14 Days of Thanksgiving

Nov. 11, 2016

With Thanksgiving only two weeks away, it’s a good time to think of all of the things we can feel grateful for in the HVAC industry.  Here’s a calendar of Thanksgiving.

November 11 – Give Thanks That 20% Net Profit is Possible

If you work in the residential service and replacement side of the business, a 20% net profit is not just possible, it’s readily demonstrable.  As Ron Smith says, you deserve it for the effort you expend and the capital you risk.  If your profit isn’t in double figures, you are short changing yourself, your family, and your future.  Reach out.  Others will help.

November 12 – Give Thanks That It’s Easy to Exceed Expectations

Years, no decades, of crappy contracting has lowered consumer expectations to the point where simply showing up on time stuns most homeowners.  In an industry filled with white truck contractors racing to the bottom, it is very easy for company to stand out, head and shoulders above the competition.  You can become a premier air conditioning company in your community.  Simply decide you will be one, describe how that company looks and acts, and move towards that vision.

November 13 – Give Thanks for Mobile Billboards

Every brick and mortar retailer envies your fleet of mobile billboards.  Even if you only have two trucks, by utilizing a graphically strong truck ID program, you can build surprisingly good brand awareness and recognition.  As your fleet grows, do not be surprised if local brand awareness for your business exceeds that of the products you sell.  After all, your mobile billboards are generating tens of thousands of impressions per truck per day.

November 14 – Give Thanks for the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) and its connected home subset will impact our industry for the better.  While there will always be a few do-it-yourselfers who will try to wire up their own doorbells, most consumers want someone to connect the home for them and are unlikely to let the cable guy touch their A/C.  HVAC contractors are poised to play a central role in the connected home and the connected home is going to make HVAC more exciting and more attractive as a profession.

November 15 – Give Thanks for Buying Groups

There have long been buying groups at the distribution level, which independent distributors have used to help level the playing field against the larger, national distributors.  Now, there are several at the contractor level.  Eventually, most contractors will belong to one.  Today, a buying group will give you a competitive advantage.

November 16 – Give Thanks That Service and Installations Cannot be Offshored

No matter your view on trade, the work you provide will never be performed overseas.  Service and installation work can only be done on the spot.  And when factories are moved overseas, you can employ a few of the displaced workers, solving your problem and theirs.

November 17 – Give Thanks That HVAC is a Necessity, Not a Luxury

As a kid in the Florida panhandle, I remember retail businesses promoting the fact they were air conditioned because not every business was.  The thought is inconceivable today.  Heating and air conditioning are now considered necessities.  In most of the country, people cannot imagine life without HVAC, which means people will always need you.

November 18 – Give Thanks That There are More Training Opportunities Than Ever Before

Plato is credited with saying, “necessity is the mother of invention.”  It’s another way of saying markets fill needs.  HVAC needs business training for company leaders and technical training for field labor.  Over the past 20 years training options for both have dramatically expanded.  There are several schools who can take a raw hire with mechanical aptitude and quickly turn him or her into a revenue generator with a few weeks of intensive training.  Business alliances will likewise help business leaders become as proficient turning a profit as they were turning a wrench.

November 19 – Give Thanks for Flat Rate Pricing

When Jim Kimmons wrote a 700 word article on flat rate pricing in Contracting Business several decades ago, he revolutionized industry pricing.  Because of flat rate we can stop playing pricing games to hide our charges.  We no longer have to penalize customers when a technician is slow or penalize the company when a senior tech works faster and earns more money.  We no longer have to create unneeded anxiety for customers because they don’t know what a repair will cost, until it’s complete.  We no longer have to defend every trip to the truck or the total amount of time spent at a house.  Flat rate has made pricing so much easier.

November 20 – Give Thanks for Performance Pay

Performance pay is the perfect complement to flat rate.  Done right, it allows you to ensure a good gross profit on every task.  It incentivizes your technicians to self-manage.  It makes training more interesting and attractive for the techs.  It increases your productive capacity on installations.  It enables your employees to increase their pay directly through their own efforts.

November 21 – Give Thanks for Climate Change

No matter your view on climate change, a warming planet is good for the air conditioning industry.  If global warming is a problem, we have the solution.  If it turns out that we’re about to experience another solar minimum that will cause global temperatures to plummet, we have the solution to that as well.

November 22 – Give Thanks for Contracting Business

For more than 70 years, Contracting Business Magazine has been helping contractors.  I’ve been reading it for more than 30 years and writing in it for more than 25.  As long as I’ve been reading the magazine, it’s been free for subscribers.  Through the pages of CB, I learned from Doc Rusk, Ron Smith, Aaron York, Jackie Rainwater, Tom McCart, Charlie Greer, Earl King, and dozens of others, long before I was blessed to meet them.

November 23 – Give Thanks for Contractors Who Share

HVAC is a sharing industry.  Almost every contractor I know will welcome other contractors into his business and share everything he knows.  The more successful the contractor, the more likely it is that he will freely share his knowledge and expertise.  Not every industry is like this.  Make sure you are involved with your state or local trade association.  Make sure you are a member of a contractor group that facilitates networking.  Make sure you attend the national conferences where you can mix with other contractors.

November 24 – Give Thanks You Make a Difference

The work you perform makes a tangible difference in people’s lives.  You make homes comfortable.  You improve the quality of the air people breath.  You raise office productivity.  You make entire regions habitable.  You help perishable food last longer.  You make hospitals healthier.  You make it possible for people to secure their homes at night and sleep peacefully.  You make the production of life saving medicines and the manufacture of the computer chips our entire economy depends upon, possible.  Homeowners are happy when you arrive and better off when you leave.

Email me what you are thankful for.  Include your name, company name, and location.  If I get enough responses, I will make them my next column.  Email me at [email protected].


For information about Roundtable Rewards, the industry’s largest buying group, call 877.262.3341 or visit

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable ( 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.