HVAC Growth Ideas

HVAC Marketing Ideas and Small Business Growth Ideas

HVAC Marketing Ideas and Small Business Growth Ideas

Do you manage a small- to medium- sized HVAC installation and repair business? Do you own a family business that has been operating for years, but is needing to increase sales? If you are searching for HVAC marketing ideas and wondering how to grow your HVAC business and drive profitability, you have probably been searching for innovative approaches that optimize your company’s performance and increase workplace efficiency to drive your business’s bottom line.

Although we are nearing the beginning of seasonal downtime in the HVAC industry, here are six HVAC marketing ideas and strategies that you should consider implementing in order to take your business to the next level. Fostering personal relationships
Larger companies in your product or service market are usually unable to focus on the personal touch element to the same extent as small businesses. Due to these large-scale companies’ numerous employees, technicians, accounts, data, and transactional work, sometimes customers get lost in the mix, creating an impersonal experience among the clients, technicians, and office personnel. These bigger HVAC companies tend to widen appointment windows, or have billing issues because they are handling and managing mass amounts of data.

This is where customer service comes into play when trying to grow your smaller HVAC business. If your business is consistently delivering an efficient, client-oriented experience that makes it easy for the customer to understand not only the services being performed, but the reasoning behind the material and labor prices on his or her bill, you are gaining an advantage over large HVAC companies.

Smaller companies’ HVAC marketing ideas should place a special emphasis on obtaining clients within the community, setting the stage for relationship building among your business and these new or prospective customers. How many times have you seen social media used to recommend services and gather opinions about who to hire to complete certain jobs within a designated mile radius? Your friends post on Facebook about their AC being broken and ask something to the effect of, “Does anyone know a good repair guy?” Remember, that the majority of local business traffic comes in the form of current customer referrals, and the key to gathering these referrals is consistent, quality customer experiences.

Learn more about maximizing—and measuring—that personal touch from a managerial perspective here.

Competitive pricing

It’s hard to avoid discussing cost issues when it comes to maximizing your small HVAC business’s growth. Potential customers—and even current clients—often make decisions on which company to hire based on the price of services or products that are offered. In other words: people are always searching for a bargain, or at least the lowest price among similar goods and services.

The best HVAC marketing idea is to implement competitive pricing. You certainly do not want to undercut the market in your area to the point where your business cannot turn a profit; however, you should reasonably price your company’s field services according to the area in which you operate. Fair and transparent pricing attracts many potential customers, and is the catalyst for successful business relationships.

Ideally, your business should integrate some form of FSM software in order to track costs and pricing, making setting your company’s prices simpler and more effective. There are countless moving parts in an industry such as HVAC repair and installation, and it is imperative that your company accounts for each element that goes into making a successful business—specifically, using FSM software to ease the burden of tracking components that affect the your business’s bottom line.

Diverse product knowledge

Having an in-depth knowledge of your market sector is crucial for success as a small HVAC business. The mid-size and larger HVAC service market generally sells customers on brand-name, mid-quality equipment. However, if your smaller company can offer better, longer-lasting solutions at reasonable prices, you can easily gain new clients.

The key is knowing your market and the customers in that market by analyzing existing client information, and researching industry-specific data such as pricing and sales trends. After gaining more insight into your company’s particular market sector, you should have an idea of what to pitch to your potential and existing customers for the best business results.

For example, some people do not value or even place stock in brand-name products and services, while others are loyal brand-name consumers. The same theory of diverse customer opinions and buying styles is consistent across other platforms like cost, quality, warranty, duration, etc. Your goal: expand your product knowledge to better serve your customers in order to drive sales and gain new business.

Customer outreach and employee representation

Larger field service industry companies tend to budget and spend more capital on marketing campaigns for their products and services—sometimes up to 20% of their yearly revenue! Marketing tactics to grow your smaller HVAC business does not need to be this complicated or costly.

There are numerous avenues with which your business can reach people, including:

  • Having an email database to send customers and prospective clients helpful updates about heating and cooling systems.
  • Setting up automation prompts to send promotional emails to people on their birthdays.
  • Actively monitoring your Yelp page along with other service ratings sites.
  • Creating and implementing Google AdWords for “[name of city] heating and cooling” to draw in local business.
  • Be yourself, and DO NOT break the bank. (We know some agencies that help HVAC companies thrive, if you would like a referral.)

When growing your small HVAC business, much of your HVAC marketing ideascare geared toward improving local perception. Every time a service representative goes into the field, they are going to be marketing your small business through his or her worksite efficiency, knowledgeability, and attitude. Make sure that your technicians realize that they are representatives for your small business’s brand.

Participate locally

Get involved in your business’s community! Create a Make-A-Wish group, or sponsor a local little league softball team. The best HVAC marketing idea and strategy is to get your business’s name out there.

