Open-Source HVAC Projects: Don’t Race to the Bottom By Price Matching, Build a Better Service

open-source HVAC projects can boost your service contract retention and improve callback rates

In 2012, an article published by Angi, then Angie’s List, started to open the discussion over HVAC service contracts. Concerns manifested around the maintenance task list that, arbitrarily, needed to be completed every three to six months. These schedules don’t reflect the real maintenance needs of an HVAC unit, so owners are asking why they would pay for services they don’t really need? In response to that question, the industry began looking toward a more efficient way of providing service through the application of data. HVAC businesses need to understand the old, commoditized market of maintenance contracts and the new, innovative way of approaching maintenance with open-source HVAC projects.

Why Outdated Maintenance Contracts Are More Expensive

Take a moment to think about this question, “how is your maintenance tasking from your competitors”? Because one company can provide the same services as another, the value to the customer is lost and they are just looking for the lowest cost box checker; the industry has trained the customer to believe this! So now, contractors are engaged in a race to the bottom to get the contract, commoditized and costing a lot in sales, overhead, and reduced margins. A contractor with 15 service trucks and an office team that price matches the two-truck team with an “does it all” office manager is a lose-lose for contractor and customer. If you manage a service and maintenance team, read that last sentence again.

Additionally, the scheduling associated with these commoditized contracts falls short of what the equipment needs and what the customer expects. Inspect my unit every three months: change filters, belts, refrigerant levels, airflows, and overall condition, regardless of unit location or runtime. Getting filters replaced sooner than necessary is not going to save anyone money. But if we could lower that cost and enter a truly predictive approach, we can eliminate the unneeded work and effectively target a lower annual maintenance cost.

Customers will always want to ask, “why does it cost so much,” says ACHR News. Every contractor needs to have a set of talking points to explain those costs away, such as:

  • “It’s going to involve complete replacement of x, y, and z.”
  • “A small malfunction created a faulty fan schedule, contributing to premature wear and tear.”
  • “The service charge just to visit the facility is $X, and diagnosing the issue took x number of hours to find.”

What’s worse still, is older explanations amount to higher overhead costs for the HVAC business operator. So, the solution lies in figuring out how to transform the relationship into a more valuable and realistic opportunity to collaborate.

More Value with a Lower Cost Over Time

The traditional means of explaining HVAC business costs like waiting until something breaks and spending countless hours diagnosing problems worked in the past, they fall short today. For example, there is opportunity for any technician and equipment owner to track and display data about a system’s performance, runtime, and more that render traditional explanations are useless.

If a contractor wanted to rely on last-minute service calls and extra diagnosis time, it can work. But the customer is going to realize that they are overspending. Owners and operators are figuring out the opportunity to remotely monitor and diagnose issues, are you going to be the company that offers that service before they ask?

How Open-Source HVAC Projects Create Better Business Strategies

Using advanced analytics, we can measure and monitor the unit performance in real time. And open-source built projects allow for a granularity that feels special to the owner while remaining repeatable and easy for the technician. We can track what’s happening, recognize when an faults occur, remotely access and shut down the unit, which prevents subsequent damage to the unit, and schedule the right technician to make the repair.

Instead of relying solely on someone’s outdated maintenance schedule, open-source HVAC projects bring the best of what’s happening in technology to the commoditized service industry. It all boils down to saving the most money, providing the best value through free and open-source collaboration, and making sure the HVAC business stays in the background. Smart maintenance matches and beats any other approach. And open-source projects can make it happen. Visit the online resources of OpenHVAC to get started building today.

1 thought on “Open-Source HVAC Projects: Don’t Race to the Bottom By Price Matching, Build a Better Service”

  1. Chris,
    I am interested in building up I was active in Apache Software Foundation from the start and up until 2021, I and a few others started in 2005 and done a lot more in open source. I am also working with energy optimization and supervision for large buildings, make my own software, my own hardware and services. I have been looking for like-minded people for quite a while and just stumbled upon this, thanks to the Fediverse and a post about OSHWA 24.

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