Stick to The Plan
A lot of HVAC business owners got into the industry because they know about it. It's pretty standard to see an air conditioning tech or HVAC employee to set up their own company to install and maintain HVAC systems locally. This means that not everyone involved in the industry has a strong business background.In spite of this, it is vitally important to have a HVAC business plan, and to stick to it as much as possible.
“Going into business without a business plan is like going on a mountain trek without a map or GPS support – you’ll eventually get lost and starve!” ― Kevin J. Donaldson
Your business plan should be revisited regularly and updated with your new goals and guidelines. It's an evolving document.Fortunately, your plan doesn't have to be too complex. You're probably not trying to take over the whole industry.A business or marketing plan becomes even more vital if you are working closely with others. It's a sort of playbook for your employees and partners as well as being a guide for you.Never written a business plan before? You can work with a freelancer or consultant to create one, but there is also plenty of information you can find online.According to Forbes, the summary of your business plan should be "no longer than one page."Key elements to include are:
- The business concept. What your business does, who it serves and what services you are selling. This is also the place to include your own competitive advantages.
- Financial features. Sales, profits and your business cash flow go here.
- Financial requirements. This is where you discuss finances needed for expansion, based on the next areas you plan to move into.
- The current business position. This is all the relevant info about the legal setup of the company, owners, and employees.
- Achievements. What does the business have to offer? This is the place to put your current achievements and even some assets. If you have a lot of website traffic, dominate sales in one area, or have excellent reviews, this all counts.
Each and every business plan is different. That isn't too much of a problem. It's important that you use it as a way to communicate and to guide your business.
How to Run a HVAC Business Using Software
In the modern age, there is an incredible amount of software out there that can make your life easier, and arm your employees with the tools needed.The best HVAC software options aren't just to keep track of your HVAC technicians and their schedule. Accounting, stock and even customer service can all be tracked via software.If you're managing field technicians then it can quickly become overwhelming. Companies stuck in the '90s may still use spreadsheets or basic calendar applications. It's worth investing in CRM software, and a way to track your employees, and make their lives easier, too.CRMs and software solutions have become so common that even third parties involved in your business may be able to use them. For instance, our virtual assistants can integrate with your software to create appointments or make important updates.There are dozens of HVAC service software options, from accounting software to field service management. We won't go through every choice, but there are a few that stand out for HVAC service businesses.
FieldEdge is worthy of mention as it is industry-specific software, made with HVAC contractors and companies in mind.As well as giving you a way to connect, manage, and track your staff, it also provides QuickBooks integration to track estimates and invoices, plus make tax season much easier.FieldEdge even has a dispatch board and GPS tracking, great for real time management of field technicians.
Salesforce is an incredibly popular software for field service companies. In fact, it is the number one CRM app on the market with around a 20% market share across all industries.Salesforce works well as field service management software. It lets you track staff in the field, manage calendars, and even track your quotes and invoices. Salesforce has "workflows" that allow you to create a simple interface and dashboards for employees to access so that they only have to deal with the information relevant to them.Salesforce is a popular choice due to the huge number of integrations, and the fact that there is so much information online regarding using and customizing Salesforce to your advantage.
Marketing Your HVAC Business
HVAC customers may return once yearly for a service, and this repeat business is very helpful. However, owning a HVAC business means having to market your services to ensure that you have a steady flow of business.The following section focuses on marketing your business and ensuring that you are taking advantage of numerous forms of free advertising, as well as optimizing some paid solutions.
Manage Your Online Presence
This is actually one of the easier things for businesses to do, but it is often done wrong. Your online presence should include your website at its center, but social media and even your business listing on review websites matter a great deal.Your online presence should include:
- Your own website, on a relevant domain name. It is easier than ever to create a professional website.
- A Google Places listing. This lets you tell customers how they can find you. It can also include a phone number for customers to quickly reach out to you.
- A Facebook profile. Facebook is still a good place to find customers, and because of its robust reviews system, it means you can show customers that your company is reliable and trustworthy.
- Other social media presence. It doesn't take much to add a LinkedIn and a Twitter profile, and these can be managed by your employees if required.
The link to your website should be on every online profile, along with your business phone number.There are also some golden rules for your website, to give off a professional image:
- Include genuine customer testimonials.
- Make it easy for customers to contact you.
- Keep the design simple.
- Include relevant images.
- Don't use loads of font styles and colors, as it will look messy.
- Make sure your website still looks good on smartphones and tablets.
There are plenty of easy tips to implement if you want to keep your website looking professional.
Keep The Phone Lines Open
Yes, we live in the age of social media and email, but your customers would probably still rather reach you via the phone. At least, 60% of them would, according to this study. Without a contractor answering service, many companies neglect their phone lines, assuming people will email them. In fact, customers are more likely to contact someone else in search of a human they can talk to.Fortunately, you don't have to have a team of receptionists to ensure all of your calls get answered. Our virtual receptionist services can ensure that your calls are dealt with in a professional way, and that relevant information is logged and communicated with the relevant employees. Nexa's answering service team of virtual receptionists can even make appointments. Our plans suit every business and ensure that you only pay for the time used answering your calls, rather than paying an employee's salary.A call answering service can take a lot of the hassle of customer service off your hands, and also ensure that you have 24/7 coverage rather than sending important customers to voicemail.
Keep Existing Customers Happy
Don't neglect your existing customers. Word travels. If you are willing to keep your existing customers happy then there is every chance they will refer you to friends and family, and keep returning year-on-year. Having great customer service in your HVAC business can also increase positive feedback and testimonials.
Make Search Engines Your Friend
Many companies plow tens of thousands of dollars a year into getting to the top of Google, and other search engines. This is called SEO (search engine optimization).Because your service is local, you know where to find your target market. This means you don't need a huge budget to allow your site to be found organically via Google.The best ways to make your site appealing to search engines, especially if you don't plan to spend a lot of time on marketing your website, include:
- Writing clear and concise content. Make it clear what your business does and which areas you cover.
- Think local. You're not going to easily get to the top of Google for people searching for "HVAC systems USA" but you might get to the top for HVAC repair in your local service area.
- Create lots of useful content for your potential customers. This can come in the form of a blog, or even videos or a knowledgebase included on your website.
Search engine traffic is often as close as you will get to free advertising. What's more, the search engines are trying to bring their users the most relevant results, so you don't have to know all of the tricks of the trade to grow your visibility online.
Ensure You Are Listed on Directories
For trade and service businesses, directories are still absolutely vital. A lot of these have moved online, so listing your business on directories can be relatively straightforward, but it is definitely worth the time and effort.You can work your way through a huge list of online directories if needed, or search for specific directories in your state.Ensure that you don't miss Google My Business, Yelp, Bing Places, or any directories that are widely known in the state you are in.