We know a plumbing company (not HVAC, but with a similar business model) who sponsored a little league team in Texas, and ended up getting every set of parents as a customer—as well as many of their friends. By simply providing uniforms and equipment, this business gained 30+ new customers. That’s a huge return-on-investment, and a great example of how to grow your HVAC business.

HVAC eBook


Field Service Growth

Does Your Field Service Business Have Growth or Is it Just the Weather?

Does Your Field Service Business Have Growth or Is it Just the Weather?

Because some field service industries — especially HVAC — tend to be seasonal in nature (or at least have more business in summer and winter), there’s sometimes a financial confusion that takes place. Managers assume growth (perhaps from an increased effort in marketing a field service business) when, in fact, it wasn’t growth — it was a seasonal abnormality that led to higher-than-expected revenues.

Managers at all types of seasonal businesses have been trying to solve this problem for years. Can it be solved? Yes. (Within reason.) Here’s the approach — with some photos to boot!

Step 1: Using data

This always seems to be Step 1 in any 2017 business process, right? Here’s what you need to do here. If you don’t have this data specifically on hand, well, that’s even more reason to have a integrated field service management (FSM) software program. What you’ll need is:

Annual sales data for the past 3-5+ years (5+ years is preferable)
Monthly sales data for the same period you choose to do annually

How you get this will be based on how you track sales and customer information. If you use FSM software, it’s all right at your fingertips and can be pulled up in under two minutes. From there, just copy and paste it into excel. Get your data to look something like this:

It’s not important to break month and year apart. That’s up to you. We like to break it out to filter by year and create different graphs when necessary. It’s always handy to have each individual piece of data in a column of its own.

Right now, if you were to graph the sales data it would look like this:

You can see sales go up and down based on the month. Obviously, this makes it hard to know if you’re actually doing well one month or if it’s just a month you always have high sales in.

Step 2: Calculate the centered moving average

If you’re working within Excel or another spreadsheet program, you’ll want to go six months into your sales data and type this:

=average(average(select first year of monthly sales),average(select first year of monthly sales starting with second month))

Drag that formula all the way down to six months before the end of the data.

Here’s what it should look like:

What’s happening here? What is a centered moving average? See, many data series — especially field service sales — have an upward trend. You need to find a centered moving average to understand where your data really falls; otherwise November/December totals will almost always be higher than January/February totals just because of routine growth. Why does it stop 6 months from the present date? Because it’s the middle average. Or, the number it is producing is always in the middle of the data.

Step 3: Division

Here you’re going to find the ratio of your monthly sales compared to the average sales of the moving average of the year. Take monthly sales and divide that by the centered moving average calculated above. See here:

Step 4: More Division

Now that we have the ratio of what each month was in comparison to the year, we need to average each individual month to the same month of the other years. Average together each Ratio for “July” with the other Ratios of “July”. Drag the formula through one year, but make sure it isn’t trying to average data you don’t have at the bottom of the spreadsheet. In our example, we had to remove the last value for “June” because we didn’t have that data. Once these numbers are calculated though, you no longer need the formula. Copy just the numbers all the way down your spreadsheet (all the way to the current month). These numbers will keep on repeating because they represent an average of the amount of your sales in a year that come from a specific month.

See here:

Step 5: A Little More Division

The last step is simple. Take your monthly sales and divide that by the Average Monthly Ratio.

That results in data without seasonality. Since we calculated the average percentage of annual sales based on month, we can use these numbers to figure out our seasonality all the way to present date. Keep in mind, the more data you have the more accurate this will be.

See here:

Graphing

Lay all this data out in graphs and see what other trends arise. See the graph below compared to before:

What does this graph mean? The sales line represents what sales actually were for that month, while the deseasonalized line shows what your sales were without the “seasonal” trends. What the data really shows us are the longer term trends. In our example, the company appears to have had a rough couple years, but then has been growing pretty steadily since then. Without the Deseasonalized data, you may look at the data from March 2015 to December 2015 and think the company was going downhill again, but if you look at it with the seasonal trends considered, the company stays relatively consistent in sales throughout that period. Of course, if we had even more data we may be able to reveal a cyclic trend.

Caveat

We made the above relatively simple, but if you haven’t worked with centered moving average or Excel before, the first time may be a little bit challenging. No worries. You will get it.

The overall idea here is to figure out whether your company is growing, or whether seasonal effects are the reason for revenue shifts. Just because sales in December are up from November doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having a good month. In fact, you may be down in comparison to your average sales for December. In short? You want good, clean data as opposed to “data that proves your point.” This isn’t just for fun (probably wasn’t fun at all, to be honest), but it can give you a real look at whether your company is growing, or whether your company is shrinking. Managing cash flow for field service can be difficult if you don’t consider the seasonality ups and downs of your business.

