Has your HVAC business struggled to close sales lately? Have you been holding your own but wondering how to scale the business for greater profitability?
If so, this article is just for you.
Read on to learn about sales hurdles specific to HVAC professionals. We’ll start by exploring why your sales plan is so important. Then we’ll move on to some HVAC sales tips you can apply right away.
Ready to boost your revenue no matter what size business you have? Let’s get to it.
Sales Challenges Unique to the HVAC Industry
If you’ve looked for sales and marketing advice online, you may feel much of the material is too generic to work for the HVAC industry. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning field definitely has its own special issues.
Those unique challenges have to be addressed before you can improve your sales.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that make sales particularly hard for HVAC professionals.
Seasonal Nature of Work
One of the greatest sales challenges HVAC companies face is the feast-or-famine aspect of the business.
The seasonal needs of heating and air conditioning often drive all other elements of work. This alone can make it tough to keep up a steady flow of work and income.
To weather this trend (pun intended), you have to plan ahead. If you see a seasonal dip coming, you need to prep for it. Granted, this can be difficult when you’re knee-deep in the present season’s flurry of activity.
Routine Service as a Consumer Afterthought
For many customers, regular HVAC maintenance takes a back seat once they’ve purchased a new furnace or installed an air conditioning system.
Until something goes wrong, that is. Then your phone rings for emergency repairs, which only adds to the unpredictability described above.
Insufficient Labor Pool
Across all trades, there’s a shortage of workers right now, but it has really hit the HVAC sector hard. This is in part due to the pandemic. (More on that below.)
Additionally, there are just fewer students entering HVAC technical programs and apprenticeships. Potential workers are opting to pursue other fields, like information technology.
The dwindling labor pool has left heating and air conditioning business owners wearing more hats than they’d like. Overloaded HVAC business leaders simply may not have time for sales calls.
Current COVID Concerns
There are a number of problems facing HVAC specialists right now that are particular to the pandemic.
If your business typically picks up a lot of clientele via conventions, trade shows and the like, you may be feeling the burn of 2020 and 2021. Many large events were scratched. That left owners without a venue for important networking and sales opportunities.
Shipping Delays and Shortages
Between factory shutdowns, shipping delays, and equipment and parts shortages, fulfilling jobs has been tough. It’s hard enough to book jobs, let alone postpone them because of these industry-wide obstacles.
Depending on what part of the United States you operate in, you may be feeling some economic woes as well. In 2020, plenty of folks lost their jobs. Businesses of all kinds shut their doors.
Those that survived are a bit gun-shy about spending money on perceived luxuries. This includes non-essential HVAC upgrades and the aforementioned routine maintenance.
Health Safety Worries
Especially with homeowners, there are new health concerns related to having workers inside the house. Some people are putting off home improvements and waiting to do renovations until they feel more comfortable having strangers around.
The Importance of a Solid Sales Process
With all the challenges listed above, it’s more vital than ever to have an efficient and well-planned sales process for your HVAC business.
A carefully designed sales process will allow you to deal with common industry difficulties. It will also set you up to be able to handle seasonal challenges and unexpected issues, alike.
You’ll be able to bring in more clients when other companies are barely treading water.
The Metrics To Track
Your sales plan needs to include setting and tracking metrics for sales conversions.
Specifically, you want to keep a tight watch on your closing ratio. That’s the comparison between the number of accounts pursued versus those you actually close.
For example, if you talk to 100 potential customers and 50 of them hire you, you have a closing ratio of 50%. That’s pretty good for any industry, and absolutely amazing for HVAC sales, which average well below that figure.
Why Metrics Matter
Why bother tracking your closing ratio. Because you can reverse engineer it to better understand how much sales activity you need to hit your goals.
If you have a closing ratio of 50% (which, again, would be really high), and you want to close 20 new deals this month, you’ll need to talk to at least 40 prospects.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. You can easily get more advanced and divide potential customers into multiple buckets—those you’ve only introduced yourself to, those you have regular contact with (like through email), those you’ve presented a proposal to, and those you close.
Using the same kind of reverse engineering, you can predict how many you’ll need to introduce yourself to in order to end up with the number of sales you want every month. Plus, you’ll be able to gauge how effective you are every step of the way.
HVAC Sales Tips You Can Use Today
Want to start increasing your sales right now to give your company the leg up it needs? Follow these suggestions to see your business grow, no matter what challenges you face.
Go Where the Money Is
Not every home or business owner suffered during the pandemic. Some areas fared better than others.
Be smart about where you focus your marketing and sales efforts. Know how your target audience is, what modes of communication they prefer (text, social, email and so on), what types of service they’re most likely to need, and what motivates them to buy.
That doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t sell to folks outside your target audience. But it’s important to develop a strategy around your ideal customer—and important that your ideal customer has the money and inclination to buy your services.
Emphasize Service Over New Equipment
If homeowners are reluctant to pull the trigger on major purchases (or if you can’t get the new units you need due to supply issues), there’s always routine maintenance. Although less sexy than new installations, it’s a terrific source of bread-and-butter income for HVAC companies.
In fact, even with new jobs, regular service should be emphasized. Try the following to increase service calls.
- Offer maintenance service agreements for annual or biannual checkups.
- Give discounts for off-season cleaning and evaluation.
- Pick up the slack where other companies fail, such as after-hours service and service on the weekends. (Pro tip: Call your competitors and see who picks up outside of 9-5.)
Focus on Existing Customers
An ideal way to schedule more service calls is to work with your existing customers (or almost customers).
Phone clients for whom you’ve performed installations or repairs in the past and see if they need a cleaning or tune-up. Did a potential customer decline to add a new heater or air conditioner because of price or timing? Maybe they’d like to know what you can do for their existing equipment until they’re ready to upgrade.
Look at your current book of business as a sales opportunity. What can you offer existing customers that’s genuinely beneficial to them and helps you grow your profits?
If you feel squelched by event closures and the lack of meet-and-greet possibilities, why not network in your area? Sources of business for HVAC companies include:
- HOAs and condo associations
- Real estate agents
- Contractors and remodelers
- Local chambers of commerce
Make Every Employee a Salesperson
Don’t forget that every single person you employ is a representative of your company with an opportunity to make sales. As part of your sales plan, be sure to include business-wide training in customer conversion, upselling and similar strategies.
Every emergency call can be followed up with, “How about we check back next month to see how it’s running?” And every installation can include a, “Would you like to sign up for a yearly maintenance agreement at a one-time discount?”
The single biggest tip we can offer is one that’s been woven into all the others—look for opportunities everywhere.
You almost certainly have competitors who will do the bare minimum. And you probably also bid against other sales-hungry HVAC pros who are trying to go the extra mile. The good news is there’s plenty of work out there—even during trying times.
You just have to find it. Use the tips in this article to make your sales efforts really count.
And if you’re interested in learning how Customer Lobby can help you make the most of your current customers, reach out to us today. We specialize in helping home service companies get more business from their existing customer base. We’d love to show you how much potential is right there, just waiting for you to take it.