Mark Snell, owner and founder of Polestar Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, is a third-generation plumber and HVAC technician.
Are you an expert in your trade and wondering how to start an HVAC business? Or maybe you’ve been on your own for a while and are ready to take your existing HVAC business to the next level?
I started my HVAC company, Polestar Plumbing and Heating, over 35 years ago. In this time, I’ve learned a great deal about what makes an HVAC business successful. Knowing your customers, having a solid business plan, investing in your employees and marketing your services are all important components as you begin your journey as a new business owner in this space.
Starting an HVAC business is no small task, but if you take the right steps, you’ll be well on your way to growing a thriving company. Here is my HVAC business startup checklist.
Figure Out Who Your Customer Is
The first step to figuring out how to start an HVAC business is learning who your customers are and what they need from you. And this process all begins with researching supply and demand for HVAC services in your area.
When it comes to supplies, take a look at your competition. Research other HVAC businesses in the area and see if you can identify a gap. Maybe there are a few commercial HVAC companies, and you already specialize in industrial work. Or maybe the area is saturated with national brands. Set yourself apart as a small HVAC business that provides a level of personal service that a larger company just can’t match.
When it comes to demand, figure out what homeowners and business owners in the area need the most. If you’re in the South, where the weather is always warm, you might consider positioning your company as the top air conditioning business in the area. Or perhaps you’re in a state that has special incentives for energy-efficient home upgrades. You could offer solar panel installation or energy-efficient geothermal heat pumps. The research is key because determining how to start an HVAC business is different in every market.
Create An HVAC Business Plan
Being a great tradesman isn’t the same thing as being a great business owner. One of the biggest mistakes that people make when starting an HVAC business is not creating a solid business plan.
When designing your HVAC company’s business plan, figuring out your target market is a great first step. Next, you’ll want to write out a summary of what HVAC services your business will offer and all of the components that go into offering those services. What type of equipment will you need? Where will your shop be? How many employees will you have? Outline your goals for the next five years. Using the SMART goals format will help you clearly identify each step you’ll need to take to grow your business and the things you’ll need to get there.
Finally, as you figure out how to start an HVAC business, you’ll also need to figure out your financial plan and paperwork. An accountant can help you plan your budget to make sure you’re never down in terms of cash flow, and a good lawyer can help you file all of the necessary documents for starting an HVAC business. And, perhaps most importantly of all, make sure your company’s liability insurance is always up to date.
Invest In Quality Employees
As you move from figuring out how to start an HVAC business to work on how to grow your HVAC business, you’ll need to hire employees who will effectively represent your company.
The people you hire will be an extension of your HVAC business. You already know what it takes to be a great HVAC contractor. Write it all down in the form of a job description, and utilize resources like online job boards, social media and even friends and family to help you find quality candidates. Also, make sure to hire people who are not only great technicians but who will also represent your company’s values.
Once you’ve brought on a few team members, be sure to invest in their success. Offering ongoing training such as NATE and Truetech certifications, as well as rewards and recognition for quality work, are just two ways to retain good employees.
Market Your Business
Now that you have a solid foundation, it’s time to work on your business structure and figure out how to grow your HVAC business with new customers. Referrals are a key, but if you really want to grow your HVAC business, don’t just rely on word of mouth. Utilize direct mail and digital marketing strategies such as online ads and social media posts to advertise your business.
A marketing agency with industry expertise or an HVAC business management company can also help you figure out how to grow your HVAC business, providing a full marketing plan and implementing location-specific SEO web content.
Finally, involve yourself in the community. Participating in local events and fundraisers and joining your town’s Chamber of Commerce are great ways to build brand recognition.
Take The Leap
Starting an HVAC business and watching it grow can be incredibly rewarding. It’s not only a way to make money but a way to help your employees grow as HVAC industry professionals, serve homeowners and business owners in your community and have the freedom to do what you love.
As you take steps to start and grow your HVAC business, remember the path you’ve set for yourself. With a solid HVAC business plan, a quality team and name recognition within your target market, you’ll be well on your way to owning a successful HVAC business for many years to come.
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