Running a successful HVAC business can be one of the most rewarding things that you do. However, there will be obstacles, often unexpected ones, that will come along the path, and it may take some time to achieve that success. With that said, these tips will help you get going on that path and towards success.
As you read through these, keep in mind two of the most important elements of a successful company: a high degree of organization and cutting time whenever possible. Of course, those are related as well.
Learn From Others
Yes, you are bringing a lot of expertise into this experience, but you also want to learn from others in the industry. Discuss with them what strategies they have used and what worked and what did not work. Also, when possible, discuss the local HVAC market and relevant aspects of it.
You can also utilize podcasts, books and similar educational tools to learn more about what has worked for other HVAC professionals.
Determine Your Services
Determine which services you should be offering to your local service area. Take into account what is being offered by your competition as well as what your technicians or prospective technicians are well-experienced working with.
Also consider what is more in demand in your area. One obvious example is that businesses that are located in Arizona will be more apt to deal with air conditioning-related services while those in North Dakota will receive more demand for furnace-related installations, maintenance needs and repairs.
Hire the Right People
Put a lot of time and effort into hiring the right people as that will end up playing a significant role in how successful your company is.
Of course, you want employees who understand the technical side of what they do at a high level, but you also want to ensure that their personalities fit you and your business. Generally, you should have people who you can trust to be responsible and to do their jobs at a high level. Also keep in mind that your employees are essentially the face of your company when it comes down to it.
You also want to need to let people go as seldom as possible as that ends up costing your company money, partially because it costs more to hire a new person than it does to continue with the same employee.
However, with that said, do let people go if the situation calls for it, and learn from the experience. In other words, cut your losses when doing so is necessary. Do not hold on to a bad apple as that just makes things worse.
Decide on Rates
Take into account how much equipment and overhead are costing you, how much your employees are earning and relevant taxes and fees as well as any unexpected costs that may occur in the future. Once you have done those things, work out a pricing strategy for your company that provides a balance between bringing enough income in to ensure a profitable business but that does not drive clients away.
Also consider what your local competitors are charging for similar services.
Engage in Marketing
As amazing as your services may be, they will not help much if few people know about them. Of course, word of mouth - i.e. doing a solid job and having that pleased customer tell others about what you have to offer and having that expand from there - is a great focus to have, but it should not be your only one.
Ensure that you have a website for your company that is well-designed with high-quality writing that clearly describes what you have to offer and how to get into contact with you for more information.
Be active on social media. At a minimum, have a few social media accounts that you regularly update.
Consider purchasing advertisements in a number of outlets to get your name out to those in your area.
Keep in mind the importance of business cards. Ensure that they are designed in an attractive and effective manner so that your company gets into and remains in others' minds and that the information is easy to understand.
Use Estimate Templates
One of the ways that you can save employee hours is by using estimate templates so that these important steps in the process of running a HVAC company are completed in a timely manner and at a high level.
Also make sure to follow up after sending out an estimate if a response from the customer has not occurred in a timely manner. Ask if there are any questions about it or about the work that you do.
Another way that you can save time and ultimate increase the number of jobs that your company does is to allow clients to approve and sign estimates electronically.
Keep Clients Updated on the Status of an Upcoming Project
Do things such as sending a reminder message a few days prior to the date of the job that has been agreed to as well as another one shortly before it is to start, such as an hour or more prior to that time on the day of it.
Doing these things helps put the customer at ease as they will know that your company is right on top of the agreed-upon timeframe, and it will also decrease the chances of a late cancelation or schedule-adjustment request occurring.
Utilize Checklists When Jobs Are Being Done
One of the best ways to ensure that slips do not occur when projects are being completed is to have your technicians complete a checklist before leaving the site. You want to avoid experiencing finances-draining situations such as callbacks, so have your employees do their due diligence in ensuring that the jobs have been thoroughly completed on the initial visits.
A technician, even one who has years of experience, can sometimes miss a step. Utilizing a checklist ensures that even though a step had been missed, it will still be completed before the site is left.
