Last month, we had the opportunity to do a Q and A session with one of our providers out east - Aire Serv of Southwest Connecticut. Check out their answers to our questions below.
What is your background with heating and cooling?
I started in the business in 1993. I graduated and went on to work for various companies, getting my license and then getting my contractor’s license in 2004. For 10 years, I essentially practiced and did the state of Connecticut licensing requirements to become a contractor. From there, I worked through the industry. I always had the desire to open my company. I always dreamed of being independent and not working for someone.
I finally opened up my business in March 2006, doing primarily commercial work. I was approached by Aire Serv to become a franchise-holder – after about a year in business, and purchased the Aire Serv franchise for Southwest Connecticut. I liked working with residential clients – I felt that I was actually helping people to solve a problem, and I enjoy the interaction with residential customers. I started out with just myself and one technician – an install technician – back in 2007. We were working out of a small office in Seymour, and I continued to grow Aire Serv of Southwest Connecticut over the years. We are up to twelve people now in the company. We continuously grow servicing the residential market, and we do some commercial work.
What’s it like working with Oncourse Home Solutions?
We were approached by Oncourse a while ago, and it was a great fit – from a business stand-point. Oncourse Home Solutions has helped us to balance our workload through the summer and winter. We offer very good service, and we have an abundance of technicians who are ready to service the customers’ needs at a moment’s notice – most times. We really enjoy the fact that we get to go take care of Oncourse Home Solutions customers and offer them answers to their problems.
Maintenance has become a bigger item for us with Oncourse Home Solutions It’s a real benefit to the customer to have that maintenance plan in place. Probably 90% of the service calls we get in the winter are from customers who didn’t have anybody look at their system prior to the winter. That lets us get in the house before the cold season to be sure their system is running reliably and get the customer’s problems corrected. Or we can upgrade or repair their current system to be sure it’s running reliably before the heating season. And a Oncourse Home Solutions warranty plan gives them the protection of not having to pay out-of-pocket for many repairs.
We’ve made some friendships with some of the representatives at Oncourse. They’re very well-informed, very nice people. They work with us all the time. Whenever there’s a problem, we work together to solve it. It’s a really good group of people you have over there.
What excites you most about your job?
We like to solve people’s comfort issues. We like to be the hero – come in, and get their heat back on. Most of the time, people are panicked – they don’t know what to do and they’re afraid their heat can’t be repaired. You can feel it on the phone that they’re nervous and/or upset. We give them high quality customer service through our customer service reps. The technicians all have their iPads and things like that. We try to ease our customer’s pain, and make them comfortable with what’s going on. The problem is going to be solved.
We try to be as flexible as possible with our appointment schedules. The customer’s time is valuable, as well. We put them at ease through the process. Once there, we have a fully-stocked truck. 95% of the time, we are able to solve the problem in the home, which is paramount. If you drive around with an empty truck, you can’t solve the customer’s problem. It’s about making the customers happy through prompt repairs and high quality service. They like Aire Serv of Southwest Connecticut and they like Oncourse Home Solutions.
What organizations are you a member of?
We are a member of the BBB. We are a part of CHCC – the Connecticut Heating and Cooling Contractors Association. It’s an organization of contractors here in Connecticut. We get together several times a year and talk about best practices, customer retention, and the newest rebates. We are involved with Energize Connecticut, which is huge here. They offer 0% financing, and often times they offer large rebates on furnace upgrades. They make sure customers are aware of the latest furnace rebates and the financing available through them, which is quite a big program and really helps customers to get a better furnace than they’d normally get if they didn’t follow the program. It has to be an Energy Star-rated furnace which is energy efficient for gas and electric. It has to be both. It’s a very good program.
Being part of Aire Serv of Southwest Connecticut – we live and operate by a code of values. It’s the way we do business that’s very unique to the industry.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
We are boaters! We are in close proximity to the Housatonic River and Long Island Sound. Personally, I like to do some fishing. We do a lot of swimming, and cruising – we go up and down the river and out into Long Island Sound, where we can go over into New York or to various stops in Connecticut to visit friends and meet people. We are about fifteen miles from Long Island Sound. My wife, who works here, is also involved with that. I also enjoy visiting the state of Maine, doing some hiking, and things up there. It’s one of my favorite places to go.
How are people aware of your business?
Oncourse Home Solutions has been very good to us, and has helped us from dropping our volume at slow times of the year. Word-of-mouth customers are great, but unfortunately that’s not usually enough to support a business. So, we also do a lot of direct marketing pieces and the little flyers they put in mailed coupon packs and home magazines. Primarily, the number one lead generator would be pay-per-click marketing and social media advertising.
What is the key to your success?
We pride ourselves in finding a fast resolution to the customer’s issues through a great network of suppliers. With local support, we’re stocking more and more parts to meet our needs and the needs of customers. We also have our own fully-stocked supply room of parts to help get the customer’s units running quickly. Our vendor comes in two times a week to re-order what we need to restock our parts room. Having our own parts stock helps to reduce the amount of time the technicians use to get restocked for the day. That lets us service more customers, as well. We also stock new furnaces in the middle of the winter for the emergency furnace changes that happen when it’s the coldest.
Having fun in the process is our best value, and it is one of the things that customers can even hear in our customer service representatives’ voices.