Written by: Sandy Kelty, Customer Service, Arzel Zoning
While I won’t argue its a wonderful convenience brought to us by automated payment services, or websites full of FAQ’s that can answer many of your concerns right there on your computer, sometimes you want the reassurance of speaking to a real person. It is incredibly frustrating when you have one question to ask, only to end up on the phone for fifteen minutes trying in vain to reach a real person. Getting routed from menu to menu can be enough to make you want to scream! There is something satisfying about a friendly voice, some polite and helpful conversation and being able to ask questions specific to your situation.
A good first impression:
Answering phones may not seem like a glamorous part of one’s job description, but it is more important than you might think. At Arzel, we answer the phone with "Its a great day at Arzel! How may we help you?" We have found that it typically starts the conversation on a positive note and assures the caller we are here to help them. It’s incredibly encouraging for your customer to know they can reach a knowledgeable and amiable person at the other end of the phone line and can definitely make the difference in whether they decide to do business with your company again.
The quality of the contact:
People are so appreciative when they find a true willingness to help, especially in this electronic age of quantity over quality. Most people have multiple user names, online profiles and things that can make us seem like more of a faceless commodity than a human being! Corporations may miss the big picture by wanting to focus on reaching as many people as possible without considering the quality of the contact. For instance, if I answer a question, but am in a hurry to get off the phone and on to something I deem more “important”, the person on the other end of the line can tell, and may feel dismissed! Alternately, if we spend as much time talking as needed, to make sure you come away from the conversation informed and feeling satisfied with the outcome, that’s going to be a positive experience that will be remembered. That is what makes lifetime customer relationships.
A good attitude:
Sometimes easier said than done, a positive attitude can make or break a customer experience. You never know what you’re going to hear on the other end. The person may be unhappy, angry or already anticipating a problem. Sometimes they will automatically assume they will need to be put on hold and you won’t be able to help them. Remaining calm and friendly, while reassuring the customer that you will answer the question or resolve the problem is key.
One of my favorite phrases if I can’t handle a situation by myself is “I can’t answer that question but I’m going to get you right to the person who will.” Realize that you can make all the difference in a person’s view of your company simply by a willingness to help and a good attitude. And many times I’ve had the person on the other line make MY day by making me laugh, being silly, friendly or just having a quick chat about the weather. Sometimes I appreciate the demeanor of the person on the other end of the line just as much as they appreciate my assistance.
Customers and colleagues should not be looked at as profits and statistics. They are all people who deserve respect and compassion, and being in a customer service position that is what we are here to do: serve.
I may not have all the knowledge on every aspect of zoning, but I’ll tell you what I know and then find the right person to fill in the blanks. And maybe we’ll find we have something in common and have an enjoyable chat which is just the icing on the cake!
Sounds off on your customer service experiences or how you provide excellent service to your customers!
Guest blog: Kristie Jones-Damalas, VP Sales & Marketing, Skyline Event Services
As summer draws to a close, my phone usually starts to ring with contractors requesting brochures, displays and other materials to use in their booths in fall home shows.
While a booth in a home show is a great venue for getting in front of potential customers and showcasing your business, how do you know if you are truly maximizing your time and investment at these events? Kristie Jones-Damalas from Skyline Event Services shares some tips on how to get the most out of your home show booth:
Have a Theme – Having a theme or consistent message that carries through your booth will make your exhibit and company more memorable. Make sure that the theme or message you choose is professionally executed to ensure you are communicating the right image for your company.
Less is More – Everyone has heard the saying “less is more” and that is definitely the case in exhibiting. When a booth is cluttered with products, demonstrations and information attendees become overwhelmed and intimidated. Instead, highlight your newest, most important information and products that appeal to the specific audience at the show.
Open & Neat Booth Space – Make sure you keep an open, neat exhibit space to allow attendees to move freely through your booth. By utilizing the “less is more” theory you will keep your booth from becoming cluttered. Keep tables and counters to the back of the booth so attendees feel free to step in from the aisle without having to maneuver around furniture or display materials.
