Wow, 2019 is quickly becoming a blur and it just started! Before it passes us by, pause with me for a moment, take a deep breath, and allow the busyness to be placed on hold…
My two beautiful daughters are the joys of my life. Last week, like so many others around the country, they caught the flu. SEVEN DAYS! It lasted for seven days. And, as I’m sure you can understand, it was both a blessing and a curse. Horrendous because the flu is no joke and debilitates everyone, however it was a blessing in that I was able to spend a few days at home with them. The life of the stay at home mom on steroids. Something I don’t usually have the luxury to do.
Recently, I’ve been considering the meaning of leadership. And asking myself, what does it truly mean to be a leader? As I’ve internalized the question for my own life, I’m increasingly convinced that being a leader in my work place, associations, friendships and even family life, means that I find time to pause and consider what I want outcomes to be. My expectations will always be left unmet unless I communicate with those around me. And if I communicate, am I communicating from a position of nagging annoyance or leadership?
Leaders may not always have the time to pause and think of how they should communicate, and often we are heard barking orders, “Get my coffee!”, “Make a copy of this!” And who wants to be barked at?
But if we were to pause and lead our conversations from, “Get my coffee!” to “Would you mind getting me a cup of coffee so I can make this deadline and mark up a win for our team?” Well, that would be leadership.
Which leads me to this…
Leadership can be silent and loud, there are many forms. Leadership is saying yes to opportunity and getting involved in what you care about. So, how do YOU want to get involved with Women in HVACR this year?
It’s no secret, our industry is in a pinch. Companies and people far and wide have been reaching out to Women in HVACR for help and guidance into the future. Our membership is strong, and people are looking to us to begin making bold moves, they are looking to us to not only begin filling employment holes but to be thought leaders, change agents.
The committees within Women in HVACR are ready for help. So many of you have asked in the past, “How can I help?”, “How can I do more?” Here is a simple stepping stone. Simply email the committee of interest below and ask to be added as a WHVACR Committee Member. We look forward to plugging you in and growing as leaders together so we can truly make a difference.
We need you and here are a few of the ways you can start to contribute your talents, skills and abilities:
Committee email addresses:
And that is only the beginning!
Thank you for being a part of this great organization.
P.S. Mark your calendars, our annual conference is September 25-27th in Boston!
A funny thing happened on the way to Cosco…
Noella Cosco, executive vice president of Cosco Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Hawaii, is WHVACR’s success profile in this edition of our newsletter…and for good reason.
Cosco is the largest wholesale distributor in Hawaii; they have four locations on each of the major islands: Oahu, Big Island, Maui, and Kauai. Noella is based at headquarters in Honolulu and manages all four locations. Noella’s grandfather, Robert Cosco, started the business in 1961. After his retirement, the 2nd generation, Bobbie, Cindy and Matt ran the business. Today, Noella’s dad, Matt, and her own and run the family business.
While we can tell part of her story with some interest, we found her version in a recent interview best. Here’s the story of Noella’s entry into her family’s wholesale distribution business in her own words that she still finds “somewhat funny and a little bit corny”:
I went to school at the University of Hawaii (UH) to study finance, but really most of the time I was in the ocean surfing or hanging out at the beach. Soon enough, I needed money for gas and food so I asked my Auntie Bobbie for a part-time job at Cosco. This was 2009.
For the first two years at Cosco, I worked part-time as the warehouse assistant/delivery driver and attended college. In between all of this you could find me surfing. I was about to quit and find a job with a better surf schedule (maybe a night time gig?) but Auntie Bobbie asked me to wait and let her think of an alternative where I wouldn’t leave the business. The next day, she proposed a night shift schedule built just for me. With the new schedule I continued working at Cosco and finishing up school.
