch scheduling software to automate these processes, but it wasn’t always this easy.
Prior to signing up for ServiceTitan, Georgios Gounaris, Senior Operations Executive of Cyprus Air in Alexandria, Va., and a former dispatcher for the HVAC company, says he used a convoluted process to determine each day’s schedule.
“We used to do the schedule by printing out the jobs, laying all the papers on the floor and kind of making it into a puzzle to see if the areas that we can easily send everything matched correctly,” Gounaris says. “And of course, we didn't have any GPS trackers in the trucks. We had to call technicians to find out where they were.”
Using ServiceTitan as your HVAC scheduling software is simple because CSRs can see the available times slots for each technician without leaving the original screen.
ServiceTitan’s dispatch board uses drag-and-drop technology that’s straightforward to navigate and shows the status of each job (e.g. scheduled, unassigned, canceled, on hold, etc.). With intelligent schedule optimization, dispatchers and CSRs can seamlessly respond to schedule changes and unexpected curveballs, shorten or extend the duration of a job, and reassign a different tech to a more profitable job.
Color-coded tags make it easy to see which technicians are scheduled for what job, while live GPS tracking shows the precise location of every truck, so dispatchers can group nearby jobs and utilize the most efficient route. If your company dispatches techs from home, you can assign work orders based on their location.
Jessica Smith says she’s a big proponent of using ServiceTitan’s dispatching board to streamline HVAC scheduling and routing in her role as business operations manager for Hurley & David, an HVAC and plumbing company that serves western Massachusetts.
“I love organizing the board, making sure guys are going on the right calls, people aren't passing each other on the road, and getting the right tech in the right place for the right calls,” she says.
Tip #4: Keep Customers Informed in Real-Time
Traditionally, HVAC companies relied on the dreaded four- or eight-hour service window, often forcing residential customers to miss work and wait around, sometimes for hours. With today’s intuitive HVAC dispatching software, businesses keep their customers informed with real-time notifications, so dispatchers can provide a highly accurate estimated time of arrival or notify a customer of any schedule changes.
Because ServiceTitan’s dispatching software tracks HVAC techs and job progress, dispatchers are kept up-to-date via the activity feed. This logs the technician’s location when they are driving between jobs, when they arrive, and when they’ve completed a job and are ready to move to the next one.
The benefit of this granular detail for your customers is that HVAC businesses can text customers the technician’s photo and profile, so they know who’s en route. You can even give customers a tech tracker map, so they know the tech’s location.
HVAC businesses can also send automated appointment reminders, job confirmations, and changes to appointment times, as well as receive texts from customers who have questions or need to reschedule a job.
Rebecca Tenorio, Dispatcher and Client HAPPYness Representative for The Happy Outlet in Carson City, Nev., says she uses ServiceTitan’s dispatching software to send courtesy calls before and after each job, and also texts customers a link so they can track their technician and get a precise arrival time.
“It makes it so convenient for scheduling afternoon appointments for our clients who need to leave work to meet us at their house,” Tenorio says. “They appreciate being able to text and communicate with us.”
Tip #5: Dispatch for Profit Optimization
As many in the HVAC industry understand, matching the right tech with each job significantly affects profitability and revenue. For dispatchers, knowing each tech’s skill set, as well as the customer’s service history, enables them to send a highly skilled tech to a complex job for maximum profit.
As we mentioned in Tip #2, when a customer calls your HVAC company, ServiceTitan’s dispatching software shows the complete service history, techs who serviced them previously, existing parts and systems, and any current memberships or service agreements.
With these key details, dispatchers not only assign the right person to the job, but also equip the tech with critical information to grow average ticket size (e.g., upsell opportunities, parts or systems that need replacement, or memberships that require renewal).
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For example, if a technician knows that a membership is due for renewal, it can be discussed on the spot without missing the opportunity to confirm the sale.
“The power with ServiceTitan isn’t that we get a truck to the house 10 minutes faster,” says Andy Piercefield, President of Coolray Heating and Cooling LLC, serving the Atlanta Metro market. “The power is that we know what that house bought from us before, we’re able to access them easily, and we can cross-sell them other products.”
Tip #6: Enable Techs to Collect Payment in the Field
Many financial transactions happen in the field, and traditionally technicians needed to collect cash or check payments, issue a paper receipt, and physically return to the office to input the payment and job information. This is time-consuming and takes the focus away from actual work that brings in revenue.
With ServiceTitan Mobile 2.0, HVAC technicians can collect credit card payments or close out sales on open estimates from a mobile app. Checks and credit cards can be captured via the tablet camera, and cards can be captured with a swiper, too. This payment process is super-easy for your customers, and revenue hits your bank account sooner.
Additionally, ServiceTitan’s dispatching software integrates with multiple types of accounting software, including QuickBooks. So whenever a tech accepts invoicing from the job site, all of the information updates instantly on the office side, too. This eliminates duplicate data entry, saves on paper and printing costs, and reduces accounting mishaps due to human error.
It’s worth noting that ServiceTitan streamlines your internal payroll processes, too. The software automatically documents your technician’s drive time, vendor runs, and wrench time on their timesheets so you can be confident that it’s accurate. And, because the timesheets are synced with the dispatch board, you know who’s available and when.
Further reading: QuickBooks for HVAC Businesses
Tip #7: Track Tech Performance
With the technician scorecard, you can view live metrics on generated revenue, memberships sold, and more, to see which technicians are selling and closing from the field. You can also view technician satisfaction, so you can reward a technician for going above and beyond with customer service, or provide coaching to improve customer relations.
Zooming out, you can use ServiceTitan’s dynamic dashboard to filter dozens of KPIs and track how your business is performing. Monitoring every job, technician, CSR, and marketing campaign gives you insight into response times, number of jobs completed per tech, number of memberships renewed, and more.
Tip #8: Provide Continuous Training
Dispatchers serve on the frontlines for HVAC companies. There are several qualities of a good dispatcher, including strong communication and problem-solving skills, showing empathy toward customer needs, and being able to calmly juggle multiple tasks under pressure. But even the most seasoned HVAC dispatchers require regular training and continuing education to serve at the top of their game.
To help dispatchers and other office staff improve their communication and customer service skills, many HVAC businesses use ServiceTitan’s call recording feature to listen to service calls and identify areas for improvement.
“Every other week, my two CSRs and my dispatcher have a half hour with a coach where they listen to their own calls,” Smith says. “They talk about the concepts and they listen to samples of really good calls and really bad calls. They learn the tenets of helping a customer.”
Further reading: How HVAC Call Scripts Can Help Boost Your Booking Rate
Tip #9: Use Dispatch Software That Also Manages Other Business Operations
While some dispatching tools may help to streamline the scheduling and dispatching process, they may not integrate with other operations — such as building estimates or creating invoices.
That’s why we recommend a more holistic field management software (FSM), such as ServiceTitan, that provides the tools for your staff to manage all your other operational processes as well as scheduling and dispatching.
ServiceTitan provides all the features you need to optimize service dispatching and streamline your business operations.
To see how ServiceTitan can help streamline the dispatching process for your HVAC business, sign up for a free demo.
ServiceTitan HVAC Software
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