HVAC Text Messaging
Text messaging is the next tool your HVAC company needs to become a smoother and more profitable business. This guide applies to HVAC services of all sizes, but we do have small businesses with around 20 to 50 employees in mind.
8 HVAC Service Essentials Before You Start Texting
1. A list of customers to contact.
You can't text customers if you don't have their numbers on hand. So pull your contact list together, and look into your existing customer records for what info you can gather into one spreadsheet:
Export a list from your current customer database
Go back through work orders to pull out name + number + address
We’ll show you how to upload these numbers into your texting platform later.
2. Tools for tracking and scheduling contacts.
Now that you have your contacts, you need the right tools to organize them for the most impact. Text Request will bring the tools together, but you need to have them in place, first.
We recommend these tools for your HVAC business:
Hubspot: For managing your list of contacts and where they are in your sales funnel
GoCanvas: To create service order reports on the go
Field Edge: A field service management software for tracking customers, dispatches, service history, etc.
Jobber: For managing quotes, schedules, invoices, and payments
NaturalForms: Converts forms to smart documents that can be used for data collection
Formstack: Creates forms that are easy for customers to navigate
Schedule engine: For sending contacts links and website embeds for scheduling tune ups and maintenance checks
3. Clear communication roles.
Business texting can strengthen many different aspects of your HVAC team, but you need to know who would manage it as a communication channel and for what purpose. Defined team roles are needed for your team to succeed regardless of the task, so think through who should be in charge of:
Communicating dispatch updates to customers
Sending customers seasonal promotions and check-up reminders
Checking on service technicians in the field, or having them check in with you
Sharing recruitment opportunities
You may already have one officer manager who does all these things—but if not, you’ll need to determine how these areas of communication are divided up between your staff.
Automate as much of these communication steps as possible to make life easier for your team.
4. Defined processes for those roles.
Knowing who does what and when will help your HVAC business run smoother and more profitably—as well as tee things up perfectly for texting. Especially when service techs go for dispatch, because your designated staff can build and maintain a communication process like:
A customer books a service
A reminder text is scheduled to send the day before the customer is serviced
A text is triggered when techs are dispatched to the customer’s house
An electronic bill is sent after the service or work order is marked completed
A review link is sent asking the customer for feedback
We’ll talk more about how texting can streamline other processes like these later.
5. Reasons to reach out.
Don't assume that because a new customer worked with you once, they’ll think to contact you again. Your goal is to get them working with you over and over, which means regularly reaching out to them to stay top-of-mind—and keep revenue flowing.
But you can’t text customers just to text them. Offer real value with things like:
Reminders for seasonal tuneups
Educational information on maintenance
Promotions for annual maintenance memberships
Discounts and coupons for season check-ups
Feedback on your customer service
New add-ons or upgrades—air purifiers, insulation, power vents, etc.
Customer referral program
All of these things show customers how they can avoid the pain and frustration of a broken system by working with you ahead of time.
The best reach outs are the ones that are seasonal because:
Your customer will come to expect them whenever that time of year rolls around
They give you a consistent way to generate revenue
Texting for regular tuneups is a great opportunity to create upsell opportunities and ask for referrals.
6. An after hours plan.
24-hour emergency services have been the #1 revenue growth driver for HVAC businesses over the last few years. Customers usually reach out to your HVAC business because there’s a disaster—like an air conditioning unit going out during a heat wave, or a heater shutting off during a snowstorm.
They want help immediately, but that creates a challenge for you.
Text messaging gives you a reliable way to dispatch your after hours team, plus respond to customers, even when you’re not in the office.
Use autoresponders to make sure customers receive autoreplies to their messages during a custom time period. These autoresponder messages can include links to direct customers to emergency service forms, as well as let them know that help is on the way. We’ll talk more about how to set them up later.
7. A referral program.
Your existing customers will create leads for you when you have a solid referral program in place. You just need a set process for getting referrals—which incentive and rewards will play a huge role in.
Most HVAC businesses offer cash rewards for referrals, but free swag and coupons will work too.
You’ll also need a place to mention your referral program and draw clients into it, like on your website, newsletter, or social media.
