A Letter from the President

Summer prep is under way! The preventative maintenances are on! We use this time of year to remind our techs what their expectations are over the next several months. Proper maintenance will prevent most unnecessary service request during primetime leaving your service board open to new customers and new problems. Take a walk with your customer to show them the services you just provided them and make sure they understand the value of maintaining filters. It’s really about equipment cleanliness and efficiency. Keep your eyes open to other issues in the home, like the condition of the ductwork, hot water heaters, and water pipes. Help them understand how to use their equipment for best operation and comfort. Remember to show your value at every visit. The best way to grow your service agreements is to minimize the ones that don’t renew. That means the ones you sell go more toward growth. We spent the last 30 days reiterating the reasons for agreements in the first place which include higher sales closure rates and more consistent shoulder season work, etc.

Congratulations to Michael Giangrandi of HACC, our neighbor association to the north, for his new position on the MD HVAC Board. It is always important to have local representation working on our behalf. Two of AACP’s own and past Presidents, Michael Wheat and Debbie Risher, are very active on our Legislative Committee. It takes dedication to wrestle this beast and make things happen in our best interest, and they have it.

Congratulations to the Apprenticeship Class of 2019 that will graduate this month. Talk about dedication, four years of working full time and attending school two nights a week. That is a great accomplishment.

Several great events are already on our calendar for the fall, so save the dates. Our annual Golf Event will be held at Raspberry Falls, VA on Friday, September 13 and we are bringing back The Heat Exchanger Experts for a second year in a row on Monday, September 30. I sent three techs last year and they loved it. One of the best tech trainings that we do.  And watch out for a couple more events without dates yet, our Legislative Event, where we discuss where we are now and our intentions for 2020 and we are working on a Seminar with a highly rated Keynote Speaker.

Have a great Summer 2019!

Mike Tucker
AACP, President

Upcoming events

Five Simple Tips to Win Homeowner’s Trust and Earn Their Business

By Shawn Whiteley
American Standard Heating and Air Conditioning
Article originally posted on The News

Purchasing an HVAC system is often overwhelming to homeowners since it involves making a significant investment in complex equipment that they may not know much about.  With your in-depth industry knowledge, you have the opportunity to help customers feel informed about their choices and comfortable choosing to work with you. In the end, customers just want a problem-free HVAC system installed by a contractor they trust.

These simple tips, based on dealer best practices, can help you build trust with homeowners and create lasting relationships.

Building Trust

Be the Online and Offline HVAC Expert

Because many homeowners have limited knowledge about what to do when it’s time to repair or replace their HVAC system, they often start with the Internet for advice. Once online, they find a wealth of information, which unfortunately is not always accurate. As the expert, you can use the consultation to help them to sort through what they’ve read or heard and correct any misperceptions.

But you don’t have to wait until the consultation to ensure homeowners have access to accurate information. Set up a social media page if you don’t already have one and post answers to commonly asked questions or seasonal maintenance tips and tricks. Consider creating simple “how-to” emails that you send to customers every so often.  Or, set up an online social networking channel where you can post simple how-to videos on topics such as, “Why It’s Important to Change Your Filter” or “Why Do Preventative Maintenance Checks.”

Make your contact information visible on your social media sites and respond to questions and comments right away, including the negative ones. Show that you are there to solve problems and provide great service.

By sharing useful information in these easy-to-digest formats, not only are you helping to demystify HVAC for homeowners, but you’re also making it more likely that they’ll call you, rather than a competitor, when it’s time to replace or repair.

Stay Smart on Regulations and Qualifications

Staying up to date on HVAC regulations and standards can set you apart from competitors. When explaining how standards impact a homeowner’s HVAC options, keep things simple and relevant. Again, the typical consumer is most concerned about an HVAC system that’s reliable and worry-free, but because standards and regulations can impact their experience, such as energy efficiency and repair cost, this information can be valuable to share.

You can stay abreast of changes to standards through industry associations and publications, as well as regulatory agency sites.  The DOE keeps an update of rule-making here. Set up online alerts to receive immediate updates on any regulation changes in your area.

