65eb7d304ec735001e103af6 Jon Ryan Cropped

HVAC Contractor Hopes Predictive Technology Will Reduce Service Call Frenzy

March 28, 2024
Jon Ryan and his Genz-Ryan company will soon be offering Resideo's Pro-IQ Services predictive maintenance technology to interested customers.

Among the pet peeves shared by residential HVAC contractors is the homeowner who refuses to schedule preventive maintenance if “there’s nothing wrong” with their HVAC system. In fact, to call it a “peeve” is to minimize it. The refusal by many residential customers to have their HVAC systems checked each year eventually poses serious scheduling, workforce management and revenue challenges for the contractor.

Jon Ryan, Owner and President of Genz-Ryan Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electrical based in Burnsville, Minn., is one of many who has too often heard customers use the, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” excuse to refuse repairs during a preventive maintenance visit.

“Probably every heating and air conditioning contractor has heard people say, ‘I’ll just fix it when it breaks,’ but, unfortunately, everyone waits until they absolutely need to turn on the air conditioner or furnace, and then a couple million households in a metro area turn them on at the same time, and odds are about a third of them don't work in a given season," Ryan said.

Long Wait Times

In Genz-Ryan's territory in and around Burnsville, located 20 miles south of Minneapolis, the air conditioning season lasts about 10 to 13 weeks, and can sometimes become even shorter, should a system need to be serviced along with many other homeowners who don’t already have a service agreement in place. 

“You might be able to get the system serviced in a day or two, or you might have to wait a week,” he explained. “Then, the technician has to diagnose the problem, and there could possibly be a few days waiting for parts. The whole repair process is anywhere between a week to three weeks, or maybe more, and the customers are sitting in sweltering heat for a long time. That’s no way to live. It’s hard for the contractor as well, especially when service volume increases about 60 percent between May and June, and we make about 70 to 80 percent of our net profit for the year between May and August. The rest of the year, we’re working hard towards profitability. That’s a challenging business model,” he said, one that also adds to the challenge of managing the labor force during the time between late summer and winter.  

Predictive Maintenance Solution

Ryan came to realize technology was the answer to working around this “reactionary stance” by homeowners to preventive service. He began a search for a proactive solution to this service challenge, and evaluated the features and benefits of the leading predictive maintenance technologies.

Ryan's search for an innovative "HVAC as a service" enhancement led him to Pro-IQTM Services,  new predictive monitoring technology developed by Resideo. Pro-IQ Services technology uses installed sensors and machine learning capabilities to detect potential home HVAC system issues before they escalate, providing contractors with early warnings and triggering proactive maintenance.

“We felt that this new technology was the ideal solution, and they were willing to partner with us and work with us. We shared the business idea, they saw value in it, and we saw value in their proposition,” said Ryan. The "HomePulse" name is the Genz-Ryan's unique branding, which associates the service with the company, its expertise and dedication to homeowner service, and equates the offering to "an EKG of your HVAC system."

The Pro-IQ Services communication module measures electricity, so it knows what the electrical wave should look like during system startup, run and shutdown, and it detects the condition of all system functions: when the blower kicks on, when the gas valve kicks on, when it goes into first and second stage, when the burners turn off, when the gas valve closes and when the blower turns off. Irregularities in any of those stages signals a potential system failure. The Pro-IQ Services  communication module sends the data to a Resideo monitoring station, which vets the alert before passing it to the contractor, largely ensuring each alert equates to a job opportunity. 

Such cold, hard performance data is invaluable when explaining the system's condition to a customer. 

“It’s very common to hear a homeowner say, ‘It was working fine last night and then all of a sudden it's not working anymore.’ In reality, every component in your furnace and air conditioner is throwing off a signal. It's like a person standing in the center of a crowded room, waving their hands. Something is wrong, but nobody is listening. The Pro-IQ Services technology is the earpiece that's now listening and providing a performance history," Ryan said.


"Customers will call us for ‘no heat’ or ‘no cool’ and then they'll call back 24 hours later and say, ‘it fixed itself’. It didn't fix itself. You have an intermittent problem that you need to resolve, and odds are if you resolve that intermittent problem, it's probably going to be just a few hundred dollars. But if you wait until it completely fails, that intermittent problem that's a few hundred bucks could become a few thousand dollars. And the interesting thing about this “new technology” is, it can actually detect a TXV valve that is working intermittently," he explained.

“If you wait until your TXV fails, you risk flooding the compressor, then you're buying a new compressor, or a completely new system. The new technology finds the problems before they happen, before your Delta T problems begin."

Following a well-coordinated and thorough 12- to 14-month Beta testing phase of installing units on over 300 homes, which included gathering customer feedback and getting a feel for market demand, Genz-Ryan launched HomePulse to their existing customer base and the general market in September of 2023. The initial response to the HomePulse benefits was overwhelmingly positive, with two-thirds of those surveyed recognizing the value of proactive maintenance and predictive monitoring. 

The ProIQ technology's ability to anticipate problems and schedule timely truck rolls should reduce the occurrence of unexpected breakdowns and repairs to neglected home comfort systems. By shifting maintenance tasks to quieter periods and minimizing disruptions during peak seasons, Ryan and other contractors can better manage their workload and ensure consistent revenue streams. 

Ryan is offering monitoring and service warranties to both new and existing customers. By prioritizing preventive maintenance and leveraging predictive analytics, he aims to revolutionize Genz-Ryan’s approach to smarter service, an improved revenue stream and highly enhanced customer service.  

“You have to constantly build value for your customers, and the way you do that is through regular communication, giving their system at minimum a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down,'" said Ryan. "We’re working on metrics to provide customers with emails that will give them a basic outline of the performance of their systems. We have to build value. It’s not like Netflix or other streaming services, where you’re constantly seeing the value."


About the Author

Terry McIver | Content Director - CB

A career publishing professional, Terence 'Terry' McIver has served three diverse industry publications in varying degrees of responsibility since 1987, and worked in marketing communications for a major U.S. corporation.He joined the staff of Contracting Business magazine in April 2005.

As director of content for Contracting Business, he produces daily content and feature articles for CB's 38,000 print subscribers and many more Internet visitors. He has written hundreds, if not two or three, pieces of news, features and contractor profile articles for CB's audience of quality HVACR contractors. He can also be found covering HVACR industry events or visiting with manufacturers and contractors. He also has significant experience in trade show planning.