How to Start an HVAC Business: Technician Guide & Checklist
Get started on your HVAC business journey in 2023By George Leon | Updated March 9, 2023
If you have the itch to start your own business, you might consider starting an HVAC business from scratch. You wouldn’t be the first, and you certainly won’t be the last — especially because owning an HVAC business can be highly profitable!
HVAC Business Startup Checklist
1. Select a Business Name
You can’t own a business without having a name for it! Not only is it the name that will be on record with the Internal Revenue Service, but it will also be how your prospective and existing customers know you.
Whatever you decide on as your business name, ensure you use it consistently across all business materials, including mailers, brochures, website, logo, and anywhere else you might market your HVAC company.
2. Create Your Company Website
Once you’ve nailed down the perfect business name, you will want to snatch up a website URL for your website — which your HVAC company needs!
Your HVAC website works as a 24-hour sales representative for your company and makes it possible for customers to get in touch with you and learn about your services no matter the time of the day.
- Your website URL should reflect your company name or be something that your customers would recognize.
- Remember that the shorter the URL, the better, so you can easily incorporate it into your marketing materials.
3. Incorporate Your Business
To be officially recognized as a business, you must register your HVAC company with the local government as an LLC. Without doing so, businesses can’t legally take on any customers.
As soon as your company name is selected, get started with this HVAC business legal process because it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, and you don’t want to run into any hiccups that impact opening day.
4. Select Your Business Location
Depending on the size of your HVAC company when you’re first starting out, you may not find the need for ample office space — and that’s perfectly alright.
- Until you need more space as your team grows, you should rent a small office you can use as your company’s storefront.
- If you don’t have the money to rent office space initially, consider renting a P.O. Box.
5. Write Your HVAC Business Plan
It’s time to create an HVAC business plan for how you will stay organized as the leads begin pouring in.
To run a successful business, you need to be organized and methodical — this will help your day-to-day options be more streamlined and lead to higher customer satisfaction.
- Setting up an efficient process before opening your HVAC company is essential and will help you focus on the most profitable parts of the business.
- Keep in mind that these processes can change over time. As HVAC businesses grow, owners may need new systems and protocols to be implemented, which is perfectly fine.
- To ensure your new HVAC company is equipped to communicate with customers efficiently, schedule out appointments, and bring in revenue, set up processes to help you organize the following:
6. Set Up Appointment Scheduling
- How will your customers be able to book HVAC service appointments?
- Will they need to call and speak with you or a customer service representative?
- Will they be able to book an appointment on the website through a scheduling program?
- Can they speak with a customer service representative via live chat on the website? D
- o they need to receive an estimate before booking an appointment?
Understanding how you want your customers to make appointments will make it easier for you in the long run.
Initially, it’s best to narrow down the options to one or two methods to ensure you don’t miss any and limit the chance of glitches. This allows you to test which may your customers seem to prefer communicating with you.
You might find that phone calls are more prevalent in your particular market than in an online scheduler. No market is exactly the same, so it will take some tweaks for you to nail down the perfect formula that maximizes the number of leads coming in.
7. Learn Quoting and Invoicing
As a business owner, your revenue is one of the most important things on your mind — and rightfully so! That means you need to have a clear understanding of all the money coming in and going out.
Without a clear picture, you may make harmful business decisions that could impact the health of your HVAC company.
- If a prospective customer calls your business to request an air conditioner repair, what would they need to go through to provide them with an estimate for the job?
- Once you’ve put together the estimate, how will that be communicated to the prospective customer? Last but certainly not least, how will you receive payment for the job once the air conditioner repair job has been performed?
There is a lot to keep organized to ensure you get the money owed to your business.
Using a quoting and invoicing tool will make it easy for you to keep track of each of your customers, the types of systems they have, any work your company has completed for them, details on upcoming quotes, and information on payments for previous jobs.
This way, you can easily reference a customer’s information or invoice if there is any discrepancy when balancing the books.
8. Set Up Customer Communication Channels
Customer satisfaction is absolutely crucial to owning and operating a successful HVAC company. Not only do you need to respond efficiently, but you need to make it easy for customers to get a hold of you.
