HVAC Contractors of Excellence: HomeServe Energy Services

HVAC Contractors of Excellence: HomeServe Energy Services

Reprinted from Contracting Business. Click here to view original article.

No customers slip through the cracks at HomeServe Energy Services, one of the most technologically-adept HVAC contractors at work today. HomeServe Energy Services (HES) dispatches reliable heating and cooling experts to more than 1,000 communities in 26 counties across New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

If every HVAC business took the time to sweat the details like HomeServe, the vast majority of the industry’s problems would be solved.

From its attention to service, to recruiting and training, to applying state-of-the-art scheduling technology, HomeServe Energy Services of the South Jersey region does what customers want, and what the company must do in order to prosper.

HomeServe Energy Services is a subsidiary of HomeServe, a leading provider of repair service plans. Since 2003, HomeServe has protected homeowners against the expense and inconvenience of water, sewer, electrical, heating, cooling and other home emergencies by providing affordable coverage, and a quality service.

HomeServe serves over 3.4 million homeowners in the U.S. and Canada, and dedicates itself to being a customer-focused company providing best-in-class emergency repair plans through leading utility partners and directly to consumers.

HomeServe Energy Services (HES) provides reliable heating and cooling experts that service over 1,000 communities in 26 counties across New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, from five “depot” sites supporting metro New York, southern New Jersey, Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts.

With almost 200 technicians (including certified refrigerant handling technicians and NATE-certified technicians), HomeServe provides emergency heating, cooling and water heater repairs as well as tune-ups and new equipment installations.

This past September, HomeServe acquired South Jersey Energy Service Plus, LLC’s (SJESP) residential HVAC and plumbing contractor operations. SJESP, an indirect subsidiary of South Jersey Industries, Inc. currently serves as one of southern New Jersey’s leading HVAC and plumbing solution providers. This transaction has enabled greater operational efficiencies in the region for HomeServe, while creating a more streamlined customer experience for the nearly 62,000 South Jersey households currently served by SJESP under HomeServe warranty and service contracts.

Meeting the Talent Challenge
HomeServe and HES leadership teams realize the importance of quality employees, even more so in recent years, with the diminishing ranks of available and trained technician talent. For that reason, they reward employees for their service and continue to help them develop their HVAC IQs.

“We want to make sure we give the technicians confidence, so that all they need to focus on once they arrive on site is to take care of the customers,” explains HomeServe Energy Service Vice President Mark Crook. “We give them all the tools they need. We have meetings with technicians, and are constantly picking their brains to ask what they need, what will help them be more successful in front of the customer? We use their comments to help design training so they’re successful. Some training is standard, such as training in high efficiency testing. Then we also talk to technicians individually, an ask what training they would like in order to feel better about their skills,” Crook says.

“We have several different tracks for training based on the tech’s experience level which are further personalized based on needs,” explains Crook. “For example, we have a path for our apprentices working to become General Technicians, as well as advanced technology tracks for our more experienced techs. Additionally, we utilize tech scorecards that track key performance metrics that help us determine if further coaching or training is needed for a particular tech.”

As every quality owner or manager knows, the balance between training and in-field work can be difficult to balance. For that reason, Crook says, HomeServe devised a “technician capacity planner,” that helps them match resource needs to the anticipated service and installation demand for each upcoming year.

“That planner also accounts for the amount of training hours we determine are needed for the year,” Crook says. “We structure our training calendar based on where our model recommends training should occur without impacting customer service levels, with much of the training typically in the traditionally slower shoulder months of the late winter, early spring period.”

HomeServe has developed a program with Lincoln Technical Institute, Lincoln, N.J., that allows students to gain real-world experience in the HVAC field by providing them with the opportunity to shadow HomeServe certified technicians.

HomeServe has developed a program with Lincoln Technical Institute, Lincoln, N.J., that allows students to gain real-world experience in the HVAC field by providing them with the opportunity to shadow HomeServe certified technicians. The program is designed to give students from the HVACR program at Lincoln Tech the ability to add valuable field experience to their classroom curriculum, as well as provide them with a mentor in the HVAC field.

“We started with Lincoln Tech in 2016 as part of our commitment to find ways to support our industry,” says Crook. “We interview a group of near-graduating students that meet our program criteria for GPA and attendance, and then select a few to shadow our techs. These students travel to our depot after class and ride along with our tech mentors for approximately four weeks.”