A year later I graduated from UH and once again thought about leaving Cosco to find a job in downtown Honolulu where the ‘big money’ was. However, my Auntie Bobbie was determined to keep me in the family business. She offered me a position that sounded intriguing but a bit nerve wracking…a position in inside sales. I was terrified because honestly, I didn’t really know much about the products we sold or what they did. Also, the thought of having to interact with male contractors who were my father’s age was daunting. I told my aunt that I was “not sure about this,” but she had full confidence in me and said “I believe in you. As long as you do your best, you’ll do great!”
So, I submitted to her plan, took a leap of faith and started in sales. At first, there were many trying moments, frustrated customers, and days I wanted to quit and hide. But, through those times -- and more and more better days – I started to enjoy my new position. I was learning so much. What really kept me going was my aunt’s always encouraging and supportive words. I think during those years I stayed at Cosco because of her and my family, which includes my Auntie Cindy and my Dad, Matt, who all worked in the business at that time.
As more years went by, I took on various managerial roles. I never thought I knew enough or was the right person for these roles, but, again, my family (especially Auntie Bobbie) had faith in me.
In the last 3 years I have taken over many responsibilities as my aunts have begun to transition into retirement. I have enjoyed learning all about the business, the industry and about myself. But most importantly, what I have enjoyed the most was the time with my two Aunts and Dad. Sure, it’s nice to bond over family meals, sporting events or birthday parties, but the time I’ve spent with them is just as satisfying.
I still have moments where I lack confidence in my abilities to help run this operation, but the business continues to thrive so I must be relatively good at what I do. Most importantly, my family still trusts me to continue the family business.
In conclusion, I began working at Cosco for a flexible schedule for my surfing habit, but today, I’m proud to do all I can to continue my family’s legacy of providing high quality products and the ultimate customer experience.
My grandpa Cosco, a very smart man, started the company. His daughters--my two aunts--and my father made it the thriving business it is today. They were a dynamic team! Now, I continue in this business to honor what my family has built. I still surf but mostly on the weekends. My weekdays are dedicated to the business, our customers, and the people in the company who I work with.
I’ll always be grateful to my Auntie Bobbie. I never really understood what she did for me until recently when I realized SHE WAS MY MENTOR. I admire and love her deeply; she is still one of the most important people in my life and I am lucky to have her.
Upon reflection, one of the greatest things is realizing what an amazing, talented and bright family I have and the incredible company we have built TOGETHER over our 58 years in business.
To those who are also uncertain or afraid of their futures in this industry, my advice is to 1. take a leap of faith if it is ever offered to you, 2. find a mentor and if you cannot, use this part of your membership in WHVACR to have one assigned to you, and 3. most importantly, believe in yourself.
2019 officers of the Board of Directors is: Karen Lamy DeSousa, Vice-President, Advance Air and Heat, East Freetown, MA; Mary Jo Gentry,
Immediate Past President, Williams, Colton, CA; Marcia Christiansen, Secretary, PECO, Portland, Oregon; and, Angie Snow, Treasurer, Western Heating and Air Conditioning, Orem, UT.
Completing the Board for WHVACR are members: Colleen Keyworth, Contractor's Online Access, Port Huron, MI; Renee J, Joseph, Johnson Controls Inc, Milwaukee, WI; Lauren Roberts, cfm Distributors, Kansas City, MO; and, Colleen Leppert, BLUE HAWK Gilbert, AZ.
As every great football manager and coach will tell you, there are two components a team needs to be truly successful, a strong defense and a strong offense. As a prospering and growing company, the needs aren’t much different on the road to success, you need a dependable and hard-working offense and a forward thinking and courteous defense.
Your offense is your onsite staff, your salesmen, technicians and installers. These are the men and women who work hard every day making the companies name memorable and stand out in the community and among your customers. They are the ones who are seen by the world and who should best represent what your goal is as a company.
But it’s the behind the scenes people, your defensive line that is the lynch pin for your organization.
These are your owners, service managers, warehouse managers and staff who make up a good portion of a successful defense.
The MVP of the business most times, however, goes to the individuals who are seen the least but typically heard the most, and that is your office staff, your dispatchers, your administrative assistants and
These are the men and women who are responsible for keeping the company moving smoothly no matter what.
