Recently, I sat in on a meeting with Roger, who serves as the Chairman (and formerly President) of a large Oakville-based heating and cooling company (https://atlascare.ca/). The conversation turned at one point to what we call SAQs – also known as should-ask questions.
Unlike FAQs, an SAQ is a question most clients and customers would benefit from asking, but don’t. Every industry has its SAQs, and they can make for excellent informative blog and social media content.
As Roger tells it, one of the big points homeowners should be asking him about (but don’t) is this: what kind of training do your technicians receive?
Or, when speaking to one of his technicians, when was the last time you sat in a classroom?
HVAC techs in Ontario are licensed. However, as Roger points out, you only need to get licensed once – there’s no follow-up exam for renewal and no continuing education requirements.
Problem is, heating and cooling technology changes fast.
In the last ten years alone, we’ve seen:
- Evolution of programmable thermostats to touchscreen smart thermostats;
- Widespread proliferation of Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled smart home technology that can be controlled with a smartphone;
- Integration of heating and cooling equipment with other smart home technology;
- Greater adoption of tankless/demand water heaters in detached homes;
- Energy-efficient furnaces with variable-speed Electronically Commuted Motors (ECM);
- Push for high-efficiency heat pumps through rebates in Ontario; and
- Ongoing changes to ENERGY-STAR standards as heating and cooling technology continues to become more efficient.
Without any ongoing education or training, would a technician who got licensed in 2008 know how to install, troubleshoot or repair a smart thermostat?
Would a technician who has only worked on residential properties know how to tune-up a tankless water heater?
That’s why homeowners should be asking their HVAC technician (and the company that employs them) about continuing education.
It’s also why Roger requires his technicians to participate in training sessions, whether they’ve been licensed for ten days, ten months or ten years.
Being a heating, ventilation and air conditioning tech isn’t only about helping people maximize comfort and efficiency – it’s also about ensuring homes are safe. It pays to ensure the person you’re relying on to fix a problem or conduct preventative maintenance engages enhances and refreshes their knowledge on a regular basis.