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    CB INFLUENCERS: Buckle Up!

    Jan. 1, 2024
    2024 won't be easy for many HVAC businesses. Embrace change, train your team, and market more to survive.

    Heading into 2024, let's talk about where we're at in the HVAC industry. We've had a pretty wild ride with growth since 2020, but now it's time to buckle up and face what’s coming.

    We’re facing inflation, a potential recession, and an unprecedented wage spiral that we haven’t seen since the 1970s. Even with that, growth is still on the table, but we can't just bank on the economy or the weather to keep things rolling. Here’s my take on what's happening and some down-to-earth advice for your business as you gear up for the coming year.

    The Big Picture Right Now

    You've probably heard it a million times: 75% of the dough in contracting is made by just 20% of the companies. That's even more the case after all the merging and buying that's been happening. But here's the twist: the other 80% of businesses are still doing 25% of the work. And with the big consolidation wave slowing down and some former owners' non-competes running out, we'll see more seasoned pros jumping back into the game. They're not just hanging up their tools; they're returning with more experience, better connections, and much more capital.

    What’s up with Smaller Contractors?

    Since September, I've had several calls from contractors sweating over making their phones ring, reminiscing about the better days of last year. Many of the smaller guys don't realize how much of their business during the busy season actually spills over from the big brands. We can't forget how much our business swings with the weather. The real winners are the ones who grabbed those chances and turned one-off jobs into lifelong customers.

    How to Keep Up with What’s Coming

    Mix It Up with Your Services: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Think about diversifying—maybe get into energy-saving advice, smart HVAC setups, or just regular maintenance gigs. It’s all about having more ways to bring in the cash and keeping things steady.

     Make Those Customers Stick: Turn a quick fix into a forever friendship. Stellar service, regular check-ins, and maybe a friendly newsletter or special deals can keep customers connected.

     Tech It Up: Staying ahead of the curve with the latest gadgets and software can make a huge difference. Whether it’s the newest eco-friendly technology or a cutting-edge CRM or sales system, gaining efficiency keeps you in the game.

     Train to Gain: Keep your crew sharp and up-to-date. The better they are, the better your service, and that means happier, more loyal customers.

     Get the Word Out: Smart marketing can get you new faces and keep the old ones around. Think about hitting up social media, local events, or investing in strengthening your brand.

    Money Matters: Keep a tight ship with your finances. Price well, plan well, invest wisely, and always have something for a rainy day.

    Network Like a Boss: Chatting up with other contractors, suppliers, and experts can open doors you didn’t even know existed. Partnerships, tips, and tricks—it’s all out there. You don’t have to go it alone.

    So, as we step into 2024, remember: It's all about being smart, adaptable, and ready for whatever comes next. Diversify, build relationships, embrace change, train your team, market well, manage your finances, and network. Do this right, and you'll set yourself up for success, no matter how the market swings. Be intentional, don’t get too comfortable, and let's make it a great year!

    —All the best, Colleen.

    Colleen Keyworth is director of marketing for Online-Access, and a member of the Contracting Business 2024 Team of Influencers. Stay with CB in 2024 for HVAC business insights from Colleen and other CB Influencers. Find Online-Access at hvacwebsites.com