How HVAC Contractors Can Deal With the Upcoming Summer
How to prepare for the upcoming busy season, wherever you are located
As the summer begins to turn into full gear, meteorologists are looking ahead to the coming months and predicting what the summer will bring. Here’s a breakdown of what each region can expect, as well as advice regarding how contractors in those regions can cope with the demand changes brought about by the weather and the COVID-19 pandemic.
AccuWeather predicts that the Southeast will experience heavy rainfall and large amounts of tropical weather. This will be due in part to a prediction for between seven to nine hurricanes, with two to four of them expected to become major storms. Parts of central and southern Florida (currently suffering from a drought) may find rainless conditions relieved from the activity.
The Southeast, apart from hurricanes, is still expected to undergo muggy weather characterized by thunderstorms, according to AccuWeather’s website.
According to Weather.com, a warmer summer is expected for the Northwest, with especially high temperatures to be experienced in eastern Oregon and eastern Washington. In addition to this, areas like California and Arizona and the rest of the Southwest can expect a hot summer, but not one that is exceptionally warmer than usual. AccuWeather reports that the area will experience dry weather earlier in the summer, but monsoon moisture will alleviate this dryness later on in the season.
Weather.com reports that the Northeast can expect warmer temperatures than normal. AccuWeather also predicts warmer weather, and adds that the summer will bring both frequent thunderstorms, as well as the potential for scorching heat weaves as the summer advances into July and August.
The Midwest and Central United States
AccuWeather predicts that the Midwest will see lower temperatures than usual, lower humidity, and a lower degree of severe weather. The central and southern plain states can also expect lower humidity and temperatures that are cooler than normal. Weather.com, however, predicts that the Midwest will see temperatures close to average, and potentially slightly warmer.
Summer Strategy for HVAC Contractors
Wes Davis, director of technical services at ACCA, said that the hotter weather that many areas of the U.S. will see will likely drive a lot of business as systems struggle to keep customers comfortable.
He said that due to the COVID-19 crisis, small business owners who have suffered revenue loss may be less likely to invest money into their HVAC systems.
“If your client base is light commercial, it's highly possible that they may feel the strain,” he said. “The strategy there would be to have your financing packages wrapped up good, so you can quickly get customers financed for a replacement system if necessary.”
He also noted that some customers greatly benefited from the government’s stimulus checks, as well as extra coverage in workers’ compensation. He said that there will be a good amount of customers who will come out of the lockdown in reasonable shape due to these influxes of money.
He advised contractors to be careful about the amount of work that they accept, especially as to how it relates to the workload of their staff, ensuring that employees do not suffer from heat-related injuries.
“A lot of the country had a fairly mild winter and we are hungry for business,” Davis said. “And when it comes to the summer cooling season that is set before us, we want to dig in with both hands.”
That thirst for business, he said, is why it is important to only take on so much business as a contractor can handle while still giving the customer a positive experience. Contractors want to ensure every customer gets a good experience — and that can be more difficult when a customer with broken equipment calls the office and an employee has to tell them that your business is unable to take on any new customers at the time. Davis said top quality communication and customer service is a necessity in this time.
“You’re paying a lot of overtime during the season, and that’s perfectly fine, as long as you’re taking care of employees,” Davis said. “Remember they are a finite resource. Keep an eye on quality. Make sure that you’re delivering good service.”
Diversification in a Contracting Company
Similarly, James Leichter, EGIA University founding faculty member, believes that contractors can look forward to a strong summer.
“I talk to contractors almost every day, big and small, all over the United States and Canada,” he said. “Many of these contractors have reported record sales, performing a record number of service agreements and service calls. We're thinking that this will continue into the summer.”
He explained that the biggest unknown is whether COVID-19 will have a resurgence that will affect the economy a second time. The new construction market took a hit as states closed down, he said, but people shifting to work-from-home models led to the creation of a lot of service calls that contractors would otherwise not have had.
“The key for contractors is to always be thinking about diversification,” Leichter said. He often asks contractors to print out a summary of their revenue, and examine the peaks and valleys of when profit is highest and lowest, with the goal of shaving off the peaks and filling in the valleys.
“We typically do that through a really good service agreement program where we are replacing parts that would have failed on our schedule, as opposed to Mother Nature’s schedule,” he said. “In addition to this, diversification can take the form of new streams of revenue, such as indoor air quality (which is on top of everybody’s mind now), or even plumbing and electrical work.
“It’s really important that we don't diversify into something that we're not good at, that we're not interested in, that we can't thrive in,” he continued. “And if you are successful, you have to remember that it has to be scalable. So it's important that you can hire and train people to do that type of work.”