At the intersection of technology and the heating and air conditioning industry lies a glut of smartphone and tablet apps for the HVAC professional. There’s HVAC Buddy, HVAC Formulator, HVAC Terminology and the ACCA and ASHRAE apps to name a few. But the question remains, how - if at all - are these tools being used in the field?
Micah Sandlin, an outside salesman for Ruud wholesaler Comfort Supply has been outfitted with an iPad for two months. “I use it more and more every day,” Sandlin said.
His favorite tool is Docs to Go, an application that enables you to create documents such as quotes to send to others, or keep and send to your email. “I can create an order and send it to the sales counter, so my customer can get products without waiting for me to get back to the office,” Sandlin said.
Rocky Cothran, technical service advisor for Comfort Supply also finds the app helpful. “You can store any file that you need, like your price list, spec books and list of Middle Tennessee contractors,” Cothran said. “The app helps you find documents really quickly too. I can easily search 200 page manuals.”
Another useful tool when out in the field is the Contractors App Box. “With this app, I can still write an order when I’m on the road. The app pulls up the form just like an order sheet, and then emails it directly to the computer in the office,” Cothran said. “You can also access job site and accident sheets, invoicing materials, estimates and purchase order emails.”
Built-in, general use applications like note pads, calendars and maps can also improve an HVAC salesman’s productivity.
“I use the iPad’s Note Pad Pro app all the time. It’s a really helpful tool to take notes with on job site calls,” Sandlin said. “Since the app stores notes by the date the data was entered, my notes stay organized too.”
“The note pad works great for me, just like a pencil and paper,” Cothran said. “I can even create wiring diagrams and email them back to the office. Obviously, when you’re driving around Tennessee and Kentucky, the GPS app comes in very handy too.”
Having technology readily available also allows HVAC salesman to pull up websites on a sales call.
“Salesmen can pull up a supplier’s website and show their customers the latest specs, equipment, sales and any promotions that we may be having,” explained Billy Jobe, district manager for Comfort Supply. “For example, Honeywell has a very readable website on the iPad. Salesmen can look up thermostats, search by model number and download installer instructions.”
“There are so many products on the market; it’s hard to remember all the model specs. When I’m on the road with my iPhone or iPad, I can research my competitor’s products on the Internet. By learning about other products, I can better sell my unit over someone else’s unit,” Cothran said. “It’s a tool that helps me perform my job better.”