How do you grow your HVAC business in a smart and thoughtful way? Figuring out which advice to follow can be challenging. To make it easier, we asked successful HVAC and home service business managers, owners, and consultants for their tips.
In this how-to guide to grow an HVAC business, ServiceTitan helps you position your HVAC company to survive future disruptions, and be prepared to grow and adapt to the changes and fluctuations of the home services industry. Learn directly from several highly successful home service industry experts, and ServiceTitan users, as they share insider tips, tricks, and tactics for growing your HVAC business.
This article covers the following topics on growing your HVAC business and shows you how ServiceTitan’s HVAC software can support you to implement each step of the process:
ServiceTitan has helped countless HVAC businesses grow by improving their marketing and operations. You can find out more about how these features would help your HVAC business by scheduling a demo.
Create an HVAC Business Plan for the HVAC Business You Want to Become
“Resist the reactionary,” advises business owner and HVAC-R industry consultant Ben Stark. “I’ve gone through a recession, a crisis… We put on the accelerator (for the marketing plan and hiring) and we have always come out on the positive side.”
Tommy Mello’s Advice:
Find a mentor who’s doing what you want to do.
Shadow your mentor on the job and ask questions.
Go find 10 more mentors, and do it all over again.
Listen to HVAC podcasts; network with top HVAC organizations.
Read books written by leading industry experts on how to grow an HVAC business.
The modeling advice is something Tommy Mello, The Home Service Expert, wished he’d known when he started his own garage-door business 15 years ago.
“You’ve got to act like the business you want to become, and I didn’t know that back then,” says Mello, owner of A1 Garage Door Service, which topped $30 million in revenue last year.
“If I would have listened to a mentor tell me, ‘This is why you shouldn’t do this,’ or, ‘This is why you should,’ it would have definitely fast-forwarded the business.”
Find a role model who’s doing what you want to do, especially if you're a new business startup. Shadow them on the job. Ask tons of questions. Startup costs? Business structure? Then go find 10 more mentors, Mello advises, and do it all over again.
He also suggests reading or listening to books to grow your business, such as The E-Myth by Michael Gerber, The 7-Power Contractor by Al Levi, The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes, Essentialism by Gary Keller, or his own book, Home Service Millionaire.
“Leaders are readers,” Mello says. “Reading has been a big part of my success, and hanging out with successful people.”
That’s good advice, according to Angel Nava, owner of 24-Hour Air Conditioning & Heating in St. George, Utah, and a self-described “big fan” of Tommy Mello.
Networking with other HVAC professionals, reading books on how to run a profitable business, and listening to inspirational podcasts by industry professionals helped him grow his small residential HVAC business into a profitable company.
“We haven’t broken the million-dollar mark just yet, but I personally feel like we can reach $1.2 million by next year,” Nava says.
A Good HVAC Business Model Invests Time & Money in Training a Qualified Workforce
Businesses fail, but few who build a strong company foundation suffer that fate.
Outline a fully developed organizational chart.
Always be recruiting and establish a thorough interviewing process.
Provide extensive training for every employee; offer HVAC continuing education.
Offer performance pay as an incentive to grow.
HVAC business owners, like others in the skilled trades, can struggle to find qualified employees in a highly competitive climate. They also worry about investing time and money in training, only to see those HVAC service techs leave to go off on their own or work for another company.
Focus instead on building a strong company foundation with a fully developed organizational chart, Mello says. That means creating clear job descriptions and expectations for every position, providing extensive training to set up every employee for success, and using performance pay as an incentive to help employees grow.
“Some people say ‘always be closing.’ I say, ‘always be recruiting,’” says Mello, who gives employees $1,500 for referring a new hire.
“I think a lot of us, we just don’t start the business right,” he adds. “When setting up the foundation … act like how you want your business to look in 10 years. Give it such a strong foundation, there’s nowhere to grow but up.”
After struggling in 2009 during the economic downturn, Fermin Rivera rebuilt his Los Angeles HVAC company, Red Apple Air, slowly over a period of several years. Today, he says ServiceTitan’s all-in-one software solution is helping him grow to $10 million in earnings for 2020, with plans to expand into other home services.
“For this year, it's just straight up, get to the $10 million as soon as we can, and do whatever we’ve got to do to get there,” Rivera says.
