10 Ways (Plus One) You Can Seize the Summer

April 18, 2012
It’s about to be Christmas for HVAC contractors. With every uptick of outdoor ambient temperatures, contractor attitudes improve until… Until it’s too hot… Until there are too many calls to handle… Until everyone is overworked, overheated, and overly irritable.

It’s about to be Christmas for HVAC contractors. With every uptick of outdoor ambient temperatures, contractor attitudes improve until… Until it’s too hot… Until there are too many calls to handle… Until everyone is overworked, overheated, and overly irritable. Still, this is Christmas for contractors. It’s time to rack ‘em up and rake ‘em in. Here are ten things, plus one, you can do to ensure you seize this summer.

Sticker Everything and Leave a Magnet Too

Call volume is up. You’re in more homes. Despite all counsel to slow down, sell more, and find all problems, your guys are running more than eight calls per day, getting people cool, and moving on, fast. Make sure you don’t move so fast that you forget to sticker everything in sight and leave magnets. All of the marketing research shows that most consumers forget your name as soon as your truck pulls away. Stickers represent future calls.

Stress Service Agreement Savings

The summer is also the prime time to grow your service agreement base. Prompt customers over the phone by asking if they’re members of your service agreement program. If not, stress the savings service agreement customers enjoy over the phone and later, in person by the technician. If maintenance might have prevented the repair, let the customer know.

Sell Every Employee a Service Agreement For $10 If They Watch the Tune-up

Sometimes your own employees are the hardest to convince about the value of a comprehensive tune-up. Since a significant part of sales is transference of belief, the best way to boost summer service agreement sales might be simply to boost internal belief in the value of a service agreement. Sell a service agreement to everyone in the company for $10, but require them to watch as the requisite air conditioning tune-up is performed.

Accept Trade-ins

In today’s economy, people hesitate to replace working air conditioners. Even if a replacement makes sense, economic frugality restrains many from acting. Encourage people to replace aging systems by offering trade-ins on working units with full refrigerant, noting that you can recycle the refrigerant and offer it to people who aren’t able to replace a system using the old refrigerant, who had a leak, and got it repaired.

Update Your Pricing NOW, Before The Summer Season

If you haven’t updated your pricing in the last six months, do it now. Fuel prices are higher than last month, let alone six months ago. Ditto for R-22. Make sure your prices reflect the changes. Moreover, make sure your price books anticipate gas price hikes during the summer driving season. Consumers hate fuel price surcharges, so build it into your pricing.

Carry Universal Parts

If you are not already, began switching from manufacturer brand parts to universal parts. It simplifies stocking, reduces supply house runs, and generally boosts gross margins.

Pay Bills With a Credit Card Offering Cash Back or Airline Miles

Pay every bill with a credit card that earns cash back or airline miles. This gives you an extra 30 days float on your money and generates an inherent discount. Over the summer, most contractors can easily pay for tickets to Mechanical Systems Week in Chicago by using a credit card that earns miles with every purchase. Just be sure to pay every credit card bill in full, on time.

Always Take Advantage of Early Pay Discounts (No Matter When You Pay)

Paying with a credit card, if the supply house allows it, will give you the ability to take an early pay discount, dropping more to the bottom line. Sadly, the mere combination of credit card cash back programs and an early pay discount will generate more net profit than the average contractor reports to the IRS.

Review Your Own Merchant Services Program

Most contractors pay far too much in merchant services fees. It’s not merely the rate. It’s also the myriad of fees that are attached and embedded in the fine print. At the Service Roundtable, we’ve been able to save our members an average of $2,000 per year in merchant services fees. Most of the contractors were unaware they were paying too much. Excessive merchant services fees represent money lying at your feet. Reach down and pick it up, now, before your highest volume months.

Join Retailer Clubs

Many retailers like big box consumer electronics chains (e.g., Best Buy) and big box office supply chains (e.g., Office Depot, Staples, Office Max) offer clubs that pay a few points back on purchases, usually in the form of gift cards with the stores in question. Some retailers, like bookseller Barnes & Noble offer corporate discount programs that save 15% on purchases. These are free to join. Take advantage of them.

Join a Buying Group

Many industries are characterized by the use of buying groups where companies band together to attain economies of scale in purchasing. These are no-brainers. They cost little and save much more than they cost. Buying groups are now taking hold of the HVAC industry. The two largest are the utility owned BuyMax® and the Service Roundtable’s Roundtable Rewards program. Join one for as little as $50 and earn cash rebates equipment, parts, and supplies by using each group’s preferred vendors.


Did you like these tips? For more of them, follow the Service Roundtable’s free “Seize the Summer” program. You’ll get daily specials from Roundtable Rewards vendors, daily profit making tips like the ones in this column, free webinars, and free content from the Service Roundtable. You do not have to be a Service Roundtable member to benefit. Visit Seize the Summer for more information.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable (ServiceRoundtable.com). The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.