Use Movement to Create Interest – Moving exhibits tend to create a more exciting environment that attracts attendees to see “what the buzz is about.” You can create movement in your booth with rotating signs, lights, audio visual, etc. If you have a laptop available, provide a continuous Power Point slide show for attendees to stop and watch, giving you an opportunity to strike up a conversation.
Use Graphics – Catch attendees’ attention with big, bold graphics. These graphics should be clear and concise, raising people’s interest but not providing too much information as attendees may become overwhelmed. Graphics should answer the following questions: “Who are you? What are you selling? Why should customers buy it?” Ask your manufacturer partners for assistance with graphics or posters. Many have displays they can offer on a lease basis or utilize a co-op program to cover some of the expense.
Booth Giveaways – Have brochures, fact sheets, or a trinket with your company logo available to hand out to qualified attendees that visit your booth. Keep it simple and inexpensive as 90% of these items are disregarded after the show. Save the detailed & more costly information for serious customers & mail information directly to the prospect after the show.
In-Booth Demonstrations – Having a demonstration in your booth will create activity and movement, which attracts attention. Manufacturers, like Arzel Zoning, offer demo units for a minimal cost or on a lease basis.
Be sure to have some method to collect booth visitor contact information. A popular option is to run a contest for a giveaway item, iPad, Kindle, money, that people are interested in winning. Have them fill out a form or collect the information on your smart phone or tablet. There are many apps that help you collect contact data and help you pick random winners for the giveaway. This gives you a lead list you can follow up with either a mailer, phone call or some other method.
For more help on your next home show booth or display questions, please contact Kristie Jones-Damalas at Skyline Event Services. firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-642-6180x105
Guest post by: Christopher Mohalley, ECM Master Trainer, Genteq Motors
If you have worked in this industry long enough, you may remember when there was just one type of direct drive indoor blower motor, the Permanent Split Capacitor (PSC) multi-speed motor. No, I didn’t forget about the shaded pole motor, I just didn’t want to date myself. It’s hard to believe it’s been over 25 years since the introduction of the Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM). This motor technology changed everything for how we understand and control airflow.
The first ECMs, which are still installed today, use 24v or PWM communication inputs instead of speed taps. These motors also have the ability to self-adjust motor torque and speed to regulate airflow when the Total External Static Pressure (TESP) changes. These motors are often referred to as Variable Speed, however they are more accurately termed Constant Airflow. Adjusting the motor operation is accomplished with DIP switch or jumper pin selections on the HVAC system control board.
About seven years ago a different type of ECM was introduced with 24v speed taps. These ECM look and operate more like a PSC. They are not Constant Airflow, instead they are referred to as Constant Torque. This means they regulate torque only when TESP changes, which produces an airflow curve similar to a PSC but a little better.
If you haven’t kept up with these changes in motor technology or are new to the industry, what you have read so far probably sounds like information overload. However, understanding how these motors operate, what their capabilities are and how to diagnose them if they are not working properly is not an insurmountable task.
The future of HVAC is tied to more sophisticated technology and more expectations for contractors to have a system performance mentality. The learning curve for understanding all the differences between ECMs and how and why there are used is growing. There is a real challenge for contractors to stay on top of the ever-changing technology of motors and airflow control.
Drawing from over 20 years’ experience as a contractor and instructor, I have helped develop content and provide training classes that relate the motors to the HVAC systems they are used in with basic airflow fundamentals.
Genteq Motors provides numerous avenues for self-training and in-class training on all of their ECM products. Self-training begins with a visit to their website www.theDealerToolbox.com. There you will find videos, webinars and downloadable text and service manuals. In-class training is provided all over the country including quarterly classes at Arzel Zoning in Cleveland, OH which covers all of the ECM motors used in residential and light commercial HVAC for the last 20 years.