That includes making sure all new applicants align with the air conditioning contractor’s core values, as well as successfully completing a three-stage interview process and hands-on test. Rivera also requires new hires to watch a series of installation and service technician training videos the company created before sending them out in the field.
What’s his biggest problem with recruiting new hires? Mindset.
“‘What's the least I can do to gain the most amount of money?’ emerges as one of the most common themes among job candidates,” he says. “Whereas, expressions of gratitude or promises to work hard to earn good pay seem to happen less often.”
“If we can trigger a different mindset, I think the industry will make better use of the people they have, and we’ll be able to recruit much easier,” Rivera says.
Searching for Tips on How to Grow my HVAC? Start by Building a Great Company Culture
Value your company’s No. 1 asset: your employees.
Invest as much time in recruiting and training as you do on HVAC sales.
Engage potential applicants with a video showing a behind-the-scenes look at your company’s culture.
Regularly share your team’s success stories to motivate and inspire everyone.
Happy employees typically mean more productive employees, no matter the industry. Give your HVAC staff more than just a steady paycheck by building a company culture that really shows them how much you value their work.
HVAC consultant Ben Stark advises keeping techs and other employees involved in the process, and making sure they know their role in growing your HVAC company. Let them own a piece of it, and you’ll likely get complete buy-in.
“Employees are your No. 1 asset,” he says.
Tom Howard, ServiceTitan’s Vice President of Customer Experience and owner of multiple home service businesses, agrees. He also thinks HVAC companies need to spend as much time attracting and retaining employees as they do trying to sell HVAC services to new or existing customers.
To market the company culture at Lee’s Air — a leading HVAC and plumbing service provider he owns in Fresno, California — Howard created a low-budget YouTube video using a cellphone camera to give a behind-the-scenes peek into their unique workplace environment. It ultimately brought new talent to his door and boosted the company’s bottom line.
Mello looks for success stories and shares them with the entire company, instead of focusing only on the poor performers.
“I always call the guys who are winning,” Mello says. “Some of them have a breakthrough or one will have the best day ever. Those are the things I love hearing. I learn it, then I share it. I’m kind of an encyclopedia of everybody’s great story. Storytellers are important. Storytellers are your leaders.”
Mello also uses ServiceTitan’s reporting data to boost his team’s spirits with a “morning mojo call” every Thursday. It often highlights the top-performing tech’s work for the past week and shows other employees how to find the same success.
How ServiceTitan’s Processes Improved One Business’s Communication and Company Culture
After implementing ServiceTitan across its business in 2020, The Happy Outlet, an electrical services company based in Carson City, Nevada, found communication between team members much easier. This improved the overall company culture focused on keeping both employees and customers happy, as its name suggests.
ServiceTitan gave Happy Outlet’s techs and office staff access to job information, call history, and customer communication details in a single interface, available anywhere.
“We’re able to be more productive as a company because everything is all in one system,” says Rebecca Tenorio, Dispatcher and Client HAPPYness Representative for The Happy Outlet. “With ServiceTitan, it’s all at our fingertips, no matter where we are.”
Following the switch to ServiceTitan, the company grew by an estimated 50 %, now employs 14 team members and expects to generate $3 million in revenue in 2022. Tenorio attributes that success to the new software system. “It’s allowing us to focus more on training and the future,” she says.
“All the information is in one program where everybody can access it,” Tenorio says. “It’s very convenient. It’s made so many things a lot easier.”
Read the full Happy Outlet case study here.
Grow Your HVAC Company with Systems, Checks and Balances
Create a well-defined operating system that includes an organizational chart and operating manuals.
Include checks and balances for each department to ensure accountability.
Automate with field-service software.
Control and track inventory with custom reporting in real time.
Most successful HVAC businesses run effortlessly with a well-defined operating system. This includes checks and balances for every department, such as comparing your customer service reps’ booking rates to actual jobs completed by your techs, or comparing inventory controls to parts used on each job.
Mello says Art Levi, The 7-Power Contractor author and home services expert, taught him the importance of establishing a good system for running his garage-door business.
An in-depth organization chart clearly defines each employee’s role. The management hierarchy allows only five direct reports to any one manager, and various operating manuals outline proper procedures for just about everything.
It’s a recipe for success, Mello says, and one used by big players in other industries.
“Look at McDonald’s or KFC, they open a new store every four to six hours. It’s this master plan to go in and everything’s the same, there’s a system and checks and balances around every single aspect. That’s how they create success,” Mello says.