Upsell When Possible
Upselling can result in significant profits, and one of the best times to engage in upselling is as the work is being done. For example, perhaps your technician notices a separate issue that can be worked on, either then or at a later time. That can then be brought up to the client. In many cases, customers may not even realize that you handle that type of work as well as what is being worked on.
Ask How Things Are Going a Week Later
The exact timeframe can be adjusted, but at some point after a job has been completed, reach out to the client and ask if everything is working with the HVAC unit as intended. This helps improve customer satisfaction, and it provides your technicians with opportunities to see what mistakes may have been made if they are not going smoothly for your clients and something needs to be fixed.
Use an Organized and Flexible Calendar
One of the best ways to ensure that your company is being operated effectively is ensuring that all of your technicians and other employees have access to a flexible schedule that informs them on who is doing what job where and when and allows for any necessary changes to be made. The latter element is important to make sure that you can handle any emergency calls as efficiently as possible and to prevent the costly mistake of double booking.
Ensure Team Members Utilize Effective Travel Plans
It is also important to ensure that your technicians are disseminated around your service area in a manner that makes the most sense from transportation and monetary perspectives. Also keep these general individual travel areas in mind for any emergency service calls that come in so that a team member is not unnecessarily traveling a long distance to get to one when another employee is closer.
Utilizing GPS tracking can also help you more effectively organize the transportation aspect of your organization. You will be able to see if your technicians are experiencing traffic-related or other types of difficulties in reaching job sites, and you can see more clearly who can best respond to any emergency calls.
Use an Easy-to-Use Invoicing Method
Of course, an important step in the process is making sure that you are paid for the completed jobs in a timely manner. One of the best ways to do this is by having an easy-to-use and effective invoicing method. The latter can be done by using invoices with a professional appearance and that are easy to understand.
Also ensure that paying by a credit card can be quickly and easily done. Of course, checks and cash payments should be accepted as well, but those generally take longer to process and should not be your focus.
Have clearly stated payment terms as well, detailing when to pay you by and what will occur if a payment for services rendered has been submitted after this date has passed.
How to Handle Unpaid Invoices
Unfortunately, every company has unpaid invoices. What you should focus on is keeping that number as low as possible. Fortunately, one of the most effective ways to turn an unpaid invoice into a paid one is simply sending a reminder message or resending the invoice. In many cases, not paying this was just the result of an oversight, and the reminder helps propel it to the front of your client's mind and get it done.
Keep these initial reminders automated, when possible, to save time.
Analyze Your Finances
Analyze the nitty-gritty aspects of your finances on a regular basis, perhaps every month, to help you narrow down what works best for you as far as that is concerned. Some metrics to analyze while doing so include your gross profit, how much each of your technicians is bringing in, how much time is being spent on service calls and, of special importance, your liquidity ratios.
Of course, there are some financial elements that should be analyzed more often, such as your cash balance. That should be tracked on a daily basis.
Be an Open and Effective Communicator
Regularly communicate to your employees important aspects of the business, especially those directly relevant to them, and cultivate open communication amongst team members. Also, if you are the most known face of the company, have a positive rapport with the public in general. Consider getting involved with community events to help get your company's name out there in a positive light.
In addition, keep in mind that the tone that you set, both internally and externally, is of utmost importance. For example, employees will think more positively if you do, and prospective clients will be much more apt to become actual clients if they feel that they can trust you.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
It is important to be prepared for a number of unexpected scenarios. When those types of situations occur, it is best to have a plan that is already in place to ensure that time is saved then, which can be especially important for a heating and air conditioning company under these circumstances.
For example, what if extreme temperatures are occurring in your area, and that results in mass numbers of HVAC-related equipment breaking down and needing to be serviced? You should have a plan in place to adapt to that type of situation to ensure that you make the most out of it from a business perspective.
Another is determining what to do if you experience little to no demand for work at unexpected times.
Also, have a plan in mind for if you unexpectedly experience several technicians not being able to work.
Running a HVAC Business
So much goes into operating a HVAC organization at a high level and in a profitable manner, and this is a process that will require you to continue learning long after you have read what is written here. However, these tips will help you get on the right track as you head towards success. Keep in mind that success does not happen over night, but if you consistently work towards it, in time you'll see improvement.
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