When you begin a contracting business, you quickly realize the first item on the agenda is: How do I get in front of customers?
If you have no in-home appointments, there will be no sales opportunities, and no trips to the bank. When I started my business, I believed that creating and implementing a marketing strategy was the most important “first thing” I needed to do.
The problem is, there are lots of ways to spend money on marketing and advertising. My suggestion is to be careful how you choose to do it, and who you choose to help you, as there is no easier and faster way to waste money.
I won’t bore you with the details, but the bottom line is — your marketing must be ultra-focused and balanced. There are a lot of resources out there to help you determine your target market and overall strategy.
The next step I took was to come up with an easy, automated sales process. A poor sales process is almost worse than not getting into the home, because you are sacrificing those precious leads you spent so much time and money to get. Again, there are great resources on pricing and sales.
This area is probably the easiest to be successful in because sales is a science that has been studied and mastered. You get an added boost in the HVAC business, because what we are offering is a need and comes with the added benefit of urgency due to the weather.
You will get calls, which means you will obtain leads. I believe turning leads into sales only requires a good process that is based on a basic understanding of pricing, how to talk about benefits, and an efficient way to move to and through installation.
So, if you’re already good at marketing and sales, congratulations; you’re way ahead of the game and on your way to making your business successful and profitable. The next step is where the profit comes in as it requires some thinking, planning, and a clear understanding of how you can maximize your efficiency.
I decided that I wanted as much of an automated process as possible for everything we do more than once. So, I found and incorporated existing software — nothing custom — which is inexpensive and easy to use and incorporated it into my process.
Software makes it possible for us to be very efficient and keep overhead low with minimal staff. My company is fine-tuned to generate annual revenue of well over $200,000 annually per employee on payroll, including myself, and I still think we can drive that number up a little more.
If you don’t have a software-based process, you can probably handle installing two to three complete HVAC systems a week with a single crew without a lot of stress. Try to do more and things can get ugly quickly. As you know, there are lots of things that need to get done when performing an installation. Without a defined process, you will spend time taking extra trips to get installation materials, running callbacks, and other unprofitable tasks.
If you do have a solid process for all the stuff needed for installations, you can easily handle five systems in the same amount of time, still with a single crew and no more stress.
AUTOMATION IS THE KEY
Once a client decides to buy, we find there are eight (8) general steps required:
1. Options for the install — We propose different options for systems and enhancements, as you should. Once the customer picks one, our software connects to a service that automates the other seven tasks.
2. An email titled “Job #xxxx is sold, please review” comes to me, I forward it to a distributor who inputs it into their system, and they have the right equipment either waiting in will call or shipped to our warehouse if we have enough lead time.
3. A checklist is created for review with all the job requirements listed so we can be sure to do 100 percent of what’s required, every time.
4. The specifics go to the installation team, so they’re ready for the job.
5. If the customers signs while we’re there, great. If not, we send a sign-here document and request a digital signature.
6. Any rebates go to our accounting department, which handles the application. An invoice is generated and commission is calculated —the salesperson also gets a copy.
7. Software prepares warranty registration.
8. The installation is completed — a closing form ensures we did it all right — and the type of work done is recorded. The customer is added into the appropriate lists for email and direct mail follow-up lists, a thank you card is sent, and a call is placed.
Our processes are simple because they’re automated. We can easily handle five, 10, or even more installations with minimal problems.
Publication date: 2/13/2017