How ServiceTitan’s HVAC Software Gives Teams Consistent Processes and Systems
ServiceTitan makes it easy for HVAC companies to implement systems and processes in a variety of ways. These include:
Consistent systems for call booking: As soon as the phone rings, your reps have the caller’s name, job history and contact details right at their fingertips. CSRs can greet past customers by name and refer to previous work that your business has done for them. ServiceTitan provides drop-down menus of information that needs to be collected before sending a tech out to the job. This allows reps to focus on their conversation with the customer while noting essential job details for your HVAC techs to refer to later.
Cloud-based documentation: ServiceTitan stores all documents and forms in a single cloud-based repository, which can be accessed by anyone in your organization who has access. This means that techs don’t have to worry about keeping track of estimates, invoices, or to scribble down future appointment details on a piece of paper, which can easily be lost. Via ServiceTitan Mobile or at the office, they can access all customer details, job information, invoice history and more right from the cloud. This means your organization can ditch paperwork and improve its workflow.
Form Creation: ServiceTitan allows techs and managers to build custom forms to collect all kinds of information in the field. By requiring forms to be completed on jobs, HVAC techs can collect the same information on each job, which reduces errors such as ordering the wrong parts and the need to call customers back to fill in missed details. Specific forms can be triggered to show up on certain job types, such as maintenance checklists for regular maintenance work and required forms to be filled before a tech can close out a job. ServiceTitan’s forms provide a framework for techs to follow while in the field and makes their time on jobs smoother and more efficient.
Templates: ServiceTitan’s range of templates (for invoicing, estimates and every other stage of an HVAC job) make it quick and easy to provide customers with consistent information for proposals, estimates, pricing, invoices, and more. Our templates are easy to fill out, look highly professional, are branded to your business, and are quick and easy to show to customers on a tablet or send to them by email.
Jason Ellington uses ServiceTitan’s HVAC software to keep his business, Ellington Air Conditioning & Heat, running smoothly in Brevard County, Florida. He says ServiceTitan’s HVAC job estimate templates help customers really understand the service repair. Plus, his techs can set up financing options right inside the platform while on the job site.
“We also love the ability to create forms inside ServiceTitan, which triggers other actions in the platform. We made a form for ‘parts needed’ for each specific job, and it automatically puts a tag on the job, so everyone knows the parts are ordered for that job. Stuff like that is beautiful,” says Ellington, who owns a $6.5 million HVAC company. “The communication you’re allowed to do within ServiceTitan is awesome.”
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Looking for HVAC Business Opportunities? Get Your Own HVAC Business Right Before You Expand
Master your own HVAC business before buying another.
Build your business to succeed without you.
Narrow your focus to what you do best, and shed the rest.
Are you an HVAC business owner who thinks they can do it all? Do you want to expand into other home services as soon as possible? Be careful not to spread yourself too thin.
Mello tried doing it all, from operating his warehouse and controlling inventory to buying all of his own trucks and fixing them on-site when they broke down. When his expenses exceeded revenue, he decided it was time to rein in some of his entrepreneurial activities.
“I just realized focus is everything,” Mello says. “Instead of being a jack-of-all-trades, you want to be a master of one… Focus on one, get so big at one, then you can take on a new branch.”
Think in terms of building your business as a commodity with shareholder value — and one that operates efficiently, even when you’re not around.
“A business that depends on you to work is not a business I want to buy,” says Mello, who is an owner, partner or investor in 14 other businesses.
A1 Garage Door Service continues to set records every month, even though Mello says he’s sometimes gone for weeks at a time working on other projects.
To what does he attribute that success? “We really started to narrow our focus,” he says.
The company no longer takes calls from Home Depot looking for subcontractors from home warranty services. Instead, A1 sells more customer service agreements, completes more follow-ups, and automates its business operations with ServiceTitan for better efficiency, tracking, and reporting.
“The biggest game changer is when you start to automate processes,” Mello says.
HVAC Marketing Ideas to Reach the Right Audience
Identify your target audience with specific demographics.
Develop HVAC marketing strategies beyond word of mouth and referrals to reach your specific audience.
Don’t put all of your eggs in one marketing basket.
Save on cost per lead with targeted email marketing.
Before deploying any type of marketing strategy, small-business owners need to target the right audience of potential customers.
