The US Energy Information Administration says 88% of homes use air conditioning. Meanwhile, 66% have central AC units. This stat means there is high demand for mechanics. And, with that increased demand comes a need for HVAC service managers to oversee jobs and communicate with customers.
Those interested in a leadership role should learn successful HVAC service management techniques. Management roles are unique because you need both technical and people skills. Planning and problem-solving are also vital. The decisions service managers make can impact the business’s success.
Here, we’ll look at the role of an HVAC service manager. We will also see pay averages, required knowledge, and training needs. Finally, we will showcase ways to build the skills a service manager needs to succeed.
What Does an HVAC Service Manager Do?
The first step in learning how to become a successful HVAC service manager is defining the job. This step is helpful for new and experienced workers.
List an HVAC service manager’s expected responsibilities. Then define strong and weak areas. These insights help you focus on improvement efforts.
The service manager role involves overseeing installation and repair jobs. The responsibilities are different depending on each job. Yet most managers have a similar set of duties:
- Administration. Schedule field workers, approve payroll, and track hours.
- Quality assurance. Check the technician’s work for quality on service calls. Ensure it meets client specifications.
- Communication in the field. Dispatch teams to job locations. Serve as the primary contact if issues come up during a job.
- Bids and quotes. You often gather job details and create bids or quotes in a management position. You then present them to the client and handle negotiations, if needed.
- Inventory. Check materials and equipment for each job and order more supplies when necessary.
- Training. Service managers organize training for employees, check certifications, and renew licenses.
- Technical support. Provide support and direction to technicians. This duty often includes troubleshooting problems during installation and repair.
- Safety. Teach safety practices. On job sites, check technicians to ensure safety standards.
- Customer service. Managers talk with customers. They get job details and requirements and provide service updates to customers. They also hear and deal with customer complaints.
- Agreements. Document services, communicate maintenance needs, and make service agreements with customers.
As a service manager, you may have other jobs. These might include sending and tracking invoices and recording payments. You will also update company owners or decision-makers on performance and tell them about service team needs.
How Much Does an HVAC Service Manager Make?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts all heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers in the same group. Data from May 2022 has the salary range for these careers between $36,170 and $82,630.
The national average, according to the BLS, is $48,630. HVAC workers in states with more extreme climates earned more. Top earners included Alaska ($72,200 average wage) and Minnesota ($70,080).
Cost of living can also impact earnings. For example, Hawaii is a more expensive state to live in. The average wage reflects that at $71,310.
HVAC employees also earned more in large metros. For example, they averaged $72,820 in New York City and $68,680 in the Los Angeles area.
They also say that more experienced workers usually earn more. Service managers can expect to earn higher amounts than technicians.
What Skills Are Needed to Work as an HVAC Service Manager?
The best service managers develop specific skills throughout their careers. These abilities are necessary to succeed as an HVAC manager. Here are seven core skills needed for an HVAC manager’s job:
Managers often start their careers as HVAC service technicians. They need to understand the details of each job to make the right bid. This experience also helps them choose the best materials and tools.
Managers give support to workers. To do that, they need more knowledge than other team members.
Managers schedule service technicians, organize materials and equipment, and check inventory. Most companies need their managers to handle several projects at once. They must be able to keep details in order.
Clients and technicians expect the manager to answer questions about project details. They need to be able to access cost or warranty info easily.
Managers have to organize information, use it to multi-task, and keep all jobs on schedule. Many managers find HVAC field service software helpful in this regard.
Companies need managers who can represent their values and brand with customers. Clients and technicians need to trust managers.
At the same time, managers need to meet quality requirements without fail. As a manager, you don’t have someone checking your work. Companies trust you to do the job right every time.
Managers communicate with everyone involved in each project. They must explain the project to customers, give updates, and direct technicians. It is up to the manager to explain the job details. If they can’t, the worker won’t know how to meet customer needs.
Finally, managers are the link between field staff and owners. They relay needs, such as new tools, to owners. They also communicate expectations or policies to staff.
Knowledge of Local Codes
HVAC service managers sign off on each project. They are responsible for all work following local ordinances and codes.
Each city has its own regulations governing HVAC safety, energy, and quality. The service manager needs to understand them all. They need to know how they apply to each job and ensure the team understands and upholds them.
They also check the work to see if it is done right. After the job, inspectors check HVAC installations. They won’t accept work that doesn’t meet local code.
Cool under Pressure
You need to remain cool under pressure in every management position. HVAC service managers need to solve problems on jobs. Technicians will usually call them with complicated challenges. The manager needs to solve the issues.
When a customer complains, the manager is the one responsible for listening. They have to communicate even if the customer is angry or unreasonable. They cannot get angry themselves.
Service managers listen to customer needs. They then help them choose HVAC systems or upgrades.
They have to calculate the area of the home and choose systems that meet the customer’s needs. Managers ask the right questions to ensure customers get what they want. Are they looking to save on their energy bill? Do they have hot or cold spots in their home? Maybe they just want a more efficient system.