In this way, Crook says the students derive real-world repair and customer service experience that’s not available in the classroom, which undeniably helps in preparing them for HVAC careers.

“Based on feedback from the mentoring techs, we have then hired students as full time Apprentices once their internship ends,” Crook says.“HomeServe’s reputation and focus on customer service are exemplary and played a big role in why we chose to partner with them in offering our students this valuable opportunity,” said Scott Shaw, Lincoln Tech’s President and CEO. “By partnering with HomeServe, we are providing our students with the hands-on experience that shows them the real value of what they are learning in the classroom and motivates them to get the most from their education as they work toward graduating and finding jobs with organizations that offer the promise of a long career,” Shaw says.

HomeServe’s contact center and repair management departments use innovative technologies to deliver the best customer experience possible. The goal is to have a convenient, easy, fast and all-inclusive process. Within our Chattanooga-based, 400-seat contact center, the Repair Management Group is staffed 24/7/365 with live agents ready to serve our customers whenever they need assistance.

• Click Route Optimization Software. HES uses innovative software to optimize technician scheduling and dispatch. It helps techs arrive on time as promised, and compensates for variables such as appointments that go over the expected amount of time due to unexpected problems at the home, heavy traffic cancellations and other snags. Even the best planned schedules invariably change as jobs start or end slightly out of line from what was scheduled. Instead of this time simply being “lost”, Click Route software enables real-time integration of updates coming from the field for intelligent schedule optimization that allows the company to gain back those minutes, which aggregate into hours of gained productivity each day.

Technology Provides Feedback
HomeServe implemented two platforms that use speech analytics to monitor and optimize call center interactions. In addition to significant customer service utility, these programs serve to enhance the HomeServe marketing message.

• A platform called “Rant and Rave” enables and captures customer feedback on call center interactions through an opt-in program. Survey opportunities are presented to customers through channels such as email, automated outbound contact, and SMS text throughout their journey as a HomeServe customer.
• CallMiner: This platform analyzes calls based on individual words, patterns, tone of voice, extended silences and many other data points. It provides insight on language used–product information, compliance/sales terms, customer service measures–empathy, ownership, dissatisfaction, etc. It measures average handle time, silence, hold language, etc.; automates quality monitoring process, and data can be used for training and refinement; and, based on frequency of specific words or phrases, trends can be anticipated and proactive steps taken to further improve customer service.

The practice of “giving back” to the community is common in many great companies. However, Crook says HomeServe is the first provider in the industry to introduce an initiative to help with hardship funding in service areas.

“The ‘HomeServe Cares’ program leverages the company’s existing service infrastructure and financial resources to assist disadvantaged homeowners who are faced with a service emergency and don’t have a service plan or the funds to cover an emergency repair,” Crook says.

Congratulations, HomeServe, for designing and maintaining a culture of HVAC service, training and recruiting that is second to none. We welcome you to the ranks of the Contracting Business ‘Contractors of Excellence.’

HomeServe Repair Service Plan Remains a Success!

HomeServe Repair Service Plan Remains a Success!

Reprinted from Kansas City BPU Connection, Winter 2018. Click here to view the newsletter in its entirety.

BPU and the Unified Government (UG) first partnered with HomeServe USA, a leading provider of home repair service solutions for residents and customers in 2016. Services include water service line repairs, sewer line repairs, and in-home plumbing plans, among other things. HomeServe provides homeowners with an affordable, cost-effective way to manage the unexpected expense and inconvenience of home repair emergencies. Many are often unaware that such repairs are not covered by basic homeowner’s insurance policies or by the local utility and usually have to take on the burden of repair costs themselves. Since the launch, participants have seen positive results, saving them the hassle and inconvenience of finding a contractor, and paying costly repair bills.

Below are some up-to-date usage statistics on the program.

  • 6,347 customers are covered for a home emergency repair
  • 12,207 coverage contracts are maintained
  • 446 covered repairs completed, saving customers over $300,000
  • 100% customer satisfaction maintained!

Residents can learn more about the services by calling the HomeServe toll-free at 1-866-219-2162 or visiting www.HomeServeUSA.com.

How the Program Works:

Once enrolled and a claim needs to be made, HomeServe selects a contractor in their network for the customer. HomeServe will assign and deploy the contractor, with all HomeServe Contractors fully vetted.