Rather than simply focusing on “anybody with an air conditioner,” Mello says, “I’m going to say, ‘This is the age, this is the gender, this is the average household income, this is their credit score.’ You should know more and more about who your real customers are, and then focus on direct response…and branding.”
Knowing the best marketing tactics to deploy is hard work, and poses one of the biggest challenges for the HVAC industry, Stark says.
“You used to depend on the phone book, trade shows, direct mail advertising or newspaper advertising,” he says. “In recent years, multimedia internet and digital communications … have really opened up so many different levels to choose from.”
How ServiceTitan Optimizes Your HVAC Marketing Strategy
To help you with your HVAC marketing strategies, ServiceTitan’s MarketingPro provides an all-in-one solution that uses customer data to target specific profiles to bring in more calls, leads, and bookings at a higher spend per customer.
Email Marketing with ServiceTitan
“Targeted email marketing is the most cost-effective strategy for keeping your brand front and center in the minds of customers” says Megan Bedford, who runs Mugyver Consulting to help small companies in the trades.
Not only is the cost cheaper for targeted email marketing — $12 or less per lead — it’s the type of communication customers prefer, as opposed to direct mail or a promotional text. The key, Bedford says, is to find the right tool to automate the process, then target the right audience with the right message.
ServiceTitan’s MarketingPro helps you run your HVAC business’s email marketing campaigns by targeting customers in your database according to a number of specific characteristics. This allows you to address promotions, discounts, and other marketing messages to the people most likely to respond.
By using MarketingPro’s email marketing tools, you can send an email to a list of customers who have yet to respond to estimates and give them a phone number to call to close the deal. This reminder is often enough for customers to get back to you and book an appointment. Another example is sending reminders to customers for whom you installed an air conditioning system, reminding them it’s time to carry out maintenance. These types of email marketing campaigns revive previously cold leads and turn passive customers into new sources of revenue.
We also reduce the hassle and expense of designing email marketing campaigns with our comprehensive range of email templates, as shown in the image above. Just pick an appropriate email template, adjust the text for your specific campaign, and send it to your chosen mailing list.
ServiceTitan also gives you the tools to monitor the exact ROI of each email campaign within the ServiceTitan dashboard.
By keeping an eye on which of your campaigns are most successful in terms of bringing in real bookings and revenue, you can decide where to double down and which need to be adjusted for greater ROI.
Manage Direct Mail Campaigns with ServiceTitan
Direct mail is a powerful way to get your message right into the customer’s hands, Stark adds. But he’s also finding new ways to do creative marketing through various digital media channels.
“Marketing is such a beast these days. It's so multi-layered that you’ve got to always be looking for ways to get your name out there, however it may be,” Stark says.
ServiceTitan helps HVAC businesses manage their direct mail by giving them everything they need to design, print, mail, and track the results of each campaign. It takes just minutes to choose a postcard from our library, adjust the text for your purposes, select an audience, and send.
Each campaign costs you a single flat rate per postcard, whether you send out just one or thousands.You can track the revenue generated by each of your campaigns using ServiceTitan and identify which are driving revenue and which are less successful.
Focus Your Online HVAC Marketing Strategies
Post helpful HVAC content to boost Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on Google.
Invest in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising to increase brand awareness.
Incentivize techs to get more online reviews.
Expand your service area in conjunction with Google Local Services.
“Just understand Google is God when it comes to home service,” Mello says, explaining how consumers find 70 percent of all services online through Google searches.
“Half of your marketing dollars should be spent on SEO, PPC, Google My Business, getting reviews, and Google Local Services.”
Billboards and TV or radio ads can still work, but with one caveat.
“You better be good at Google and you better have mailers going out because that’s going to increase the conversion rate on the direct response stuff,” Mello advises.
Marketing via Facebook also works for some HVAC companies, he says, but it’s hard to make a ton of money on the social media platform.
“Facebook is more of an upside-down pyramid,” Mello explains. “The way I do Facebook is you’ve got a lot of customers at the top who really don’t know about your service or they don’t need it today, but you’re building a funnel. It's at the top of the pyramid, but it’s an upside-down pyramid.”
Some customers will find you because they need your services today; others may find you through brand awareness.
“They call it ‘top-of-mind awareness.’ You’re starting to get that online reputation of ‘Hey, I’ve seen that company before, now I need them.’ Now, they’re going to think of you,” Mello says.
