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For HVAC contractors in this day and age, customer service agreements are critical. In fact, they offer such tremendous business advantages that it can be tough for HVAC shops to compete without them. The contractors that use HVAC maintenance contracts most effectively tend to see big gains in revenue growth, efficiency, and market share.
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When managed successfully, by well-trained techs armed with maintenance checklists, customer service agreements can help contractors do things like:
Create a large pool of loyal customers, who are unlikely to shop competitors for their HVAC needs
Capitalize on preventive maintenance visits to generate leads for additional jobs, like air conditioning system replacements
Produce other kinds of work for contractors with multiple trade divisions — plumbing and/or electrical, for example
By the same token, contractors who don’t offer service contracts generally end up with a smaller customer base, fewer opportunities to get into their customers’ homes and generate new work, and fewer chances to sell big-ticket items. Without service agreements, HVAC contractors must rely almost entirely on chasing new business — a costly, often frustrating endeavor — even as competitors that do have service agreements are effectively siphoning customers out of the market by winning their loyalty.
But particularly for contractors that have a large customer base — typically shops that have been around for a while — managing service agreements without some help from a software tool like ServiceTitan can be a confusing, time-consuming headache. And when it comes to customer service programs, not all field service management tools are created equal. Some are a lot more flexible and easily customizable than others — a significant factor, given that most every service program is a little different.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly how ServiceTitan’s service agreement software works — allowing contractors new to service agreements to design HVAC contract templates from scratch, and making it easy for those who’ve been using them for decades to import their existing data and customize automated service contract templates to match their needs. We’ll also provide a link to a free template you can use.
But before we dive in, it’s worth reviewing why managing HVAC customer service agreements without software can be so difficult.
Curious about how ServiceTitan can allow you to make the most of our service agreement template? Schedule a call to learn more about how our software can help realize the full potential of your customer membership program.
The Challenges of Managing Customer Service Agreements Without a Field Service Software Solution
For all of the reasons we mentioned above, customer service agreements can vastly improve an HVAC contractor’s bottom line. But they can only be effective if they’re properly implemented, and trying to manage them without help from a field software solution, which contractors usually attempt with some combination of spreadsheets and digital calendars, can quickly turn into an organizational nightmare.
1. Scheduling Maintenance Calls
Although the particulars of service agreements vary, they have some basic things in common. Obviously, every customer service agreement prescribes a certain number of annual maintenance service visits for every customer with a membership plan.
The most common customer service agreement model involves two yearly maintenance visits to service basic equipment like the air conditioner and the heat pump. But service plans can easily be more complicated, involving provisions for emergency service outside of standard business hours, for example. And whatever the case, manually scheduling maintenance visits for hundreds of customers correctly and efficiently proves a near-impossible task for even the most experienced customer service reps.
As a result, errors occur. Some customers who’ve paid for memberships miss visits to which they’re entitled, leaving them feeling cheated. Other customers might end up getting too many maintenance calls. Either possibility can lead customers to Google around for other service providers.
2. Customer Experience
Without field service software, HVAC contractors often have trouble keeping their customers accurately informed, in real time, about the status of a scheduled service call. If all their CSR has to rely on is a collection of spreadsheets and calendars, with limited ability to track their techs in the field over the course of the day, chances are, the best they’re going to be able to do is provide customers with a very broad estimate of when their tech is likely to arrive — and then hope for the best.
Customers who spend a lot of time waiting around for their service technician to show up are unlikely to rate their experience with their HVAC service provider very highly, diminishing the sense of loyalty that customer service agreements are meant to encourage.
With hundreds of members to keep track of — if not more — maintaining an accurate record of current addresses, equipment, and past visits can become dizzyingly complex, too. Without an FSM, every maintenance call requires a detailed and time-consuming records check:
What kind of filters are needed for the visit?
Which of the customer’s several pieces of equipment is due for maintenance?
What tech usually serves this location?
Providing a top-notch customer experience requires HVAC contractors to have details about their members instantaneously available for reference. And in the absence of an FSM, that becomes a tall order.
3. Membership Renewal and Billing
Like the other elements of customer service agreements we’ve mentioned in this section, without an FSM, membership life cycles can be extremely challenging to track. Lacking an automated system to monitor when each and every member’s subscription is due to expire — and thus up for renewal — contractors are likely to lose track from time to time, and therefore to lose members and the recurring revenue that comes with them.
The way HVAC contractors bill for membership varies. Traditionally, many have used up-front payments, wherein contractors collect the total cost of a membership at the beginning of a service cycle. Increasingly, though, more contractors are switching to monthly billing, which tends to be more lucrative over time. And without field service management software, it’s virtually impossible to employ this service agreement billing model.
