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The HVAC Industry Is Growing Amid Workforce Challenges

havcThe HVAC industry has been steadily growing over the last few years and, according to a recent article on hvac.com, it looks like that trend is going to continue.

The HVACR systems market was an $81.1 billion market as of 2015. According to the article, the market is expected to grow by 5.5 percent each year through 2020, making the HVACR market worth $130.7 billion by that time. Refrigeration is expected to be a major player in this growth, as the demand for food processing and cold storage expands. Booming construction markets are adding demand for contractors as the residential construction market is back, and economic activity is increasing, expanding the need for residential and commercial HVAC services.

Despite projected industry growth, the HVACR industry is expecting to see a talent shortage of over 138,000 employees by 2022! Why do these worker shortages exist? One reason is that the HVACR industry is growing fast. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 21 percent increase in HVACR mechanic and installer jobs through 2022, nearly twice the projected growth of overall employment. Another is that many HVACR workers will soon leave the workforce: The U.S. Social Security Administration estimates that 22 percent of the nation’s overall workforce will retire by 2022. Statistics show one new HVACR worker for every four retiring. Another reason for the lack of technical workers is that bright, ambitious, young people think of the trades as a lesser calling compared to the more popular career paths, such as computer programming, application design, investment banking, etc. High schools do not encourage the trades and students believe the trades do not offer sexy and glamorous careers.

The rapid growth of the HVACR industry, combined with the high number of workers retiring, and the small amount of new graduates creates a huge problem for both the public and HVACR contractors alike. This gap could leave homeowners, hospitals, schools, and virtually any building with heating, air conditioning, hot water or refrigeration lacking service for installation, maintenance or retrofitting. Contractors won’t be able to keep up with the demand for service creating intense competition, unhappy customers, and lost revenue.

According to industry professionals, the key to overcoming the talent shortage is to continue encouraging contractors and educational associations to work together to:

  1. Attract new young talent by promoting the HVACR industry
  2. Create clear credentials and/or accreditation programs
  3. Retain and train new instructors
  4. Improve recruitment practices
  5. Recruit more women and minorities into HVACR training programs
  6. 6. Implement the latest field service technologies to attract new talent and keep current staff happy

With contractors and educational associations working together to resolve the skill shortage, the future looks bright for HVAC service companies. Construction activity is forecast to increase in both residential and nonresidential markets. Corporate profit and per capita disposable income will also enable businesses and homeowners to upgrade their existing HVAC systems. The federal and state governments will continue to incentivize the move toward more energy-efficient systems via tax credits, supporting industry growth. Looks like a great time to be in the HVAC-R industry!

Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how our comprehensive field service management software can help your HVACR Company keep up with the fast-paced industry growth

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Who Is Responsible for “Out of Service” Elevators?

big-bang-theory-elevatorIt may be funny to watch the cast of the TV comedy “The Big Bang Theory” detour around a broken elevator by climbing up and down several flights of stairs for the last 10 seasons, but no one living through downed elevators is laughing.

In last month’s newsletter, we wrote about a private member’s bill proposed in Ontario, Canada that aims to tackle the major problem of unreliable, broken-down elevators. The proposed act has caused a lot of discussion and debate around the topic of who is responsible for the timely repair of buildings elevators.

While the proposed bill is making its way through the lengthy path to legislation, the Ontario government is trying to get to the bottom of what is causing the high number of elevator outages or otherwise poor service and, most importantly, to find the best solutions. In order to do so, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has ordered the provincial safety agency to commission the necessary research. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority – TSSA – is now calling for bids to do the research and report on potential solutions by mid-October. The winning bidders must find out how bad the problem is, the causes, and report on legislative and non-legislative steps municipal, provincial or federal entities should take to deal with the issue. The winning bidder will also be required to investigate what, if anything, other jurisdictions such as New York, London or Singapore have done to address the problems.

