The Plumbing and HVAC industry has grown exponentially in the past several years. By 2030, it is expected that the market size worldwide will be 367.5 billion USD (1). If you want to capitalize on this growth, starting your own Plumbing and HVAC business is an excellent choice. Whether you are just starting, or you’ve been running your business for some time, there are a few basics that you need to know to help your business grow.
Building a Business on Word of Mouth
For the majority, Plumbing and HVAC businesses depend on locally-driven traffic. Humans are social creatures, and the best way to build your business is through word-of-mouth in your community. When a friend, colleague, or relative recommends your company, it’s the best advertising you can get, and it’s free! When someone uses your services and recommends them to someone looking for these services, it’s almost as good as money in the bank.
According to statistics, 80% of all buying decisions start with online research. When consumers need Plumbing or HVAC services, they are 92% more likely to trust non-paid recommendations than any other type of advertising. On average, people tend to read approximately 10 online reviews before they make a decision. It was also found that 88% of all consumers trust user reviews as much as they would a recommendation from a friend or family member (2).
What does this mean for you? That you need to leverage the power of social media and Google Business listings to get those reviews to grow your business. Reviews give credibility to the information and claims you provide on your website, which can mean the difference between converting a prospect or losing them to a competitor.
Work Hard, Rest Hard
Of course, you need to work hard to get good reviews. If you deliver poor-quality service or become complacent in your business, reviews can work against you. One of the reasons why many businesses fail to grow is that it’s easy to get burned out. This can happen as a result of stress, lack of sleep, and working long hours.
When you start your business, you are usually full of enthusiasm, hopes, and dreams. As time goes on, you can forget why you started your business and lose enthusiasm in the day-to-day grind. Perhaps business is going well, and you become complacent, which leaks over to customer service, response, and other aspects of your business, and quality begins to slip.
If this happens, you need to keep in mind that one bad review can have a significant impact on your business. The challenge is that you need to keep up that same level of enthusiasm that you had when you first started your business.
Remember that when you start your business, it is a long-term investment. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned professional, you need to make time for yourself and to rest and recover. Rest does not mean that you are not working hard, but it means that when you provide services for your customers, you are engaged and giving them your best. Hard work does not mean pushing yourself beyond your physical and mental limits, it means trying to keep a balance so that you can keep it up for the long haul. A balanced work-life is key for any business to be successful.
People Are Everything
Many Plumbing and HVAC contractors start their careers as solopreneurs. Your business is your baby, and you put long hours and dedication into building it in the beginning. One of the most difficult times for any small business owner is when the business grows to the point that they can no longer do it all themselves. This point usually creeps up slowly, so you get used to adding more and more to your schedule.
When you are starting your business, you get used to doing it all. As a one-person show, you get used to managing the scheduling, marketing, and even the accounting. Perhaps you have a spouse or friend who helps you out with some of the things you do not know how to do, but the bulk of the responsibility is on your shoulders.
There comes a point when you can no longer do it all on your own. At this point, you need to decide whether you want to remain at the same level and start turning clients away, or whether it is time to hire people to do some of the things that you do not have time to do so that you can focus on providing excellent Plumbing and HVAC services.
If you find yourself feeling stressed and working non-stop, it may be time to consider handing some of the responsibility off to the right person. When hiring someone for your company, it’s important to hire someone who carries the same level of standards that will match your customer service and quality of work.
When you do find that right hire, take care of them well, as it is a symbiotic relationship – happy employees create happy customers, in turn growing the business further.
Take Care of Your Finances
One of the pitfalls that many Plumbing and HVAC businesses face is keeping control of costs. Growing your business is pointless if your earnings are depleted by rising costs. When you become a master at controlling overhead, you can put more money in the bank, grow your bottom line, and have a safety net for tough times should they arise.
This is especially the case if you provide services in an area that has seasonal needs. You should have enough build-up so that you can make it through seasonal fluctuations and be ready to start up when the demand returns. Taking advantage of programs like the SmartRebate™ Program will also help you to grow your bottom line by putting cashback in the bank.
When it comes to reducing operational costs, little things add up. One of the most difficult things to forecast is how much inventory you will need and which parts to keep in stock. You want to make sure that you have everything you need for most jobs so that you can complete the service or repair without having to go to the customer’s home or place of business more than once.
After some time, you will learn the most common services that people request in your area. It’s a good idea to keep track of this data because it allows you to understand what inventory you need to stock the most, allowing you to keep operating costs under control and provide fast, quality customer service.
Take Care of Your Customers
The fifth piece of advice is to make it easier for customers to come back to you. For instance, you might want to place a sticker with a maintenance calendar and your contact info on their water heater or HVAC unit. You can also use email software to send out reminders or text messages to alert them when it’s nearing time for their next service. In this new age of the pandemic, many business owners have begun to rely on automated technology even more so for their communications, which will only benefit your business in the long run.
Another recommendation is to develop a one-page, easy-to-read newsletter for your customers that provides seasonal updates, homeowner tips, and other ways that they can save on their heating and plumbing costs. The main thing is to make sure that you stay on top of mind and on their calendar.
These are a few of the basics that you will need to consider for growing your Plumbing and HVAC business. If you stick to these tips and always make sure your customers come first, you will be the first person on their mind when they need your services. Plumbing and HVAC services are something that people usually need quickly, and you want to make sure that you have a solid reputation in the area so that they know you are the right person for the job.