The United States HVAC industry is worth a staggering 16 billion dollars nationwide. Unless weather patterns suddenly change dramatically, we expect HVAC to continue growing seeing as how today, colds are getting colder and hots are getting hotter.
While there’s no doubt that there’s a tremendous amount of money to be made in the world of HVAC, many starting an HVAC business find themselves failing soon after getting going. Therein lies the purpose of this post.
Our team has set out to create a simple, topical guide on steps you can take to make sure that when you jump into the HVAC game, you do so successfully. If you’re curious to know not only how to start an HVAC business but how to do so successfully, keep reading!
1. Why HVAC?
There are a virtually unlimited amount of business opportunities out there. With that in mind, why is that starting an HVAC business speaks to you?
Does your area have particularly rough weather? Are you a trained HVAC technician?
Whatever your why is, know it and know it well as it’s what is going to power you through the various stages of adversity you’ll inventively run into as you get your company off the ground.
If you have no prior HVAC experience, understand that being successful with HVAC takes technical expertise. If you don’t have that, you’re going to have to rely on hired hands which, while not at all impossible, can put you at a disadvantage.
Our advice to people searching for their why is that they should either be educated in HVAC or passionate about HVAC (hopefully both) before going down this pathway. If you’re neither of those things and are purely money motivated, consider another line of business.
2. Franchise or Wholly Owned?
Another key question when mulling over opening up an HVAC business is whether or not you’ll fly a franchise flag.
For the uninitiated, working under a franchise means running a business that is already established. For example, when you see a Mcdonald’s, that Mcdonald’s belongs to a person like you, despite the brand being owned by a corporation.
Flying under a franchise allows you to gain instant recognition among consumers. It also allows you to gain access to equipment, online bookings, and several other key features at little to no cost. In exchange for that, you usually have to pay a franchise fee upfront and will need to pay a portion of your earnings back to your franchise to continue supporting its ability to market on your behalf.
Opting to not be part of an HVAC franchise allows you to keep 100% of your earnings but will take a lot more legwork to get up and running.
3. Understand Skills Required
We touched on this a little bit already, but starting an HVAC business takes skills.
For example, if you started your business today, a client called you tomorrow and asked you to diagnose their faulty unit, could you? If a client asked you for a recommendation on a replacement HVAC coil, would you be able to opine on it?
If you answered no to both of those questions, the team you surround yourself with will be extra important to your success. However, even with a team in place that can serve as your eyes and ears, you’ll be at a disadvantage managing them if you can’t speak their language.
All of that to say that knowledge is power in the world of HVAC. Be educated in your business before starting it or make it a point to get educated soon thereafter.
4. Write Business Plan
By now, you’ve answered several of the key questions about starting an HVAC business. If you still feel emboldened to get started, your next step will be to craft a business plan.
Business plans are integral to starting an HVAC business because they serve as a roadmap on how you’ll move forward building your company from this point and will also give you insight on how best to navigate trouble. Business plans are also integral when it comes to raising money (more on that in a moment).
Your business plan should be as detailed as possible. It should break down who your customer is, what you’re going to sell them, prices, expenses, marketing ideas, and anything else you can think of.
Remember, each aspect of your business that you take the time to figure out now is one less thing you’ll have to figure out in the heat of the moment when your business is running!
5. Identify Wholesalers
A big difference between you and your air conditioning business customers should be that you can get better prices on equipment. After all, you need to be able to resell things to some of your clients at a reasonable price while turning a profit.
Therein lies the value of identifying a quality wholesaler.
Wholesalers are usually manufacturers that sell directly to business owners like you. They do so at a discount over the price you’d find their products at in the public market (Home Depot, etc.).
Given the importance of wholesalers, take a moment to get a feel for the best HVAC brands. Then, reach out to those brand manufacturers to see what sorts of arrangements they’d be willing to make with you in the way of discounts on products.
6. Secure Funding
For those of you that are lucky enough to have a massive wad of cash laying under your bed, this step need not apply. If you’re like most of the world though and are wondering how you’re going to get your HVAC business off the ground, keep reading.
Raising money can be tricky for HVAC, just like it is for any business venture. To get seed cash, first, conclude how much start-up cash you’ll need to sustain your business while it seeks its first few customers. Then, look to friends/family, banks/credit unions, or crowdfunding websites to put together the funds you need to move forward with opening confidently.
7. Buy Equipment
With your money in place, it’s time to start shopping! Getting an HVAC business off the ground means having company transportation, proper HVAC maintenance tools, a supply of common parts/units so customers don’t have to wait on orders, and more.
Assess what equipment makes sense for you to have on hand and start placing orders. As you do, we recommend that you not buy anything you don’t absolutely need.
Having access to cash in the early stages of your business is integral to your ability to stay afloat!
8. Get Licensed/Insured
Nobody wants to or should want to buy from a person starting an HVAC business that is neither licensed nor insured. Furthermore, it may even be against the law in your community to move forward without proper licensure or an insurance policy.
With that in mind, head over to your city’s chamber of commerce to get your license figured out. After, hop online to shop commercial insurance policies so you’re covered when you or your technicians are working in a customer’s home.
9. Hire Your Team
Starting an HVAC business successfully is made so much easier when you’re surrounded by incredible people. Therein lies the importance of hiring a team and doing so carefully.
Most HVAC companies will need at least one tech they can call on, particularly if the HVAC company’s owner doesn’t know much about units.
If you’re going to be “teching” in your business, consider hiring a backroom person to manage appointments, customer service, and to implement HVAC sales tips on the commerce end of your company.
Believe it or not, good people are extraordinarily hard to find. If you come across someone that seems special, latch onto them!
10. Start Marketing
Congratulations on getting to this step! By now, you know just about everything there is to know about your business, have contacts, paperwork, and a team.
Now, all that’s left to do is to spread the word about what you’re doing.
To do this successfully, you could hire a marketing agency. If you’re on a budget, skip that and start getting savvy when it comes to posting on social media, buying ad-space on Google, and carrying out whatever other DIY tactics you can think of.
When You’re Committed, Starting an HVAC Business Can Be Easy
We always say that if you’re passionate about heating/cooling, starting an HVAC business is easy. Of course, that’s a little bit misleading given that even passionate people will find themselves running up against adversity.
Still, if you love what you do, that adversity will be circumvented and serve as a means to bolster your expertise.
We wish you luck starting an HVAC business and welcome you to take in more HVAC business tips on our blog!
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