Although the proposed Bill was not meant to target independent contractors, the Canadian Elevator Contractors Association has identified numerous shortcomings of Bill 109, which essentially frees property owners from a number of responsibilities to building tenants, and places an unfair onus on elevator contractors.

For example:

  • Old elevators with obsolete components may take longer to find parts so having 14 days (and in some cases 7) to fix a problem might be unrealistic.
  • Building owners who fail to pay contractors: The proposed Bill 109 states: “The contractor responsible for maintaining an elevator that becomes unavailable for use because it needs repair shall ensure that the elevator is repaired.” The bill does not define what “contractor responsible” entails. With most elevator contracts, some or all causes of breakdowns are not included in the contract and the building owner must pay extra for these situations. Who then is responsible if the owner has not authorized or paid for the repair? As currently written, the bill does nothing to alleviate the situation; in fact, it just confuses it more.
  • Building owners who fail to budget and invest the money in upgrading their elevators soon enough results in the elevators becoming more unreliable and taking longer to repair as they age.
  • The causes of many elevator shutdowns are often outside of the control of the elevator contractors, such as flooding. In situations like this, a 2-week turnaround is just not possible since a substantial portion of each elevator must be replaced or rebuilt to satisfy TSSA’s safety requirements.

No matter what city, state or country you live in, elevator safety and maintenance is the responsibility of both contractors and building owners.

 

FIELDBOSS LIFT can help Ontario contractors cope with The Elevator Reliability Act by:

  • Staying on top of maintenance projects by auto-scheduling the dates into your companies schedule and dispatch system. When it’s time for maintenance, it will not only alert you to the job but have all the client and asset information ready to go.
  • Elevator contractors can better negotiate with building owners by offering a real time link to the maintenance service schedules and tasks agreed upon for maintenance that the device actually requires for proper operating conditions.
  • Staying accountable! Contractors can offer building owners real time notifications when maintenance is being performed and can send photographic or video evidence that tasks are complete and payment is due.
  • Documenting everything. In the event that a problem does occur, the documentation and reports that FIELDBOSS LIFT stores can act as proof that you and your staff did everything in your power to assure that the elevators were running properly.
  • Storing data, like information on how to operate equipment, user manuals, regulatory documents (such as OSHA standards), warranty and vendor information – virtually every piece of data you can think of. Having this info at hand is crucial in times of outages and mission-critical situations. Just pull up your elevator’s record and you are all set!

Collaborating with building owners on maintenance contracts that make sense for the device and for the contractor will help balance the onus of responsibility while at the same time allow contractors to get proper budgets to maintain equipment and earn an appropriate profit for the skills, risk and investment they take on.

Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how not only to protect your customers in times of crisis, but your business as well.

 

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Do You Know Your Call Back Rate?

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The service promise that customers hold their contractors to is not too far-reaching: ensure that the equipment and/or assets under contract remain operational. Is that too much to ask?

According to Aberdeen research, the most aggravating occurrence and the primary reason that customers complain about a service organization involves their inability to fix it right the first time. Call back rates, or first-time fix, is one of the most vital metrics in measuring field service performance. Having to make a second appointment was more frustrating for 61% of respondents than waiting time for appointments and technician not arriving on time. In today’s competitive environment, just showing up isn’t good enough. The technician must have the parts, the skills, and the information to solve the problem on the first visit. A poor first-time fix number not only reflects poor field service processes, but is also an indicator of disgruntled customers, likely customer attrition, and reduced service profitability. The ability to measure and manage your call back rate is the first step to improving your field service processes and achieving operational excellence.

Improving your call back number requires the ability to capture and analyze critical data in real-time. A configurable call back dashboard can facilitate the easy monitoring of this important metric. The configurable dashboards provide you with easy to read graphs and charts that visually alert you to what is working and what is not. Is there a certain technician that is struggling with first-time fix? Is it a particular client? A bad month? How much money are you losing on second and third truck rolls? Once you have this real-time information readily available, it will be easy to analyze what caused the deficit and allow management to quickly adjust as necessary. Performance dashboards facilitate getting the right information to the right users at the right time to optimize decisions, enhance efficiency, and accelerate results.