Three Step Claims Process:

  • In the event of a home emergency, customers call the toll-free emergency repair hotline; this number can be found in the contract document.
  • A local, licensed and insured contractor (in HomeServe’s approved Network) will contact the customer to confirm the day and time for when the repair will be completed.
  • Once repairs are completed, the claim is processed and HomeServe pays the contractor directly.

Verification of work:

Before a repair begins, the contractor explains the work to be performed to the customer. Once repairs are completed the contractor speaks to the customer to demonstrate that the work is complete before leaving the worksite.

Contractor Deployment Application:

When a customer calls to make a claim, a HomeServe agent will offer to send a text link to the customer. Through this link, a customer will have the ability to track the location of the contractor along with a picture and reviews for who is showing up; think of it like Uber.

Jackson MUA Charity Grants Awarded through Home Serve USA Contract

Jackson MUA Charity Grants Awarded through Home Serve USA Contract

JACKSON-The Jackson Municipal Utility Authority has awarded their 2017 grants to local charities through their deal with Home Serve USA, a private line insurance vendor.  The MUA selected Home Serve USA in 2008 to allow the company to solicit option water and sewer line coverage for its ratepayers.

This year, the authority chose nine charities in town, each receiving an equal grant.  This year, more charities became aware of the program after stories ran in JTOWN Magazine regarding the bulk of previous funding going to a charity run by Jackson Township Councilman Ken Bressi.
  • Adopt A Senior Organization
  • Bread From Heaven Café
  • Cub Scout Pack 204
  • Jackson Diamond Baseball Club
  • Jackson Liberty High School Cheerleading
  • Jackson Memorial High School Football Parents Club
  • Jackson Township Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association
  • Jackson Township High School Scholarship Fund, Inc.
  • Veteran’s Memorial Garden

This year the MUA did not provide funding to Inches of Hope Children’s Cancer Foundation, run by Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina’s wife, Laura.  Reina’s foundation helps local children with cancer.  The foundation was started after the Reinas learned their granddaughter was diagnosed with cancer.

Also not receiving funding this year was the Jackson Food Pantry.  In prior years, the Food Pantry received a total of $20,729.65 to feed Jackson’s hungry.
Bressi’s charity received the second most funding during the program, receiving over $8,479.65.   Most charities during that period received betweeen $1,000 and $2,650 in funding.
The MUA did not reveal the amounts awarded to each charity but said each received an equal share of the total funding available.
Hot Trends for Homeowners in 2018

Hot Trends for Homeowners in 2018

According to a new article in T&D World, renewables, smart homes, AI and IoT will have a massive impact on how energy and utility companies address the market in 2018.

In the case of smart homes, smart meters enable customers to monitor and calculate their energy consumption and make changes to conserve and reduce costs. As the proliferation of this technology continues, consumers will be in a stronger position to demand more flexibility in service. HomeServe is cited as an example of companies that provide flexibility.

“One example of companies leveraging this demand for increased flexibility is HomeServe, a one-stop digital service company providing emergency and energy services to the home. Through its monthly digital subscription model, the company supplies services to over 7.8 million homes in the UK and over 3 million homes in the US—including energy services, boilers and meters through third-party suppliers. HomeServe itself owns no energy assets, but with its strong customer service and simple payment models generating powerful loyalty and revenue, service providers like HomeServe could soon become energy providers as customer-centric energy provision booms.”

In addition to desire for increased flexibility, there are other trends that are leading utilities to consider offering home protection programs to customers.

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Have $0 Set Aside for Unexpected Emergencies

As part of its latest State of the Home Survey, HomeServe, a leading provider of repair service plans, discovered potentially worrisome trends about consumer saving and spending habits. The twice annual survey, now in its fourth edition, reports on the financial impact of home repairs and energy use facing Americans. The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of HomeServe from March 6-8, 2017, among over 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

  • Nearly 1 in 3 (31 percent) Americans don’t have at least $500 set aside to cover an unexpected emergency expense
  • Americans believe car repairs (52 percent), medical emergencies (49 percent) or home repair emergencies (42 percent) could cause an unexpected expense for them in the next 12 months
  • If they had an extra $1,000, the top 3 things Americans would put the funds toward are paying down credit card debt or loans (24 percent), building personal savings (19 percent) or taking a vacation or trip (16 percent)

Aging Americans wish to remain independent and in their own homes

According to U.S. Census data, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to rise 35 percent from 2010 to 2020, and a growing trend for this population is “aging in place.” A comprehensive study on this subject by AARP explains, “this means to grow old in the home where one raised children or in another non-institutional setting in the community. During a lifetime, people develop connections to place and form relationships with neighbors, doctors, hairdressers and shopkeepers. They become intimately familiar with the route to downtown, the rhythm of summer concerts at the band shell park, the best places to get a coveted burger and personalized greeting. These associations, of value to both the individual and the community, cannot be quickly or easily replicated in a new environment. In essence, they can play a pivotal role in successful aging.”

