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10 Sales Tips for a Growing HVACR Business

A Distributor Weighs In

Originally published
Originally published: 7/1/2023

Sure, you want to be an HVACR superstar – but do you have what it takes?

Everyone craves business growth, but finding and keeping it takes special consideration. Successful HVACR owners have a few traits in common: tenacity, a willingness to learn, and strong communication skills. To maximize those traits for steady business growth, you need to incorporate new sales strategies while also planning for growth-stage challenges.

Sales Growth Strategies

If you boil it down, there are two ways to effectively grow your business: Attract new customers and maximize existing customer relationships – through service agreements, contracts, and by gaining brand loyalty. Ideally, you’ll do both. 

Here are some steps to consider from a distributor’s point of view:

    1. Offer informational content. Consider starting a blog about HVAC maintenance or uploading TikTok videos with troubleshooting tips for common HVAC problems. The people seeking this content are most likely HVAC system owners – your target clientele. Whether their problem is more complex or they simply wait until they need a technician, your name will be top of mind when they go to pick up the phone.

    2. Utilize easy publicity. Start by refreshing your website, because this is where a potential customer becomes either a sale or a lost opportunity. Create a website that is engaging and educational. Think about what customers want to know, such as your contact information and service list, then make sure those things are easy to find on your site.

    3. Next, join Google Local Service Directory. Simply stated, this is the Yellow Pages of the 21st century. Customers looking for HVACR providers often find them here. From your perspective, there is an extensive application process, but it is free to join. When someone from your area turns to Google to find an HVACR technician, an ad for your business should rank somewhere at the top of the list. You won’t pay for that ad unless the customer clicks and reaches out to you.

    4. Finally, be part of your community’s story. Let your local newspaper or magazine know that you’re available to be quoted. Send them a notice whenever you hire someone or open a new location.

    5. Compete for brand recognition. When you compete in industry recognition events and win an industry award, it gives you brand recognition and credibility.  Your annual Tops in Trucks Fleet Design contest is a great event to find some brand recognition. ACCA also has a Contractor of the Year award. Make sure the sponsor is well-reputed and recognized by the industry. These are free ways to get your company name in front of customers in your area.

    6. Tell a good story. Once you’ve secured a meeting with a new customer, make an impression on them. Fixing a furnace might be a one-time job, but connecting with your customer generates business for years to come. Service providers need to know the brand story. Those who are great storytellers are more likely to be remembered when a potential customer is making a decision. Why? Because a good story allows people to retain 22 times more information than facts alone. This is according to psychologist Jerome Bruner in an article in the SEMrush Blog titled, Why Does Brand Storytelling Matter? Storytelling, especially when it conveys emotion, connects with the left side of the brain and drives home purchasing decisions and says the article:

A study in the Harvard Business Review found emotional connections are significant drivers of brand loyalty. They are also one of the best indicators of future customer value. 

    7. Expand your offerings. There are benefits to using both upselling and cross-selling techniques when meeting with a customer. If they need a new air conditioning unit, show them several options, from a base model on up. Emphasize the value of the more expensive model, such as energy efficiency or product longevity. Alternatively, you can offer extras such as a smart thermostat or an extended warranty to go along with that new unit. Both avenues generate additional revenue that relates to the service at hand and can lead to brand loyalty.

Overcoming Obstacles in the Growth Stages

As business demands increase, you should expect to face new growing pains. From staffing to inventory, there are many obstacles that business owners encounter during growth periods. To mitigate employee loss and productivity interruption, follow the last three tips.

    8. Staff accordingly. From the office staff to field technicians, your infrastructure must be capable of handling any incoming business growth. All your efforts will be wasted if nobody answers the phone when a customer calls because you’re short-handed. And you’ll get a bad reputation if it takes technicians too long to get to their appointments.

In this job market, finding enough staff is a challenge shared across many industries. So, position yourself to always be hiring. When a quality candidate comes along, bring them in – even if volume doesn’t quite demand it yet. You’ll be ready for extra business and have time to appropriately train a new employee.

    9. Maintain relationships with your supplier. More clients mean more diverse needs. If parts aren’t available, you could be forced to make expensive last-minute decisions. 

That’s why it’s critical to have a trusted distributor at the ready. Look for one with a proven history of fast turnaround and easy delivery. 

Likewise, it’s critical to have suppliers who operate in a variety of ways. Need to place an order after hours? You need to have an online or portal option. Looking for options beyond traditional shipping methods? Find a distributor that uses pickup lockers or a courier service.

    10. Keep communications going so that you stay in the know. Check-in regularly with everyone from your technicians to your suppliers so that you can effectively forecast periods of influx. What are your technicians hearing from customers? Are manufacturers requiring longer lead time? 

Stay ahead of trends so that you aren’t caught unprepared. Be sure to communicate this with your distributor, so they can work with the manufacturer on your behalf. The entire supply chain benefits when a local service provider completes a sale, so they want to accommodate your needs as best they can.

Growing your HVACR business takes skill, patience, planning, and foresight. Given our culture of climate comfort combined with ongoing energy-efficient initiatives, small businesses in the HVACR industry have the opportunity for unprecedented growth in the coming years – given you are prepared.

Plan for it, expect it, make room for some flexibility and you’ll experience the growth you envisioned when first starting. 

Claire Munch is President of Munch’s Supply, the company started in her great-grandfather’s garage more than 65 years ago. She oversees more than 1,200 employees at 17 locations throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Despite her family roots in the HVAC industry, Claire has worked her way through the ranks to her current position. Claire has a reputation for hard work, charisma, and dedication to learning the nuances of the HVAC industry.

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