Due to this COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. economy is going to be entering some choppy waters. HVAC contractors are certainly better off than many other industries. The cover story in this week’s issue explains the theory that it will be a really big year for the residential replacement market.
But don’t fool yourself — when the country goes into a recession, nearly every industry feels it. And while many are saying this should be a shorter recession than 2008, HVAC will be no exception. New construction will certainly take a hit. But that does not necessarily mean every HVAC business needs to feel it.
What can a contractor do to make sure they make it through the recession stronger than ever? Well, in addition to keeping the balance sheets looking good in the short term, business owners should not stop playing the long game.
That means not shying away from investing in the future of your company. As all contractors know, that includes marketing and advertising. As the saying goes, “When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.”
There is an old study from McGraw-Hill that reinforces this thinking. It studied 600 companies from 1980-1985. For those of you with snow on the roof, you might remember there was a fairly significant recession in 1981-82. For those companies that either eliminated or decreased their advertising investment, they lost ground to their competitors. In fact, those businesses that were aggressive advertisers during the recession saw a 256 percent sales increase when compared to those that had stopped or decreased advertising.
Anecdotally, I have talked with more than a few contractors that navigated the Great Recession about a decade ago and attributed at least part of their success to the fact that they ratcheted up their marketing programs.
When you think about it, these results make complete sense. Undoubtedly, a lot of your competitors either do not believe this thought process or their business is not in a place where they can continue to strongly market while the incoming money might be slowing down. This creates less noise in the market and lets your company’s voice be heard. This helps in both the short and long term. It can get you into people’s homes immediately and also help you increase market share.
Since this is not a normal recession — being brought on by a health pandemic — it makes advertising now even more important. Marketing in these times gives your customers more confidence in your business today and tomorrow. Customers are already nervous to let people into their homes, so it is imperative that you make them as comfortable as you can in your business.
Some of this can be done by social media or eblasts, but don’t forget about the places that your local community trusts. Hearing or seeing you on the local radio channel, television station, or newspaper can go a long way. Cash in on the trust your customers have in those communication vehicles. While you probably don’t want to play up the COVID angle too much, free press might be able to be found by sharing some of the different products you offer that can make the home healthier.
Along these same lines, I would like to introduce you to a new feature we are starting at The ACHR NEWS. We want to see your television commercials! Send us a link to the most innovative, funny, and effective video advertising you have done in the recent past. We will highlight those in our monthly Business Management e-newsletter that is sent free to our subscribers.
Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to see them.