As an industry, Heating and Air-Conditioning in the U.S. is estimated to generate nearly $100 billion in revenue in 2019 and the market has grown steadily at nearly 3% per year over the last 5 years.
That means that for HVAC business owners, the trends look positive. With smart business strategy, timely investment in growth, and high-quality service, there’s an opportunity to turn a one-person shop into a booming small business and beyond.
But growing a business is never quite as easy as it seems. There are always points where things seem more difficult than they should be. Maybe business isn’t flowing as smoothly as it once was, employees aren’t sticking around as long, or the marketing that used to bring you all of your work.
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Should you seek for HVAC business consulting?
Now, for many HVAC pros, the idea of hiring an HVAC service business consultant or business coach with years of experience can feel like a nonstarter. You’ve likely built your business from the ground up and done a damn good job of getting it to where it is today. Because of that, bringing in someone who’s going to try to tell you how to run your business can feel like the exact opposite of smart management.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all business consultants are textbook types with no real-world experience. There are dedicated business consultants for the HVAC industry who have been there and done that–they know the work and they know what it takes to grow successful service companies.
In order to know whether an HVAC consultant could help your company, you need to enter into the decision with the right idea of what you’ll get out of the investment.
The role of an HVAC business consultant
One of the reasons business owners sometimes hesitate to work with consulting services is that they aren’t sure what a consultant actually does.
While part of their job is to evaluate your business needs, they aren’t there to criticize, point fingers, or state the obvious. Consultants also aren’t concerned about tinkering with areas of your business you already have under control.
What if an outside perspective could easily help you identify solutions to ongoing problems or ways to improve and streamline your HVAC business operation?
That’s the true value of HVAC consulting. It isn’t to tell you how to run your business, it’s to give you a fresh perspective on the things that you’ve been dealing with every day. Over that time period, you can simply become used to the way things have been done and miss out on opportunities to overhaul or improve your processes.
A good consultant is an advisor–a business partner for your company. Their goal is to help you and your team excel, maximize profitability, and smooth out any kinks in your workflow.
How an HVAC business consultant can help your business
First, stop to consider what you want to get from working with an HVAC consulting service and how you define a successful relationship with an advisor.
Consultants come in many flavors and they can help with a range of business challenges from sales and marketing to hiring and training. But there are limitations. A consultant can’t waltz into your business and tell you exactly how to run the shop. Consultants can’t be a fix-all solution to every small hiccup or short-term challenge. Their role is to help you devise a well-thought business plan and align your operations with your goals.
Some of the main roles that an HVAC consultant can play in helping your growing business include:
- Help diagnose and solve lingering operational problems
- Get clarity on your company’s strategy and a plan to execute
- Streamline employee hiring and training
- Identify opportunities to leverage new technology or processes to achieve growth
- Assess financial health and recommend accounting or reporting strategies
- Provide direction on marketing strategy or sales efforts
With that in mind, it’s worth considering the role a consultant could play in helping you grow your business.
Ask yourself a simple question: What do you want to gain from working with a consultant?
The answer will help you decide if it makes sense to hire a consultant and which type you may want to seek out.
Is a business consultant a smart investment for your HVAC business?
When does it make sense to seek outside help and when should you just buckle down and solve the problems you’re facing? There’s no single answer to that question, but there are some signs that it may make sense to get someone else to take a look at the company.
There are 3 sure-fire ways to know that it may be time to bring in someone to help you get to the next level.
1. You’re too busy working in the business to work on your business
The old adage about building a company is that is can be really tough to find enough time to work on the business rather than in it. For HVAC pros who have built their own company, this can be especially difficult. You may find yourself still “doing the work” for years and years, even as the business grows around you.
And, to some extent, that may be fine. If you enjoy the work and like to stay in the field, there’s nothing that says you can’t do it. The problem is when the fieldwork consumes so much of your time that you neglect to manage and run the business itself.
Most business owners face this dilemma at some point. In any growing business, there is a stage where you still have both feet in the business operations and at the same time, you’re trying to take a leap into a big-picture management role.
One way to deal with this awkward (and sometimes painful) transition is to have a business consultant that helps you carve out time to focus on the big picture.
2. You’re having trouble with finances, pricing, or profitability
Another big hurdle for many home service businesses relates to your HVAC service pricing and profitability. As your company grows, you will have more costs and more overhead that need to be baked into the prices you charge for service.
What used to be an easy $500 job for you as an owner-operator may now cost your company more than that amount once you factor in labor, marketing, accounting, and other expenses. So, the price you charge will have to increase to cover those costs and profit.
When a minor cash-flow issue turns into a chronic issue or you notice problems that seem to point to some underlying financial challenges, it can be tempting to jump to conclusions and start to make big changes to protect your income.
But it begs an important question. What are the root problems causing these issues?
It could be any one of a number of challenges:
- Pricing needs to be adjusted or updated
- Overhead and costs are too high
- Service time and costs are too high
- Marketing is not bringing in enough of the right leads
As a business owner, it can be difficult to unravel these interconnected parts of your business. But a consultant may be helpful in giving you guidance on where to focus your time and energy to solve the business problems that you’re facing.
There are several ways consultants can improve the financial health of your business.
Problems like low profits are often a symptom of a deeper operational issue. A business consultant will evaluate the situation objectively, diagnose the cause, and present a plan of action for fixing it. A consultant can also help you spot opportunities for saving money on expenses and increasing sales.
3. You have high turnover or service quality challenges
Your technicians and employees are the backbones of your company. That means that dealing with high turnover, poor performance, and other personnel challenges can turn into a major headache for you as a business owner. If you’re having trouble with service provided by techs or high turnover, it can feel like you’re constantly running on a treadmill. Worse yet, it can be incredibly expensive for your business. According to one study, turnover costs up to 200% of the yearly salary of the employee who leaves or is fired. That’s a big hit.
As an HVAC business owner, you likely have deep knowledge and expertise in the trade. But you may not be an expert at HVAC hiring, training, or managing employees. This is a perfect situation where having an outside consultant can give you a fresh perspective and some additional expertise to diagnose and address problems within your organization.
It could be something as simple as revamping your onboarding process that leads to a turnaround in service quality or employee turnover.
Taking your HVAC company to the next level
If your HVAC business is experiencing some growing pains, it’s totally normal.
Most growing businesses are subject to hitting some snags along the way. And dealing with those challenges will make your business stronger and more resilient in the end.
It may turn out that your business doesn’t need a consultant at all. Perhaps you just need to assess how your operations are running and use technology to improve efficiency and streamline the business.
Housecall Pro helps HVAC businesses both large and small to run streamlining their day-to-day operations and easily manage online booking, estimates, dispatching, invoicing, and more. Book a personalized demo to learn more now.
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