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How ServiceTitan Facilitates HVAC Maintenance Agreements
By employing a best-in-class field service software solution, HVAC contractors can get the absolute most out of their customer service programs. In this section, we’ll explain how ServiceTitan does it:
Using highly customizable service agreement templates to increase signups and drive revenue
Automating billing and membership renewals to minimize missed payments and cancellations
Providing invaluable data to help contractors understand and improve how their service agreement program is designed and marketed
Templates That Drive Memberships — And Revenue
With ServiceTitan, HVAC contractors get access to a broad range of templates for membership types, each of which comes with a particular number of annual home visits, with specified services to be performed during each service call.
In the settings section, contractors can set up the membership type — or types — that best suits their needs, choosing from a menu of recurring services, all of which are customizable. That way, customers with different needs, expectations, and financial resources don’t get pigeonholed into a plan that’s not quite right for them — and which they might decide not to buy. This is one area where ServiceTitan nudges out the competition, which tends to be much less flexible — less open to customization — when it comes to customer service membership templates.
For contractors that already have an HVAC contract program that they like, our team of industry experts can help create customized templates that make what’s already working that much easier to execute. (We’ll also help import all of their existing customer data, from wherever it’s currently stored.) Once the templates are up and running, service techs and office staff can map them onto invoices and estimates, using individual sales of equipment and/or services to drive membership sales.
When a customer signs up for an HVAC service contract, business owners can tie their maintenance visits to one or more pieces of equipment. That way, there’s never any confusion for the tech doing the work about what equipment to service.
Once a membership account is set up, the contractor shouldn’t need to do much tweaking. Unless a customer asks for substantive changes in the way their HVAC system is serviced, with ServiceTitan’s service agreement templates, contractors can usually set it and forget it. (Naturally, contractors who do a lot of commercial HVAC work will need to do a bit more customizing, simply because commercial contracts tend to be so specific.)
As shown above, contractors can use ServiceTitan to contact every customer who’s due for a particular kind of service en masse, eliminating the need to track and follow-up on memberships that are due for service individually.
Billing and Renewal
Tracking membership billing and renewal without an FSM tends to be extremely challenging — a makeshift assortment of alerts and spreadsheets that often result in things falling through the cracks.
With ServiceTitan, contractors can set up automated rules that bill for memberships on a monthly, yearly, or quarterly basis, according to the needs of the company and their customers. Once the rules have been set, virtually all there is for users to do is follow up on failed credit card transactions, and mail bills to customers who pay by check.
HVAC contractors can review a master list that shows the status of each and every membership account — paid and unpaid. It’s a great tool for analyzing, month to month, how effectively their company is collecting on their service agreements, and how much revenue they’re bringing in. Through ServiceTitan’s easy-to-use QuickBooks integration, the software also allows contractors to run a revenue recognition model — an option that most other FSMs simply don’t offer.
Furthermore, HVAC business owners can opt for ServiceTitan’s membership renewal protection feature, which will auto-update credit card expiration dates. That way, contractors aren’t put in the position of calling customers to request updated card information, which creates a better-avoided opportunity for membership cancellation.
In addition to facilitating membership programs and recurring services, ServiceTitan offers contractors unrivaled insights drawn from tracking how those programs and services are being implemented and performed.
Working from a menu containing dozens of KPIs, contractors can quickly sort and analyze datasets to get a clear vision of what’s working about their membership program, what’s not, and how to adjust their approach.
Building on the takeaways — an exact count of active, renewed, canceled, and expired memberships over a given period of time, for example — contractors can use ServiceTitan’s Marketing Pro feature to create campaigns tailored to best communicate with their target audiences, sending separate, automated emails to customers due for a visit, approaching their renewal date, or hanging on to old HVAC equipment.
HVAC owners can even prioritize customer communications based on factors like which members are most likely to soon yield big-ticket work orders.
So that contractors can get a sense of how much easier and more efficient our service agreement templates can make it to run a membership program, we’ve included this printable download sample maintenance contract template for free.
A single template can only provide a hint of the wide-ranging functionality and flexibility that characterizes ServiceTitan’s approach to membership programs. And facilitating service agreements is just one of many features that our users love about ServiceTitan: dispatching, job costing, payroll, timesheets, marketing, call booking, and more.
Together, these ingredients provide a fully integrated system for managing virtually every element of a service business. But for HVAC companies nowadays, a customer service agreement program is essential. Without top-notch field management software to lean on, an effective program is awfully tough to implement. And for HVAC contractors looking to take the first step toward taking their customer service agreement membership program to the next level, our free PDF template is a great place to start.
Curious about how ServiceTitan can help you make the most of our service agreement template? Schedule a call to learn more about how our software can help realize the full potential of your customer membership program.
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