How to increase your first-time fix rate and boost profitability in the HVAC maintenance sector

How to increase your first-time fix rate and boost profitability in the HVAC maintenance sector

First time fix is a key factor in the profitability of any HVAC maintenance business, where time is money.

It’s an all-too-common scenario; an engineer arrives at a job but is missing a vital piece of information about the fault or repair history and can’t do the job. On the second visit the engineer finds they don’t have the right parts in their van stock to complete the job, and on the third call, the customer isn’t able to accommodate the visit due to poor communication.

Sending the correctly qualified service engineer with all the information they need, the right parts to complete the job, and ensuring it’s convenient with the customer, seems obvious, but achieving this is not always as easy as it sounds.

Out-dated service management systems, or worse – multiple spreadsheets, make it hard to manage the simplest of engineer call outs and a lack of visibility and communication in back-office systems, lead to inefficiencies throughout the entire service delivery journey.

Investing in trusted technology to transform your business, modernise your processes, organise your teams and manage your assets will transform the efficiency of your back office, field engineers and subcontractors and save you valuable time, resources and energy.

While the initial investment, of both time and money, in an enterprise platform may seem daunting, making the change properly once will increase your productivity, profit and help you to grow your business in the long run. 

Is it about time you looked at working with a Digital Transformation Partner?

Dynamic Scheduling Boosts Productivity

Dynamic workforce scheduling can enable service businesses to significantly improve engineer productivity; in our experience, by up to 40%, when using the Aeromark platform.


Our fully customisable, cloud-based service management system can provide all the information required to ensure engineers have the right information every time. This results in greater efficiency, accurate surveys and quotes, better first-time fix rates (FTFRs) and more time to focus on other areas of your business offering.


When a reactive job does comes in, the system will select the best engineer for a job based on their expertise, location and availability, as well as identify other planned or reactive maintenance work at, or near, the same location, which can be done at the same time; further improving efficiency, reducing service miles and saving you time and money.


Meanwhile your back-office team have real time visibility of the status of jobs throughout the emerging day. If jobs are overrunning work can be simply reallocated ensuring SLAs and promises to customers are always met. Equally, when service calls are completed quicker than expected, the system can suggest additional jobs can be added to an engineer’s day. 


Empower your Mobile Workforce

Improving your efficiency and communication with customers boosts their confidence in your engineers, and company brand, while reducing costs and unproductive workforce hours.


HVAC engineers need to be empowered with as much knowledge as possible to achieve a first-time fix.  With an end-to-end service management system, the engineer’s job schedule is clearly laid out in order, with full details including relevant site and asset information, service history and asset specifications via their smart phones or tablets, making the engineer experience as simple as possible.


Automated real-time SMS or email notifications keep customers informed about their service appointment and engineer location and allows them to easily rearrange when more convenient for them reducing “no access.” 


Once onsite, the entire service request is streamlined from issue detection to finish. Job sheets and compliance documentation are automatically created, including photo capture, engineers time on

site, parts used, rates applied to the job and customer signature.


Should additional parts be required to complete the maintenance or repair, engineers can access supplier parts lists and initiate inventory orders. Once the job is completed it automatically passes

to a commercial queue for review, approval and billing.


screenshot of mobile app

Streamline Installation and Maintenance Surveys

Producing accurate surveys and quotations is essential to control profitability and is a frequent pain point of HVAC businesses. Gathering the information needed to provide an accurate invoice, for example, often requires back and forth for back-office teams, leaves room for human error and gives little confidence to the end customer. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.


A customisable survey and quotation workflow that enables engineers to quickly quote for small works in real time, or easily compile a comprehensive survey and quotes for bigger jobs is a game changer. 


With an enterprise service management system, engineers can compile a photographic record of key information such as the location of system components and any issues on site via their smart phones or tablet.


If parts are needed, engineers have at the means to order the required parts. This instantly triggers an accurate quotation which can be emailed to the customer there and then. Once accepted, a fixing list and Bill of Materials (BOM) are automatically raised on the system. When all the required parts are in the job is rescheduled and speedily completed.


Different types of work may have different margins which are automatically adjusted and calculated based on contracted schedule of rates and agreed mark-ups. The system also manages any agreed discounts, inter-company rates, buy price and sell price after discount to provide essential control and visibility of margin.


Manage Subcontractors Better

Subcontractors can engage with the service process digitally which improves operational efficiency, giving better control of costs and providing the all-important continuity of customer experience, and adherence to your service levels. 


When jobs are allocated to your sub-contractors, they will get access to the task details via the mobile app or web portal, which includes full information about the job including any asset service history. While on site, sub-contractors can update information and the costs to be applied to the job, via the portal, including details of the issue, photos, billable time and usage of parts. 


Automate Compliance Management and Tracking

As an HVAC business you are aware of your obligation to record and track the use of refrigerant gas and provide Gas Safety Records following gas safety checks, both of which are time-consuming to manage. A good service management system is all about saving time; it will reduce the burden of compliance administration for your engineers and back office by automatically creating a time-stamped record and the necessary documentation for you.


The systems knowledge base also stores any health and safety and risk assessment documentation alongside the customer’s record, so it can be easily accessed by engineers in the field.

Enterprise Asset Management

A real-time asset management platform provides a structured audit trail of every asset, including work carried out, age, warranty monitor, photos, specifications, cost of item and service costs. It also indicates when an item of equipment is beyond economic repair (BER) or end of life (EOL). Full details of contracts, warranties, schedule of rates (SOR’s) and price-books are also stored in the system. Any task, from installation to planned preventative maintenance, reactive, repair or replacement has end-to-end visibility within the system driving both performance and behaviours.


Gain Real Time Operational Insight 

If you want to know how profitable and productive your HVAC maintenance business really is, you need to be able to monitor, manage and improve your operations from end to end. How else will you find out which of your jobs make the most money, what your FTFR is, and which assets cost too much to maintain? 


It is essential to understand the costs, productivity, and profitability of your jobs to be a strong, robust service business. A complete service management solution provides a range of reporting and analytics tools which enable you to analyse all the data collected in real time to drive efficiency, develop best practices, and get real time feedback on underperformance so issues can proactively be resolved.  


End-to-End Digital Transformation Partner 

If you are planning to invest in a service management solution, think strategically not tactically to ensure you are future proofing your business. It might be tempting to just sign up to a cheap off the shelf product that might get you out of pain now, but it will cost you more overall and deliver weaker return on investment.  


With Aeromark, you get an end-to-end Digital Transformation Partner who will work with you to help you grow. Is it about time you worked with a partner who will enable you to seamlessly integrate your new system into your business and help you grow?


This article was first published in FMJ in July 2024