The knowledge gained in this course will help all HVAC professionals gain the confidence and competence needed to discuss the benefits of, and install ECM driven systems to operate at peak performance and provide maximum comfort, as well as diagnose and service these systems if needed.
Interested in learning more on ECM & induction motors? Regal Beloit is hosting a two-day training in October for contractors, distributors and educators.
We all want to be comfortable, so it makes sense that 70% of our customers purchase zoning to increase comfort. But most of us also need to reinforce our decisions with a more tangible purpose. For many, the concept of saving energy, or getting a greater benefit from the energy dollars we do spend, is the way we justify the decision.
When discussing energy savings and zoning, remember to make your customer aware of how the following factors can drastically impact their overall energy usage:
Thermostat programming: Show them how they can program their thermostats to mirror their usage patterns throughout the home and emphasize how setting their thermostat back in areas that are only occupied during certain parts of the day can help them save year-round on their utility bills.
Usage Patterns: Make sure when you design the zoning system, you advise the homeowner to group rooms with similar usage patterns together. Have your customers map out their weekday and weekend schedule of room occupancy. This will help you and your customer determine which areas make sense to group together based on how and when they are using areas of their home.
Condition of Duct work: When installing a zoning system, you have a good opportunity to examine the condition of the existing duct work and address any potential problems. While zoning can overcome challenges presented by poorly designed duct work, it cannot fix leaks or other damages. Offer to seal ducts or repair any sections that are beyond functional.
Add-on options: In addition to zoning, there are other energy saving product solutions available that can decrease your customer's overall energy usage. For instance, in some regions, consumers can greatly benefit from options like a residential economizer to take advantage of optimal outdoor air conditions for free cooling and ventilation. Click here for a free, comprehensive guide to residential economizers/fresh-air intake systems.
Innovative control technology: Introduce them to the next generation of web-based thermostats which allow them to monitor their home remotely and take control where previously they had limited control.
You are their comfort and energy expert and your customers look to you for solutions and education on the latest HVAC technology. Be sure to spend ample time informing your homeowner of what they should expect from their system as far as comfort and energy savings. All the work you have just done to deliver the homeowner the comfort system you promised will mean nothing if they don’t understand how to use it effectively.
Zoning can reduce energy usage, but homeowners must be practical and proactive to realize these savings. These discussions can lead to other sales opportunities for additional accessory options, further improving your customer's comfort system and adding to your profits.
Written by: Mark Votaw, VP of Zoning Products, Arzel Zoning
A common question I am asked during tech support calls is, “How many zones can your panel handle?” I usually respond with a question of my own such as, “How small of a zone do you want to create?” or “How much air do you want to push through that duct?" I ask these questions because often there is a tiny zone issue that needs to be solved before you can take advantage of an opportunity for zoning.
I define “tiny zones” as any zone with a design airflow less than 20% of the total system. If the HVAC equipment is staged so we can slow the blower and reduce capacity we can go a little further. Tiny zones are problematic because there is a fixed amount of air to push into a much smaller part of duct work.
It is possible to push a lot of air through a duct designed for a lot less, kind of like the concept of spandex. The system is somewhat forgiving, but not that appealing when stressed. The effect of trying to push ten pounds of air into one pound of duct work creates several problems:
The potential for objectionable air noise
Attempting to satisfy the small zone too quickly, the temperature over-shoots and/or humidity builds-up
The air will be too warm in heating or too cold in cooling because we are moving less air across the heat transfer surfaces
The solution to high static pressure because of smaller zones is a bypass. Bypass, by definition, puts conditioned air back into the return, potentially making the temperature problem worse.
There are some alternative relief strategies: blow-by to the big zone or leaving a run open somewhere. Slave zones are also an option because they open and close dampers but cannot call the equipment. The use of slave zones enables you to create a zone to be as small as you want without major airflow repercussions.