Today’s fast-paced, competitive service environment demands a top-notch call-back rate. Having the right data in hand is critical to making informed decisions, rather than managing your service business on “gut feel”. Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how to keep customers happy and service revenues flowing by cutting your call back rate and improving your first time fix.

 

This entry was posted in Elevators, General, HVAC, Mobility & Devices and tagged , , , on by .

Employee Spotlight: Edmond Lopez

el-headshotThe FIELDBOSS team is made up of many hard working talented individuals with interesting stories to tell. In our Employee Spotlight series, you’ll meet some of these people, learn what they do, and how they keep FIELDBOSS exciting and fun.

Edmond Lopez is a Project Manager for the ERP team at FIELDBOSS. Edmond was born in Newmarket, Ontario but has lived in Toronto most of his life. Prior to working at FIELDBOSS, he worked as a Senior Financial Systems Analyst, concentrating on implementation process improvements.

Read on to find out more about Edmond.

What do you love most about working at FIELDBOSS & how long have you been here?

I joined FIELDBOSS in February 2015.  What I love most about working here is working with great people who are both highly intelligent and motivated.  There’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit within FIELDBOSS that is quite energizing.

What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most? What is the number one challenge you face in your role?

What I enjoy the most is getting to know our clients and understanding their businesses.  I’m always learning something new with each project.  The biggest challenge I face is having to change course on a project when things don’t go according to plan but that goes part in parcel with project management and overcoming these challenges leads to greater successes.

Where is the best place you’ve travelled to and why?

The best place I’ve travelled to is Hawaii for my honeymoon.  Hawaii is just a beautiful, interesting place and it was great to spend some quality time with my wife.

What TV shows/music/apps are you currently obsessed with right now?

I’m not the biggest TV guy but I absolutely cannot miss Raptor games leading up to the playoffs.  Music wise, I’ve lately found myself listening to a lot of 70’s funk for whatever reason.  I also really enjoy listening to the ‘Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe’ podcast because it’s entertaining to listen to people who seem much smarter than I am.

If you could have a drink with anyone (fictional, alive, dead, famous, non-famous) who would it be and why?

I’d honestly love to have a drink with my dad who passed away just about 10 years ago.  It would be great just to have a chat with him again.

What do you like doing in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

I’m a big sports nut so I enjoy playing various sports.  I’m also a big fan of all of the Toronto sports teams and the Buffalo Bills, so I’m sad most of the time!

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Expected December updates to Microsoft Dynamics GP 2018

Dynamics GPThe next full release of Dynamics GP, GP2018, is targeted to be released in December of 2017. Microsoft has not released too much information about the product features, but here is what we can tell you:

  • There will be optimized Financials and HR/Payroll with even more features
  • Comprehensive document attachment functionality
  • Power “suite” evolution
  • A new and optimized user experience
  • Workflow updates that will be referred to as “Workflow 4.0”

Microsoft’s most recent release, Dynamics GP 2016 R2, meanwhile, is fully cloud enabled with the HTML5 Web Client and offers seamless connections to PowerBI using OData services, along with other improvements over the previous version. We can’t wait to see all the cool new features and functions GP 2018 will bring.

Check back for more information as we learn just how awesome Dynamics GP 2018 will be!

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How Does the R-22 Phase Out Effect You?

r22-logo-phaseoutA recent article on hvac.com talked about a hot topic for HVAC companies these days: the R-22 phase out. The elimination of production of R-22 is now only two years away.  This coolant has been linked to ozone layer damage and is being substituted by more environmentally friendly alternatives.

What does this mean for the HVAC industry and your business?

Supply and demand: The price to repair an R—22 AC has risen as the production of this coolant slows.  By the year 2020, there will be no production of R-22 making the demand for this product completely outweigh the supply. Some contractors are stocking up on the refrigerant at today’s price to ensure they have access to the product and a stable price – until the supply runs out. Availability is becoming an issue. You must have a plan B.

