The majority of HVAC businesses are family owned but that's not to say the only way to run an HVAC business is to inherit one. Many HVAC technicians have the knowledge and experience necessary to start their own HVAC business and may not realize how close they are to becoming an entrepreneur and creating a successful HVAC business. Despite feeling confident about the trade itself, it’s another thing altogether to feel comfortable managing bookkeeping, liability insurance, HVAC software, marketing plans, bank accounts, and social media.
Check out these 6 do’s and don’ts when it comes to building your own small HVAC business.
1. Don’t be afraid to go out on your own
We spoke with HVAC business owner of Blown Away HVAC, Tyler Pennington, and he shares his advice for those considering starting their own HVAC business. Tyler shares that he first began working in HVAC during high school for a heating and air conditioning employer. After years of experience he learned that entry level positions are physically demanding and don’t pay well when you have little experience.
Tyler’s main message to those who are beginning to toy with the idea of starting their own HVAC business - do it! He says, “It doesn’t matter age, no matter if you’re fifty and you’ve been doing it since you were eighteen.” He goes on to say, “Being an owner and running your own business is the best way to be in the heating and air industry because being a service technician or installer your whole life will wear you down.”
Believe in yourself. Everyone has that little voice that wants to tell you that you can’t do it. Behind a successful business is an entrepreneur who overcame those voices of doubt by creating a business structure that understands their target market.
If you don’t have an HVAC certification or HVAC license, you need to get that before you do anything else. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates technicians to pass an EPA-approved exam to earn Section 608 Technician Certification.
2. Do create an HVAC business plan
It’s important to have a strategy in place before making the leap of starting your own business. You can write your HVAC business plan yourself, use software, a template or pay a professional to create a business plan for you.
Items to include in your business plan:
Mission and/or company description: Identify what you want your business to accomplish and represent.
Customer information. Who are your customers or the service area for your market?
Your value proposition. What makes your HVAC business unique?
Mode of interaction. What platforms or channels of communication are your customers using to request HVAC services?
Marketing plan. How do you intend to advertise your business?
Operations. What do the day to day operations of your HVAC business look like? How will you accept payments like credit cards?
The business plan document itself will be useful if you’re attempting to secure investors or apply for a small business loan. More importantly, a business plan will serve you while you are working on your business and guide you along the way. Review your business plan at set times throughout the year. This will help you stay on track and allow you to see if you’re hitting goals you set for your HVAC business.
3. Do take advantage of the connections you’ve made
New HVAC technicians are primarily concerned with improving their skills and focusing on the trade itself. As important as that is when you’re first starting out, don’t forget to focus on your brand and create a name for yourself in the industry.
The way you connect with customers and other professionals in the home service industry correlates to the success of your future business. It’s worth putting in the time and effort to build a network of clients and business partners. By making yourself known in the community word of mouth will begin to grow. Small business owners understand the influence of word of mouth.
It’s never too late to begin building those relationships. When Tyler knew he was going to go off on his own, he reached out to previous clients to get the word out about starting his own business. Having a customer base from the beginning will have a tremendous impact on the success of your HVAC business.
4. Do set yourself apart from the competition
Homeowners have quite the selection to choose from when it comes to picking an HVAC professional to help them with their heating and air conditioning needs.
Pick an HVAC business name that reflects your company. The HVAC company name Blown Away HVAC hints that you will be blown away by their service while also being playful and approachable.
Think how your business may be different. Are you trying to be environmentally conscious and use higher standards that are best for the environment when dealing with refrigeration? If you can find an aspect about the way you operate your business that is different from your competitors, lean into that. Perhaps you pride yourself on the level of customer service you provide. That’s important to a group of customers and they will want to do business with you if they know that’s what you are known for.
Reviews can grow or weaken your business. It takes time to accumulate numerous high-ranking reviews online. Even the companies with a plethora of 5-star reviews and high-ranking Google Reviews had to start somewhere. Don’t ignore the power of online reviews. References and referrals are one of the top ways customers choose an HVAC technician to come to their home.
5. Don’t underestimate costs
Unlike other small businesses, creating an HVAC business does not have to require an immense amount of capital or money to get started. However, it’s easy to find yourself burning through cash if you don’t have a financial budget in place. Ask yourself what are the absolute necessities in order to get your business going. If you don’t have a work vehicle or necessary equipment or HVAC tools to get jobs done, you probably shouldn’t be spending on business cards or advertising.
The cost of starting an HVAC business ranges from $2,000 to $10,000. This is just an average estimate and there are numerous expenses to take into account. Costs like business insurance are something that HVAC technicians don’t think of when adding up the costs of an HVAC startup.
Liability insurance is another expense that can’t be ignored. You may be the best technician you know, but what happens when the unexpected occurs? You’ll want to have an HVAC insurance policy that will cover you in the case you have malfunctioning equipment, an accident, or an emergency. The typical range of a general liability insurance policy for a small HVAC business is between $37 to $59 per month depending on location.
6. Don’t forget to leverage technology
As the HVAC industry continues to grow and advance, so does the technology associated with it. It’s important to start off on the right foot when you begin your business.
Tyler’s hard work coupled with his tireless HVAC marketing led him to an incredible first month earning him almost $50,000. That’s the definition of a successful business. He used marketing tools like advertising and posting on Facebook, engaging in online forums, and getting Google guaranteed. This is a great marketing strategy to create leads for your new business.
Your former employer may or may not have used mobile software to manage their HVAC business. Don’t get stuck in an antiquated method of invoicing and scheduling that bogs down your efficiency and creates more work than necessary. Streamline your workflow and manage your business wherever you are with home service software like Housecall Pro.