Home warranties address several important aspect of safely aging in place:

Proactive attention to a problem – a person with a plan is more apt to call for service on a small problem before the issue becomes worse, and potentially dangerous. Once on-site contractors can check other systems to ensure there are no additional issues and if any are discovered they can be fixed immediately.

Expeditious response – while it may take days for a contractor from the phone book to arrive, a home protection plan company has a defined and short response time

Careful screening/vetting – home protection plans provide consumers access to fully-vetted, licensed and insured local contractors.  This dramatically reduces the risk related to allowing a stranger into one’s home, particularly for elderly people living alone.

A partnership with HomeServe brings your customers emergency home repair plans that deliver best-in-class service from rigorously vetted local contractors. Learn more about how a partnership can benefit utilities and their customers at www.homeserveutility.com.

Coles-Moultrie Electrical Cooperative Delivers Peace of Mind With Affordable Repair Plans

Coles-Moultrie Electrical Cooperative Delivers Peace of Mind With Affordable Repair Plans

Coles-Moultrie Electrical Cooperative, which has served as a rural community partner for nearly 80 years in Illinois, was exploring options for a warranty program for its members when information on a new National Rural Electric Cooperative Association member – HomeServe USA – arrived.

“After our initial call with HomeServe, we noticed a pattern. We noticed HomeServe’s most important goal was member – customer – satisfaction, much like our cooperative. They went into great detail about all the ways they can help our members, whether it be with an appliance or even wiring in and around the home,” said Samuel Adair, Coles-Moultrie Marketing and Member Services Manager.

Coles-Moultrie was formed in 1938 to serve farmers who otherwise wouldn’t have had electrical service because for-profit corporations wouldn’t undertake the expense of running electrical lines to rural areas. The electrical cooperative is a nonprofit and governed by a board chosen from among its members. NRECA represents the interests of more than 900 electrical cooperatives across the country, and HomeServe is a silver member of the organization.

Coles-Moultrie recently had ended a water heater program the cooperative had offered its members since 1992, and, having spearheaded similar programs during his time at investor-owned utilities, Kim Leftwich, Coles-Moultrie President and Chief Executive Officer, proposed the cooperative look into developing an insurance program.

“As expected, many members were accustomed to the cooperative taking care of this appliance with little to no cost to them, so when this program ended, many members were upset with the fact they no longer had an ‘insurance’ policy on their appliance,” Adair said.

Just as the cooperative began considering its own insurance program, HomeServe USA’s service warranty programs were brought to the board’s attention.

“Our goal with this program is simple,” Adair said. “We want to give our members peace of mind, and we want to supply our members with a program where those who aren’t participating won’t worry about subsidizing other members.”

By partnering with utilities, municipalities and cooperatives across the U.S., HomeServe offers a variety of protection plans that provide coverage for residential electrical lines, water and sewer service lines, gas lines and appliances that aren’t typically covered by homeowner insurance or aren’t the responsibility of the providing utilities.

“There is no cost to the cooperative for this program,” Adair said. “What other program can you say that about? We are now able to provide our members with an insurance program that costs the cooperative nothing and, on top of that, all our Member Service Representatives need relay to the members is a phone number. A benefit to this program is having a program without having to manage a program. “

Coles-Moultrie will apply any benefits the cooperative realizes from its partnership with HomeServe to other programs, such as energy efficiency, with the goal that all program revenue return to its membership through other avenues.

“I believe our lower income members will benefit the most,” Adair said. “No one wants to buy a new (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system when it goes out, but some members financially can’t repair an air conditioning unit if it were to fail. With low monthly costs, they can have peace of mind with their 20-plus-year-old HVAC system.”

HomeServe works with its partners to help educate homeowners about their responsibilities for the repair of utility service lines. Many homeowners are unaware they are responsible for the portion of the service line between the utility’s transmission lines and their home.

“No cooperative wants to approach a member having an issue and say, ‘that’s on your side,’” Adair said. “The more educated you make your members about their responsibilities, the less often you have those hard conversations with them. With HomeServe, the cooperative now can give the member an option to help them avoid potential costs from faulty wiring in and around their home.”

