HVAC is a short form for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. Being an HVAC contractor requires installing and repairing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in homes and buildings. The heating system provides warmth during cold weather. The ventilation system manages the availability of fresh air and takes out stale air. The air conditioning system is for cooling during summer.
HVAC contractors may also fix common issues including malfunctioning parts and clogged ducts. They also ensure that all equipment is energy efficient. So, you may have to advise property owners on how to improve the efficiency of their systems.
When thinking of how to start your own HVAC business, it is important to determine the kind of HVAC contractor you want to be.
Career Options for HVAC contractors
There are various career options in the heating, ventilation, refrigeration, and air conditioning field. The choice of career option depends on your education, experience, and personal preference. Here are career options for HVAC contractors.
Installation and Maintenance contractor
You may become a contractor who installs, maintains, and repairs residential and commercial HVAC systems. Also known as HVAC technicians, you need a certificate or associate degree in a related discipline like electronics. The training program may last about 6 to 24 months. You also have to participate in an apprenticeship program to get hands-on experience.
An apprenticeship program for HVAC technicians may last for about four years and it may include on-job training with classroom instruction. Being an apprentice allows learning about various HVAC elements including
- Reading blueprints
- Electrical components
- Electronic components
- Handling refrigerant
- Sheet metal work
- Airflow physics
Engineering and Design contractor
Being this kind of HVAC contractor involves researching, developing, and designing new HVAC systems. You need at least a bachelor’s degree in electrical or mechanical engineering. Other positions may require a master’s degree while experience may count in some research and development situations.
An associate degree in engineering may also apply to join the HVAC engineering and design profession. HVAC engineering technicians may also undergo a two year engineering course. Positions may include assisting engineers to design and retrofit HVAC systems.
Control Systems contractor
Handling HVAC control systems requires having vast knowledge in the field. This is because control systems vary from air-powered controls to direct electronics controls. You may have to undergo training in block computer programming, networking, electronics and signaling, and fluid dynamics.
Other requirements to work as an HVAC control systems contractor may include:
- Cisco networking certification
- Associate degree in electronics
- Years of experience in the field
- A combination of the above
Now that you have understood the career options for HVAC contractors, it is time to determine the kind of contractor you wish to become. Afterward, you have to begin working on setting up your HVAC business.
Create The Business Plan
A HVAC business plan is the road map that will guide you throughout the infant stage, managing, and growing your new business. The plan will come in handy when seeking funds from investors. It educates lenders and investors on the financial position of your business, mission, and goals.
Creating a solid HVAC business plan may seem overwhelming since it is a detailed document.
So, it pays to become familiar with the components of the business plan and the relevant details for each.
The table below includes the elements of a regular HVAC business plan and related purposes according to the Small Business Administration.
-number of employees
-purpose and problems to solve
-your target market and customers
-unique selling proposition
-business management team
-metrics for defining and measuring success
-how to beat competition
Organization and Management
-description of legal structure
-organization of your business
-resumes and CVs of key team members
-your services or products
-how they benefit customers
Marketing and sales
-description of sales process
-amount of money you need for next 5 years
-how you’ll use the money
-ideal terms for the investment request
-presentation of 5 year financial forecast
-estimates of income statements and balance sheets
-charts and graphs illustrating the financial picture of your business
Now that you’ve understood how to make your business plan, let’s delve into how to create a financial plan.
Create A Financial Plan For Your HVAC Business
The financial outlook of your HVAC business should include research such as market analysis and how much does it cost to start a HVAC business. Additionally, it should include the average earnings in a five-year duration and industry trends in your area of operation.
It is important to create a five-year plan for handling business expenses. The first step is to list all possible expenses your business is likely to incur. Afterward, you organize the list into categories and work out cost estimates for each item.
Some of the potential expenses for how to grow my HVAC business may include:
- Business vehicles
- HVAC tools
- Safety equipment
- Office supplies
- Business premises
- Insurance (general liability, property, and worker’s compensation insurance)
Be sure to budget for licensing and certification costs for your business. You have to check for what applies in your state. When planning to operate a franchise, check the cost of the franchise fee and the annual amount to give the franchisor
The financial plan should also reflect how you’re going to implement your marketing strategy. You may have to budget for website development, running ads on radio, TV, or social media. A budget for IT is also necessary.
This should include computers, mobile devices, cloud storage, and HVAC business management software like Field Complete. This software will make managing tasks such as communication, dispatching, customer relationship management, invoicing, and scheduling easier.
An HVAC financial plan should also include costs resulting from seasonality. Consider potential payments resulting from doing extra work during peak periods, modifying your fleet to match demand, and fleet maintenance. You should also consider retaining or acquiring finances to cover business expenses when business is low.