Managers add labor and parts costs and find the price for the job. For competitive bids, they may need to find areas to cut costs to win the project.
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Why Is an HVAC Service Manager Role So Vital to an HVAC Business?
Are good HVAC service managers important for company success? These pros play a significant role in getting jobs, keeping customers, and making technicians happy. Here are four benefits companies enjoy with successful service managers:
Good Customer Relationships
Managers are the face of the service department. They communicate with customers about the job. These talks are a chance to build a relationship. Skilled managers can use this time to earn customer trust and win repeat business.
Good relations can also bring new business. Happy clients are likely to tell friends about the HVAC company. Word-of-mouth marketing is more effective than many other means of advertising. Almost 90% of consumers trust a friend’s recommendation over other forms of advertising.
A positive experience always starts with a good relationship between the customer and the service manager.
Companies need to keep good mechanics. Service managers are the main contact for these workers. They give support and create a positive work environment.
Good managers make job expectations clear and listen to workers’ needs. Workers who feel supported and valued are likely to stay with the company.
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Successful service managers create a more efficient workplace. They schedule technicians, plan project dates, and get the right tools and materials.
The planning helps the company make time for more clients. More jobs means more revenue. Since scheduling and materials are organized, operating costs are low and profits higher.
Safe Work Practices
HVAC technicians work with dangerous materials. They connect natural gas lines and install electrical wires. These tasks need good safety practices on every job site. A small error could cause harm to the technicians or the customers.
Service managers provide safety training, and they double-check work on each job. In other words, they are an extra layer of protection for employees and clients. If something goes wrong, they can make corrections before it causes damage or harm.
The Top 6 Skills to Develop to Become a Better Leader in HVAC
HVAC service managers need technical skills and people skills. These provide a base for developing other abilities to become a successful HVAC service manager. Here are six skills HVAC managers can develop to become more successful:
Good decisions ensure success. But some choices are complicated.
Service managers might need to choose to delay one project so that they can complete another. They also need to make decisions about dealing with demanding clients. Sometimes that means cutting losses and withdrawing from a project.
Knowing when to give a little and when to walk away is an essential skill for service managers to foster.
Decision-making skills involve collecting all the info you can and using it to make an informed choice. The process includes getting data, hearing opinions from project staff, and measuring the pros and cons.
Good managers develop a process for making these difficult calls. Then, they review their steps and make changes for the next decision, if necessary.
Service managers need to handle conflicts. Sometimes, arguments occur between co-workers. Sometimes customers get upset. At these times, the service manager needs to keep their emotions in check and solve the issue.
Such tasks need clear thinking and problem-solving. A resolution needs to be achieved without getting caught up in heightened emotions.
A manager can develop the ability to not respond with anger or frustration. What is the root of the problem? Take a pause. Then, focus on finding solutions.
Assigning Tasks to Others
HVAC service managers have the skills to handle every part of a repair or installation job. This approach wastes time. Instead, managers need to learn to delegate.
This means defining each worker’s skills, then giving them jobs where they can use these abilities. Managers can also choose to teach them new skills. Not only can they take on more duties, but it can also increase job satisfaction.
This approach leaves you free to do tasks where your skills are necessary. After each project, look at time management and find jobs you could have assigned to others. Be mindful of that in future projects.
HVAC service managers can ensure success for each job. However, they also need to make decisions based on company goals. These goals can be different depending on the company and its specialized areas.
Some companies may want ongoing maintenance agreements, which bring a steady income. Others could want new installation projects to earn more money upfront.
A manager needs to know the company goals to build customer relationships. They can then manage services in a way that helps meet them.
To build this skill, clearly define your company’s goals. Then create a plan to reach them. These insights will help guide your activities and decisions.
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Managers need the ability to see what employees need even if they don’t communicate it.
For example, technicians may feel pressure to finish a job on time. They might feel bad about not having the skills to do assigned jobs. Managers can develop empathy by putting themselves in their employee’s shoes.
In some cases, the employee might need encouragement. Or they want someone to teach them the right way to do a task. Looking at the work through their eyes can help managers act with empathy. This ability can help with keeping good workers in the company. If they feel understood, employees are more likely to stay.
Managers must motivate their workers. This skill is difficult because workers respond to different things. Managers need to know when to lead by example and how to encourage employees. They also have to deal with those who need more energy at work.
Motivation affects several vital areas.
First, workers need to have reasons to do quality jobs. They need motivation to follow proper safety procedures and maintain focus throughout the job. As a manager, you can keep staff ready to work by leading by example and not asking them to do what you wouldn’t do yourself.
These individual skills contribute to good being a good manager. But there are two crucial things to remember— lead by example and provide support.
A manager’s role is always adapting. Remember to get feedback from employees to help improve your management style. Once an HVAC pro builds these skills, they can create a successful career as a service manager.