HVAC contractors are starting to do more than just HVAC these days. It only makes good business sense to have your company expand into different areas of expertise. Plumbing, electrical, and weatherization seem to be the most popular choices. With market research and a well-thought-out business plan, those additions can certainly bring an HVAC contractor more revenue while spiking profitability.
A business expansion is flying under the radar that could be a moneymaker for most contractors. I am talking about the smart home market. Notice how I did not say “smart thermostat” but rather “smart home.” There is so much more for an HVAC contractor to handle than just the thermostat on the wall.
Now, I can sense the pushback already. Many in the field do not want any part of a plan to take a dive into the smart home market. I can understand their trepidation. From the outside looking in, it can appear to be a daunting task. HVAC contractors have a vision of being an IT person for their customers and certainly do not want any part of that. When contractors get a call saying the furnace that was installed six months ago is not working, they feel confident they can show up at the house and identify the problem. They are less confident when you start getting into smart thermostats, video doorbells, and security cameras.
It is a fear of the unknown, and we all have it.
There is money to be made in this segment of the market, and HVAC contractors do not need to do everything at once. Contractors have to start somewhere when getting into the smart home market, and that somewhere might just be video doorbells. According to a Strategy Analytics report, 7.9 million video doorbells were sold globally in 2020 — with the most sold in the United States. This trend looks to continue.
We have a product that a lot of people want, a product a lot of people do not feel comfortable installing, and a product homeowners are not sure who to call about. HVAC contractors can fill that void. And in doing so, they become the smart home go-to person for their customers.
It is a good point of entry for HVAC contractors. An easy product to install with a solid demand.
But this does not happen without marketing to your customer base. They have to know that you do this kind of work. Contractors have HVAC, plumbing, and electrical written on the side of their truck — why not “smart home contractor”? At the very least, it will grab the attention of the market as the trucks drive the streets.
I talked about this on the NEWSmakers podcast with guest Gene LaNois. LaNois is the head of professional industry partnerships with Google. Now obviously, Gene might be a little biased, but he is also a former HVAC contractor who knows how difficult the HVAC business can be for a contractor and how important add-on revenue can be for a company.
“Just take a look at what the technology can do and what it can bring. Think about how you can start to use that in your business,” LaNois said. “There is no seasonality to it besides Christmas and the fact that people love smart home gifts. This is literally the fastest growing trade opportunity that I personally know about. And all of it is in perfect reach of HVAC contractors.”
That is an important point. The smart home business can help contractors get through the shoulder seasons.
I am not naïve enough to dismiss that there are some Nest haters out there. Again, I get it. They came to market like a bull in a china shop 10 years ago and certainly turned some professionals off by making such a big push towards the consumer market and making sure everyone knew the exact price of a Nest thermostat. However, those contractors also must begrudgingly admit that the push Nest made to consumers also raised the awareness of HVAC to the masses. And Nest has since implemented a Pro Series.
Either way, do not have that memory be the reason you don’t invest in something that has a good chance of putting extra money in your pocket. It is certainly worth a look.