Tools like ReferralCandy or ReferralRock can help you create portals for starting the referral process (but you can also just use NaturalForms and Formstack to create forms like we talked about above).
Note this whole process is moot if your techs don't treat your customers well. You have to create great customer experiences at an affordable rate! So make sure your techs are regularly trained and monitored in how they service customers.
8. A review platform.
Customers will check your reviews before they make a service call. That means not only do you need to regularly increase your reviews—you need to make sure they’re actually good ones so you rank in local searches against other HVAC companies.
Some platforms we recommend for collecting and gathering reviews are:
Google My Business: A must for ranking first in local searches and making sure potential clients find you
ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America): The official non-profit association for professionals that install and maintain HVACR
Your Facebook business page: Great for when people regularly ask for recommendations on Facebook, and your active profile with good reviews is ready to be shared
Angie’s List: Similar to Google My Business, but for people who use Bing
Better Business Bureau: Regularly used by people to establish trust with a newer business
Yelp: Used by people looking for an honest review of local businesses
Once you’re listed on a platform, you’ll have a review link you can share. This is a must for texting review requests, which we’ll talk about more later.
You don’t want to send all these review links to people at once, because that would be ridiculously overwhelming. So instead, prioritize sending the link from the platform you get the most engagement on, or the one that you currently need more reviews on.
Now that you've got these things prepped—which are helpful for your HVAC business anyway—let's combine those with texting, so you can serve clients better in less time.
14 Ways to Implement Texting Into Your Day-to-Day Processes
1. Make your current number textable.
You've been using the same phone number for years to keep in contact with your existing customers. Why not use it to text too?
Text Request can add texting to your line without affecting your voice services. There are a few technical things that happen in the background (don't worry, we won't bore you about that unless you ask). But the short story is we just need your permission to set it up, and then you’re golden.
It makes promoting your phone number so much easier when customers don’t have to save two different numbers to call and text you.
Once the texting is enabled, you can shoot your existing contacts a message like:
“You can text us now to schedule your next tune up!”
2. Advertise you text to increase inbound leads.
When someone’s heating and cooling goes out, they want help ASAP. Advertising they can text you immediately can be what separates them from contacting you vs. your competitor, first.
Text messaging is the number one way people want to communicate with your business, because it’s faster and more convenient than a phone call (especially when someone is in panic mode). It’s also the simple and straightforward language people prefer to speak.
Giving potential customers the power to reach you the way they want will draw more of them to you. So spread the word “Hey, we text!” on everything, including:
3. Convert website visitors with SMS chat.
Potential customers will check out your website before they decide to work with you. It's part of their decision process that can and will determine if they take the next step with you.
So you need to make it easy for them to connect with you when they do reach your website—which our SMS Chat widget does by giving them the ability to reach you directly from your website for things like:
Asking for help
Starting a maintenance request
Scheduling a tune up
General queries about their systems
You'll see the biggest impact if you already have a marketing plan that's driving traffic to your website. It’s just one more way to convert more inbound leads!
4. Create autoresponses to confirm maintenance requests.
Remember that after hours plan we talked about earlier?
Autoresponders give you a way to make sure people always get a response, even when you’re not in the office.
“Thanks for contacting [HVAC Business Name]. Use [link] to start a maintenance request."
You can even set customers up for things beyond emergency service request, including:
General responses to day-time inquiries
Holiday or “out of office” notices
There’s no limit to how many autoresponders you create.
5. General scheduling and confirmations.
Scheduling a maintenance visit over the phone can take days, so skip the phone tag and just text customers a link to schedule instead.
This process can be even faster when you use a scheduling software like Schedule Engine. Just include Schedule Engine links in your scheduling texts, and customers will know exactly what step to take next.
They just click the link, schedule the time and date they want you to stop by, and you’re both ready to go!
6. Receive pictures of units or damage.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Especially when someone wants your help, but doesn't know what’s wrong with their unit. Having the option to text you a picture, can save you both extra time when you know exactly what is needed.
7. Share dispatch updates.
Your techs and contactors won’t be much help, if they can’t get inside your customers' houses. SMS reminders and updates are a great way to let customers know your techs are on their way to help.
