HVAC Service Quality is Priceless

Measuring or Just Guessing     

Quality and accuracy have always proven hard to measure, yet when you ask managers or business owners of service oriented businesses how accurately they install their product or perform their service the answer is always the same. “My team does a great job”.

Kudos to the leader for his/her level of confidence in their staff, it speaks volumes to them as a leader. The next question always raises a couple of eyebrows or yields a less than confident response. “What matrix do you have in place that measures your quality or accuracy? Walk me through how the process works and how it is graded.”

Typically this is tracked (if at all) by the number of callbacks or complaints the manager or owner receives in a week, month, or to the best their memory serves.

The challenge with this approach is that nobody truly has their fingers on the pulse of the end product the customer is actually receiving.

When Jack Welch took over at General Electric one of his less than popular decisions was to sell the General Electric brand of central air conditioners to Trane. This was a profitable division for GE and not everyone agreed with Mr. Welch’s decision. Jack believed that if you couldn’t be #1 or #2 in the market place then he didn’t want to focus on that product. Welch also knew that if you can’t control the end line quality of your product or services, than you were leaving your reputation in the hands of the installing contractor. Jack wasn’t going to leave GE’s reputation in the market place to chance and got rid of the division.

I have spent some time in with HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) contractors across the country and know firsthand that the quality of the installation customers receive is the most important aspect of the decision, more important than what Brand, the efficiency rating or SEER level the customer purchased.

In surveying air conditioning contractors from coast to coast I was surprised to find that almost every one of them doesn’t have a way to benchmark the quality of their end line product.

Here is a basic outline of what we have come up with to help companies measure and track their installed accuracy and quality.

1.)    Get a handle on what your true warranty costs are. How much money you spent over the last 12 months in returning to a client’s home and not been able to charge for the visit.

2.)    Look up how many parts you have replaced due to failure under a manufactures warranty in the last 12 months. List them by category and assign a value to each.

These totals have come in well over $100,000.00 per year in every case!

 

3.)    Assign someone in your organization to spearhead a Quality Control division.

4.)    Define what information and testing is most valuable to ensuring the installed performance is at or above manufacture recommendations or guidelines.

5.)    With every new system installation, include a free quality assurance inspection. If sold properly with the system this adds a lot of value to the customer.

6.)    After the installation is complete, give the client 2-4 days to live with the system before the quality assurance visit is scheduled.

7.)    Have the quality control specialist test everything and benchmark the installer’s performance. Were any adjustments needed? Was everything completed as promised? While the QC specialist is there, have him/her make any adjustments needed to ensure the customer has received the best installation possible and are comfortable with their new system and its operation.

8.)    Log all your results. We used 4 areas to grade the installer’s performance.

A.)   Craftsmanship. How does everything look? Even though a customer may not understand how everything works, they know when they see a high level of craftsmanship or not.

B.)   Working. Everything is working and tested at or above manufacture specifications and the job was 100% completed.

C.)   Future Callback. Everything was complete and tested good, but some aspect of the installation process was overlooked and the customer would be in need of a future service call or visit to correct.

D.)   Not Working: The installer(s) were unable to get the new system running properly and needed to enlist additional help from someone to complete the project.

9.)     Graph and plot these results for every project and review the results weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually with each installer.

10.)             Set goals and benchmarks so that the installers know how they stack up.

11.)             Reward those meeting or exceeding the desired results.

12.)             After 6 or 12 months review your warranty costs compared to the year before as well as your manufacture warranty costs.

With this system in place we have cut warranty costs and repairs by more than 70% in the first year of implementation!

It has also led to in-house training programs that allows the quality assurance representative to deliver his/her feedback to the installers and use the opportunity to train everyone in areas that results are showing to be weaker than desired. An internal competitive culture has developed within the installation departments and the service technicians are thrilled to not run installation related callbacks at the end of their long day.

The results from simply developing a baseline, setting obtainable goals and measuring results have taken a new position (Quality Assurance Representative) from what was thought to be an overhead position to a profit center!

It really boils down to one simple statement: “If you’re not measuring, you’re just guessing”

Why leave your customers happiness, referrals and reputation to chance?

HVAC Service Quality is Priceless!

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Success4others, LLC www.success4others.com

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