Finally, your HVAC financial plan should include more than projected expenses. Ensure to include long term revenue goals and projections. This will help you figure out the monthly billable hours so you may know how many sales and service calls are necessary to meet your target. It will also help potential investors and lenders to assess your business’s financial outlook.
Get Necessary Skills And Education
By this time you may be wondering what it takes to be a successful HVAC contractor? Well, it takes having some desirable skills and appropriate education. Being an HVAC contractor is a specialty career that requires you to have some soft skills backed by industry know-how.
Here are some of the important skills regarding how to run an HVAC business.
Confidence in technical competence
There’s no doubt that technical skills are essential for a successful career as an HVAC technician. The profession requires extensive training to widen the scope of services you may offer. Training is also necessary to become an expert in your specialty. Some states may require having to pass a technical exam to prove your abilities.
After some years of experience in the industry, you’ll have developed confidence in your work to handle various projects. Customers may easily tell when a technician is insecure and this may jeopardize your work. To prove confidence in your work, speak authoritatively and use appropriate body language.
Customers appreciate reliable contractors. So, they always look for recommendations on a reliable person they may hire. You should back up being reliable by having your license, insurance, and bond when reaching out to customers. It proves you’re trustworthy, working legally, and recognized in the industry.
Minding your attitude and attire
One of the best ways any contractor may impress customers and win their loyalty is to have the right attitude. You should back up the positive attitude with a neat attire so customers may let you into their homes and workplaces. Always have a collaborative approach when beginning to work with a particular customer.
While going about your work, it doesn’t hurt to have a nice chat with the client. This encourages building a long-lasting work relationship. If a client trusts you as an individual, they’re more likely to call you whenever they need an HVAC technician. And, they won’t hesitate to recommend you to their friends and family.
Being a good listener
Knowing how to run a HVAC business requires having exceptional communication skills. You have to listen attentively to whatever the client is saying. This allows understanding the client’s requirements so you may provide the service they expect.
There’s no better way to win their loyalty. Being a great listener means focusing on clients as they talk. Use eye contact and active engagement well to understand the clients.
Always being honest
Returning customers contribute significantly to the profitability of any business. In fact, if you have 20 percent return customers, these may bring you about 80 percent of profits in your business.
So, always offer excellent services and be honest. When facing some difficult moments, it is better to tell clients the truth. You must ask for additional time or tell them that you can’t handle a particular task. Being honest will build your reputation and make your customers happy.
Education requirements for HVAC technicians
Although you may learn HVAC systems through experience, completing formal education and training widens your scope of knowledge and work potential. Below is a guide on how to start my own HVAC business with formal education.
Earning your high school diploma is the first step to pursuing a career as an HVAC technician. You have to choose appropriate subjects like computer science, mathematics, and physics. Consider enrolling in vocation classes like plumbing, metal works, and electronics to enhance your knowledge.
Join a training program
After completing your high school diploma, complete formal training or a certificate program from a college to widen job prospects. Join a training or certificate program from a community college or trade school when planning to get an associate degree.
Ensure that the program offers a formal degree or certificate after completing the course. The duration of the program may range from 6 months to 2 years depending on the course. Some of the subjects likely to be in the course include:
- Operation of HVAC equipment
- Installation and troubleshooting of residential and commercial HVAC systems
- How to handle refrigerants
- Reading blueprints
- Installation and repair of electrical wiring
- Application of basic principles to practical situations
More so, you may also do computer science or an electronics course to discover more knowledge about HVAC equipment. Joining an accounting or management course is recommended when looking for how to run a successful HVAC business.
Join an apprenticeship program
Undertaking formal training is essential for HVAC technicians. However, you should back this up with on-the-job training. The easiest way is to join an apprenticeship program. Qualifying to become an apprentice requires meeting the following requirements:
- Possession of a high school diploma or GED
- Having a driver’s license
- Passing a math examination (optional)
- Taking a drug test
Gaining formal education and training to become an HVAC technician shouldn’t be a daunting task. You may pursue your degree or certification alongside the apprenticeship. Becoming an apprentice allows getting started in your dream career. It allows understanding the practical aspects of being an HVAC technician while expanding your network.
Obtain Certification For Your HVAC Business
Before people hire an HVAC technician for a residential or commercial project, they have to ensure they hire someone with appropriate skills and knowledge. Certification from a professional organization portrays proof that you’re competent to handle HVAC issues.
Here are some of the certifications for HVAC technicians that prove adherence to industry standards, high skill set, and technical knowledge.