Repair or replace/keep consumers informed: It is up to the contractors to educate their customers on the long-term vs short-term costs so they can make informed decisions on whether investing in a new, more environmentally friendly system would be the best choice.  Replacing the whole system would be more costly than simply repairing it, but consumers must be aware of the environmental issues with R-22, its decreasing supply, and the end of its availability in just a few short years. While reclaimed R-22 refrigerant will still be available, it will be in high demand, and its cost will be high. Ultimately, the R-22 phase out shows the evolution of the HVAC industry. New products are better and safer.

Prospective sales for contractors: The end of R-22 allows for great upselling opportunities.  Customers who are in need of recharges may be persuaded to replace their system with a new, environmentally friendly piece of equipment. Obviously, the R-22 phase out gives contractors a great opportunity to upsell. Walk into a repair; walk out with a new install. Government regulation, supply and demand, and environmental concern support replacement. When you educate your customers about this industry shift, they will recognize the need to follow. It’s not simply upselling, but rather making the move now rather than later.

How is your company responding to the R-22 phase out? How are your customers responding? Are you taking advantage of the opportunity for new system sales, or devising a way to support R-22 demand? Whichever way you decide to go, a comprehensive field service management software offers the resources you need to run a successful contracting/service business. From marketing assistance to increased customer visibility to all the hot leads that will increase your revenue, the right software can be your business toolbox.

Contact FIELDBOSS to learn more.

To read the full article click here: HVAC Blog – Resources, Articles & Tips from the Experts | HVAC.com

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Avoiding a Cash Flow Catastrophe

cashflowThere is no question that a healthy, positive cash flow is essential to your company’s profitability and growth. Inaccurate, late or lost invoicing can seriously put a squeeze on your cash flow and profits. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of your company’s invoicing and billing cycle. The clock for service-to-cash starts ticking the moment the job is done, not when the customer is invoiced. The longer the delay between the service and invoice dates, the greater the cash flow crunch your business will deal with.

So how do you avoid a cash flow catastrophe? Stop relying on inefficient manual or outdated methods. Slash your invoicing and billing time in half by automating your field service processes. Using a comprehensive field service management software that connects the technician with the back office will help you improve and accelerate your invoicing and billing cycle, eliminate unnecessary errors and cut down on unbillable hours.

Here are some tips to improve your invoicing speed & accuracy:

  1. Invoice automation

Automate the work order process to achieve shorter service-to-cash cycles. Empower your techs to record and close work orders in real time while on-site, with the ability to generate invoices on their mobile devices. Your customers can sign-off electronically and approve the work done, parts used and labor time spent. With this information instantly captured in the system, your back office team can issue the invoice to the customer right away. No more time wasted waiting for paperwork or re-entering data.

 

  1. Access important information in the field

What labor rate does a particular customer pay? Which parts of the job are covered under warranty or service contract? When you equip technicians with instant access to the right customer information in the field, they can create service tickets that speed up, not slow down, the customer approval and billing process. Data can also be auto-populated so your information is consistent every time.

 

  1. Monitor cash flow

Once you have a system that can track invoices, you can also use it to monitor their statuses and easily track down the ones that are past due.

Long service-to-cash cycles negatively affect your bottom line hampering your ability to grow your business. The easiest way to solve cash flow problems is to get paid as quickly as possible. With the right technology, you can accelerate that cycle and get paid quickly and accurately every time. With a comprehensive field service management software, invoicing is easy, and so is getting paid!

Contact FIELDBOSS for more information.

 

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The Ups and Downs of Elevator Maintenance

gettyimages_162494716We apologize for the inconvenience: the elevator company has been notified. 

Many of us are seeing signs like this far too often. New statistics show a steady increase in the number of elevator-related 911 calls over the past 15 years, confirming what you may have already suspected – easy access to your upper-level apartment or office is not guaranteed. Aging equipment that is not being maintained is a big part of the problem. While the number of elevators continues to increase, what goes up does not necessarily come down – and there’s not much residents or property owners can do about it.

