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My Two Cents: Forget about the Sun, It’ll Be There in the Morning

Contractors Should Focus on Business Aspects They Can Control

July 1, 2013
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The lack of a warm spring and now the lack of warm weather in early June really made us go back and look at how we need to do things in the absence of Butch Welschfavorable weather. It’s very easy for an HVAC contractor to sit back and complain about how bad things are because the weather hasn’t turned hot yet. The fact is, extreme weather in either direction certainly increases our business. But a key for us as contractors is to not sit around and cry about the weather, because that’s something over which we have no control.

I’m going to take this opportunity to share something that I have learned in my 50 years in the business: Don’t spend time worrying about things over which you have no control. That’s right. Don’t waste time and energy worrying and fretting about things like the weather. I get frustrated by government rules and regulations, and the like, and don’t enjoy them anymore than you do, but on a day-to-day basis, I can’t control what they do, so I don’t waste time worrying about them.

Spend your time worrying about the things you can control.

Just a brief word about those 50 years I mentioned earlier. On June 15, I celebrated my 50th year of full-time HVAC work. I’m proud to say that I think that our industry has come a long way in those 50 years. I’m not proud to say that there are still a number of unethical contractors out there who appear to want to take us back to the furnace-man days of the 1950s. I would hope that each of you would have as a long-term goal, to leave the HVAC industry in a better position than it was when you entered.

Now, place your attention on things you can control: Your mix of business, your marketing efforts, your willingness to sell maintenance agreements, and your aggressiveness on each sales call are just a few examples. Taking care of these items will ensure that you will continue to have business — even when the weather doesn’t cooperate. We have looked at all of these areas because we have not had any favorable weather here in the St. Louis area in all of 2013. Thirteen inches of snow on March 23 and 56˚F weather on June 3 are just a couple of examples.

Maintenance Agreements Are a Must

I don’t believe there is anything we can do to help our business more than to sell maintenance agreements. This is not the first time you have heard me say this. Maintenance agreements give work to your people in the typically slow times of year, they provide cash-flow input, and they make the customer your customer. You become their HVAC contractor. If you aren’t pushing maintenance agreements on every a/c checkup you do, you are making a mistake. If you are interested in the forms we use to sell maintenance agreements, just send me an email.

A Shark’s Market

Are you marketing aggressively? If the weather is bad and things are slow, go back in your records to previous customers and send a mailing to encourage some action. This action could be a discounted maintenance agreement, service call, or installation. Just make it something that will get their attention and cause them to act now. Don’t be ashamed to tell them that business is slow — they know how the weather has been. Tell them that you are making terrific deals to keep your people busy. Remember that 1992-1996 were boom times in the HVAC industry and those units installed during those years are nearing 20 years old. For sake of age and efficiency, it’s time that those units are replaced. Make sure that you get an opportunity to be the one making the replacement.

This is the time to have your sales personnel, or whatever you call them, really dig down and use their sales ability. It doesn’t take near the effort to sell an a/c to someone whose unit has broken down and it’s 100˚ outside than it does to sell a unit to someone whose unit is still working and the outdoor temperature is only in the 60s. However, right now there are a lot of people out there with 20-year-old units who really should consider a replacement, given the savings you are offering due to the lousy weather. Be creative without being deceitful, and be truthful in your message.

Remember that you need to control your business and sitting around crying about the weather is not going to get the job done. No matter what size your business, you can take these steps to help you get through until the weather does change. In the meantime stop worrying and do something about it.

Publication date: 7/1/2013 

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