You can even go the extra mile by sending a picture of the tech who will visit along. This helps the customer know who to expect, creates trust, and sets up the expectation for stellar customer service.
8. Templates for streamlining communication processes.
We’ve given you a lot of different ways you can text customers—and there’s still more coming. Now we’re going to give you a way to save the texts you most frequently send.
Use templates, or the Text Request version of "saved messages," to save time on everyday communications, like:
Sending links to schedule appointments
Answering common inquiries
Rescheduling maintenance or tune-ups
Templates can even include links and pictures, so everything you need is ready to go. It keeps your communication consistent, so your techs don’t have to worry about how to stay on the same page when it comes to common inquiries. Plus it saves you a ridiculous amount of time.
9. Share upsell opportunities and promotions.
Get the best returns on promotion and marketing strategies when you text things like:
Fan motor upgrades
Companion devices—like smart thermostats and remote controls
Improved contractor switches
New energy-efficient furnaces and air conditioners
Categorize your contacts into groups based on their specific needs for each of these things, so you can best target them.
10. Payment and invoicing.
You have more important things to do than chase customers down for payments.
Our Payments features gives your HVAC business one, secure place to:
Create payment requests
Track and process transactions
View and download payment request histories
Send payment reminders
Customers reply to your payment requests with a confirmation code to pay. First timers are then prompted to put their debit or credit card on file, so the payments process is even smoother the next time.
When customers can pay on the channel they most prefer, that means more revenue and positive word-of-mouth coming your way.
11. Share prompts for feedback.
Word-of-mouth marketing is everything for a local, service-based business like yours. If you don’t have a consistent way to gather reviews and referrals, you'll lose out to competitors who do.
Create text templates that prompt customers to give you feedback or share you with a friend. Include your review or referral link in these texts, so it’s as easy as possible for customers to know where they need to go to help you.
"How'd we do? [link] Use that review link to tell us."
Customers will only review or refer you, if your techs do a solid job. So wait to send these templates to the customers who techs can confirm had a good experience.
Once you have a customer who's a good fit, it's as easy as selecting the template and hitting send.
12. Customer SMS subscriber list for educational tips.
People want to work with trusted, professional leaders—which is what you become when you regularly offer advice and information like:
How often should someone charge their heating and cooling air systems’ filter
Reasons seasonal maintenance plans are valuable
The brands and equipment you recommend or service
Which warranties you recommend or cover
Sharing information like this through a SMS subscriber list keeps you top-of-mind, and gives you an organic way to provide value to your customers.
Grow your SMS subscriber list by using keywords, which is a word customers can text to be placed in a group you regularly send information related to that topic. Advertising your SMS subscriber list can be as simple as creating ads for your website and social media that say:
“Text SERVICE to get frequent advice and updates on how to best upkeep your unit.”
It’s just one more way to build long-lasting relationships with customers, by bringing regular value to them.
13. Share recruitment opportunities.
On the lookout for new techs and contractors?
Upload your spreadsheet of applicants into Text Request, so you can text them all throughout the hiring process. Just drop the CSV file into a group message, and you can text all your applicants at once for things like:
Confirming you received their application
Answering follow-up questions
Scheduling interviews and follow-up interviews
Next steps, including paperwork files
Use Text Merge to auto-populate the message with certain fields like name, date, and time, so it feels like they’re getting a personal message.
14. Ongoing customer service.
Empowering customers to text you is the equivalent of giving them 24 hour access to you and your techs. That ongoing customer service comes in all forms, including:
Sharing up-to-date files on customers air conditioners, warranties, and maintenance history, when customers request them
Answering common inquiries about upkeep and best practices
Continuously training staff on how to best communicate with customers
Our user-friendly dashboard helps big time with that last one. Text Request makes it easy for supervisors to jump in with feedback or take over a conversation, if a trainee needs help or isn’t immediately available to respond.
Prioritizing customer service and staying on the lookout for ways to improve customer experience is what your HVAC business thrives on. Use text messaging as the thread to bring all your efforts together.