Several questions must be answered before making the decision on whether or not to hire an overnight telephone answering service 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 24/7 live HVAC answering service. This blog will explore some of the factors involved in hiring a telephone answering service for your HVAC company.
What is the Value of an Overnight 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 its 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 more than $1,000 per month for a half-page ad. At that time, the customary rate for an answering service in our market was a flat rate of $75 per month.
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. Of the numbers they called, 70% either rang out or went to voicemail or an answering machine.
Someone in their office would answer the phone during the day, typically from 8 a.m. to5 p.m., a total of 45 hours per week. But the remaining 123 hours per week, their phone went unanswered or went to voicemail.
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 times that you staff is unable to answer the phone?
If you answered “yes” to the first question above — 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. Three rings or fewer is the industry standard.
- Take a thorough and correct message. Spelling customer names and addresses correctly is critical in your industry!
- Properly deliver. It will deliver the message promptly to the proper technician in the manner you desire.
- Work with your software. Ideally, the service will deliver the data from the call in a manner that can be easily imported into your business management software.
What Determines the Cost of an Answering Service?
The amount that an answering service may charge you for service can vary greatly and can depend on a number of TAS cost factors.
- size of your client base
- number of hours a day you ask the telephone answering service to answer the phones
- amount of information you ask the call center agents to collect in messages
- types of automated features or integrations the answering service provider offers and you choose to implement
- differing rates charged by after hours answering services, 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 telephone answering service for your HVAC company. That is, by hiring an answering service 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 HVAC Business?
Dexcomm has served a variety of home services clients.
For clients who prefer not to be on call after hours, we can simply take messages from overnight callers and deliver them the following morning.
For other HVAC customers who want an integrated answering service, we can we work directly in their scheduling software, scheduling appointments during and after business hours.
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!