HVAC is an excellent trade to start a career in– work is active, there is advancement in career, and money is good. On the downside, HVAC is a seasonal trade. Contractors and technicians have an abundance of jobs during peak seasons but experience business-hurting slow seasons.
What happens during slow seasons?
During the summer and winter months, HVAC tradespeople have job offers left and right during the peak seasons of the field. But during the slow seasons– spring and fall– HVAC contractors see a significantly low business rate.
During these times, the influx of money is minimal or practically inexistent. But slow seasons aren’t only bad for business but take a toll on employees, too. With the lack of job offers, bosses have to send their people home early, or in severe instances, they lay a few people off.
This is why HVAC companies must plan for slow seasons early on, even if they are thriving during peak seasons.
Tips On Handling HVAC Slow seasons
1. Push preventative maintenance
HVAC technicians see the most business during winter and summer because clients constantly call them to give their systems a boost to prepare them for the harsh days to come. When that isn’t the case, techs get called because of an urgent problem that needs immediate fixing, which tends to happen when systems are overworked.
However, clients usually give their heating and cooling systems a rest in the spring and fall, which means no business for HVAC technicians. So, focusing on preventative marketing is an excellent way to rake in a steady flow of money in the off-seasons. One reason for this is that it’s ideal to do maintenance when installments and repairs are at their lowest– this keeps techs busy until peaks seasons roll around. Plus, your crew will have more time for more urgent calls with maintenance off their plate.
Building stronger relationships with clients is another reason. Because you aren’t working a job to fix a problem or for an emergency, they’ll see that you’re merely helping and teaching them about the essential HVAC services they’ll need. By doing this, you gain their trust and confidence, urging them to sign up with you and not choose another company.
To start, have your technicians talk about preventive maintenance at every service call. Tell them to emphasize the benefits: lower cost repairs, longer lifespan of equipment, fewer system breakdowns, and upheld warranty coverage.
Then, to secure them as clients, offer a few benefits specific to them, not their system. They can get waived diagnostic fees or no after-hour charges; it’s up to you or your tech to structure the service agreements.
2. Offer system upgrades
The bulk of where HVAC companies get their money from is by installing new residential and commercial systems. To closeout inventory for winter, manufacturers will cut down prices for HVAC parts and equipment during the slow seasons.
Take advantage of this and encourage your customers to get their systems upgraded during the spring or fall to generate a steady stream of revenue during the off-seasons. Entice them even more by throwing in bonuses like discounts and coupons. You might not make as much during summer or winter, but it’s better than not making anything at all.
Then, hook them in for preventative maintenance. When the crew go to a service call, have your techs explain to the customer the benefits of having their systems maintained by a professional HVAC Technician. If they successfully convince the clients to choose you for maintenance, your company will have income all year long.
3. Create special deals
Look into the businesses around your area that are seasonal, preferably experiencing the same slow seasons as you– like golf courses and hotels. Then, create a “special offer” that might include system checkups, equipment upgrades, and preventative maintenance. Once you have a solid offer, start contacting these businesses and pitch it to them.
4. Reach out to customers
When off-season hits, reach out to your existing customers. This strategy produces quick results because it’s less time-consuming– and less expensive– to work with current customers than to try and look for new ones. Once you set their loyalty in stone, you’ll almost always have a business.
You or your staff can pull up past customer files and see which ones mentioned they had additional projects they were planning on doing. Contact them and make them have you onboard with those projects.
Aside from upcoming projects, look at when the last time you serviced them. If it’s been a while, chances are their systems need to be looked at or even replaced. Have your team contact them. If things go according to plan, expect a few job orders coming your way.
In the case that you don’t keep records of your clients, it’s a wise investment to develop a system that does. You can rely on pen and paper, or you could go the digital route to capture, record, and save these files.
5. Provide excellent customer service
Reputation is crucial in the construction industry: build a good one and business will boom; make a bad name for yourself and you might find your career crumbling. That’s why good customer service is something you should always give, whether it’s a residential installment job during summer or routine maintenance in the winter.
There are two elements in customer service: quality of work and attitude. Of course, HVAC contractors and technicians should always deliver the best result possible, no matter how small the task. Make sure that you leave the job with a better and more robust system. Also, leave the place the way you found it: clean.
Now, when working on a job order, it’s vital to keep your attitude in check. Be polite and approachable. Don’t talk to your customers like they know nothing about HVAC; instead, carefully and kindly explain to them what the situation is.
Providing excellent customer service is a will guarantee that customers will keep coming back to you.
6. Create strategic partnerships
You don’t have to go through slow seasons alone. You can partner up with another local business around your community so you can help each other out. For example, you can join forces with a plumbing company and develop a “package” deal. Clients tend to gravitate towards package deals because they believe they’re saving money while availing of 2 or more services.
You don’t even have to partner up with businesses in the same field– feel free to think outside the box. You can get in touch with pet stores, restaurants, maybe even salons. This is a great way to connect with other local businesses while also increasing public awareness of both your company.
7. Keep an eye out for general contracting projects.
No matter the season, construction goes on. You don’t have to rely on small-time service calls to sustain your company, even if they are from large commercial buildings. When things start to slow down, look out– or maybe even ask around– if there will be any construction projects going on. It’s good to ask around for general contractors and project managers will know you’re interested in working on larger projects. While commercial building owners and homeowners are giving their heating and cooling systems a break in the spring and fall, you can be working on construction sites, installing HVAC systems.
8. Plan ahead in hiring seasonal help
Some downtime can be an excellent time to start planning ahead for the peak seasons. While business is slow during spring or fall, shift your focus to a few months later when things will begin to pick up again.
With all the business you’re expected to have during winter and summer, you might need a few extra hands to help you out. If you don’t know, things in your company will be chaotic– schedules getting mixed up and employees being overworked.
To figure out how many people you’ll need to hire:
a. Look at and break down past seasonal data;
b. Assess if you have adequate intake and dispatch tools to monitor the extra crew members; and
c. Finally, set quantifiable goals for the peak season and discuss those with the team.
9. Up your social media presence
Although the payoff isn’t instant, taking time to work on brand awareness will have an immense impact in the future. Today, the strategy to use is going online, specifically on social media and creating a blog.
If you play your cards right, social media can get you:
● Higher visibility;
● More traffic on your website;
● Better interaction with customers and the community;
● Improved customer loyalty; and
● A better understanding of your customers and they want so you can quickly solve their problems.
In the downtime, plan blogging and social media strategies. Getting a headstart will give you more than enough time to iron out the kinks before the business starts to pick up again.
10. Use HVAC software to manage tasks.
Just because business is slow doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay organized and active. Management software is a useful tool to have year-round but is even more so during slow seasons. You can schedule job orders, dispatch technicians, remotely supervise projects, and monitor your business as a whole.
In addition to the abovementioned features, Pro Crew Schedule’s HVAC software allows contractors to send important documents, like maps and drawings, in real-time so their techs can efficiently do the job. More than that, because this software is cloud-based, all these files are safely stored.