1. HAVE A PLAN AND REVIEW/UPDATE CONSTANTLY
We have strategic planning every year off-site, to discuss the past year’s good and bad things, and plan for how to improve for the coming year. Part of the meeting also includes long range 5- and 10-year plans. Plans include staffing, logistics, training, infrastructure —including vehicles and our building — technology advancements, geographic service area, industry trends, government HVAC issues, manufacturer issues/involvement/support, etc.
2. HAVE THE RIGHT PEOPLE ON THE BUS
Staffing is critical. During these tough times with no qualified technicians looking for work, it is very easy to retain a troubled employee because you cannot replace them easily. You must “hire slow and fire fast”.
A bad employee will destroy your culture and client satisfaction. This is also true for office personnel. Be sure to cross train. Have your office staff ride with the install and service techs for half a day. Then have the field techs sit in the office for half a day. Both sides will benefit from knowing how things operate on the other side.
3. HAVE GREAT SUPPORT
This involves your equipment dealer, parts supplier, manufacturer contacts, outside training sources, vehicle repair maintenance provider, insurance provider, etc. Building relationships and showing appreciation to them goes a long, long way. When you take care of them by treating them with respect and taking care of them at the holidays, you will see service not given to their other clients. Faster deliveries, better pricing, superior service, priority in getting parts that others have to wait for, faster resolution on billing discrepancies, etc.
4. PROVIDE STAFF WITH WHAT THEY NEED TO GET THE JOB DONE
This includes office and field staff. We expect our staff to do their jobs correctly and quickly, so we provide all tools for techs and will obtain items that will improve productivity for the office staff upon request.
5. DON’T BE A ‘JACK OF ALL TRADES’
Some of my competition does it all: bathrooms, electrical, plumbing, alarm systems, insulation, new construction, commercial and oh, by the way, residential HVAC. They also sell multiple major brands of equipment.
We don’t service the following; oil, hydronics, water heaters, commercial, geothermal, back-up generators, apartment buildings, any air conditioning systems located on a roof, and we are very limited in attic areas.
Our installation division does no new construction, electrical work, plumbing, new additions or generators. This makes us super-focused on training, inventory, installation practices, the right tools, and detailed education for our clients. We are the best because we only service and sell what we want to and provide the support and parts to back it up. This includes only selling Trane products and no other equipment brand.
6. LIMIT YOUR SERVICE TERRITORY
We have a 21-mile radius that we serve, that’s it. We do not need to go any further because we turn away work now. Techs can go back to the shop for major parts we keep in stock and complete the call on the first visit because they are close. We have saturation of our territory making it tough for the competition to penetrate. They have to come from farther away. Our trucks are constantly being seen in the area, increasing top-of-mind awareness.
7. MAKE A PROFIT
I’m not talking about the average HVAC 3 to 5 percent net. We consistently make double digit net. This allows us to reinvest in our staff, tools, training, building, vehicles, and in keeping clients. You need to be sure everyone knows your company will be there tomorrow, next month, next year, and 20 years from now. Our clients pay our higher prices because they see the value in the service and installations we provide. They know that in order for us to continue the top-level work and our reputation, we need
to keep the great staff we have, update our tools and vehicles, and continue our in-house and out-of-house training programs and certifications.
Vince Difilippo is co-owner with his wife Laura, of Difilippo’s Service Co., Inc. based in Paoli, Pa. He is a member of the Contracting Business editorial advisory board.