You've decided to enhance your business by adding an appointment seller to your team, and you've hired someone who is an award-winning telephone sales professional. This person already knows how to talk on the phone. Therefore, the training should less than one day, during which time the new appointment seller will learn:

  • Some HVAC terminology
  • The importance of regular maintenance and owning one of your service agreements
  • Reasons why people should choose your company for service
  • How to operate your company’s software
  • Your company's paperwork
  • The way you want your phones answered.

The First Hour
Have the new hire arrive at your office at 9:00 a.m. the first day on the job. By then, the rest of your office staff will have already been on the job for an hour or two. That lets everyone get their hectic first hour or two out of the way and be more relaxed and receptive to the new arrival.

Take your new appointment seller to his or her work area and let the person get situated.

If you didn't do this during one of the interviews, show the new employee around your shop and make introductions.

Handle any new-hire paperwork issues such as enrollment in any company benefit programs and a review of the employee manual and company policies.

Second Hour
Take the new recruit to some of the equipment you've removed from homes and explain the components he or she will hear about most often:

  • Contactor
  • Capacitor
  • Condenser coil
  • Condenser fan
  • Lineset
  • Evaporator coil
  • Drain pan
  • Float switch
  • Condensate pump
  • High-limit switch
  • Circuit board
  • Heat exchanger
  • Igniter
  • Flame sensor
  • Burner
  • Gas valve
  • Blower

The new appointment seller does not need to take notes and memorize these components. Taking notes will just slow down the entire training process. The point of the exercise is just to give the new appointment seller the chance to hear the words and see the component once before answering the phone for the first time. It's not to turn this person into an HVAC technician. Appointment sellers have the rest of their lives to learn all about HVAC (if they want to). This is just a lightning-fast introduction to the technology. Remember, in their new position, compassion and understanding will be more important than technical expertise.

A lack of maintenance can cause many components to fail. Point out any of these components that would ever fail due to a lack of maintenance.

Go over the refrigeration cycle and explain how very important it is to keep the indoor and outdoor coils and the blower motor and wheel clean (see Coil Cleaning: Sell it, or Systems Die, CB, July, 2009, p. 48 http://bit.ly/coilclean)

If your company sells a lot of indoor air quality products, briefly explain how those work as well.

Third Hour
Show your appointment seller your service agreement and make sure he or she understands its value.

Go over your company's Features & Benefits list. (see Why Should They Buy From You? CB, Oct. 2010, p. 76 http://bit.ly/whybuyfromyou). Make sure you download the sample Features & Benefits list, customize it to suit your company, print it out and laminate it for your appointment seller.

This should take you up to lunch.

Fourth Hour
Train the new recruit trained on the company software.

Fifth Hour
Play recordings of incoming phone calls.

Sixth Hour
Have the recruit answer the phone for an hour, and then listen to recordings of his or her own phone conversations with you. Both of you critique them.

A Pre-emptive Strike
Prior to any new employee starting in your company, let everyone know about it.

You may be unaware of this, but unless you're living a charmed life, when you're not around, it's the job of all your existing employees to discourage new hires. There is almost nothing you can do to prevent this, but you might as well try. Ask everyone individually not to say anything negative about the company to the new employee.

One Thing at a Time
Don't lay too many important responsibilities on your new appointment seller on the very first day. For instance, don't have a brand-new employee who knows next to nothing about your company make outbound calls, like "happy calls."

Happy calls can open a can of worms, and new appointment sellers have no authority to resolve complaints, so new appointment sellers should not make them. Additionally, you want to shelter your new employees from any and all negativity. You want to brainwash them with positivity. As far as they know, everyone loves your company.

Upward Bound
Appointment sellers have a career path. Moving from strictly selling appointments to making happy calls is a promotion. The next step up the career ladder is making follow-up calls to close people on recommendations that were made by the techs. For that, appointment sellers should be paid commissions, but that requires experience and product knowledge.

New appointment setters who want to move up in the business should start attending the service technician meetings and learn all they can about what we do.

Charlie Greer is the creator of "Who Answers the Phone?" an audio series that teaches HVAC contractors how to recruit and train an appointment seller, and teaches appointment sellers how to do their jobs better. Check it out at www.hvacprofitboosters.com or call 800/963-HVAC (4822). E-mail Charlie at charlie@charliegreer.com.