Certified technicians can increase bottom line

Certified technicians increase the value of your business.

Certified technicians increase the value of your business. According to survey results by Service Round Table, professional contractors who employ North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certified technicians might see each of those technicians bring more than $10,000 in value to their company each year. This can be attributed to fewer callbacks, less warranty work and a greater ability to educate consumers about better options.

Survey results show consumers who are receiving advice from NATE-certified technicians spend about $400 more on their purchase of a home-comfort system. And, consider the following statistics:

  • 89% of consumers want certified technicians to work on their heating or cooling system.

  • 55% of consumers hold off on having work done because they don't know whom they can go to that will do the work right.

  • When introduced to NATE, consumers are willing to pay 16.2% more for the services of a certified technician.

  • After being made aware of certified technicians, 76% said they would use them.

A separate survey by Decision Analyst found that 63% of contracting firms who employ NATE-certified technicians acknowledged that they get fewer callbacks on work done by certified technicians.

Three out of four firms have seen more value in a NATE-certified technician than one who is trained, but not certified. Technician certification is a winning solution that will increase the value of your contracting business. Are your technicians NATE-certified? If not, how come? And, if you already have certified technicians, do area homeowners know the unique and added value they provide?

What is NATE?

NATE is the nation's non-profit certification organization for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians. Candidates can earn installation and/or service certification in air conditioning, air distribution, heat pumps, gas heating, oil heating, hydronic gas, hydronic oil, commercial and light commercial refrigeration, and senior efficiency analyst.

NATE-approved testing organizations are located throughout the U.S. and Canada. To find a testing organization near you, visit: http://www.natex.org/HVAC_HVACR/testing_findtest.asp.

Increase awareness

In response to homeowners' desires for qualified HVACR technicians, NATE launched a Web site for consumers, www.HVACRAdvice.com. This Web site features a contractor locator where homeowners can type in their zip code and find local companies that employ NATE-certified technicians. To participate in the contractor locator you must have 50% of your technicians NATE certified.

When a consumer uses the contractor locator and the results appear, the NATE Quality Circle Contractors appear at the top of the list. A NATE Quality Circle Contractor is one who has at least 80% of its total technicians NATE-certified with at least one NATE-certified technician in each area of installation and/or service in which the contractor performs work. This is an achievement being pursued by more savvy contractors across the country every day because they see the value it offers them, their technicians and their customers.

Specifically, contractors who are reaching the level of the Quality Circle are achieving several key objectives. This high level of certification means they are ensuring that their technicians are capable of providing the highest-quality service to their customers, and they position their businesses to adjust their price structure accordingly to reflect this ultimate level of both knowledge and service.

In fact, Decision Analyst further confirmed more than two-thirds of contractor firms employing NATE-certified technicians believe these certified techs give them an edge in both marketing and customer relations.

Beyond that, 78% of respondents either agreed somewhat or strongly agreed that their NATE-certified technicians give their firm a competitive advantage over the competition, and, perhaps most important, 66% believe their customers responded positively to and because of their NATE-certified technicians.

Given this data, it's easy to see how NATE certification not only benefits professional technicians and contractors, but also consumers. And, furthermore, for those contractors who achieve the level of the Quality Circle Contractor, the win-win scenario is that much stronger.

But, you need to make consumers aware that you have certified technicians by showcasing the NATE logo. Here's a checklist to help your business:

  • List your company on NATE's Consumer Contractor Connection (C3) by visiting: www.natex.org.

  • Put NATE logos on your vehicles — they are traveling billboards seen by customers countywide.

  • Have technicians wear NATE patches on all their uniforms.

  • Encourage technicians to show their wallet card credentials to homeowners.

  • Use NATE's customizable newsletter to keep in touch with your customers (it's easy to use, and it keeps your company in a front-of-mind position).

  • Put the NATE logo on your certified technicians' business cards.

  • Put the NATE logo on your estimates, invoices and other company literature.

  • Use NATE's customizable “Rest Assured” brochure to tell customers about certification and why it's good for them.

  • Have technicians and other company personnel mention that your company has NATE-certified technicians in all presentations to businesses and consumers.

  • Use the NATE logo in your Yellow Pages ad.

  • Use the NATE logo in your print advertising.

  • Mention NATE-certified technicians in your radio and TV ads.

If you have any questions about NATE certification, contact Pat Lampel at [email protected], or visit www.natex.org for more information.

Ray Isaac is chairman of North American Technician Excellence and president of Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning, Rochester, N.Y., 585/546-1400.