We are mere days away from peeling ourselves off park benches and breaking into a sweat between the house and the car. That means we’re right on the edge of air-conditioner season – unless you work in an office building, where the temperature has probably been in the low fifties since early April. Seriously, who sets these thermostats?
With all that cooling on the horizon, it’s time to get your HVAC business ready for the rush. When the AC breaks, people want it fixed now. Help your customers before they need you by giving them so proactive tips, planning for increased demand, and getting your inventory in order.
Push some preventative maintenance
If you want to make a person happy, save them time and money. By contacting your clients at the beginning of the season with some helpful tips – thermostat settings, how to change a filter, when to call for service, etc. – you can get on everyone’s good side. Throw in a coupon or refer-a-friend code and you’ll make even more people smile.
The keys to this plan are that you a) make contact with your existing clients to remind them of your existence and b) give them some useful information that makes their lives easier. Any combination of contact method and preventative tips will work. You can send postcards or emails, walk through cleaning tips or drop in a summer prep checklist.
If you’re looking for more details on how to do this well, you can check out the Capterra Customer Service blog.It’s full of tips on making the most out of your marketing and customer relationships.
Get a flexible staffing plan in place
Now you’ve got a stack of happy customers all soaring through the summer with no issues. Ha ha! Of course I am kidding.
What you’ve actually got is a bunch of folks who are happy to have had a little preventative schedule come in the mail, but who never got around to actually fixing anything up. As a result, you’ve now got fifty clients on the line who are desperate to get in touch – marketing success – but who need service instantly.
To keep up with the demand, you’ll need to find some extra hands. On-demand subcontractors can help you manage the influx without too much additional cost. The key to a good system, though, is planning.
Will you use an agency or pull in subcontractors you’ve worked with in the past? Both systems work very differently and come with their own headaches and benefits. We covered this topic last year, but I’ll summarize by saying you need to tradeoff between known quality and ease of management. Whichever you choose, you should have a plan in place before demand becomes and issue.
Inventory, inventory, inventory
Demand in place, supply in place, now you just need to make sure you’ve got all the equipment and inventory required. The repetitive nature of summer HVAC issues means you’ll be putting a lot of stress on your inventory.
To make sure you’re ahead of the curve, make sure you’ve got a strong inventory system in place before you start getting calls. Capterra has an inventory management directory, but you can do this any which way you like.
As long as you can keep an accurate count of what’s on hand and do a bit of demand forecasting – last year’s records are a good place to start – you’ll be ahead of the competition. When someone calls for help, you want to be able to say, “Yes” as often as possible.
In case you haven’t noticed, the key to all this is preparation. Proactive client contacting, a staffing plan, and some inventory forecasting can make all the difference when it comes to the summer. If you’re taking care of this now, great. If you’ve done all this already, even better. If you’re feeling behind the curve, have no fear – this year can be the start of a better trend.
Preparation is like dieting. You may feel bad about starting that diet after eating whole pie, but you’re still better off than you would be if you’d never starting dieting at all. A little prep can go a long way, and your bank account is going to love any work you put in ahead of time.
If you’ve already taken some steps, let me know in the comments. I’d also love to hear how you’re getting ready for the winter – if you can see that far ahead in your business. Good luck out there, and stay cool.