Your HVAC company has been doing well for the past few years and business has been consistently good. The operations managers have been making the most out of that old scheduling software but as you’ve been adding more and more technicians to your team, they’re starting to feel a little frayed. After all, a growing business needs an HVAC scheduling software that can keep up.
10 features your HVAC scheduling software should have:
Now, you’d be tempted to think a scheduling software needs to do one thing: schedule. Except this is small business thinking and you’re not a small business anymore. You need to look ahead and plan for the future, with a software can handle a big team, diverse customers (both domestic and commercial), as well as create a premium customer experience that will set you apart from competitors. To guarantee it will be able to grow with you, we’ve put together 10 features your HVAC scheduling software should have. When you’re ready to upgrade, do your research, sign-up for free trials, get your checklist ready, and make sure to tick off the following:
1. Service scheduling.
Seems a bit redundant after we mentioned that it’s not the only thing you should be looking for, but since this is a list of features your HVAC scheduling software should have, we have to mention the actual scheduling part. Except, not all service scheduling features are made equal. Pay close attention to it during your free trial to see how easy and intuitive the software is.
Additionally, check if it offers multiple views of the calendar (weekly, monthly, etc.) to ensure you can get an idea of upcoming work orders at a glance, with the option of going into detail, as well as map views of various appointments. Make sure any schedule change is communicated in real-time to technicians and customers alike, while any appliance history is stored accordingly, in the customer database. These are just a few nuances that HVAC scheduling software can have so pay close attention to how advanced this core feature is.
2. Service appointment windows.
Flexible service appointments allow your business to book an appointment at a particular time – for example 9:00 to 10:00 – while presenting a different service window to your customer (e.g. 9:00 – 11:00). This means you can efficiently schedule your technicians’ jobs, whilst having greater flexibility in the event of unavoidable delays.
This helps you improve your customer satisfaction by setting your customers’ expectations properly from the beginning. Furthermore, your team has a much higher chance of meeting those expectations with realistic service windows. Many businesses are already taking advantage of this feature.
3. Automatic notifications.
We mentioned them during our first point, but we’d like to elaborate a bit and highlight just how important automatic notifications really are. After all, if you’re investing in HVAC scheduling software, you’re doing it because you aim to automate the repetitive tasks operations managers need to suffer through. These range from confirmation emails to feedback strategies and, generally, take up a lot of time that they could spent on tasks that require more creativity or empathy.
Your HVAC scheduling software should send real-time notifications to customers and technicians when a work order is generated and added to the calendar, as well as reminders (whether for appointments or just general service) to customers, confirmations that a tech is on his way (including a tracking portal but we’ll get to that later on!) or information regarding an unexpected change. Thanks to companies like Uber or JustEat, customers these days expect to be in the loop about every move you make so they’ll appreciate your efforts. That’s when your software should send an automatic feedback notification, which will also help you scale and automate reviews.
4. Real-time vehicle tracking.
Real-time vehicle tracking enables true oversight of your trucks. It enables you to see where everyone is in real-time and get access to crucial information like whether a technician is on the move and how they are driving. GPS software enables you to be more responsive to your customers’ needs therefore you’ll be able to handle last-minute schedule changes, ultimately leading to a better service. The right HVAC scheduling software will have this feature built-in (although you should check for hidden fees when it comes to anything GPS-related!) and communicating with other functions to create automated workflows, like the aforementioned tracking portal notification. Why is real-time tracking so important? Because without it, there’s no way to have…
5. Optimized location suggestions.
We call it intelligent scheduling, where software takes care of optimizing work orders so that technicians are taking the best route to get to their appointments. Ideally, it should improve your efficiency by automating the complex process of routing and scheduling jobs. In order to do this, the HVAC scheduling software has to run a powerful algorithm that will maximize your technician utilization, decrease driving time and fuel costs, and reduce the burden on your office staff. Whether you intelligently schedule 1 or 1000 appointments, the system should offer an automated and hassle-free method of managing your calendar.