In Ontario, Canada this has become a crisis. One Ontario Liberal MPP, Han Dong, is on a mission to resolve it.  Dong is introducing a private members bill in which the elevator contractor will be held responsible for fixing outages in a maximum of 14 days; 7 days for long-term care and retirement facilities.  If the contractor does not comply, disciplinary measures will be enforced.  Dong felt moved to take action after being flooded with complaints ranging from entrapments to outages, causing not only inconvenience but also health and safety issues; think seniors or people with mobility issues unable to leave their homes for days on end. The act would also mandate that applications for new building permits include an elevator traffic analysis. This is a common-sense corrective to the obviously deficient current rule: a building of at least seven stories must have at least one elevator.

No matter what city, province, state or country you live in, elevator contractors are responsible for following regulations, maintaining their elevators, and ensuring not only the public’s safety but their employees as well.  A comprehensive elevator management software solution can help your elevator company provide the highest quality preventive maintenance program that will keep you compliant with regulations, keep your customers happy, increase your revenues and keep your elevators moving safely. With automatic alerts to notify you of your maintenance jobs, detailed checklists with tasks, all the historical data of previous work done and parts used, lists of all code required tests, and so much more, your elevator service company will always be organized, efficient and prepared for every maintenance job. With an all-inclusive elevator contractor software solution, implementing these programs has never been easier.

Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how we can help you provide a top-notch PM program.

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Field Service Management: Where Does the Time Go?

mobile-service-activitiesSolid business process management is the driving force of any successful field service organization. So it is no surprise that a company’s effectiveness and efficiency are directly related to the systems in place that automates and streamlines their business processes. Integrated systems enable businesses to reduce costs and increase revenue by saving time through process optimization.

A strong ERP system with an integrated mobile solution for field technicians eliminates the paperwork and creates a less is more environment: less people needed, less work time spent, less errors, less handling, less paper, and more time to focus on growing your business.

Think about your day-to-day operations and the costly problems that a strong, integrated system can solve:

  • Incomplete or missing paperwork is delaying invoicing/billing
  • Which customers have paid? What was under warranty? What was covered under the maintenance contract?
  • Customer cancelled appointment/schedule changes/emergency
  • Re-entering technicians data/uploading photo’s
  • Missing inventory
  • The technician isn’t where he is supposed to be
  • Maintenance Contract Management
  • How much time is my technician really spending on the job?

The cumbersome manual processes required to run disconnected systems is a drain on efficiency and profitability. With a cohesive field service ERP system, multiple departments no longer need to enter the same information again and again. Enter information once and it is accessible in real-time by whoever needs it, wherever they are. Eliminating duplicate data entry produces higher profits through reduced resource requirements. Doing more with less allows your business to grow without adding unnecessary infrastructure. With all that extra time, you can focus on your client’s needs while increasing sales, reducing costs and growing your business efficiently and effectively. If the people in the back office are more efficient, that means that they’ll have more time to do extra customer-facing things like taking more calls from customers, calling to see if customers would like service, and making sure that parts are ready for the technicians.

More time translates to more money in your company’s pocket. Contact FIELDBOSS today.

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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Licence Changes and Price Reductions

ms-dynamics-365-demoGood news for FIELDBOSS® customers and prospects!

Last November, Microsoft Dynamics CRM was rebranded becoming Dynamics 365. As part of the rebranding, Dynamics 365 was divided into two editions: Enterprise for companies above 350 employees, and Business for companies under 350 employees. When Microsoft launched Dynamics 365, licensing and pricing information were not available for the Business Edition. The pricing is now available and the news is looking good for FIELDBOSS® customers and prospects.  As a result, FIELDBOSS® prospects with quotes issued prior to March 1, 2017, should contact our account services team to find out about price reductions.

Contact FIELDBOSS® for more information.

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