Whether it’s ordering parts, answering the phones, scheduling work for the customer, tracking the day to day operations and paper trails or just simply keeping the peace in the office when the day is falling apart.
It is these individuals who are the most relied on and the ones who can make the biggest difference when it comes to your customer’s and their overall satisfaction.
Over the 18 years I’ve been in the working world, 11 have been in the Heating and Air Conditioning trade. Hired to simply answer phones and handle billing and payroll I quickly discovered some valuable tips and traits that have proven me well when dealing with customers, owners, technicians and employees.
While my lists of duties and responsibilities have multiplied over the year’s I still hold to the core basics I learned early on in my career. The list is simple and yet can make the biggest difference when dealing with those around you.
I’m sure there are some out there who are reading this and trying to figure out if I never see the customer’s face to face why does answering the phone with a smile matter. Trust me when I say that your customers can hear your smile.
Over the years I’ve been handling customer service, I have had many a customer who remarks on my smile even though they can’t see it.
With a smile on your face you automatically put joy in your words, which can almost immediately calm down an irate or disgruntled customer, uplift a sad or upset customer and put at ease a nervous customer.
With a smile on your face you set the tone for the entire experience, ultimately no matter what the purpose of the call it should always be a pleasant one. Of course I’m not always happy when I answer the phone, I too have stressful days, days when I’m sick, days when the work load just seems to be falling on top of me.
But every time I lift up that receiver I put a smile on my face and present my best to the person on the other end of the phone, which lifts me up as much as it lifts them up.
The customer may not always be right, but their opinions and issues ALWAYS matter. Over the years, teachers and speakers across the world have taught the philosophy that the “Customer is always right.”
And while I’m sure many of us would like to believe that this is the case, we all know it can be the furthest thing from truth, especially if you’ve ever intercepted a call where a customer has pushed the reset button on an oil furnace five or six times trying to get it to light.
There’s nothing worse than trying to politely tell the customer to please never do that again.
Thankfully, it’s been my experience that if you take the time to educate your customer’s you not only advance their thinking and actions, but you lessen the chance of needing to call the fire department for the oil bomb they’ve created in their system.
Or better yet the fun of talking down the customer who is expecting a house full of people for a party and either their AC or Heating system has failed, and they want you at their house NOW. It can be both difficult and challenging to deal with these types of situations especially if you know that the customer whose system has failed should have replaced the equipment years ago.
As the front line of the defense for the company it is not our job to tell the customer what they’ve done wrong, or how replacing their system three years ago would have saved them on the last-minute service call. No, as the front line, it is our job to be considerate, caring, concerned and ultimately compassionate about the customer’s situation.
Customer’s respond much better when you show you care about their problem rather than treating them as just another number dialed, or another call received for processing.
I learned early on that the age-old adage of “You catch more flies with honey then you do vinegar” was 100 percent accurate.
Whether dealing with that disgruntled customer whose part hasn’t arrived yet, or better yet has arrived and we aren’t scheduling it fast enough, to dealing with the supply warehouse that lost the part or forgot to ship it, learning to control your anger and your tone can make the world of difference in your day to day interactions.
I was once told by a fellow contractor that the moment they get yelled at or see the nasty side of a person the harder it is for them to believe the nicer side.
Once you have shown the dark, no one wants to believe the light. Have I been frustrated? Absolutely! Have I ever been angry? Of course!
Have I ever been so upset that I wanted to cry or scream? Sure, who hasn’t! But, not once have I ever let the person, I’m directly dealing with see that side. I learned that I can still smile and express my frustration, anger and disappointment for a situation and not tarnish the working relationship.
This is probably one of the hardest tips on the list to achieve every time, because as we all know there are some people who just will not be satisfied, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying.
When a customer contacts your office they are seeking a resolution to their situation. Whether it’s scheduling a service call, a sales call, or simply seeking advice for a situation or problem.