While designing a zoning system with a homeowner, proceed with caution if your customer wants to subdivide the system to less than 15% to 20% of the total. Take a look at the whole system and make sure you have a plan for dealing with the extra airflow. When in doubt, call the zoning manufacturer for design help. At Arzel, you can talk to any of our design specialists who can help you identify potential problems and find a solution that works for you and your customer.
Click here to download a FREE all-in-one zoning handbook or here for information on our free EzyZone System Design app to help you on your next zoning job.
Recently, I found myself in the market for a new home. So I started the exhaustive process of browsing through countless realtor sites looking for the perfect match for my family’s needs and our list of must-haves. After walking through a few of our top choices, I was amazed to see the state of these homes’ HVAC equipment. We were looking at properties which were about 15-30 years old, and most still had the original equipment from 1983. Yikes!
Being in the industry, I know I’m more than a little biased on evaluating existing equipment, however I was shocked at how many homes had all the upgrades you can imagine: granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, energy efficient windows, plush carpeting, and a ticking-time bomb in the basement.
Homeowners tend to update their home’s features they, and others, can see. No one sees the furnace in the basement, so it is left alone, with only minimal repairs being made to it. When they try to sell the home, they hope the new buyer doesn’t catch on to the age of the equipment and demand a contingency clause of replacement.
If the seller doesn’t have a trusted comfort advisor, there is a good chance they don’t even realize there is functional need to update equipment that has gone beyond the 10 year mark.
Update and upgrade opportunities for your business. Find a successful realty company or individual realtor in your area and partner with them to help discover homes on the market which need system replacements and comfort enhancements like zoning systems.
Gather intel on the home before its sold: A realtor knows the ins and outs of the homes they show and can spot layout challenges quickly, making them your guy on the “inside.” You can educate them how to spot old equipment and homes that could benefit from multiple thermostats with zoning.
Get a trusted endorsement for your company’s services. Homebuyers tend to trust their realtor to give them advice on the buying process, and pointing out an older piece of HVAC equipment gives you the opportunity to make a system swap out. The realtor can even roll the cost into the contract, benefiting the buyer with a new system, and giving the home seller a break on the cost.
Craft an enticing offer. One contractor offers a program where the customer buys a furnace and gets the AC free. This is a perfect offer for home buyers who are dealing with old equipment. The contractor is able to adjust their pricing to make the higher efficiency equipment a more desirable deal.
Offer a complete solution. These are great opportunities to include comfort enhancement options since the new buyer is getting an existing home that was not designed around their own comfort needs or lifestyle. It is hard to discern how the home will heat and cool based solely on a quick walk through where the homeowner is examining the home’s other features. However, once the first winter or hot summer hits, the new buyer quickly realizes they should have paid attention to the stuffy second floor or freezing cold bonus room.
All these factors impact a new homeowners overall happiness, and if you get in with them when they first move in, you have the potential to be their trusted comfort expert for many years to come. Furthermore, you open a new lead pool with other homes in the same neighborhood that are all the same age and, more than likely have the same comfort challenges.
Zoning products have evolved greatly since they entered the HVAC marketplace, causing much debate throughout the years on how homes should be zoned and when zoning should be offered. We find so many misconceptions on the where, when and why of zoning installation. Here are some of the most common misconceptions I hear when I am out in the field talking to contractors:
1. It’s Too Expensive – My Customers Won’t Spend the Money
So often when contractors come through our factory training program Comfort College, they say “You have a great product, but my customer base doesn’t have the income to afford these types of upgrades.” I often ask them, “How can you know what your homeowner wants or needs until you take the time to ask the questions and look for the signs?” The average homeowner who has had Arzel Zoning installed in their home has a home that has between 5-8 rooms and is of a bi-level design.
What does that mean? It means that not just large, custom homes with sprawling floor plans are candidates for zoning - your zoning customers can be any average service agreement or emergency call customer that you see on any given day. It takes a comfort consultant or service technician asking the homeowner the correct questions and looking for the signs to start the conversation about zoning. Click here for more information on how to spot a zoning job. (Maybe throw in something about explaining to the customer the overall savings, energy conservation etc., if we’re talking financial barriers?)