Before committing to your company for their future furnace replacement purchase, they will want to talk to a representative from your company to determine if you are the best choice.
Using the tools at your disposal, you need to make it as pain-free to get in touch with you as possible.
- Use your company website to prominently display your contact information in the header, footer, or contact page (or all three of these places!).
- You might also consider an instant messaging or text feature that enables them to get in touch with you more quickly than waiting for a response from a contact form.
Providing them with easy ways to get in touch with you will help increase the number of leads coming your way!
When prospective customers come to your website through a search engine results page or another method, they don’t want to go on a scavenger hunt just to figure out how to contact you.
If it’s too difficult, they will leave your website and work with a competitor instead.
Another way to improve customer satisfaction is by providing clear communication leading up to (and after) the HVAC service. Once the appointment is scheduled, you should have a system that sends them an email confirmation.
On the day of, the customer can be sent an email reminding them of their appointment and providing information on the HVAC technician coming home. Following the appointment, you can follow up with them and prompt them to leave you a review if they were satisfied with the service.
Communication with customers should be ongoing and shouldn’t be stopped once they book an appointment.
9. Decide on Your HVAC Startup’s Service Offerings
What HVAC services do you plan to provide to your customers? Your answer might be different than your response five years from now, and that’s ok!
But when starting an HVAC business, you need to clearly define which core services you plan to offer and stick to those. To determine what services you want to offer, you need to consider your target audience and your profit goals.
- Do you know how to service commercial HVAC systems, or is your experience solely in residential HVAC?
- Are you planning on servicing commercial and residential systems, or are you sticking with one?
- From there, you need to decide if you will offer installation, replacement, maintenance, and repair services. This is where you will want to factor in profitability.
Which jobs will require you to spend more time on them? Which types of jobs will have the highest profit margins? Is there a job with low-profit margins that you don’t want to focus on while ramping up your business? Will you offer after-hours services or stick to a strict non-emergency schedule?
Key-Takeaway: Understanding your ideal customer and job type will allow you to customize your HVAC service offerings to maximize efficiency and profit margins for your business.
Once your services are selected, you need to determine how much you plan to charge for each job. Take a look at your competitors to offer your customers a competitive price.
10. Research Competitor Businesses
Competition in the HVAC industry can be fierce. When getting started in any new market, you need to research who your competitors are, what they’re doing well, and areas where they are lacking.
Capitalizing on the areas of their businesses where they aren’t investing much time or money will help you win in that market — and eventually bleed over and take customers from them.
- To get started, get a baseline understanding of what HVAC services they offer their customers.
- If you can, find out what their prices are so, you can ensure you’re offering comparable yet competitive rates.
- Do their air conditioners and heaters come with a product warranty?
- Do they offer an HVAC maintenance agreement?
- Are they investing in search engine optimization and paid advertising?
Key-Takeaway: Getting a clear picture of what your competitors are doing will allow you to find ways to outperform them by doing what they’re doing, only better.
11. Market Your HVAC Company
As a new business, you need to get your name out there. The most effective way to do that is to invest in HVAC marketing campaigns to help ramp up your business and begin the trickle of leads.
First, you should invest in search engine optimization (SEO). While this won’t reap the rewards immediately, SEO can long-term affect your organic rankings on Google’s search engine results pages.
Through keyword-targeted content creation and optimization, you will help improve the chances of bringing customers to your website for years to come. But as a new company, you still need to know how to get HVAC leads.
Paid advertising on Google and Facebook Ads will help you get directly in front of your target audience quickly and efficiently. With the right paid strategy in place, your HVAC company will appear at the top of the search engine results page and increase the odds that they click through to your website and convert into a customer.
Why Starting an HVAC Business Is a Good Idea
With background knowledge and a hard work ethic, the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry can be a great niche to get into. But ultimately, you have to ask yourself if this competitive market is the right industry for you to take on.
To help you make a well-informed decision, we’ve put together the advantages and disadvantages of starting an HVAC company so you can feel confident.