Your customers turn to you as their HVACR contractor to help them feel comfortable and secure about their system.
I’ve made it a mission over the years to collect as much information as I can about this industry for the express purpose of helping our customers when they are in need.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that if I don’t know the answer, I can always find it out. Nothing matters more to a customer than follow-through and doing what you say you will do.
Telling a customer that you don’t know the answer right now is not the end of the world, but not giving yourself or the customer the opportunity to find the answer that can make a difference between a satisfied customer or an unsatisfied one.
These are just a few tips that I’ve discovered that can make the biggest difference in your customer interaction.
Integration of these steps with your traditional training practices will help further even the most veteran office staff and your team. And you will be impressed at how quickly your customer satisfaction scores will rise.
One common misconception about commercial HVAC systems is that they are the same as home systems, only larger.
This is an understandable assumption. Unfortunately, however, it is a misunderstanding reinforced by smaller HVAC contractors looking to bring in commercial business in addition to their residential customers.
Here is the truth: There are special considerations when it comes to the repair and maintenance of HVAC systems and air conditioning found in schools, office buildings and industrial properties. For example, here are a few questions you should expect your industrial HVAC systems contractor to ask—questions not typically thought about by residential AC technicians.
Today’s building managers need to consider energy efficiency and property value as well as the comfort of the people in the building. Hiring the proper contractor to meet your HVAC needs means hiring someone that also considers these things. You want to pick someone that can make intelligent recommendations and understand your needs.
In your search for the right HVAC systems contractor, the following questions will help you separate the little-league operations from the heavy hitters in the commercial HVAC industry.
Is your HVAC contractor experienced in building automation?
From a basic programmable electronic thermostat to a hearty automation system, you should optimize your HVAC control system to maximize your occupants’ comfort and minimize energy waste. Today’s cutting-edge systems can also integrate wirelessly with your current systems to automate and control lighting, telecommunications, security systems and more.
Does your HVAC contractor provide a maintenance plan?
Repairs can fix specific issues. Predictive or preventative maintenance looks at a variety of potential problems. These may not require professional help when individually inspected. However, as a whole, they can turn into massive pains if not caught early.
Ongoing maintenance will prolong the life of your HVAC system when applied over time—by months or even years! Things like recharging refrigerant, cleaning dirty components and tightening loose bolts make a significant impact in the long term by cutting back on the system’s wear and tear.
Can your HVAC contractor benchmark your building operations costs?
If your main goal is to raise asset value and profitability by decreasing operating costs, you will need to know how your monthly energy consumption compares to similar buildings.
Do you know how to seek out the best saving opportunities? Do you know how your business compares to others in your market?
A reliable HVAC contractor will keep your business running without any interruptions. You need a professional with the experience and expertise, however, to solve the problem and provide a variety of intelligent options.
Have you ever wondered what it looks like to go above and beyond in your business? This phrase “above and beyond” is something that pretty much EVERY training company tells you to do. Yet the majority of the time, they don’t give you actionable ways to do it, they just talk about how important it is.
So we are going to share with you what it looks like to go the extra mile. To do something for another person just because it is the right thing to do, not blowing it off because it isn’t in your job responsibilities.
Sherrie, a CSR and operations manager living in Missouri, demonstrates exactly what it means to go above and beyond. You remember this last winter where temperatures hit record low in many states? Well, one of Sherrie’s customers was the recipient of some electrical problems due to these record low temps and was suffering from no power.
After the service professionals installed a new electrical panel, the utility company was supposed to reconnect the power. Sadly, the utility company fought back and refused to reconnect anything until after hearing from the inspector. And even more sadly, the inspector only works one day per week and wasn’t due to drive back out to this small town for some days.
Sherrie and her team of CSRs and Service Professionals kept pushing through, working to contact this inspector to PLEASE go back to the customer’s home and verify that everything was okay so the utility company could reconnect their power. Sherrie even offered to pay the inspector for his drive back to the customer’s home if he could just help take care of them in a timely manner. Yet all of their efforts seemed in vain as the inspector and utility company refused to help and verbally dumped some choice words on them, sent them on a wild goose chase, and refused to answer the phone, thus sending them to voicemail.