North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is the most common certification for HVAC technicians. NATE is a testing and certification body that focuses on the needs of HVAC technicians. The certification is accepted and recognized throughout the industry.
You must demonstrate thorough subject matter, practical abilities, and technical skills to obtain NATE certification. The process requires passing a general knowledge and one specialized exam. NATE certification is available for specialities including:
- Air conditioning
- Air distribution
- HVAC system efficiency
- Air-to-air heat pumps
- Geothermal heat pumps
- Air or gas air heating
HVAC Excellence Certification
This is another credible certification for HVAC technicians at the professional or master specialist level. Certification at the professional level requires two years of work experience.
You also have to pass a comprehensive exam covering residential heat pumps or air conditioning. Certification for a master specialist requires three years of work experience and passing a professional exam.
HVAC Quality Installation Standard
The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) is a non-profit serving about 4,000 business owners and 60,000 individuals in the HVAC industry. This body is among the industry’s leading professional and technical bodies. It administers the HVAC Quality Installation (QI) standard.
Obtaining certification in QI standard is available in light residential or commercial HVAC design. You have to demonstrate ability to design an HVAC system for residential or commercial application. The system should rely on industry appropriate techniques. You have to demonstrate knowledge in load calculation, HVAC-specific software, and duct design.
EPA 608 Certification
You need the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s 608 Certification to handle HVAC refrigerants. Having this certification allows for buying, using, and handling of refrigerants including R-410A and R-22.
Getting EPA certification requires passing an exam that covers topics including safety, recovery, recycling, and disposal of refrigerants. The certificate is available from an EPA-approved trade school or community college.
State or Local Licensing
Although not technically certifications, getting state or local licensing is very important for any HVAC technician. Possession of a license is proof that you’ve met all requirements to practice the trade in your state or area.
After acquiring certifications and licenses, you’re now ready to launch your HVAC technician career. People will see you as an experienced and certified HVAC technician. Now, let’s see how to get customers for your business.
Launch An Advertisement For Your Business
You’re now in the final stages of launching your business. With your business plan, financial plan, skillset, certification, and license in tow, the next step is to look for customers. Below are some ideas to advertise your new HVAC business.
Invest in Google Ads
If you want immediate exposure for your new HVAC business, invest in Google Ads. your business will show up in search engine results above local and organic listings. Advertising with Google is worth your money since it is the most popular search engine. Additionally, Google has a lot of flexibility and building features for ads. It also offers detailed performance metrics.
Market on YouTube
Another product from Google, marketing your new HVAC business on YouTube will bring good results. YouTube adverts significantly pay off when done right. Create video ads for playing before relevant videos in various categories. Your videos may also appear through text ads in search results.
Use social media advertising
Marketing on social media is a highly utilized and profitable digital marketing option today. With more than 3.6 billion people on social media, use it to reach where your potential customers may be. People use social media for its ease of use. Use social media to get exceptional value from your advertising budget and reach a highly targeted audience.
Eye-catching flyers make a wonderful introduction of your HVAC business to potential customers. You may use the flyers to promote special offers or let them know about your offers for summer or winter. Sending flyers to people in your local area will save them from looking somewhere else.
People who receive your flyers are likely to keep them on the fridge or store them in a drawer for future reference. Flyers are permanent and tangible allowing people to use them much longer to contact your business whenever they need a technician.
Flyers tell potential customers about your services. However, brochures give out more detailed information since they have more space. You can include information about why your business is better than others and why people may hire you.
Some of the details to include in the brochure may include:
Build a website
Getting a website for your HVAC business demonstrates professionalism and trustworthiness. Potential clients will find you easily on the website, learn about your services. People will also be able to read testimonials and reviews about your services. This allows them to make informed decisions before hiring you.
Here are some HVAC marketing trends you should know
Now that you’ve discovered the various ways how to grow HVAC business, you have to understand trends in the market. Here are some proven advertising trends to increase the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.
- Use a consistent brand voice across all channels
- Contrasting backgrounds make billboards and digital signage grab attention
- Use a family concept in your advertising to tap into human emotion
- Blue color works better for HVAC ads for trust, success, loyalty, and security
- Get a clear and short slogan for your brand.
- Tap into humor for your ads
Start Your HVAC Business
The final stage of how to start an hvac company requires focusing on how to grow. You’re likely to hire HVAC professionals to your team so you can serve the growing number of clients. A good idea is to consider Field Complete is an all-in-one software solution for managing your HVAC business.
This software is the ideal digital briefcase to manage the daily operations of your business. Field Complete offers shift scheduling, dispatching, invoicing, communication, and GPS tracking. The robust tool is incredibly easy to use and affordable including a demo version. Sign up today and take your business to the next level.