The HVAC faithful aren’t really a negative lot of people, wishing severe weather on all of Earth’s inhabitants; but it is true that the worst weather can bring out the best in us.
Every business has its unique dichotomies that are entwined with success. I worked for a while in a liquor store, and learned the calming mantra of all liquor store owners: People drink when they are happy and they drink when they are sad - business is always good. An attorney once told me that everybody is mad at everybody - business is great. And, no matter how long science may keep us alive, people are always dying - the funeral parlor business is good.
Naturally, there are similarities in the HVAC business. Whether you are a member of a residential installation and service company, a manufacturing company, or a commercial mechanical company, adverse weather usually does make for some black ink on the monthly P&L statements.
BRING ON THE RINGY-DINGYIt is said that nearly 80 percent of the world wouldn’t know how to start a conversation if it were not for the weather. There are probably a good number of HVAC contractors that equally rely on the weather to spark their businesses, though I don’t suppose it is nearly as high as the number of shy and tongue-tied people.
Some contractors may sit around and wait for the phone to ring, and some may be so busy they can’t keep up with the new calls. If the weather is driving your business through wild and uncontrollable peaks and valleys, then the feast or famine swings of this business are your everyday reality. However, if you are like a growing number of contractors who seek out service business customers, you are actually shaving peak loads much like a utility might attempt to do.
If you work on a system in the mild shoulder season, that customer may not be calling with an emergency breakdown in the heat of mid-July. The good news is that this load-leveling approach actually enables you to take on the emergency no-cooling calls of potential new customers, whom you can later convert to service agreement customers. Good strategic planning leads to growth. Growth begets growth.
If you happen to be in a company that is already at the optimum stage of development and you don’t wish to grow the business, wouldn’t it still be better to be able to answer those phone calls in the heat of summer?
After all, a potential customer is calling you for one of three reasons:
1. They heard you were good (in which case you should answer the phone to at least let them hear a friendly voice);
2. They heard you were cheap (in which case you are better off not answering the phone); or
3. They don’t know whether you are good or cheap (in which case they have been letting their fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages®. Answer at your own risk.)
SERVICE AGREEMENT CHALLENGESome folks say that service agreements are not all they are cracked up to be. If someone can send me a good argument for why service agreements are a bad idea, I’ll print it. However, I’m not accepting some lame excuse that service agreements do nothing to make a system run better. Too much has already been documented about the benefits. Why do you change your truck’s oil?
If you’ve got something good, let me know.
Publication date: 06/18/2007