Several questions must be answered before making the decision on whether or not to hire a telephone answering service (TAS) for your HVAC company.
Two critical questions to consider:
- Do I want any additional business?
- Can my company, with its current structure, handle any additional business?
If you answered “yes” to both of the above questions then your answer should probably be yes, you should hire a HVAC answering service. This blog will explore some of the factors involved in making that decision.What is the Value of an HVAC Answering Service?
There is another question for those that do currently have an answering service: Am I getting sufficient value from my current HVAC telephone answering service to justify their monthly bill?
Below we will outline some of the costs and benefits of hiring an answering service, and also assist in ascertaining if you presently have the right service for your current needs.
Consider this situation:
Many years ago Yellow Pages advertising was the main form of marketing for most businesses.
In our market, it costs over $1,000 per month for a half page ad. Our overnight operator called every attorney in our local telephone book who had an ad that was a half-page or larger to determine how their phone was answered.
70% of the numbers they called either rang out or had voice mail/answering machine.
At that time, the customary rate for an answering service in our market was a flat rate of $75 per month. These advertisers were paying over $1,000 monthly for their ad.
Someone in their office would answer the phone during the day, typically from 8-5, a total of 45 hours per week. But the remaining 123 hours per week, their phone went unanswered or had voice mail.
It was certainly surprising that the attorneys would pay $1,000 for an ad, but not pay $75 for a service to gather business calls for the greater part of the week.
How much benefit could they have added to their advertising dollar for an additional $75 monthly expenditure?
It is clear that advertising dollars have shifted from the Yellow Pages to the Internet or other forms of marketing. Yet the amount spent on advertising has likely increased for many businesses.
So what happens with calls that come in for the 123 hours per week that your staff does not answer your phone? If you answered “yes” to the first question above, i.e., do I want additional business? then you are probably spending some of your hard-earned dollars on advertising. The question now becomes, am I capturing the opportunities arising from my advertising expenditures?
What Makes an Answering Service Good?
A good answering service will:
- Answer the Phone Promptly: 3 rings or less is the industry standard.
- Take a Thorough and Correct Message: Spelling of customer name and address is critical in your industry!
- Properly Deliver: Deliver the message promptly to the proper technician in the manner you desire.
- Work With Your Software: Ideally they will deliver the data from the call in a manner that can be easily imported into your business management software.
Save or print this infographic for reference during your hunt for an answering service that best aligns with your business needs.
What Determines the Cost of an Answering Service?
The amount they would charge you for that service can vary greatly and can depend on a number of TAS cost factors.
- The size of your client base
- the number of hours a day you ask the TAS to answer the phones
- the amount of information you ask the TAS to collect
- the number of automated features the TAS offers and you choose to use,
- the differing rates charged by TAS businesses, depending on their geographical location and on the quality of service they provide.
What is a Premium Answering Service?
A premium service can generally:
- capture a greater number of messages (i.e., jobs and leads)
- capture the needed information completely and accurately
- deliver the message more quickly and accurately
- ensure better relations with your customers
- and allow you and your staff greater peace of mind
If you desire to grow your business, you can easily perform a quick cost benefit analysis to determine the value of a TAS for your HVAC company. That is, by hiring a TAS and capturing calls after regular office hours, are you bringing in sufficient new revenue to justify the additional cost of a TAS, or to simply justify the increased cost of a premium TAS?
Is a premium HVAC Answering Service Worth the Cost?
Consider how much additional revenue you can bring in with a premium telephone answering service.
The average ticket cost for an a/c repair is $310.
What does it cost to roll a truck? Estimates say that the cost is at least $150 each time your truck visits a customer’s location.
This implies a gross profit of $160(i.e., $310 billing for a job, $150 cost to provide service for that job) each time your truck rolls to a job. Note that the assumption is being made that a ticket of $310 probably has minimal parts revenue and therefore the cost factor has minimal parts expense.
However, you can either calculate actual numbers for your own business or have your CPA do so. We will use this estimate of $160 gross profit for the purpose of this analysis.
An HVAC company with 2-4 trucks will usually have a telephone answering service bill with a premium service of somewhere between $125 and $350 per month in the off season depending on the TAS cost factors mentioned earlier. With a gross profit per job of approximately $125, the HVAC answering service would need to secure one- to three additional jobs each month of the off-season to be financially justified. Only you can determine the value of better customer relations and personal peace of mind.
At Dexcomm, we typically take between 5 and 10 new job messages in the off-season months of the year for an HVAC company of a size approximating two- to four trucks. Our bill will range from $200-$350 for these companies during these months depending on the hours we answer, the automated features we utilize, the amount of information we capture, and the customer call traffic. This would not include services such as scheduling of appointments or working in our customers’ own business software which typically have a higher monthly cost.
How Can Dexcomm Work For My Business?
Dexcomm has had HVAC companies that did not perform after business hours work. We would simply take messages for delivery the next morning.
Other HVAC customers request that we work directly in their scheduling software, scheduling appointments during and after business hours. We have had customers that were not looking to grow their businesses, but did want to do a great job of serving their current customers so they required our premium service.
We have many customers hoping to grow their business and we are happy to become their partner for the long-run success of their enterprise.
There are many different options and opportunities when considering how to grow your business. Whether or not to hire an HVAC telephone answering service, or upgrade to premium telephone answering service, is one of the questions that definitely should be considered.
Hopefully this blog has given you the information necessary to determine if you need a TAS for your business and if a premium TAS is right for you. If you have any questions on this topic or others, please do not hesitate to call upon us at Dexcomm. We are standing by, 24/7/365!