Q: This has been a tough year in my area. A number of contractors have closed their shops. The rest of us seem to have more competition, or just aren’t getting the business we had in the past. What have others done to make it through this season, and what are they doing now that summer is over?
A: This is a good time to focus on business for the rest of 2008 and beyond. The following 11 questions come from years of research in and around the industry. These are questions successful HVAC contractor owners and managers often ask themselves.
1. Do you build and follow an annual or seasonal business plan?
2. Do you “own” your residential service area, with some type of ongoing relationship with your customers?
3. Are you a “consultant?” Larger homes and wealthier homeowners often want comfort consultants.
4. Have you considered adding to what you already do well? You may want to make decisions on adding or not adding to your services.
5. Are your technicians top class, with accreditations/certifications?
6. Can you partner with energy utilities in your area? Make sure your business plans include them based on where they fit.
Business Intelligence Activities
7. Do you work with support groups? Associations, online forum groups and/ or bulletin boards help you plug into two-way conversations to add to your management and business skills.
8. Are your employees professional? Our American Home Comfort Study showed only 14% of homeowners who bought a replacement piece of equipment knew their contractor performed the Manual J calculation.
9. Do you track unsold proposals? Homeowners who take two or more weeks to make a decision desire more comfort and spend much more money.
10. Do you meet often with, inform, and reward your employees?
11. Do you meet regularly with distributors and manufacturer reps? There are, of course, other questions covering practices and processes that could have been added, but these 11 are especially important at this time.
Garry Upton, of Decision Analyst, Inc., shares his interpretations of its American Home Comfort Study of homeowners, and explores what customers look for in HVAC contractors. To learn more about this study, or to purchase it, contact Garry at [email protected].