Make sure to showcase your qualifications, such as NATE® certification and state licensing. Point out to the homeowner the benefits of using a contractor with the proper credentials. 

Listen to the Homeowner

It all boils down to listening to the customer. Spend time getting to know your clients, assessing their environment, and asking questions to understand their concerns and needs.

Don’t feel limited to answering the questions homeowners ask.  More often than not, they don’t know a lot about how HVAC works or the variety of options for controlling their comfort, from precision temperature and humidity control to air quality. You can guide them through the decision process by asking these key questions for them. For example: What are their family’s preferences on temperature and humidity levels throughout the home? What are their concerns about utility bills? What home automation options might interest them?  Bring a checklist along to guide the discussion.

Once the new HVAC system is installed and running smoothly, the homeowner will appreciate that you took the time to build a solution tailored to their unique needs.

Re-Engaging After the Sale

Champion First-Year Annual Service

While a new unit provides peace of mind for homeowners, trust building doesn’t stop at the sale.

Following the initial installation, remind the homeowner that you offer seasonal service tune-ups to ensure their equipment keeps running smoothly. Encourage them to contact you in the meantime with any questions and make sure they have your contact information, even with something as simple as a refrigerator magnet with your office number.

Consider discounting the first-year of annual service or include it in the sale package as a way to show your commitment to them and the performance of their new system. This commitment not only guarantees more work with the homeowner, but also ensures you’ll be in contact with them on a regular basis to answer their questions and share any relevant industry news.

As mentioned earlier, take time to set up a social media page for your company. This page enables consumers to reach out very easily. Respond to comments right away, paying particular attention to addressing critical feedback. You can use social media to show that you’re ready to solve customers’ problems and deliver superior customer service.

Use Milestones to Keep in Touch

Being in the HVAC business is being in the relationship business.  Send a thank you note after the purchase, letting the homeowners know that you appreciate working with them. Send a date-of-sale anniversary card to show the homeowner you’re still thinking of them even after a year has passed.  Take the time to sign and add a personal note. The anniversary mark is also a great time to remind homeowners what their warranty offers, schedule a maintenance appointment, and tell them about your new products and services.

These simple recommendations can help you earn a reputation as a trusted, reliable resource for homeowners.

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About the Author

Shawn Whiteley is the Senior Regional Manager for American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning, a brand of Ingersoll Rand. In his role, Whiteley oversees sales and share growth in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. He has a long-tenure with Ingersoll Rand having been with the company for fifteen years in various roles across the southern United States. Whiteley currently resides in Edmond, Oklahoma with his wife and two daughters.

10 Tips to Reduce Workplace Negativity

By Daniel Keller
Article originally posted on LinkedIn

If you’re a leader in your company, and one or more of your employees exhibits negative behavior, it can affect not only the morale of other employees but their productivity as well. At its extreme, employees with negative attitudes about work may need counseling; however, simple steps may resolve issues before they become a major problem in your organization.

There are a variety of steps that you can put into place to reduce negativity in the workplace:

  1. Conduct meetings with your staff on a regular basis to discuss any issues that they may have and get feedback from them. Encourage all of your employees to speak up and voice their concerns, even if their opinions may be unpopular with other employees.

  2. Regularly listen to the complaints of your staff members in order to find out if there are valid reasons for their negativity.  Choose a human resource person or a company manager that employees can also come to when they have concerns about any workplace issues, and introduce that individual to your employees at a staff meeting. Make certain that you assure your employees that their concerns will be heard on a regular basis.

  3. Sit down on an individual basis with staff members who have negative feelings about their work and ask detailed questions to find out the reason or reasons they have negative feelings. Be sure that you suggest to your employees other, positive ways to view these negative issues.

  4. Investigate larger issues that individuals or a group of employees complain about, including allegations of discrimination or harassment. Enforce workplace policies and be certain to conduct disciplinary reviews and carry out corrective action when needed in order to eliminate a negative work environment.

  5. Start an open-door policy and have a suggestion box made available. This will encourage your employees to communicate on a regular basis with you and make them feel that their concerns are being heard and acted upon.

  6. Hold company-wide family events to foster friendly relationships between employees of your organization. This may help reduce negativity about the workplace and co-workers, as employees will feel that they’re valued as individuals with outside interests and families.

