How to Run an HVAC Business
There’s a lot to take into account when running an HVAC business. It’s not just about your HVAC chops. Organizing your schedule, customer service, managing employees, and managing cash flow comes into play too.
Doing all of this isn’t just good for your sanity. Running an HVAC business is expensive. Finding efficiencies will save your bottom line.
So how can you grow and run a more profitable HVAC business? That’s what we’re going to cover below.
How to make money in HVAC:
- Write your HVAC business plan
- Add upselling into your marketing plan
- Focus on customer service
- Improve your scheduling and efficiency
- Collect deposits
- Improve your invoicing strategy
1. Write your HVAC business plan
Every successful HVAC business starts with an HVAC business plan. It might seem like a time-consuming task. But having a business plan can make the difference between running a profitable business and running your business into the ground.
A business plan keeps your business focused and reduces risk, so you leave less up to chance.
The easiest way to write your own in case you haven’t already is to use a template. We created a guide and template for how to write an HVAC business plan so you can get started ASAP.
Use your business plan to get insight into how you’re tracking towards your goals and identify which areas of your business to focus on.
2. Add upselling into your marketing plan
Once you’ve written your business plan, you’ll have a better idea of what your HVAC marketing strategy could include and how you’ll turn a profit.
Upselling is a useful sales tactic you can add to your marketing strategy as it costs less money than traditional ads and allows you to make more money from existing clients.
Marc Brewer, the owner of DALCO HVAC, believes that upselling should be a crucial part of your HVAC marketing strategy because upselling is an opportunity to showcase other services for free.
As a bonus, your customer might not even realize they need a certain service and you might be getting them at the perfect time. They also might not be aware you provide certain services so upselling is a great time for cross-promotion.
Once you prioritize upselling, you can train your employees on how to use upselling techniques when they’re on the job site and build it into your employee training plan. Your clients view your HVAC techs as experts in their field, so they’re more trusted than salespeople anyway.
Pro Tip: Ensure your whole team is on the same page with process, regulations, and rules so your job site stays safe and productive.
3. Focus on customer service
Van Wu, Co-Owner of Trust Home Comfort Ltd tells us that sometimes tradespeople lack in the customer service department of their business because “they think they know more than their customers”.
To combat this, Van Wu does what he can to offer the best service to his clients. “Just go beyond expectations. You need to deliver because they are paying you. Do a bit extra. For example, install a furnace, but help check their AC, humidifier, hot water tank, and give recommendations.”
Take a page from Van Wu’s book and go above and beyond expectations every chance you get.
Review-worthy customer service starts with you, but remember that your employees are an extension of your business.
That’s why it’s important to hire team members who embody what it means to provide good customer service. These are HVAC techs who are on time, have good manners, and present themselves well—no messy uniforms allowed.
4. Improve scheduling and efficiency
Scheduling inefficiencies are a massive time, resource, and money sink. The last thing you want to do is send out multiple crews to the same street or neighborhood at the same time, or on the same day.
So how can you fix it?
Create a list of your service calls for the day and pin them on a map. This will help you visualize the appointments for the day and discover distances and congestion between waypoints.
Break up the pinned locations on the map into territories that you can cover. If you have multiple crews, assign each crew to a separate territory. This will help in case you get emergency service calls throughout the day. You’ll be able to quickly dispatch a crew to the location based on their proximity.
Next, you can either do some MacGyvering to plan an efficient route based on distance, use a routing app, or use HVAC route optimization software that takes your daily schedule and produces the most optimized daily route plan for you and your team.
The goal here is to be able to assign tasks to nearby team members to cut down on transit time, reassign last-minute jobs to nearby team members, and reorder jobs to follow a more efficient route.
The time and gas that you can save from creating an efficient schedule and properly optimized route will directly affect your bottom line.
5. Collect deposits
Collecting deposits is one way to help you improve cash flow speed. Deposits are especially helpful for HVAC professionals who need supplies and equipment, or who complete big projects, like furnace installs, regularly.
But not every job needs a deposit so decide which projects you truly should request a deposit for.
For example, a furnace replacement will probably require a deposit, but a 30-minute system check probably won’t. You can create a system for this and determine internal rules for asking for deposits that way you never miss an opportunity.
Next, decide on the deposit amount you need to charge your clients. This depends on your business needs as well as your state laws. Some states only allow contractors to charge their clients 10% or $1,000.00, whichever is the lesser value. Check with your local business bureau.
When you go in for an on-site assessment and quote your client, communicate that you require a deposit for the project. You could also offer a 5% discount if the client pays in-full upfront to really boost your cash flow.
Finally, offer your clients an efficient way to pay their deposit as quickly as possible. Cheque, cash, and e-transfers work. But, the fastest way to get paid is through online payments.
They allow you to save your client’s credit card and easily charge them again down the line with their approval.
You can send your client a reminder, and keep a personal collections reminder in your calendar if your client is behind. You can also use an HVAC quote, invoice, and payment software that saves your client’s card, and automates follow-up communication and reminders for you.
People pay us faster because they can do everything from their phones. They just do click, click, click and that’s it. They love it. We love it.
6. Improve your invoicing strategy
One of the best ways to make more money faster is to create a solid HVAC invoice strategy.
If your strategy is disorganized, then invoices can easily slip through the cracks. That’s a lost opportunity for getting paid!
Field service companies typically wait 25 days to get paid. According to Fundbox, most small businesses only have 27 days worth of a cash reserve. That waiting period isn’t ideal for your cash flow.
Getting clients to pay you on time isn’t always in your control. But, you can encourage them to pay faster by being organized, sending invoices on-site, and following-up with timely reminders.
Clients are typically on-site while you are completing work. Use that to your advantage by creating and sending invoices on the spot. The faster you send it, the sooner you can get paid.
If you’re busy and need to get to the next job site, then communicate to your clients when they should expect an invoice from you. Next, set a reminder in your calendar to create the invoice and send it to your client.
The key is timeliness. The longer you wait, the longer it’ll take to get paid.
If you’re having trouble remembering to complete invoices, try using calendar reminders to prompt you, include it as an item in your workflow to-do list, or use software that makes invoicing reminders a part of your HVAC workflow.