By Scott Glover – VP of Account Growth, LifeWhere
On our recent visit to the AHR show in Atlanta this past January, my CEO and I had two goals in mind:
1. To meet with the team from a national controls company. We had been engaged with them for 6 months and had already provided tech proof for them. We were now ready to begin negotiations on a national distribution deal with them.
2. To walk the floor and find home automation or IoT (Internet of Things) devices/platforms that were either similar to our technology or to discover something new in the space that complimented what we were doing.
Our meeting with our prospective future partner was not until 2 PM so we started scouting row after row of HVAC products being displayed by a plethora of manufacturers in expansive rooms within the Atlanta convention center.
We were looking for the one product that could turn the residential HVAC industry on its head. A technology that went beyond just improving the existing hardware within a furnace or AC unit. Our one burning question was, and continues to be, “What have residential HVAC service company owners received in true innovation in the last 20 years when it comes to helping them grow their businesses?” and after hours of searching and some aching feet, we were still convinced that the answer to true innovation being introduced for residential HVAC contractors was “not much”. We were searching for the “uber” like product in the space. we were convinced we already had it in our backpacks.
Ok, we get it. The HVAC industry and the HVACR Show encompass all aspects of the industry and a good part of the show is dedicated to commercial and industrial HVAC solutions. The expansive volume of exhibitors who market to the commercial space was a testament to that, however, there was still good representation from vendors marketing to the residential and light commercial HVAC service business. From our show observations, there were very few initiatives have structurally impacted the foundation of the residential HVAC business as we know it. Residential service companies owners continue to struggle with their businesses each day and deal with the same problems:
- How can they get more productivity from their existing technicians?
- How to hire good techs then assign the right tech to the right job.
- What and how many parts to the stock in their warehouse and on their trucks
- How do they increase margins and stay competitive in the service end of their business
- How do they price their services and their maintenance contracts?
- What specialty tools should they stock for their techs and have on their trucks?
- How do they keep their existing customers loyal and add new customers to their base?
- How do they find new profitable revenue streams that are easy to implement and manage?
- How do they get better customer reviews and make their social media experiences positive?
Plus a lot of other issues that keep them up at night wondering what they are doing wrong.
After a few hours of walking the floor, we were able to rest our feet as we sat through a “connected home” presentation from a major appliance company who was trying to own the connected home space. While they were pros with their presentation skills, their underlying technology premise was flawed. For them to own the space, and for their home “portal” type application to work, the homeowner would need to own all of their branded appliances throughout the home. If the customer wanted a connected washer and dryer and refrigerator they would either need to upgrade all their appliances to this manufacturer or they would only have a partially connected home. They also were not doing anything for the homeowners most expensive assets, their furnace, and AC units. This was the same issue that we had discovered with major HVAC OEM’s who were offering similar technologies to what we had in our backpacks. If a service company wanted to take advantage of the technology it would be limited to only the high-end systems of one or two OEM’s who were offering it, and even then, the remote diagnostic technology was on such small percentage of their overall customer base, it would not be of too much value to them. To adopt the technology, they would need to switch from application to application based on what manufacturer had remote diagnostics. If they wanted to monitor their entire customer population they needed a device that was “make” and “model” agnostic, inexpensive, and easy to install. We had it in our backpacks.
When 2 PM approached, we were able to meet with our prospective new national distribution partner. The meeting proved to be interesting as well as informative. They were ready to take the next steps towards commercialization validation with us and we were confident in our ability to deliver for them. Next steps were discussed and later implemented. The deal seems imminent at this writing.
We finished off our day exploring field service software companies, exhibitors. After all, there was a good chance that our technology would be integrating with them these companies eventually. We also were convinced that field service software might be the only true “business” innovation for residential HVAC companies in the last two decades. Most of these companies could tout and prove that had measurable increases in productivity when their partner customers implemented the new platforms for technician dispatching, reporting, invoicing, and everything else they do. It was a good end to a long productive day. We should have been an exhibitor. Look for us next year!
Want to Learn More About LifeWhere? Email sales:@LifeWhere.com or call 855-539-4373
Go to: LifeWhere.com
Product: LifePulse and LifePulse X
Description: LifeWhere is a start-up that created a small, easily installed device that HVAC companies use to remotely monitor, diagnose, and predict HVAC system failures in their customer’s homes. The device gathers data from furnaces and AC units, stores the data in the cloud, and then applies machine learning and predictive analytics to identify failing components. When LifeWhere identifies a problem, the system notifies our HVAC partners and their customers so they can plan repairs, days and weeks, before outright failures. Through remote diagnostics, HVAC service providers can improve operations and profitability per job. Additionally, they can complete jobs faster because when they arrive on site they already know the problem. This allows them to better utilize their staff to grow their business