If you’re looking at your numbers and seeing the kind of seasonality that our example portrayed, you’re probably thinking about how despite your sales going up and down, your employee costs stay the same. What do you do with your techs when they have seasonal downtime? We wrote an eBook that covers that topic, and other topics regarding productivity, here. Of course, within the eBook we discuss our field service software solutions. Check it out, and let us know if you have any questions below in the comments (or send us an e-mail here).

30 Days eBook


Prepare 2017

Prepare for 2017 in Field Service

Prepare for 2017 in Field Service

At the end of 2015, MIT’s Sloan School of Management did some research on organizational priorities. The research covers 11,000 senior executives at 400+ companies, including many service businesses. One of the most astounding facts was that 67 percent — 2 in 3! — of the senior managers could not name one or more of the company’s main priorities. Microsoft has done research, presented in an article called “The Paradox of Workplace Productivity,” that shows similar lack of priority in many different types of companies.

So, the first thing you need to be doing for 2017 is determining what exactly your goals and priorities are. For most service businesses, it looks like this:

Retain existing clients and service-level agreements
Grow new clients through referrals and other means
Keep costs down
Drive revenues up

Those are four basic areas that many service businesses define as goals. The individual items will vary based on what specific type of field service you provide — but regardless of whether you’re an electrician or have an HVAC company, you need to be growing and keeping costs down. Those are universal goals for FSO business.

But it goes beyond that. For example, how much are you thinking about business metrics?

Business metrics are KPIs that actually show how your business is growing (or stalling). They are elements that you track that really help explain your business. An example might be revenue per technician, or invoiced jobs vs. completed jobs.

Now, the specific KPIs you track will be relative to your business model, but some solid field service examples include:

First-time fix rate
Extra quotes or orders by technician
Percentage of billable hours
Number of work requests
Number of overtime hours
Customer retention

If you’re struggling to measure KPI’s, that’s another issue. You may need fsm integration with field service software.

There’s also the issue of connected devices. There should be 80 billion connected devices in the world by 2025, if not sooner. Connected devices will radically change field service because now the devices themselves can send performance data to an FSO. Instead of the client calling you and saying, “This machine is broken,” you’ll already know. The shift will be toward predictive or preventative maintenance, which right now only happens in down-seasons.

In short: Field service is changing rapidly. You need a guide to some 2017 considerations, and that’s what we’ve put together for you. You can download it now. As always, feel free to ask any questions.

Prepare for 2017


FSM Small Business

4 Ways SMBs Should Plan for Growth

4 Ways SMBs Should Plan for Growth

Some small business owners are totally content with staying small. But for many small business owners, the dream is growth. You may want to run an enterprise someday, but you’ll probably need to generate more revenue — and maybe even the interest to be purchased by an enterprise.

So, if you’re a small field service operation, how do you plan for growth? What do you need to be thinking about in order to bring these lofty dreams come to life?

Here are four ideas.

Get your priorities in order

Earlier in 2016, MIT’s Sloan School of Management found that 2/3 of senior managers couldn’t name the priorities of their organization. This study was conducted across 4,000+ companies globally, including hundreds of industries. Oftentimes, these senior managers reported to the CEO, and though the CEO set the priorities, the senior managers still couldn’t name them. This isn’t good. While some companies have a great product or service and can grow despite poor management (there are dozens of examples in the modern business world), most companies need to have some sense of priority alignment in order to achieve scalability and growth. One key aspect of getting your priorities in order is understanding where ‘strategy’ (the big picture) and ‘execution’ (what people do every day) intersect. If you decide to implement a strategy designed around growth but your back-office staff is doing logistical tasks every day, you won’t actually achieve the growth. A growth strategy needs to prioritize relationship-building, partnerships, and customer experience — not filling in spreadsheets. Before you can do anything else, you need to be clear on your priorities.

Get your processes in order

Once you’ve set your priorities and goals, you need to come up with processes. Now, one thing we’ve seen in working with smaller field service companies is that they often define too much process. That hurts productivity. You need specific processes that work to move your business forward, not the need for lots of documentation and paperwork that keeps people busy with unnecessary tasks. One major key on the process side in field service is using some type of FSM software or tool. This allows you to digitally integrate different parts of your business (dispatch, scheduling, inventory, technicians, etc.), and usually frees up time to focus on the most important aspects of business development where and when you can. We work with FSM software, yes, but we’re also users ourselves. It saves time and increases revenue. Isn’t that the point for any small business?