2. It’s a Completely Finished Home – NO WAY To Access the Ductwork
With most zoning manufacturers, the thought of offering zoning in a home that is completely finished or has limited access to ductwork can be daunting. Most contractors would believe that access panels have to be cut into finished ceilings to install branch or trunk line dampers. There are retrofit friendly systems like Arzel which make it possible to easily and economically zone any existing home without having to disrupt the homeowners’ lives or redesign the existing ductwork.
Systems like Arzel offer a full line of retrofit dampers that allow contractors to install them at takeoff near the plenum, or near the register boot – both options spare the need for having to cut into a finished room ceiling or disrupt the cosmetic appearance of the home.
3. I install mostly variable speed equipment – that should handle the problem
Another common misconception in the marketplace is that variable speed equipment alone can solve comfort issues and temperature differences within a home. While variable speed and multi-stage equipment can sometime improve airflow and efficiency, they cannot compensate for poorly designed duct systems or applications where homeowners want specific temperature control.
To get the most out of multi-stage equipment, the system needs to know where the load is and the most advantageous mode of operation. Zoning can provide the opportunity to customize the operation of a heating & cooling system, to control capacity based on duct temperature, and to control airflow by the volume of ductwork being served. For instance, the Arzel HeatPumPro has built-in staging features that allow the user to configure staging settings based upon either demand or capacity requirements. CFM staging based on Zone Weighting minimizes or eliminates bypass requirements by controlling fan speed independently, giving more flexibility to control how and when the equipment will stage up. Click here to download Arzel’s case study on zoning variable speed equipment.
Zoning is the perfect enhancement to any HVAC system, no matter the age or size of the home. It can be used to solve your customers’ comfort issues as well as increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the existing equipment. Overcoming some of these misconceptions can help you increase your sales while also increasing your customers’ home comfort.
Written by: Bill Molica, Technical Sales, Arzel Zoning
Before I started my career at Arzel, I spent the better part of 20 years as a residential service technician. Spring and summer were always interesting and challenging times of the year. Whether I was being called out for maintenance or an emergency, I would arrive at a two-story or split-level home and get the same question, “why is my second floor warmer than the first?”
This comfort issue continually frustrates homeowners, especially those in just-built homes who expect everything to be perfect. I would try to explain the challenge of overcoming the physics of warm air rising and cool air falling which made it difficult to get all the areas completely comfortable. At that time, there was not always a reasonable solution to these problems, especially for existing home applications. Homeowners were willing to accept the answer that “this is just the way these houses are” and deal with being uncomfortable.
The Answer: Retrofit Zoning Systems
Comfort solutions, especially zoning, have come a long way since then and as comfort expectations increase, homeowners are more willing to do something about it.
The HVAC industry has evolved over the years from providers of heating and air conditioning to whole house comfort advisors, and we have learned there are a number of issues that create this too hot, too cold problem.
Most of the time this has something to do with the attic space:
Not enough insulation in the ceiling
Unsealed penetration in to the attic causing the hot, humid air to be drawn into the living space
Unsealed/Un-Insulated return ducts pulling hot air from the attic
Trying to operate a system with a single point of control can make achieving an acceptable comfort level in these applications a challenge. The dramatic temperature difference is most commonly caused by the thermostat being located on the first floor and the air in the duct system taking the path of least resistance, therefore delivering more air to the first floor.
As you are your customers’ comfort advisor, I urge you to investigate if they are affected by any of these factors and to be aware of what their comfort expectations are for their home.
Sealing up the envelope of the home is important for the energy efficiency as well as the indoor air quality. Adding zoning gives you the ability to customize the control strategy to meet your homeowner’s needs.
Download our free application guide to idenifty common applications for zoning. Click here to get it now!
