5 Steps to Become a Successful HVAC Contractor in 2015

Published: Jan 5, 2015
What does it take to become a successful HVAC contractor?

What does it take to become a successful HVAC contractor?

What does it take to be a great HVAC contractor? It’s a question that both experienced, and new, HVAC contractors should consider carefully.

Yes, your technical skills are a must. That’s why they are often a prerequisite for obtaining a license or permit from your state or local authorities to operate as a HVAC contractor.

However, as in other specialty professions, you need to possess a wide array of soft skills and business know-how in order to be truly good at what you do. These include, for example, how reliable your business is for your customers, as well as how well you communicate to and listen to them

Let’s go through the most important skills that will help you build a solid HVAC business in 2015.

1. Be confident in your technical competence

Undoubtedly, your technical skills are the basis of a successful contractor career. Working in the HVAC field requires extensive technical training, as you well already know. In case you want to widen your scope of services, further training is also necessary for the specialty you have in mind. Depending on the state in which you operate, sometimes you are even required to pass a technical course and an exam in order to prove your abilities. Here is a list of essential training HVAC videos in case you need to refresh your memory.

Besides knowing what you’re doing, which, in full honesty, comes with years of experience, you should develop a sense of confidence about your work. Customers can easily tell insecurity, and you surely don’t want to jeopardize your work because of this. Good tips for your confidence boost is to speak with authority – and don’t forget the power of body language. While this may be difficult in the beginning, fake it till you make it.

2. Make your business reliable

Getting certified can help your HVAC contractor business

The next step is the reliability of your business. People like to know that they can trust their HVAC specialist, so they’re often looking for personal recommendations before they hire one. They might also want to check your licensing or permit, insurance and contractor license bond. All of these are signs that your business is trustworthy, recognized and compliant to all relevant legislation. That’s why it’s wise to get all the necessary documents intact – it’s important both for authorities and for your customers.

A bonus you can add to your business’s reputation is getting certified. For example, you can consider a certification from the North American Technician Excellence or another industry-based association. Furthermore, if you’re competent with Energy Star equipment, you can be a valuable source of information for your customers. In general, it’s all about creating and delivering a high level of reliability and expertise.

3. Don’t underestimate attitude and attire

Besides having your business licensed and certified, another way to impress your customers and win their loyalty is to provide them with great service on top of great technical work. Positive attitude and a neat attire are key in winning their trust when you enter their private spaces such as home or workplace.

That’s why a friendly and collaborative approach is the best way you can start your work with a customer. Although people want you as a HVAC technician to “get the job done,” it doesn’t hurt if they find you polite and nice to talk to. If you want to build long-lasting work relationships, great service is a must. Furthermore, your customers are more likely to trust your technical expertise and advice if they trust you as an individual.

4. Be a good listener

Good communication skills are essential for a HVAC contractor

The importance of adept communication ties in with the previous point too. A crucial soft skill that you need as a HVAC contractor – and here we’re not talking about becoming a salesman – is to communicate well. It’s not only about talking, though. You need to also listen well to what people actually want from you. This is key in providing them with the service they expect – and ultimately in winning them over as loyal customers.

Being a good listener means you focus on your customers. Eye contact and active engagement are crucial for understanding them well – and leaving them with the feeling that they’re being understood. Thus, set yourself a rather grand resolution for 2015 – and start creating the habits of a good listener.

5. Retain customers with honesty

For a large part of businesses, returning customers make up the biggest part of their revenue. That’s why 20% of your customers can bring you 80% of your profit. Thus it’s only logical to do your best in providing high quality service to the people you work with now. One of the most important tips in this regard is honesty.

This relates to the most difficult moments for a specialist – when you don’t know what you need to do the fix a problem. Instead of trying something in the dark, it’s a good practice to simply inform your customers that you need additional help from colleagues to solve the puzzle. It’s a triple-win situation: your customer will trust you, your colleagues will be happy to get an extra job, and you will not hurt your reputation. At the end of the day, you’ll have built a larger network of partners and a solid fan in the face of the customer.

What is your experience as a HVAC contractor? Please share your thoughts about the most important skills that one should have in the comments section.

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Vic Lance is the founder and president of Lance Surety Bond Associates. He served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He served as a logistics officer during a combat tour to Afghanistan. and as an officer in charge of an Iraqi Police Transition Team during a subsequent tour to Iraq. Later, he was assigned to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, serving as Assistant Professor of Naval Science and Marine Officer Instructor. Victor graduated from Villanova University with a degree in Business Administration and holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.