In the middle of the conversation between the utility company, inspector, and Sherrie—was the customer. This customer was left in the cold, a husband with dementia, and of course, getting agitated about the entire situation that was out of their control. Imagine being stuck in record low temps with no power?
But persistence, good hearts, teamwork, and purpose kept this team going. Eventually Sherrie and her team were taken seriously, and the inspector and utility company took responsibility for
their part in taking care of this customer, apologizing to Sherrie, and even complimenting her on doing good work.
Sherrie and her team made a world of difference to this customer. It wasn’t her job to chase down the inspector and call the utility company. But it was the RIGHT THING TO DO for her customer in these dire circumstances. And her efforts created a client for life.
We encourage you to start thinking outside of the box, start thinking about doing something for your customer that might not have ANYTHING to do with the reason they called you in the first place. This is what it means to go above and beyond. This is what it means to not just be another service company. We encourage you to find something you can do today for one of your customers that makes you stand out, that you do something for them just because it is the right thing to do.
Missing calls because you’re busy? Maybe you answer in a rush and are short with your customer. It might not mean anything to you. Whether you booked a service or not, there will still be plenty more calls down the line. But not so fast!
For the caller who needs help, negative phone interactions are bad experiences that can seriously impact your company.
Your phone is the main lifeline in the HVAC, plumbing and electrical industries. A missed call, or even a bad call, can result in you losing both new and long-term customers.
Every Call Matters
How important can one call really be? According to NewVoiceMedia research, 51% of people claim that they would not use a company again after having a negative customer service experience. Bad customer service will not only lose you customers, but put a mark on your reputation as well. As you can see on many review sites, people tend to talk about the bad more than the good.
Tips For Outstanding Customer Service on The Phone
Don’t give people anything bad to talk about. Here are some tried and true strategies to help your team book services while providing a positive customer experience.
Great Service & Great Relationships
When people are at each end of a phone call, a relationship is being built. We all know how important relationships are in life and it’s no different in the business environment. No matter how large or small a company may be, it’s the employees who interact with your calls that are on the frontlines in building positive, profitable relationships.
So take the time to hone in your team’s phone skills. Always remember that the next call might become a customer for life.
LeadsNearby, a full-service digital marketing agency, helps local home & commercial service contractors, acquire & retain customers.
This article was originally published here: https://www.leadsnearby.com/enhance-phone-customer-service/
With nearly 80 participants, the Women in HVACR Mentorship program is proving that the presence of women in the industry is significant and growing. Women in HVACR members come from some of the most well-known and prestigious HVACR companies in the world, and span all sectors of the industry. The Mentorship Program helps bring these women together to support each other and help further their career and personal goals .
At this time, we are actively seeking mentors in all sectors of the industry to provide career advice, networking support and a sympathetic ear to other women. Sign up today to be the mentor you always wished you had!
Participation is as easy as filling out a simple online form which will help match applicants with an appropriate mentor. Just let us know a little about you both professionally and personally and we’ll work to find either a mentor or a mentee (or both) who best matches your industry sector and personal interests.
Being a mentor can be an incredibly rewarding and beneficial experience. Some mentors simply believe in the person they are helping and want to see her succeed, and that alone is worth the time and energy. Others look at mentorship as a way of leaving a legacy. As a mentor, you get to pass your wisdom and experience down to the next generation. You have the power to make a huge difference in your industry, your company, and even the world. Whatever the motivation to act as a mentor, the benefits of mentorship have been well documented on both side of the mentor-mentee relationship.
WHVACR is currently seeking both Mentors and Mentees from all aspects of the industry. Anyone interested in participating either as a mentor or mentee (or perhaps both), should contact the WHVACR Mentorship and Education Committee by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out an application online at http://www.womeninhvacr.org/webapp/p/320/mentorship