HomeServe USA, a market leader in emergency repair service plans, received Gold Stevie Awards in 2015, 2016 and 2017 for customer service and has an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau. HomeServe serves more than 3 million customers and has partnerships with more than 450 municipalities, utilities and associations, providing electric, water, sewer and HVAC service through local contractors.

To learn more about how you can partner with HomeServe to bring peace of mind to your members, visit www.homeserveUSA.com.

HomeServe to Celebrate 4th Annual National Tune-Up Day on September 25th

HomeServe to Celebrate 4th Annual National Tune-Up Day on September 25th

Company Encourages Homeowners to Schedule a Heating System Tune-Up Ahead of Cold Weather to Prepare Their Homes 

Norwalk, CT – September 21, 2017 – HomeServe USA (HomeServe), a leading provider of home repair solutions, will celebrate National Tune-Up Day on September 25th. Established in 2014, the day is meant to educate and raise awareness among homeowners around the importance of proper home heating system maintenance. Recognized by the National Day Calendar, National Tune-Up Day is representative of HomeServe’s broader efforts to provide homeowners with solutions that defend against unexpected expenses and the challenges of emergency home repairs.

“With the winter season around the corner, National Tune-Up Day serves as an annual reminder for homeowners to get their heating systems in optimal shape,” said Tom Rusin, CEO of HomeServe USA. “Maintaining heating systems with some simple preventative measures – some of which require the assistance of a professional technician – can assure that homeowners sail through the winter without any heating system issues or costly repairs.”

Homeowners are advised to schedule a tune-up before turning their heating system unit on for the season to proactively and more inexpensively make sure their heating equipment is operating properly to avoid surprises when the first cold snap arrives. By receiving a tune-up from a professional technician, homeowners can trust that their heating system is working efficiently and also safely by, for example, making sure that there are no blockages in their flue or exhaust vent. Such blockages can lead to potential exposure to carbon monoxide and become hazardous if undetected. According to HomeServe, homeowners should make a habit of tuning up heating and cooling systems ahead of seasonal changes to protect themselves from preventable risks.

During a heating system tune-up, professional heating technicians will typically have the following checklist:

  • Check safety systems and controls
  • Check/adjust thermostats
  • Check/adjust burners
  • Check/clean pilot
  • Check/clean gauge and flush low water cut-off
  • Check filters and belts
  • Check flue pipe and chimney draft
  • Check oil motors and pumps
  • Check/clean blower assembly
  • Check condensate line if applicable

According to the Winter 2017 edition of the Biannual State of the Home Survey – a report from HomeServe exploring the state of Americans’ readiness for emergency home repairs and other ongoing expenses, found that 71 percent of Americans did not believe it was likely that they experience a major home repair emergency in the following 12 months. Yet over half of Americans (54 percent) reported having had a home emergency repair in the year prior, showing the gap between reality and expectations when it came to repair issues. Faulty heating or air conditioning systems can make for especially burdensome and expensive home repairs – something tune-ups can help protect homeowners from, by preventing failures or malfunctions later.

HomeServe offers home heating protection plans, including plans that provide tune-ups. HomeServe also offers service plans for water, sewer, electrical and other home emergencies. All plan holders have the same access to a Repair Hotline that is accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and a network of employed or local, licensed and insured technicians available to come to their home for repairs. More information is available at www.HomeServeUSA.com.

About HomeServe

HomeServe USA Corp. (HomeServe) is a leading provider of home repair solutions serving 3.1 million customers across the US and Canada under the HomeServe, Home Emergency Insurance Solutions, Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA) and Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC) names. Since 2003, HomeServe has been protecting homeowners against the expense and inconvenience of water, sewer, electrical, HVAC and other home repair emergencies by providing affordable repair coverage and quality local service. As an A+ rated Better Business Bureau Accredited Business, HomeServe is dedicated to being a customer-focused company supplying best-in-class repair plans and other services to consumers directly and through over 475 leading municipal, utility and association partners. For more information about HomeServe, a 2016 Connecticut Top Workplace winner and recipient of seventeen 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, please go to www.homeserveusa.com. To connect with HomeServe on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.twitter.com/homeserveusa
and www.facebook.com/HomeServeUSA.

MEDIA CONTACT: Myles Meehan
HomeServe USA
Phone: 203-356-4259
Email: Myles.Meehan@homeserveusa.com