How ServiceTitan’s Tools Boost Your Online Presence
ServiceTitan integrates with Google Local Services, making it easy to advertise your HVAC services on Google. When potential customers click on the ad you create using ServiceTitan, new customers are taken directly to a job-scheduling page.
If a customer searches for “Air Conditioning Service Philadelphia,” for example, the Local Services ad you created using ServiceTitan appears at the top of the search results in Google. Then they simply click on your ad to book an appointment without having to find the booking section of your website or make a call.
With ServiceTitan’s MarketingPro, you can also track ROI on your Google ad campaigns to ensure you are making the most of your marketing and advertising budget.
By connecting your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts to ServiceTitan, it’s straightforward to track the ROI of your campaigns to the actual jobs booked and revenue that was generated as a result. You can then decide which ads to ditch and which to keep based on real ad ROI figures.
Implement the Best Field Service Management Software to Grow Your HVAC Business
All of the tips and strategies outlined in this article can be more easily achieved by implementing ServiceTitan’s field management software, which helps you streamline your business processes and workflow. ServiceTitan, as we have described, helps your HVAC business to grow by:
Giving your team communication tools for office staff to easily communicate with HVAC techs in the field, improving workflow and company culture.
Providing your business with processes, systems, and templates that your team can consistently use.
Assisting your marketing team with digital advertising, email marketing, and direct mail campaigns while tracking the ROI of each of them so you know what is working and what isn’t.
How One Baltimore HVAC Business Uses ServiceTitan to Fuel its Growth
Hong Zhu and her husband, Steven, opened SuperTech Heating and A/C in the Baltimore area in 2015.
“We did not know what we were getting into when starting a business,” Hong Zhu says.
Since 2015, the couple has grown the company to two offices and 15 employees. Implementing ServiceTitan’s field services software in 2018 was a vital part of that growth.
“We were pen and paper (before),” Hong said, and she used her accounting skills to come up with a system. However, as the company grew, Hong realized it needed software to keep up with daily responsibilities and implement consistent processes across the organization.
She talked to representatives of other HVAC businesses who recommended ServiceTitan’s cloud-based software for the trades. A key factor in choosing ServiceTitan was its ability to integrate with the systems Hong had already set up for SuperTech.
Call recording is one of the main benefits Hong has experienced with ServiceTitan. This tool has allowed SuperTech to make sure all calls are handled professionally and call booking processes are followed every time. When customers have questions or issues after jobs have been completed, Hong uses ServiceTitan’s call-recording feature to back up her HVAC techs’ work.
According to Hong, keeping an eye on SuperTech’s figures is easy with the ServiceTitan dashboard, and she can make accounting accessible to her team, which improves communication and transparency.
Hong can set and track goals for each employee, and every employee can monitor their own progress, too. This gives every member of the team a greater sense of involvement in SuperTech’s success.
“I show them a lot, and then everybody’s on board,” Hong said. “Without ServiceTitan, we cannot grow this fast.”
Read the full SuperTech Heating & A/C case study here.
Want to Grow Your HVAC Business? Know Your “Why”
Know your own strengths.
Don’t become an HVAC business owner just because you want to be your own boss.
Keep work-life balance in focus.
Understand the financial aspect of running an HVAC business, or find someone who does.
Work-life balance is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, but Mello thinks it’s something to keep in mind when pondering whether to start your own HVAC business or grow your current one.
He recommends the book Off Balance on Purpose: Embrace Uncertainty and Create a Life You Love by Dan Thurmon to gain a better perspective, especially in times of uncertainty.
“The reason you should own a business is NOT because you don’t want to work for someone else,” Mello says. You may exhibit excellent HVAC technician skills in the field but lack the financial knowledge or expertise in managing an HVAC business. If that’s the case, then it’s important to identify that and find a partner or manager who has the experience and skills to help you with this side of your business.
“I feel like I’m just getting started...I literally feel like it’s there to build, it’s ours for the taking,” Mello says. “For me, success just means if I want to go do something, I do it.”
“You’ve got to choose what’s important to you and decide what’s your ‘Why?’”
ServiceTitan has helped countless HVAC businesses grow by improving their marketing and operations. You can find out more about how these features would help your HVAC business by scheduling a demo.
ServiceTitan HVAC Software
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive HVAC business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.