As the busy, hot summer season is beginning to draw to a close, HVAC contractors have a few moments to catch their collective breath. Of course, while those contractors will enjoy the short break, they certainly are hoping for this to be a quick shoulder season.

This is assuming contractors have prepared to weather the downturn. If not, last week’s issue of The NEWS had an article on ways to withstand the slow time (to read more, visit

This is also a good time to take a look at your overall business. This would include where you are in the market, how you are being viewed — or reviewed — by your customers, and the way the bottom line looks. When doing this, contractors would be wise to keep in mind the saying, “good is the enemy of great.”

Jim Collins wrote an entire book on this concept. The idea is that when we have good schools, good businesses, etc., people tend to accept that level of quality. “Few people can attain great lives, in large part because it is so easy to settle for a good life,” he wrote.

Have you settled for a good business instead of striving for a great one? This phrase came to mind when writing this week’s cover story about a leadership change at ACCA. In my 15 years in the HVAC industry, ACCA has been a great resource and an impressive association. Obviously, this is only anecdotal evidence, but in addition to a few other organizations, I have found ACCA contractors to be some of the most educated in the industry. In addition, their events tend to be well received and attended.

You could say that they are a good organization. But that was not enough for the ACCA leadership. They identified a talented person doing great work in their organization — Barton James — and promoted him to president and CEO. They could have just as easily maintained the status quo and remained a solid organization.

Is there anyone in your company that should be taking on more of a leadership role? Don’t fall into the trap of assuming the most experienced person on your staff should automatically get the promotion. While that might make the easiest transition, it might not be the best long-term answer.

When talking to ACCA Board of Directors Chairman Steve Schmidt, he was quick to point out that ACCA’s goal is to be the premier contractor association in the country. They have done a lot of research about what it would take to achieve such a lofty status. ACCA is in a tough business. It is tough to keep the association membership numbers up. Contractors are often short on time and have a lot of different places to get information. Younger generations are not as inclined to join associations. ACCA needs to provide extreme value to break through the noise. Does that task sound familiar to our contractor readers?

It seems that contractors might be having similar problems. They are trying to prove their value to customers to justify whatever prices they are charging. They are — hopefully — attempting to tweak the way they do business due to a younger generation of consumers entering the market. These individuals need to be marketed and sold to in a different manner.

Take a page out of ACCA’s playbook. Study and research your company. See what changes need to be made. Make the tough choices to enhance your place in the market.

In other words, don’t try to have a good HVAC company. Make sure it is great.

Publication date: 9/24/2018

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