Some might say that the life of an HVAC technician is a boring one—all they do is work on heating and cooling systems all day, every day, right? After spending the day with one of the handy technicians from Mr. Quik, our client in Indianapolis, it proved that there’s more to it than Freon and cooling coils.
The place was already bustling with action when I arrived at the Mr. Quik offices on W 82nd St. at 8:30 Friday morning. Trucks, vans and staff were moving at an upbeat pace, ready to get the day rolling.
I met HVAC Technician Gary, my mentor for the day, and his boss Josh, the Vice President of Operations at Mr. Quik. Josh gives us some general direction with our first call and we hit the road, sunglasses on ready to tackle anything.
As we drive to the first appointment – a homeowner on the Southside with a non-working AC on a 90+ degree day – Gary gives me a little background on himself. He’s a veteran, married with two daughters, and he’s been with Mr. Quik for a couple of years. While he had some mechanical training in the military, he claims he learned most on the job through the company’s excellent training program. (So, you don’t need to already have a brain full of HVAC knowledge to work in the industry—great companies offer on-site training with the latest equipment so all technicians can stay in the know.)
He tells me this looks to be a typical day, but I quickly learned there isn’t really a “typical” day for technicians in this industry. Every call and every day is unique, which requires the technician to be well-trained, to think fast on their feet, be resourceful and good communicators with the home office and especially customers.
Communicating with customers takes real skill. They are trusting you to come into their home and accurately diagnose a problem that is likely to cost them money. And the range of customer is as wide as the range of different types of people.
The first customer was an easy one for Gary to feel comfortable, since the customer was also a veteran the two are soon sharing stories. He was able to fairly quickly diagnose the problem – a bad circuit breaker – and clearly explained the options to the customer as well as go over the benefits of the company’s Maintenance Service Agreement.
Our next call was a routine AC checkup, and while the homeowner had to be at work, she asked her retired parents to meet with the technician at the house. Again, Gary handled the customer communication well and put everyone at ease. The day wasn’t ideal—we had to deal with some rain outside while we inspected the outdoor unit, but that wasn’t a big deal. Upon completion of the call, the father of our customer shared a couple of corny school teacher jokes and sent us on our way—it’s fun to learn about the everyday customer in unique ways.
Throughout the day, Gary checked in with the home office to keep an open line of communication before, during and after each appointment. I was surprised by the amount of flexibility and communication necessary to keep the operation running smoothly.
Our last appointment was with a family who were unhappy with the performance of their air conditioning unit, as it was not effectively cooling the entire home. The old unit needed a recharge to the system and a new air filter (which should be replaced regularly), and it was back up and working at full capacity. The family felt an immediate noticeable difference, which made everyone happy. The best way to keep an older unit such as this one running smoothly is with routine maintenance, so Gary explained the benefits of Mr. Quik’s service maintenance program with the customer, who said they would talk it over and get back to him.
Looking back on that day in the truck, I am amazed at the diversity of people and problems we encountered in just one day. And this was not even the middle of the night or weekend emergency calls. I’ve gained a new respect for those work in this industry.
– Randy Davis