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    Don't Talk About the Weather, do Something.

    Feb. 27, 2024
    HVAC businesses have taken a hit during this warmer, but natural "El Niño" winter. A warmer spring and summer are predicted, but much of your success should be achieved despite the weather.

    To follow the mild winter of 2024 -- which has been caused by an "El Niño" weather pattern. It has been predicted that we would experience a warmer spring and summer across the northern United States, but cooler temperatures in the south, at least through March. 

    We have also been told to expect a "La Niña" -- a natural cooling pattern, next winter, which will of course make winter much colder, if it holds true.

    This is challenging news for southern heating and air conditioning contractors but good news for those up-north. One successful northern contractor I spoke with said revenue was down by 27% through January, despite the polar vortex in early part of the month, which he says was crazy busy. But yes, normally, you can’t expect the phone to ring when it’s 40-50F in February.

    But for as long as there has been HVAC contracting, there have been challenges posed by weather. So if the weather won’t cooperate, and control-crazy bureaucrats won’t stop adding challenges to business operations, that leaves it to you to make 2024 a great year.

    Weather challenges will continue. So must your business ingenuity and effort.

    In Matt Michel’s column on page 32 you will find an excellent history of the HVAC replacement industry’s business situation since 2005, which was a record year for HVAC system replacements. After that, shipments began a 5-year decline, from 8.6 million units shipped to 5.2 million in 2009-2010. Michel says the shipment cliff will be with us awhile longer, after which we will see up to 10 years of growth. Let’s hope that becomes reality.

    So again, it’s up to you, the contractor, to take steps to bring about a great 2024. Matt offered some suggestions, but you should already know what to do. First, focus like never before on service, and make money from it. 

    Don't pull back on marketing and advertising. Don’t “disappear” while smart competitors increase their visibility. Find ways to get prospects to visit your shop (or product showroom, which you should have). Give stuff away, hold breakfast or lunch events to get people to see what you can do for their home comfort, including indoor air quality. Matt also suggests this could be the time to expand into some home-friendly offerings, like home security or generators. And find ways to work smarter and more efficiently throughout your organization. 

    Super-success Leland Smith told me he comes into the office on Sunday to get some work done, but also look around. Not to spy, but look at how things are set up to run. In those quiet moments he's found some impressive ways to save money.

    ContractingBusiness.com is filled with business-building information, so please visit it daily. We not only offer advice from Matt Michel, National Comfort Institute’s Dominick Guarino and David Richardson and weekly links to EGIA’s Contractor University “Cracking the Code” shows. There, an expert-of-the-week joins Weldon Long to share ways to grow your HVAC business. It’s there for free, so please check it out.

    The AHR Exposition in Chicago Jan. 22-24 was another excellent AHR event, with more presentations than usual on electrification and decarbonization, if that is of interest to you. You already know how heat pumps work, so the next question is, will your customers want them? First, start by evaluating each potential installation. As Tom Casey wrote in our February issue, your advice should be based on your customers’ comfort demands. “For any markets that are not already HPs, that makes a complex sale more complex. A confused mind always says ‘no’ so we can run the risk of more objections than usual.” Even the best most efficient system, fossil fuel or electrified, is only as good as the installation itself. Do no harm and always act in the best interests of the customer, Casey says.

    The 2024 ACCA show included a reunion of past ACCA Chairmen, including Larry Taylor and Stan Johnson, Mitchell Cropp, John Sedine and 14 others. We also saw the induction of Lee Rosenberg into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame, a long-overdue recognition. Lee had nice words for Contracting Business, and he also emphasized the importance of "knowing your numbers cold." 

    Lee Rosenberg has been a lion in the industry in matters related to licensing, standards, and business management excellence. Both Taylor and Johnson told me of Lee’s commitment to sharing information to help other contractors get better. Read about Lee Rosenberg on page 26.

    Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Lee.