Are you, as an HVACR contractor, making a conscious effort to consistently reinvent your business? Don’t be deterred by the trouble Mitt Romney is having consistently reinventing himself; it works better for a business than a presidential candidate. Trust me.

This topic occurred to me while I was at the Paris Las Vegas hotel attending the annual Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Conference and Indoor Air Expo. During the opening session, both outgoing ACCA chairman Joe Nichter and ACCA president and CEO Paul Stalknecht talked about the new mission statement and vision of ACCA. Do you know what words were not included? Words that were not mentioned included: air conditioning, heating, furnace, refrigeration, cooling, or zoning. Words that were used during their talks included: indoor environment, energy professionals, and home performance.

Here is a major industry association thinking outside the box and making sure they are changing with the times. The members of ACCA seemed very receptive, and I heard a lot of talk about topics like home performance during the four-day show. ACCA wanted to show that its members do more than just air conditioning, and I think they are accomplishing that goal.

How About You?

Now, if an industry association representing more than 4,000 businesses in the HVACR community can continue to reinvent itself, there is no excuse for the HVACR contractor not to do so also. I know it is tough because it means taking a step back from the daily grind to do some real long-term thinking. It is tough in any industry because you are so busy putting out the most recent fire that you have blinders on to a certain extent. That must be what they are talking about when I hear at least once at every industry event that you need to be working on your business instead of in your business.

Note that I am not talking about a complete business overhaul. We are not promoting getting out of the heating and cooling business and deciding to turn your building into a doughnut shop. However, if you do, give us a call because I would travel out to do a feature story on that.

No, instead we are talking about adding a few items to that already long list of products you are willing to sell your customers. As ACCA recommended, does your business need to make more of a conscious effort to sell IAQ products? A recent study by BBC Research projects the total IAQ market will reach 10 billion by 2013 with professionally installed products only accounting for 10 percent of that total. Does your business want a piece of that action?

How about generators? United Supply in New Jersey got into the generator business after their area had a hurricane, earthquake, and a snowstorm before last Halloween. They found that there were a lot of people who felt they needed a generator at their house and saw this as a really good place for an HVAC contractor to get some additional sales. That decision has paid off for United Supply.

Perhaps Just a Tweak

However, it does not have to be something as large as getting into a new segment of the industry. It could be something as simple as making a bigger push for maintenance agreements. It could be finally making a massive cannonball dive into the social media pool. It could be getting into videos by purchasing a reasonably priced video camera at Best Buy and setting up a YouTube page.

It is a popular saying in the National Football League that if you are not getting better, you are getting worse. The same can be said of the HVAC industry. Just because you have decided to keep with the status quo does not mean your competition is going to do the same. In this economy, a little extra push can go a long way.

So carve out some time to do some long-range planning on your business. Get your top employees involved in the brainstorming session. There might be some growing pains, but in the end it will be worth it.

Publication date: 03/26/2012