Companies in most other industries typically specialize in either service or product sales. HVAC companies handle both. To make things more complex, HVAC companies generally not only do service work but job-oriented contract work. This contract (warranty work) can amount to a large percentage of your service calls. Proper warranty tracking is necessary to ensure a company is not accumulating costs in an unneeded situation, such as performing work “under warranty” only to find out a customer should have been invoiced. You’ll also need to track any work performed stemming from a warranty situation to manage the claim process and tie in with your billing (accounting).
This guide offers information on the following topics:
What Is HVAC Software?
HVAC software is designed for use in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry. Whatever sort of job your HVAC business is contracted out for, you’ll need a field service software that provides functionalities relevant to the HVAC industry by linking financial and operational modules together.
The goal of HVAC service software will be to increase the efficiency of your business and eliminating errors. Purchasing a software solution that was developed with your industry in mind will give you the peace of mind that the developer and/or reseller are experienced in working with companies just like yours.
HVAC software can come in many forms, such as software intended for use by a single contractor, to software that can be referred to as an enterprise system. Office staff and technicians alike can benefit from HVAC service software that provides scheduling and dispatch functionalities and more.
The core of your HVAC software will be organizing your technician’s tasks, generating work orders, and providing customer service. Below is a detailed description of the functionalities found in the top HVAC software options:
- Accounting: Office staff can store information on payments to vendors (accounts payable), and record invoices and payment arrangements made with customers (accounts receivable). Discover profitable areas of the business (as well as areas in need of improvement) through monitoring the company’s financial performance in real-time via reports from the general ledger.
- Estimating & Job Costing: Create accurate estimates of equipment, labor, materials, and other costs that contribute to the overall cost of performing the job. Allows a company to analyze the cost of a single or multiple jobs and compare costs across the jobs you perform. Cost reporting will look for trends in profitable opportunities by location, service type, or even specific employees.
- Dispatching & Fleet Management: Maps and routes all service calls. Allows for an easy sync of scheduling and dispatch to coordinate proper workflow. Mobile integration can allow greater visibility into technician location and assign jobs based on proximity to customer emergencies. Tracks all vehicles and vehicle inventories to ensure technicians have the appropriate equipment on-site.
- Work Order Management: Handles all aspects of coordinating the field work a service techs perform. Work order modules will assign labor to specific employees, by knowing which technicians are qualified to handle each job as well as maximizing the amount of labor that can be performed per employee.
- Bidding & Proposals: Lets users generate bid and proposal documents to convey the scope, specifics, and quality of work that will be provided. Bids can convert estimates to customer-facing documents.
- Warranty Tracking: Track accurate warranty details on all customer accounts to ensure the proper benefits can be allocated to customers and work isn’t performed outside dated periods. Software that allows visibility to all staff levels ensures technicians can validate warranties when performing work outside of regular business hours.
- SimpleHVAC (shown above) is an example of a low-cost entry-level option for small to midsized HVAC contractors. The solution was created by former HVAC contractors and they pride themselves on providing affordable and easy to use software that requires little training.
- FieldEdge is more complete field service solution intended for use by the HVAC industry, as well as plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, and other technician based companies. This software was first developed with the HVAC industry in mind by two HVAC contractors and relies on heavy input from owners, dispatchers, and technicians.
- Mobile access for field technicians. HVAC technicians work in the field, and allowing access to the software via mobile device allows employees an easier way to quickly handle work. Working with software that has cloud-based functionality (with access on mobile devices in the field) lets employees provide estimates on the fly, answer incoming dispatch calls, print out billing statements or work orders, and more.
- Smart HVAC technologies. In 2018, Klugo found that smart technologies were becoming more and more prevalent in the HVAC industry to meet high customer demand for accuracy. This technology allows for the temperature to be controlled and adjusted remotely through wireless networks. Not only does this give businesses the ability to monitor system performance and get more detailed insights on their energy savings, but it also can allow for remote diagnostics to be performed by the HVAC contractor.
Common Pain Points
- Underestimating labor expenses. Often HVAC companies underestimate the expense associated with the labor required to handle administrative tasks such as accounts payable, bank reconciliations, and asset depreciation. Accounting automation functionality creates the opportunity to create efficiencies in these areas and lower your administrative overhead costs. Billing and accounts receivable modules can make sure that you are receiving complete and timely customer payment.
- Difficulty finding the right industry-specific option. Most “HVAC software” will be grouped together as “Field Service software”, which includes any other business that operates as a similar service-based business (plumbers, electricians, etc.). While the same type of functionality may be needed, there are benefits to consider when it comes to one that is narrowly focused on the HVAC industry. Many HVAC service software has been created with feedback from HVAC professionals. Many developers or resellers of these software solutions have a background in the HVAC industry, whether from having been a contractor directly, or having succcessfully implemented their software to HVAC businesses.
Quickbooks software is used by many small HVAC or other service businesses. The industry neutral solution provides basic financial management at one of the lowest costs available on the market. The most important features needed in an HVAC software that Quickbooks lacks is scheduling and dispatch.
As Quickbooks was designed for bookkeeping, it won’t do what an HVAC contractor needs and will require integration with 3rd party add-ons to become a complete HVAC software. This can be accomplished through a variety of add-ons, or one “complete” add-on that covers all the needed functionalities, such as tracking work orders, equipment installation details, service agreements, and maintenance reminders. The best approach will be figuring out which functionalities you need to be added on to Quickbooks the most, or if the number of functionalities needed can perhaps justify a completely new system.
While a solution developed specifically for the HVAC industry may be ideal, it may not always be the most practical or cost-effective. Here are some related software categories that an HVAC company could see success using a product from:
- Field Service Software: HVAC companies are doing work out in the field, and this industry-neutral option will provide you with all the similar tools an HVAC software can offer (work orders, estimating, service contracts, dispatching, and more)
- Construction Software: HVAC contractors can usually be a small part of a large construction project. Many needed tools of HVAC service companies, such as job costing, estimating, and bid management, are included in general contractor or construction focused software.
- Fleet Management Software: Tracking the locations of your employees and their vehicles inventory is a common need for many HVAC companies. This functionality, along with scheduling and dispatch features are the heart of fleet management software.
- ERP Software: Best suited for midsize to larger companies, enterprise resource planning software can handle everything from financials to logistics, to project management and more.