8 Principles for Building a Successful HVAC Service Business
Did you know that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the HVAC industry are expected to grow 15% from 2016 - 2026? That's much faster than average! Speedy growth like this means you may experience increased competition in the market—but market growth means more opportunities for your business. It also means you have to find ways to really stand out from your competitors. There are a few key actions that will help you do just that as you build a successful HVAC service business.
1. Hire a Qualified Workforce
Between your technicians and your office staff, they've got a lot of tasks to deal with. Whether it's helping a customer feel at ease with their updated unit or making sure invoices are completed correctly, you want your employees to be totally competent and comfortable in their many roles. That's why you have to hire a workforce that is qualified for this sort of work—and is especially ready to help with some of the pressures of growing your business. You want attention to detail, commitment to service and awareness of industry best practices.
You can also hire for drive, and the critical desire to learn. If someone wants to gain a skill and shows it, they're likely a good fit. Importantly, you should also want to hire people who feel like your business is the right fit for them. Make sure you are transparent during the recruiting and interviewing process so anyone that signs on with you knows exactly what you're all about.
2. Remain Organized
Because of the wide variety of tasks everyone at your company is responsible for, it's critical that you keep all of your HVAC technicians and office staff on the same page. Everyone should understand the schedule, know the technician's best practices for selling on the job, and be able to expertly execute invoices. And all of the information you have on these topics needs to be organized and easily accessible.
Organization is key—not only to keeping everyone on the same page, but also to solving missed payments, missed appointments and employee or customer dissatisfaction.
3. Deliver Consistent Quality Service
Speaking of satisfaction, your customers want and deserve nothing short of the best service. It's up to you to provide it. Without that, your business will not grow, period. You need to deliver high quality HVAC service to their homes, and not stop there.
The customer experience should be optimized for the entire process of their interactions with your business. From the first phone call to the last appointment and even beyond, your customer should feel valued, heard and important. One way to enhance the experience is to set expectations: make sure they know what time their tech is arriving and who that person is. Make it easy for them to communicate with your team, implement processes that ensure their feedback is taken into account (technician review, testimonial programs) and offer more than just HVAC service; offer education and an eye toward the future.
4. Use the Right Technology and Equipment
Building a successful HVAC business depends on having the right tools. You can't just let your technicians walk into a job without their belt or kit. Today, that kit includes more tools than ever, like the technology that lets them work through a sale, submit a signed invoice, and get their customers approved for financing—all while in the field.
Your office management toolkit should include new tools, too, like the ability to communicate directly with your customer about the technician coming to their home, or a dispatching board that sends texts and keeps track of everyone. These advancements are the difference between growth and growing stale, between keeping pace with your competitors or falling behind.
5. Understand Your Numbers
Every business needs to know what they need to charge for their services to survive in the marketplace. In the home services industry, business owners often need to dig even deeper to understand how money is flowing in and out of their company and how to best leverage the resources they have to achieve greater profit. HVAC shops are no different.
When considering field service management software, look for those that will allow you to track incoming and outgoing transactions in real time. Make sure that it easily integrates with your accounting software, as well. You want a customizable system that allows you to see the larger picture, such as revenue over a certain period of time, as well as smaller, granular details of your business, like how frequently a certain service is sold or how successful an individual CSR is at converting incoming calls to booked jobs. Experiment with what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) mean the most for your business—then you'll know which steps you need to take to improve them.
6. Anticipate Seasonal Lulls
There's a rhythm to the seasons... and to how revenue tends to flow into HVAC businesses. You already know that your busiest times of year are summer and winter (when homeowners are looking to repair and upgrade their AC and heating systems) but the real trick is ensuring your HVAC business is weathering the slower seasons, fall and spring.
For a lot of successful HVAC businesses, the key is maintenance agreements/memberships. When you have a significant segment of your customer base that is interested in preventative maintenance and making sure they're ready for the coming heat (or cold), you can count on recurring, billable services to buoy your bottom line during the quiet times of the year. All this means that your maintenance agreement/membership packages should be attractive, easy-to-understand, and frequently offered by your tech and CSRs.
7. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise
Most businesses need to market themselves in order to raise their visibility and attract new customers—and HVAC shops are no different. It's critical that HVAC businesses are mindful about how they spend ad dollars, however, and that the success of each ad campaign (both on and offline) is tracked.
When marketing your HVAC business, remember the following:
- Make sure that your website is easy-to-read, optimized for search, and mobile-friendly.
- Assign unique phone numbers to every online and offline ad campaign so that, when incoming calls come in, you know which campaign they came from.
- Experiment with different platforms and mediums when launching new campaigns, including social media. You'll find that some are more successful than others... and are more deserving of your ad dollars.
- Get your company listed on popular directory sites like Yelp and Angie's List and make sure that your business' information is accurate and up-to-date.
- Remember that booked jobs and resulting revenue—and not incoming calls—is the metric you should use to measure a campaign's ROI.
8. Engage Your Community
It's important to remember that your HVAC business is part of the local community. This is crucial not just because you're part of the local commerce but because when customers choose your business, they're welcoming you into their homes and trusting you with the integrity of their home.
Beyond advertising, your HVAC company should be on the lookout for opportunities to engage with local events, charities, and sponsorships. And don't be quiet about your company's participation or contributions either—be loud about them on your social media channels. Potential customers want to see businesses that don't just announce what their values are but practice them at the local level, as well.
Building a Better HVAC Business
If you're ready to really start growing your business, it's time to start hiring the right talent, keeping everything organized, delivering the highest quality in both customer service and HVAC service, and using the right tools and HVAC Software for the job. Simple tricks, such as setting efficiency and accuracy goals, will help you start working toward these four major requirements for growth.
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