Written by: Jenn Laughlin, National Sales Manager, Arzel Zoning
Similar home design can often mean similar comfort challenges. When new homes are built, they are not often constructed with the HVAC system in mind. I witnessed this first hand when I worked for a residential HVAC contractor.
By the time we were called out to survey a new home being built, there was usually not enough space to install the proper size and amount of ductwork needed to adequately condition the home. We would have to downsize the ducts or remove a run or two depending on how little space was left by the builder. Second floor bonus rooms were hands-down the biggest issue. Not only did we not have enough space to run the number of ducts we needed to, but it was usually the room farthest away from the equipment – a recipe for major discomfort.
How many home developments and neighborhoods can you think of that might have this same issue? I’m guessing you can name a few off the top of your head without too much thinking. Speaking from personal experience of being in the market for a new home, I am amazed at the number of neighborhoods I have driven through that have streets lined with 2nd story window units. Targeting neighborhoods can be a large source of lead generation for your business, because once you solve comfort challenges with a zoning system you can quickly turn that one sale into several more.
Targeting a neighborhood that has a mixture of colonial, split level and ranch style homes can be a great way to drive some leads. These homes may all share a common comfort challenge like:
Temperature issues between floors
Fireplaces near the single thermostat
Sunroom/four season room
Unused rooms in “empty nester” homes
Radius marketing is a great way to take advantage of a job well done. Solve the comfort problems of one homeowner, and you can easily turn that into more leads by using multiple ways to deliver the same comfort message.
Start with a yard sign with your company contact info in their front yard with the message of “We stopped fighting over the thermostat” or “Our basement and master bedroom are finally comfortable – ask me how”. Soon people in the neighborhood will drive by or walk by and read the sign, and ask their neighbor what type of work they had done. Follow up with a mailer, door-hanger or flyer drop in the next 1-2 weeks with your company contact info, explaining what zoning is and how it can help their home comfort. Not only will you be reinforcing the benefits of zoning, but they will also see your company name and information again.
Staying top of mind as the local comfort expert is important in beating out your competition as the neighborhood’s preferred contractor for solving comfort issues. Click here for more information on implementing an effective radius marketing strategy for your business.
Contributed by: Kyle Gargaro, Editor-in-Chief, ACHR News
There are many problems in today’s marketplace that can keep a contractor from sleepingsoundly at night. Items like industry legislation (see the mess with Regional Standards and the Shaheen-Portman bill) and the shrinking quality labor pool are just two items that come to mind. While it is easy to focus on the concerns, 2013 has had its share of good news.
Successes in 2013
For one thing, the metrics of the industry have not been this high in a while. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s (ACCA) Contractor Comfort Index (CCI) reached a score of 77 in both May and June — the highest number in the index’s three-year history, and nine points ahead of June 2012’s 68. A CCI of 50 or above reflects anticipated growth.
In addition, the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute’s (AHRI) data on shipments of central a/c and air-source heat pumps, warm air furnaces, residential storage water heaters, and commercial storage water heaters all showed increases when compared to data collected in 2012. Highlights include a 24 percent increase in commercial gas water heaters in February, and a 23 and 33 percent increase in gas warm air furnaces in March and April, respectively.
There could be — and probably is — multiple reasons for this jump. The political uncertainty (last year’s election, the fiscal cliff, etc.) seems to be behind us for the most part and that always helps the economy. Plus with the stock market continuing to climb and home values going up, people are feeling better about their financial situation and are choosing to replace rather than repair. And, of course, a hot summer in some parts of the country has helped.
Travis Smith, general manager of Sky Heating & Air Conditioning in Portland, is enjoying the ride.“I think the economy is picking up, which has caused the industry to fare well,” he said. “I feel that there is a lot of pent-up demand from homeowners that could not afford service or replacements a few years ago.”
Be sure to take a moment to enjoy the current economic climate before beginning to worry about the many items that can concern a business owner.
You can read additional HVAC industry information at www.achrnews.com or follow them on Twitter at @achrnews