7NOX Blog

Lower Your Staffing Costs with After-Hours HVAC Automation

man holding smartphone with words automation

Written by 7NOX Team

July 15, 2021

Scheduling after-hours AC can be an expensive and cumbersome process. It’s usually a mishmash of spreadsheets, sticky note reminders, voice mails, and impatient tenants — all trying to accomplish a task made overly complicated by a manual process. At home, we flick on the thermostat, but at work, this simple act can become a bureaucratic quagmire involving multiple team members. How can FMs and property managers cut the cost and red tape? With an after-hours automated HVAC program that puts the scheduling literally in the hands of tenants.     

How Does HVAC Automation Work? 

Much like customers who order on-demand movies, tenants “order” their after-hours HVAC as they need it — this could be two months prior or two hours before. Authorized tenants use an after-hours HVAC smartphone app or web browser to make their booking from anywhere at any time. The app then connects to your building’s BMS to schedule and execute the request per the specified time, date, floor and property location. The program then notifies the tenant and property manager via an email, listing the total charge based on the agreed hourly rate.  

Automation Eliminates the Niggly Bits 

Automation streamlines after-hours scheduling by eliminating many of the steps and hurdles of a manual process. Staff members no longer need to take and record requests via email, phone or work order. Maintenance personnel can forgo manually programming requests into the BMS. Managers can skip time consuming maintenance of spreadsheets (automated billing statements are delivered via email each month). And tenants save time filling out requests and making changes to their bookings.  

Calculate The Savings             

Depending on the complexity of your current program, the amount of time saved through after-hours HVAC automation could lower staffing costs for your portfolio. Let’s say you estimate each after-hours request currently takes thirty minutes to fulfill, and you complete twenty requests per month. That equals ten hours of labor cost. With an average staff wage of $30 per hour, you’re paying $300 a month just to manage after-hours bookings, and that doesn’t include your tenants’ time.    

Billing Accuracy 

Automation software is perfect for recording overtime air conditioning bookings because it’s highly accurate. Your team members, despite their best efforts, can become overwhelmed with other responsibilities. Mistakes happen. The wrong tenant is charged or a cancellation order is misplaced. Not only do mistakes like these create dissatisfied tenants, they often result in a loss of revenue for you. When a booking is forgotten or goes unrecorded, you’ll be eating the utility costs. When there’s a discrepancy in charges, getting payment takes more time sorting things with a (now upset) tenant. After-hours HVAC automation ensures billing speed and accuracy, helping you avoid these situations while keeping profits high.  

Conclusion 

After-hours billing should be a simple process, but it’s full of variables that complicate matters. Even if your manual ordering and billing is spot on, there are hundreds of situations that call for a more nuanced approach. Each tenant has different needs. While some may have predictable work schedules, others may be seasonal. Making things more complicated are the rise in hybrid workplaces and work-home schedules, which demand increased flexibility and access to facilities. Overall, FMs must take a more nuanced approach to utility billing in general. Automation prepares you for future workplaces by simplifying and streamlining your after-hours HVAC scheduling process.