Tiger Woods made his PGA debut in 1996. To say the young golfer got off to a strong start would be an understatement. Over the course of the year, Woods won 25% of the tournaments he entered. This was an unheard-of success rate for a young golfer. To put it in perspective, the PGA leader the previous year was Greg Norman, who had won 17% of tournaments entered.
Woods followed that up with another great year in 1997, where he had the most wins and highest win percentage in the PGA.
Let’s translate that to the HVAC industry. One might say the equivalent would be a recent trade school graduate who opens a contracting business, enters the market, and — over their first two years of business — has not only has the highest share of the market but is also leading the way in profitability.
Let’s say that was you back in the day. What would your next move be? I am guessing a great majority of people would subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. While you might certainly invest more by hiring additional workers and buying more trucks, I am pretty sure you would not change your marketing plan or general business practices.
Back to Tiger. The phenomenal golfer won “only” 5% of the tournaments he entered in 1998. What changed in that third year? Woods completely changed his swing. He saw room for growth and decided he might need to take a step back in order to take more than a few steps forward. In my opinion, this was an incredibly gutsy decision for an individual already at the top of his profession.
Tiger did take a step back but was soon again running at the head of the pack. After working out the new swing, the young golfer had quite the comeback. In 1999, Wood won 38% of the tournaments and even increased that to 45% in 2000.
HVAC contractors should be following this model. I just flew back from the ACCA Annual Conference in St. Louis. It was great to get back to talking with HVAC contractors in-person. And I must say, the general mood of the event was as close to giddy as the HVAC industry can get. Back-to-back years of great growth in the residential market will do that for a conference. Add in a bit of private equity dropping money into the industry at a rate of Charlie Sheen at an unmentioned Las Vegas establishment, and you soon realize why contractors are loving life so much.
And that is the point. The good times undoubtedly will not last forever. Some headwinds — like workforce development, slowly rising interest rates, and the natural replacement cycle of HVAC equipment — all come to mind. That is a long way of saying it might be time to tweak your golf swing.
Just because everything is working lately does not mean the same marketing and business practices will work when the market shifts. The logical question becomes how to change the swing.
A good start are the in-person events that are currently going on in the HVAC industry. In addition to the aforementioned ACCA conference, National Comfort Institute, Service Roundtable, and Service Titan are having or have recently had similar types of events. It is time to start going back to these events — even if it means having to put on a face mask in the airport.
But even more importantly, is make sure you implement the ideas that you learn at these events. Writing it down in a notebook never to put it into practice does you absolutely no good.
You do not need to implement each good idea you hear at the event … that is impossible. But each trip should provide 2-5 action items that can help you tweak your swing.
For example, the Tiger Woods analogy was something I picked up from Gerry O’Brion’s opening session at ACCA. The marketing guru provided us the information that I brought back from St. Louis. Also, just to keep you out of trouble, you might want to stop following the Tiger Woods plan when it comes to personal, family stuff. You will thank me later.
Good luck working on your swing.