Starting businesses can be scary. It’s an investment towards your future, and it’s essential to understand the pros of starting an HVAC business. Here are a few reasons why starting an HVAC business is a good idea
When starting any business, you need to evaluate the market as a whole, as well as the particular that you will be serving. In today’s era, most individuals rely on modern technology, including heating and air conditioning.
- Depending on your region, your target audience might rely heavily on their air conditioner and furnace to keep them comfortable all year. That means you have a wide range of customers to target.
- From residential homeowners to commercial office managers to apartment complexes, there is always an untapped market from which to get HVAC leads.
The size of your local market will continue to grow as well.
- While you may find yourself servicing systems in older residential neighborhoods, you might also receive calls from local contractors building new construction residential developments and retail space.
- All of these new structures will need an HVAC system installed, so you can rest easy knowing the market will continue to grow ever larger than it is today.
The best part about the HVAC industry? Air conditioning and heating systems aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. HVAC is a need-based service rather than a want-based service.
- In most instances, your customers will need your services to remain comfortable in their homes or offices.
- You’ll build a catalog of repeat customers who turn to your company anytime something goes wrong with their system, or they’re in the market for an upgrade.
You can start a one-man HVAC business with little start-up costs with enough background knowledge of HVAC systems. With the right set of tools, you can repair any issues your customers are having and provide routine maintenance without any fancy equipment.
This is one reason why HVAC profit margins are relatively high compared to other trades.
Starting off by focusing on repair and maintenance will allow you to build up a book of customers at a low cost. Eventually, you can invest in your business and add on additional services like air conditioner replacement or furnace installation that have a slightly higher overhead.
Although there is a lot of competition in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry, competition is often lacking in many factors.
While they might have a website to promote their business, if you look closely, many of them aren’t investing the time or money to build up their online presence.
- You can swoop into this untapped online market by investing in a professional website with robust content and creating data-driven paid advertising campaigns.
- Beefing up your online presence with informative content and reviews from satisfied customers will help give you an edge over the competition and make it more likely that your HVAC business will be found when prospective customers search for your HVAC services.
Understanding what your competition is doing well — and where their marketing efforts are lacking — helps you determine the best plan of action to get in front of your target audience and drive additional revenue.
Why Starting an HVAC Company Isn’t a Good Idea
While there are plenty of advantages to launching your own heating and air conditioning business, it’s important that you also consider the disadvantages so you can have a well-rounded perspective on this particular business venture.
Here are a few reasons why starting an HVAC company is not a good idea.
When starting out, you’ll be handling the roles of CEO, office admin, and HVAC technician.
- It’s important to know that working as an HVAC technician can have occupational safety hazards.
- Because you’re working with large electrical systems, lifting heavy machinery, and working in all temperatures, you’re more prone to accidents and bodily harm than in some other industries.
As an entrepreneur, owning and operating your own business probably sounds appealing because you get to call the shots. While that’s a definite advantage, it also has its drawbacks.
Being a business owner is a very time-consuming role — especially if you plan to run a one-man HVAC company in the early days.
- From handling digital marketing and lead processing to dealing with customer calls and making house calls, you will be required to put in hard work daily with minimal breaks.
- Until you get the business up and running and hire team members to assist with the day-to-day, you will have a lot on your plate.
However, once you put in your time and due diligence over the years, you’ll be rewarded with the ability to take a step back from daily operations.
Starting businesses can be a risky venture. If you’re more risk-averse, it might not be your optimal path. While you never go into a startup planning to fail, you must know it is a likely possibility.
No job is perfect, even when you are your own boss. You need to be willing to make mistakes and learn from them to create a customer-focused company that provides unparalleled HVAC services.
As the owner of the heating and air conditioning company, it can be hard to turn your brain off when the clock hits 5 pm — especially since your workday never ends if you offer emergency HVAC services.
This is even more true for a one-man HVAC business. It can be challenging to distance your personal life from your work life since you are the sole person in charge of the success of the HVAC startup
Frequently Asked Questions
HVAC businesses are rewarding business ventures with a growing market, low start-up costs, and consistent demand.
Yes, the HVAC industry is competitive. There are roughly 112,000 HVAC companies in the U.S.