As 2017 winds down, it’s a great time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t in your HVAC contracting business this year. As we all know, running a successful business is more than a full-time job. It requires a commitment from ownership to stay fully engaged in all aspects of the business. To help ensure your success in the coming year, we’ve put together a list of New Year’s resolutions to help you and your management team stay on course to profits and productivity throughout 2018.
- Resolve to Ensure High Levels of Technical Competence — Working in the HVAC field requires extensive technical training to obtain appropriate licenses and certifications. It is also important that you support ongoing continuing education to ensure that your team is on the cutting edge of everything happening in the industry. Your local HVAC technical school can help you put together a training curriculum for your employees that will make it easy for them to stay abreast of industry regulations, technical changes and other career-enhancing classes they may need. In addition, manufacturers are happy to sponsor training sessions at your facility to assist your techs in learning how to install their new equipment. And of course, you can find lots of online classes for your techs at www.acca.org.
- Resolve to Set Goals — Every successful business owner understands the importance of goal setting. HVAC contractors should set short- and long-term goals for service revenue, maintenance revenue and product sales revenue that makes up the total revenue for the company. Based on these goals, you should set goals for gross profit and net profit. Make sure you share your goals with your entire team, not just management. Post them in the office for everyone to see and show progress toward the goals. By sharing the company’s goals and making everyone feel like a part of reaching them, you will be amazed how your entire team will rally around your success.
- Resolve to Create a Marketing Plan — It is critical to have a comprehensive marketing plan and budget to market your company to customers. Without a plan, most companies do ad hoc marketing to fill in sales gaps, which creates an uneven flow of leads into the sales funnel. Resolve in 2018 to create a comprehensive marketing plan and budget based on a percent of projected sales. Use 5% or less for low/no growth, 6% to 10% for growth, and more than 10% for aggressive growth. Plan your marketing tactics by month to create your monthly budget based on your goals for customer acquisition, customer retention and/or sales efficiency (i.e., boosting your average ticket). Your plan should contain your overall objectives, strategies, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and anticipated Return on Investment (ROI).
- Resolve to Develop a Staffing Plan — If you plan to aggressively grow your business in 2018, you will need the internal and external staff to achieve it. An easy way to look at this is to spread your sales from last year by month and look at the staff that was needed to produce your revenue. For 2018, you should spread your new revenue goals by month and consider how many additional staff members will be needed to produce the revenue projections. You will also need to estimate how long it will take you to recruit and train additional personnel and then develop a timeline for when they will be needed, so that you have a start date for recruiting.
- Resolve to Review Your Pricing — The new year is an ideal time to take a good look at your pricing and make sure that your company is offering competitive rates for your market. You will need to consider many factors, such as your raw costs for equipment, as well as personnel and other business expenses, such as overhead, sales and marketing operations, fleet/fuel costs, etc. Also take a look at competitor pricing and any value-add services they may be offering that factor into your customers’ buying decisions. Making sure that your products and services are appropriately priced will allow you to remain competitive yet profitable, and lay a firm foundation for growth in the coming year.
- Resolve to Get Involved with HVAC Trade Associations — As a professional HVAC contractor, you should take pride in participating with your local and national HVAC trade associations. These associations represent your interests before local and national government bodies and advocate on your behalf on issues that affect your business. Being active in a local and/or national association also gives you a chance to network with local industry peers and keep up with changes in the market and is a good source for finding new staff as you grow your business.
- Resolve to Attend National Industry Events — As part of your commitment to get more involved in the HVAC Trade Associations, you should consider making a resolution to attend national industry tradeshows and conferences. These are excellent ways to network with other contractors from across the country, identify potential products and services you can offer, discover what other contractors are doing, and to re-energize yourself. Select your events now and block them on your calendar. Buy your plane tickets and reserve your hotel room in advance to save money and lock in your commitment.
- Resolve to Add One New Product or Service — It’s important to make sure that you are offering the products and services your customers are looking for. Do some research and look at your top five competitors to see what they are promoting, how they are reaching their customers and what new products/services they are offering. Make it a goal to find at least one new product or service you can offer over the coming year and assign the task of developing a business plan for introducing it.
- Resolve to Become a Bigger Part of Your Community — All successful businesses understand the importance of being involved in their local communities. The best way to do that is by giving back in publicly visible ways. Some ideas to consider include the adopt-a-highway program, volunteer at food banks, donate to worthy causes when patrons of those causes use your company, join a local service club like the Rotary, Lion’s, Optimist or Kiwanis. These organizations are dedicated to helping the community whose members are community influencers. Participating in these types of clubs can be a way for you to give back to your community while also building your referral network.
- Resolve to Take a Real Vacation — One of the hardest things for HVAC contractors to do is to take the time to have a real vacation. But to keep yourself motivated and stay energized to meet all the challenges of running your business, you need to take time for yourself and your family. A vacation lets your mind change gears and allows your subconscious to work on problems creatively. By taking a vacation to somewhere outside of your daily routine, you will arrive at new solutions to old problems and you’ll find that the day-to-day routine will be a lot less daunting.
By making these resolutions, you are resolving to further the success of your business over the coming new year. From all of us at Source 1™ HVAC Supply, we wish you a happy and prosperous 2018!