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Virtual HVAC appointments?

Erin Holohan Haskell
Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,555
I've been hearing a lot about virtual HVAC appointments during this pandemic and am curious. Is anyone here using them with customers? And if so, how's it going? Thanks.


  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,810
    I'm curious as I haven't heard of it at all.
    On the phone I usually ask the customer a few questions to see if it's something simple as a battery for a thermostat, emergency switch accidentally shut off, etc.
    But otherwise, someone has to show up with tools, parts and skills...
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,555
    @STEVEusaPA, I've heard that some contractors are using special software with all of the bells and whistles, while others are just making that call a FaceTime or Zoom call so they can see the thermostat, etc. and get a visual rather than a verbal description from the customer to gather more info before an in-person visit.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,726
    That's interesting. While I think the idea of better triage is good, the whole 'working from home' thing gives me the willies. As near as I can figure, the biggest difference between working from home & working from India is the wages. I'm not at all looking for ways to make my job more remote-friendly.
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,555
    @ratio, I think customers will always need in-person HVAC service. It's just been interesting to see how people are getting more familiar with video calls these days and how companies are incorporating technology into day-to-day operations.
  • Kybeans403
    Kybeans403 Member Posts: 43
    Evening! Our sales team has been running many,  many appointments via face-time and video calling. Most of the time it's after myself or one of my other service team members had been to the house for an issue. We are trying our best to limit "extra" in home visits. Taking extra time and more often now waiting on parts longer to get delivered, where we'd normally schedule a return visit for the repair. We've hired 2 additional parts runners to help facilitate this. There are customers who still do not want anyone in the house unless absolutely necessary. When this pops up, our dispatch team forwards the call to one of the senior techs and we try our best to help those customers do some troubleshooting over the phone...obviously we're not having a custy mess with line voltage but with encouragement most are happy to try anything to get their AC back....resetting an EZ trap/pan switch, taking the face off a stat and jumping RY& goes a long way. And especially with contract customers,  teaching them the basics anyway helps us avoid a Saturday night call out for a clogged drain

  • motoguy128
    motoguy128 Member Posts: 335
    I don’t see a need. Customers can answer the door, back away and/or wear a mask, tell you were the equipment is and leave you to do your job. Isn’t that what we prefer anyway?

    I see minimal risk. The virus isn’t spread by surface contact typically anyway and takes a significant exposure with close contact. We had someone at work test positive and nobody else’s has gotten it. But I had minimal direct interaction with him the two days he was still at work and likely infectious and or pother employees suspected he was positive and kept their distance.
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,555
    Thanks for sharing, @Kybeans403 and @motoguy128.
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,574
    I've heard of companies using zoom as a method to ensure that sales techs are pushing upsells and premature equipment replacement on customers, but not for anything actually useful or beneficial to the customers or service technicians.  

    I'd love to be able to get homeowners to go into the ridiculously hot attics for me and check for things like plugged air filters and condensate drain traps. I don't think many people would be willing to crawl around in the insulation while becoming soaked in sweat while I give them assistance on zoom.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,552
    Give the customer what they want :) Your competitor that offers these options may grab some of your customers.

    Lots of virtual doctors, dentists, realtors, bankers these days. Must be a market for this type of service?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    CanuckerErin Holohan Haskell
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 2,624
    I guess I've been doing "virtual" appointments for years.
    No heat? No problem. It's been a regular part of my job for years to talk panicking customers through finding and resetting a spill switch, re-lighting a pilot light, jumping out a bad thermostat wire or vent damper, etc.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, Master Plumber
    in New York
    in New Jersey
    for Consulting Work
    or take his class.
    CanuckerErin Holohan HaskellBillyOSlamDunk
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,159
    I would like to be able to do a virtual boiler cleaning :s
    ratioErin Holohan HaskellSuperTechluketheplumber
  • BillyO
    BillyO Member Posts: 261
    are virtual visits billable? and if so, how?
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,555
    BillyO said:

    are virtual visits billable? and if so, how?

    Yes, companies are charging for this consultation time. If the virtual appointment isn't enough to correct the issue, then the payment is applied to the service call. And then when they head to the service call, they have more info going in and are prepared with parts, etc.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,628
    This reminds me of a story that a plumber told me.

    He had a friend that was a lawyer, he called that friend and asked him a legal question. The lawyer's office sent the plumber a bill for his time that said "phone consultation".

    The lawyer later called the plumber with some sort of problem with his well, something that had frozen if I recall. The plumber talked the lawyer through fixing it over the phone. The plumber had his office send the lawyer a bill that said "phone consultation".
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,810
    Yeah I bet the lawyer paid it right away
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