  7. Examine your own, individual way of communicating with your employees: speak and act with consistency, criticize them privately, and share your vision of the company with them.   Make certain that you are not sending out your own negative messages or conveying negative attitudes when you communicate with them, as this can make it more difficult for your employees to trust you and communicate with you on a regular basis.

  8. Go over workplace policies, and stress the philosophy, mission and goals of your company. Emphasize the importance of focusing on your organization’s business objectives and working together to achieve common goals. This will help your staff feel that their voices are being heard.

  9. Involve employees in decision making; this will make them feel more valued and thus, they may be less likely to exhibit negative behavior.

  10. Focus on the positive contributions that employees make to the company and provide this feedback to employees.

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About the Author

Daniel Keller is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President of Interim HR Consulting. He is a collaborative cross-functional leader with demonstrated success in defining business strategies, building high-performing teams, and achieving demanding operational and financial business goals.

Interim HR Consulting is a staffing firm purely dedicated to providing human resource talent. We are a nationally recognized firm, providing staffing for companies of every size, including many of our nation’s most respected companies. For temporary or contingency staffing, our partners know we can be trusted to bring the candidates they need to make their human resource team the best they can be.


  • Local, State and National Legislative & Advocacy efforts
  • Participation in the nationally recognized Apprenticeship Program
  • Education opportunities for your technicians and staff - (NATE, CFC, Business management, Legal and Legislative)
  • Industry Resources - (IRS documents, Risk Management documents, white papers, Code Compliance, six e-Newsletters)
  • Member pricing for events and training sessions
  • A discounted rate on insurance for member companies

Solving the Leadership Gap in the Trade Industry

By Alex Willis
Leadership Surge
Article originally posted on The News

The skilled trade industry is undergoing a challenging transition that’s forcing companies to adapt or die.

As millennials enter the trades, a new wave of entry-level employees are clashing with older generations that have dominated the field — making teamwork more difficult than it needs to be.

Along with the generational behavioral differences, companies are also facing an employee gap. The gap represents the number of retiring workers versus the number of qualified workers ready to replace them. Many workers come straight out of high school without much, if any, additional training. In fact, there are so many entry-level employees in the trades, that there are too many to properly train. This creates a problem when trying to find new people to replace those that have decades of experience. As leadership retires, companies also struggle to find people to move into leadership roles.

The construction industry has dealt with its fair share of ups and downs. Recently, construction has been booming. While this is great for employees, it can be bad for companies. Overall profit margins remain low, which means companies need to operate as efficiently as possible to stay afloat. Even though the need to operate efficiently exists, valuable working time is often wasted. Waiting around for materials, traveling between jobs, and taking multiple breaks during the day all eat away at an employee’s ability to work efficiently.

Aside from issues in the field, employees also don’t always trust that upper level leaders have everyone’s best interests in mind. No matter the reason why trust is lacking, upper level leaders need to work harder to maintain confidence with employees.

Even though the trades seem to be plagued with multiple issues, companies can take steps to elevate employees through leadership training. With so many entry-level employees, companies have to rely on incorporating technology to help reach the masses, creating consistency in delivering training material.

It’s known that trainees forget 50 percent of what was said one hour after a training course. Breaking this learning material into bite-sized chunks helps employees retain the information.

The key to breaking through the generational gap is leadership capacity. Through leadership training workers can learn how to overcome the new generational differences present in the field. They will also learn the skills necessary to take over the jobs of soon-to-be retirees, all while learning how to work more efficiently.

Training isn’t only beneficial to the teams’ success, but also to the workers’ individual success. Leaders in the front line of any organization must be equipped with soft skills the same way they are equipped with technical skills.  As a result, productivity and job satisfaction will rise. It’s a win-win situation.

The problems in the trade industry are not going away anytime soon. Veteran employees in the trades must begin to see themselves as coaches. Coaches set the tone and tempo for a team to achieve a specific goal. They do whatever it takes to win. Companies must use this approach to adapt so that its front line employees can adapt as well.

