How to Successfully Start Your HVAC Business
Starting a new business can be stressful. Employees need to be hired and managed, accounting issues handled and legal requirements met. How do you set up an HVAC business and ensure it will be a success? With the prevalence of HVAC businesses in America, it’s become much easier. By following the outlined items below, you’ll be able to quickly build a checklist that allows you to get all the broad, sweeping details right the first time, helping you avoid frustration and potential issues down the road. Let’s see what’s involved:
How to Successfully Start Your HVAC Business
Take Time to Make a Plan
Though many people working in HVAC consider a business plan to be something only needed in a large company, it’s actually very important to ensure you’re addressing all the issues at the beginning and have direction as you begin to see success in your sector. Take some time, at least an hour or two, to visualize what your perfect business will look like. Will you partner with another professional, go it alone or set up a corporation to provide tax and liability protection? Are you planning on only dealing with HVAC or will you include plumbing or electrical services as well?
Now think about your existing experience. Have you only worked on homes or industrial complexes? Your experience will typically have the areas where you’re most profitable, because you’re familiar with how that work will go. Are you planning on creating a one-man shop out of your van or truck, with a computer at home and an outsourced bookkeeper? Will a spouse help you with some of the paperwork and wrangling customer contacts and concerns? Perhaps you’ll set up a full business with dedicated sales staff, accounting clerks and administrative assistance.
Once you have this information sorted out, it’s time to create an actual business plan. There are any number of easy templates you can use online for this purpose, and they’ll help you document what your work history is, how the business will be organized and operated, how you’ll market your services, your projected income and expenses both at startup and over time, as well as similar information that provides direction and helps you secure financing for your startup.
Keep it Legal and In Compliance
With your business plan draft in hand, you can explore what legalities you’ll need to handle before opening the door and continuing to operate. Much of this information may be available at your local Small Business Administration office to help you through the process. Will you just use your own name or a business name? Your state’s Secretary of State office can often help with name registrations. If you’re going to incorporate or form a partnership, you’ll need legal services to set up the organization. Does your city, county or state require business licenses or permits?
After taking care of government requirements for general business, you can look at issues specific to HVAC. Do you need an HVAC license to do business in your area or across state lines? Should you get involved in your local trade-specific or general business organizations for networking and knowledge development? Does your area have a trade union you’ll need to join or meet requirements of to remain in operation?
If you’re going to hire employees, you are required to file for an Employer ID Number from the IRS. You’ll also need to look at worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance, benefits options and legal requirements for employers under the various levels of government regulation. In addition, you’ll want to explore insurance options for your physical assets in addition to liability insurance for any legal issues you run into down the road.
Embrace the Future of HVAC
If you’ve been in HVAC for any period of time, you’ve seen plenty of contractors who work with pen and paper who seem to get along okay. Though you could go that route, you’ll spend a lot of time doing and tracking down paperwork, which can often leave you looking unprofessional as today’s customer continues to embrace more modern technologies. Why? Our industry is undergoing digitization, a process that is changing not only the technology we use to interact with customers, but our customers’ view of how we should do business as well.
Today’s HVAC business needs to be agile, ready to adapt quickly to changing markets and circumstances. A streamlined digital paperwork process makes that a reality. Instead of sketching out a picture of what you’re going to do for a prospective customer, you can provide them with a professional drawing of your quote, along with automatically-updated material pricing and custom assemblies. When the prospect decides they like that approach and want you to do the work, a few clicks moves your quote into your accounting program, allowing you to email the customer their invoice from your cloud-based software package, all while you’re discussing the latest ball game after completing the work.
But beyond takeoffs, quotes and invoicing, digitization offers much more. Should you advertise in one area of town or another? Analytics help you quickly determine your most profitable jobs, allowing you to focus on those instead of second-guessing your marketing plan. Automated emails can be send out with no further work whenever maintenance is required, making your follow-up process even easier. When you start with the business technology you’ll need down the road, you can rest assured that you won’t need to retrain on new systems in just a few years, when your business is hopping and you don’t have the time for it.
You don’t need to wait for these features – you can add these capabilities from the very beginning, putting you in pace with the best companies in HVAC. Digitization takes you out of the office and back into the field, making your business profitable and your dreams come true. Esticom gives you these advantages today. Try our free trial to see how easy success can be.
As a former Director of Sales & Estimating, Chris Lee has over 10 years of experience building high performance sales and estimating teams focused on increasing revenue and profit by winning large commercial projects