Get your market in order

Some small field service shops start out with a broad focus, only to look at invoices over a 12-month period and realize they’re only servicing HVAC. Once they realize that, they focus their marketing and sales on HVAC and companies who need that type of service — and that’s where the growth happens. Market segmentation is a super-powerful tool for small business growth, because it allows for that alignment of priority and process we discussed above. Rather than being mediocre at performing 12 different service requests, be amazing at 1-2 service requests — and you’ll capture a good bulk of that business.

Get your customer experience in order

Customer experience is everything in the modern business world, and it means even more in service-oriented professions like ours. Good customer experience means referrals and retained business, and those are the cornerstones of growth. You can have amazing marketing campaigns and a great website, but people are people — they still value information received from those they trust. That’s the core of referrals, and that’s how many small businesses in field service become ‘the big dogs.’ You can’t get referrals without remarkable customer service, a experience so optimized that all your customers finish with you and think “That was awesome.” If customers finish with you and think “Ugh, that was dreadful,” well, there’s probably not a lot of growth in your future.

What other strategies would you add? And please, bear in mind that many articles about small business growth will promote acquiring another company, but we tried to write this from the perspective of a company that isn’t quite at that stage just yet.

Revenue Generator


Small Business Growth

3 Ways Small Businesses Handle Growing Pains with FSM

3 Ways Small Businesses Handle Growing Pains with FSM

It’s a mostly well-known fact that about half of small businesses fail within the first five years. (In some industries, like restaurants, that number is significantly higher.) Small businesses encounter any number of growing pains, from ‘ineffective ability to scale’ to ‘maintaining their company culture from two employees to twenty.’

Field service is no different. At Optsy, we work with hundreds of small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) in the industry, and as a result, we see hundreds of different challenges. They vary by what specific service line you work on, and what your area of focus is (plumbing, HVAC, IT, etc.) But amazingly, you can solve a good deal of field service SMB growing pains with field service management tools and software. Here are three key areas you can improve upon with Field Service Management software.

Integration of core operations
Typically, this refers to:

Scheduling
Dispatch
Inventory
Billing/Invoicing

… although it can incorporate other practices as well, depending upon your business model.

The concept here is tied to customer journey. If a customer or client has a field service need, you want this person to go onto your website or app (or call you) and be able to schedule the appointment at a good time for him or her. On your end, this scheduling of an appointment should be ‘speaking’ directly to dispatch — knowing where techs are and what their days and weeks look like. This also needs to be ‘speaking’ to inventory, so that you can identify what parts are needed for this newly-scheduled job — and then make sure the technician will have access to those parts. The final component is billing and invoicing; the tech needs customer data loaded into his or her phone so that billing can take place on-site.

All these elements need to be integrated to (a) assure a good customer journey and experience through the process and (b) improve your first-time fix rate, which will also keep customers coming back.

The simplest way to integrate them is through a software program where all the different variables can ‘speak’ to one another and be seen holistically. If you try to integrate core operations without FSM software, it can become painstaking and tedious and silo mentality can take over, whereby dispatch doesn’t communicate properly with inventory, and the end customer is disappointed.

The big data movement
Most companies these days are trying to compete on some form of data, with the underlying question being “What can data tell us that will make our processes more effective and profitable?”

Many companies think the core concept is having the data, which is actually flawed — data doesn’t mean anything unless it can drive decision-making in some way. For data to drive decision-making, you need two things to happen:

The data has to be easy to access and see holistically
The data needs to be analyzed and contextualized

This is especially true in how executives tend to approach data. Those are often the busiest people in your organization, so they don’t necessarily have time to cull through data sets or pockets of information. They want to know, rather quickly, what the data says and how that impacts future business.

With Field Service Management software, all your core business data — from customer information to technician metrics — can be housed in one place. It’s comparatively easy to pull different elements together and provide context on the results. These broken-down chunks of information can then be presented to decision-makers with different options.

In short: doing data right is about way more than just having data, and it all begins with ease of access to the data. FSM software helps you there.

Process improvement
This is often overlooked, but it’s very important. We don’t necessarily mean standard process improvement here — we covered that above in terms of integrating different processes and operations to drive your business.

What we mean here is that FSM software can usually (and needs to, to be successful) integrate with your existing processes, i.e. your e-mail or other platforms your company has been using.

If the software solution seems like a brand new object that doesn’t connect to any existing processes, people will be slow to use it — because they’re comfortable with how things have been going, as most human beings are. Remember: change is hard for a reason.

FSM software, when done right, is customizable and can work within existing workflows and processes that a field service SMB already uses. This will drastically increase the rate of adoption.

What other SMB challenges have you seen in field service? We’d love to hear and see how we could help you. And as you’re on this page, consider downloading a free eBook on paths to revenue-generation in field service for SMBs. We go through different steps and ideologies to consider in an effort to begin really making some money from service offerings. And yes, FSM software is a key aspect of that. Enjoy, and contact us with any questions.

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