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About the Author

Alex Willis is CEO of Leadership Surge, a team of committed professionals dedicated to cultivating leaders. For more information, visit www.leadershipsurge.com.

Upcoming Certification Refresher Classes & Testing

Benefits of Growing Your HVAC Maintenance Program

By AFGO Mechanical Services
Originally posted on MrHVAC.com

As an HVAC service provider, you rely on your customers to make the responsible choice and schedule routine maintenance for their furnace and air conditioner once a year. Repairs and replacements provide a revenue stream as well, but nothing compares to the consistency of maintenance calls.

Because tune-ups are so critical to the success of your business, consider creating or growing a formal HVAC maintenance program to prevent missing out on a huge opportunity. With the right features, both you and your customers can benefit from having an HVAC maintenance membership.

What’s Included in an HVAC Maintenance Membership?

You can tailor your plan to match your business offerings or help you stand out from competitors. An HVAC maintenance membership should help customers save money, keep their heating and cooling systems in good repair, and reduce inconvenient breakdowns. Here are the types of things to include:

  • Deals on maintenance visits: This benefit alone should help your plan pay for itself. Consider lowering the cost of routine maintenance with an affordable monthly or yearly fee to get customers interested in signing up with you.
  • After-hours benefits: It’s reasonable to charge a fee for emergency services, but consider decreasing this or waiving it altogether for maintenance plan members. Free emergency service is a significant perk that gives your customers peace of mind when they need to call after hours.
  • Front-of-the-line service: No one wants to be told they must wait in line for AC repair on a scorching summer afternoon. Show your plan members how much their loyalty means to you by bumping them to the front of the line when they request emergency services.
  • Priority booking when the seasons change: Call your plan members a month or two before the prime time to schedule maintenance and offer to book their services in advance at a convenient time for them.
  • Discounts on repairs, replacements, and upgrades: You might waive diagnostic charges and service fees or offer plan members discounts on new system installation, indoor air quality products, and other HVAC upgrades.
  • Other perks: Shape your maintenance program however you want. Ideas include loyalty perks that reward members for renewing their annual plan and referral credits that benefit new and existing members when they spread the word about your program.

Benefits of Maintenance Programs for HVAC Companies

There’s no doubt that maintenance programs benefit customers, but they can make a big difference for your company as well. Here’s what you stand to gain when you offer the right features and market your plan correctly:

  • Customer retention: When customers sign up for a maintenance program from your company, they don’t need to shop around. Instead, they come to you for all their routine and emergency HVAC services. This saves your customers time and effort and helps you get more business.
  • Regular and predictable revenue: Customers are usually billed for HVAC maintenance plans monthly or once a year. This predictable income—along with the steady stream of tune-up requests that come with maintenance programs—ensures your company has cash flow during the slow spring and fall seasons.
  • More customer contact: With a maintenance plan, you’re in customers’ homes and businesses more frequently, giving you a chance to mention indoor air quality products or upgrades that improve their indoor comfort and bolster your bottom line.
  • Greater customer loyalty: The more positive experiences you can provide a customer, the better. After all, when you deliver exceptional services to your maintenance program members, again and again, the chance of getting referrals from friends and family increases.
  • Service bundling: Does your HVAC company provide other related services, such as plumbing and electrical work? If you offer a discount to maintenance plan members, they are more likely to think of you when they need these accompanying services. As a result, you become the go-to provider for all your customers’ indoor comfort needs.
  • Warranty coverage: Home and business owners become frustrated if they file a warranty claim for a repair or replacement only to learn that they accidentally voided their warranty by neglecting routine tune-ups. When you advertise your maintenance program, make sure customers know your services are designed to uphold warranty coverage, so they never have to experience this frustration.

Clearly, the right approach to HVAC maintenance plans can contribute substantially to customer satisfaction, referral rates, and ultimately your bottom line. Launch a program today to see the impact it has on your business! 

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About the Author

AFGO Mechanical Services has worked around the clock to establish our reputation as an HVAC industry leader. AFGO is proud to provide comprehensive HVAC services to businesses throughout the NYC metro area, including installation, retrofit, and replacement; custom maintenance agreements; emergency repairs; and more. For more information, please contact AFGO Mechanical.

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