Sunday, December 20, 2015

HVAC Contractors Offer Tips on Tipping

Tipping restaurant servers, delivery drivers, cab drivers, hair stylists, and movers has become a common practice in today’s world. It’s considered good etiquette to reward the aforementioned occupations because they’re delivering a service. But, what about service contractors? Is tipping a typical practice among HVAC technicians on service, repair, or even installation calls?
According to Christina Johnson, owner of Supreme Heating & Air Conditioning Co. Inc. in Suluda, North Carolina, while it’s not an uncommon occurrence, it also doesn’t happen with regularity.
“It’s happened several times, and it’s not always the same guys getting tips,” Johnson said. “We stress great customer service. I want my guys to communicate with customers. I encourage them to be friendly and ask homeowners about their families. That’s important to me. I expect cordial communication across the board.”
Johnson, along with many other HVAC contractors, has no formal policy dictating whether or not employees can accept tips, though she said she doesn’t have a problem with the practice.
“If a customer is so pleased with the work of our technicians and feels they went above and beyond what was expected, receiving a tip boosts their egos and improves morale.” she said. “If a customer is that pleased, then the work will likely lead to referrals. And, word of mouth, a lot of times, has a major impact on your company. It works better than advertising, at times.”
Johnson added, she also does not specify limitations on service or installation calls, frequency, or amounts.
“I think we pay our guys well, but if they can provide a better service and receive a tip, that’s only going to boost their own confidence, self worth, and the work they do,” Johnson said. “I typically ask them to say, ‘That’s not necessary, this is my job, it’s what I do.’ If the customer insists, then that’s okay. I also note it in a customer’s files when technicians are tipped because we send out Christmas cards every year and I want our customers to know if they went above and beyond for that technician, what a great asset that customer is to us.”



Much like Supreme Heating & Air Conditioning, Gaithersburg, Maryland-based GAC Services does not have a policy regarding tipping to guide employees.
“I know it happens,” said Rich Biava, GAC Services’ vice president. “Sometimes, a customer will pay $100 cash for an $89 diagnostic call and tell them to keep the change. We don’t tell them they can’t accept it. And how would we even enforce it?”
As a customer, Biava said he tips and doesn’t see a problem allowing his employees to accept one from a customer willing to offer it. “The guys are not asking for it, and they are performing a service.”
Biava said he could see why it could be a cause for concern for some companies. “Before you know it, they’re doing extra work and spending an extra half hour doing things for the customer,” he said. “I know our guys would not go down that path or even entertain it. The guys we have see this as a career, not just a job, so I don’t think they would risk doing something they shouldn’t be for $20 — not to say that it couldn’t happen somewhere else. I can see where that could be a problem.”
According to Biava, repeat customers who appreciate a technician’s thoroughness tend to tip more frequently. Additionally, people tend to give a little more around the holidays.
David Watson, a senior HVACR technician for One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning LLC in Port Orange, Florida, said tips are pretty common in his area, and his company has no rules limiting them.
“They [customers] are especially generous on maintenance calls that extend into the late evening or wee hours of the morning,” Watson said. “I’ve been given as much as $100 on rare occasions. And the only tips I’ve ever turned down were from sweet little ladies on a fixed income or from those enduring other hardships.”

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