6. HVAC maintenance agreement software.
Your calendar doesn’t exist in a void – that much is clear. But you don’t realize how central it is to all your activities until you start winning commercial contracts. Whether they’re for regular maintenance or include detailed service level agreements, service contract management is deeply intertwined with your calendar activities. It also implies a lot of effort on your admin’s part and, without the right HVAC scheduling software, it can seriously dampen your efforts to win bigger contracts.
Why is that? Because commercial clients are looking for innovative companies with the latest tools (and what is software but a tool?) and strong proof that they can handle the increase in workload with a solid planned preventive maintenance strategy. During your free trial, you need to check if the software of your choice has a dedicated service contract view, where you can input the recurring appointments and track your deadlines. After all, service level agreement breaches are no joke. If you miss a job, you’re in line for some steep fines so don’t cheap out on the right tools. Furthermore, for a service contract management feature to be truly automated, it needs to come with…
7. Mass HVAC technicians scheduling.
The location optimization tool is a must-have for booking in single jobs. However, when you have tens, hundreds, or even thousands of work orders to add, you’ll need intelligent mass scheduling. This is a feature where you can choose the jobs and set parameters, then leave it to the software to find the most efficient schedule. By processing large numbers of jobs in one go you can save drastic amounts of admin time and make your business more efficient.
This feature is perfect if you’re struggling with reconciling your domestic customer responsibilities with your commercial ones. At the end of the day, it takes a mix of both to have a healthy, growing business that’s immune to market ups and downs.
8. HVAC recall management.
Keeping your recall jobs to a minimum is imperative for building a reputable and profitable HVAC business. Using purpose-built software can help you deliver a professional service and track which technicians’ work most often requires recalls. If you’re looking for the right HVAC scheduling software, this is an often overlooked feature. It’s not directly connected to the calendar so most managers just glaze over it but imagine your team is dealing with an angry customer over the phone, asking for someone to come over immediately to fix a flaw in the installation. If your system is not optimized for recalls, you risk having to keep them on hold for long stretches of time then inform them that there’s not booking slot available. Imagine the reviews you’ll get!
With a recall management option that communicates efficiently with the previously mentioned features, you don’t even have to put them on hold! Simply ask the system to book in a recall, review the day’s jobs, how complex they are and what history you have with those clients (there are always people who are more than happy to switch appointments or take you up on a 10% discount for the trouble), and let the software do the rest (including the notifications).
9. Advanced reporting for HVAC businesses
We’ve said it before and we’ll keep saying it: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring. And having a strong reporting feature is key to accurate audits and realistic forecasts. Any HVAC scheduling software should come with a reporting option but you need to determine if this offers you enough details and filters to accurately appraise your processes. Your total number of work orders, missed appointments, and first-time fix-rate are key to determining if the business is growing, stagnating, or shrinking, and if it’s not the first, what can you do about it? You can’t fix something if you don’t know where to look for it.
If you’re tendering for commercial contracts, you’ll also find that prospective customers will want proof of a great track-record when it comes to planned preventive maintenance and service level agreement compliance. Your reports should play a starring role in your proposal as they’re essentially the history of your company and a guarantee for the quality of your work.
10. HVAC Mobile app
Last but definitely not least, a mobile app. Much like scheduling, this is also a feature where its mere existence is not enough to guarantee quality. Mobile apps are a dime a dozen, so whenever you’re trialing a new HVAC scheduling software, check that the app is not simply a small-screen version of the desktop. Take a look at how often they release updates (this goes for the overall software, too). Then consult with your technicians. They will be the ones having to deal with the app on a daily basis. So confirm that they find it easy to use.
A dynamic solution for your HVAC scheduling software…
Commusoft’s HVAC scheduling software hosts all of these features and more to offer the best automated scheduling system for field service businesses. Benefit from both suggested individual appointments and mass scheduling, all powered by our route optimization algorithm and cluster-computing framework. Commusoft’s scheduling can offer a level of planning and routing efficiency that simply isn’t possible by a human in order to reduce fuel costs, travel time, and underutilization of technicians.