Frank Roosevelt said that a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. The year 2020 has tested those at the helm of commercial HVAC businesses, and we tip our hats to those captains who are being seasoned even now.
However, the fight is far from over. Mostly due to the pandemic, the future of many HVAC contractors has become unpredictable. Even as we expect recovery and growth in the next few years, prudent HVAC business management will be needed to navigate successfully and grow.
World situation notwithstanding, the most important factor that will ensure your survival as an HVAC contractor is your business management skills. As a business owner or manager, you are going to be the rudder, lighthouse, and anchor of your business. With that, let’s look at these 6 actionable tips on how to successfully manage your HVAC company and become an exceptional leader.
1. Overcome Inertia & Create a Growth Strategy
Inertia: a tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged. Whether in good or bad times, many contractors tend to stick to a familiar trajectory because it is easier and more comfortable to leave things as they are.
Even more saddening, many managers lack a realistic view of the current business reality. They don’t understand their market, competition, or operational bottlenecks as much as they assume they do. Most don’t even have strategic plans for the future.
The key to overcoming inertia is understanding what’s going on and developing an action plan for what you need to do to get where you need to be:
- Conduct market research — Understand your customer, their service journey, and identify ways you can improve your value to them. You can do that through market segmentation and customer profiling using data obtained from user feedback, email surveys, reviews, etc.
- Competitor research — Scope out your competitors’ efforts. For example, a simple analysis of competitor websites, using tools like SimilarWeb or Google Advanced Search Operators, will tell you what market they are targeting and thus reveal potential market gaps.
- Create a marketing strategy — When your business is not growing, it’s failing. Create a marketing strategy based on multiple marketing channels such as digital marketing, social media, referral marketing, and traditional media. And guess what? Someone has done part of the work for you. Use that competitor research to help amplify your own initiatives.
- Create a sales strategy – Identify your strengths, your most profitable customers, opportunities to grow your service agreements, even potential new markets you could service. Data should be the single source of truth when it comes to capitalizing on what you’re doing well and improving on what you’re not (more on that later).
2. Team Management
Talent will always be your biggest asset and driver. To maximize your returns from your employees, you will need to hone your team management skills.
The biggest area of focus right now would be hiring and retention. Good HVAC technicians are hard to find, so it’s a good idea to always be on the lookout for potentially great employees. Such a continuous talent acquisition strategy ensures that you don’t have to wait for your workload to spill over before you find new hires.
On the same note, work hard at retaining and satisfying current employees. Providing opportunities for personal and professional growth is a foolproof way of increasing satisfaction and engagement in your business.
You can also grow employee skills through continuous training and cross-training. Such programs help to improve employee value for your business and strengthen you against unexpected events such as resignations and sickness.
When it comes to field team performance and collaboration, field service management technology has given HVAC managers a powerful platform to streamline and maximize field success rates. With features like workflow management, smart dispatch, team coordination, and much more, field services become more efficient and enhance productivity, as well as customer satisfaction.
Most importantly, maintain communication with field teams. Engage your team effectively to create a sense of collaboration. When you can celebrate successes and collaborate to overcome challenges together, your business will be the biggest beneficiary.
3. Track Productivity & Performance Metrics
Data-based performance analysis and management forms a solid foundation for managers to base their decisions for the future. Being an exceptional manager means having full visibility of your business performance through accurate performance analysis.
Performance data starts its journey from effective reporting tools, meaning your operations need to be modernized.
You can start by deploying operational software designed uniquely for commercial HVAC contractors. Such software can handle everything from job costing, utilization reports, comprehensive billing, profit analysis and projections, and much more.
In addition to giving you real-time, data-based decision-making capacity, tracking performance data also helps draw trajectories for the future.
4. Get a Handle on Your Finances (Learn From the Pandemic)
Business financials are a headache all on their own, and for good reason. The surest indicator of business health is its bottom line, so prudent financial management has to be on the list of priorities.
Thankfully, the evolution of software tools has also simplified this critical business function. Here’s what your workflow could be:
- Through a technician mobile app, invoices are seamlessly created, drawing directly from the job data already collected. Some systems even allow you to customize exactly how much detail you want the customer to see.
- Customers receive their invoices immediately via email and can make payments right away, saving you many hours of payment follow-up.
- Financial reporting at the click of a button to help managers keep track of their cash flow and not let a single invoice fall through the cracks
HVAC managers should also take a critical look at operational costs and cut down on spending. For example, reviewing insurance deductibles and purchasing used equipment instead of new can save you precious cash, increase emergency reserves, and reduce debt. All you need to do is learn from the economic recession caused by the pandemic.
5. Effective Customer & Asset Management
The importance of asset management systems cannot be understated. When you have maintenance contracts with your clients, you must have an organized system that lets you digitize and automate data records on their equipment and thus plan PM schedules.
Such a system should allow efficient and detailed data collection on every asset you service or maintain. In this case, a mobile app with offline functionality and cloud sync, optical character recognition, and other advanced features will make asset management simple and stress-free.
Having these systems in place will help your team provide better personalized, and value-added services to each customer, building satisfaction and loyalty.
6. Learn & Improve Constantly
In addition to improving your business, don’t forget to keep improving and growing yourself, filling your proverbial cup so that you have more to give.
You can start by simply subscribing to relevant industry magazines and publications. Staying up to date on the latest trends, regulatory changes, industry insights, and more helps keep you ahead of the game. (Things like plumbing trends can be not only intriguing to you, but also valuable as talking points to pitch your clients.)
You can also take steps to hone useful skills such as contract bidding and negotiations. These can be learned online for cheap and applied in your business to earn big returns. We also highly recommend a training with Woody Woodall if you want to level up on customer service.
All-In-One Operational Software for Successful HVAC Management
It’s hard to escape the fact that modern software technology is essential to running a successful HVAC service business today. BuildOps is the ultimate software solution designed and purpose-built to meet your needs as a commercial contractor from one simple platform.
To better understand what BuildOps can do for your business, we invite you to schedule a free demo today and see the potential for yourself.