Throughout the past five years, the number of businesses in the HVAC industry has seen an average of 1.8% growth yearly. If you’re a licensed HVAC contractor, starting your own HVAC business has probably crossed your mind a few times. Keep in mind that running a successful HVAC business isn’t the same thing as doing what you’re already doing as an HVAC technician.
One of the most demanding tasks you’ll do throughout your career is figuring out how to start a new business. Ideally, you want to think about running a small business and not how to launch an HVAC business. I mean that you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time completing tasks that small business owners do. That includes administrative tasks, advertising and marketing, finances, and more.
Now, let’s get into what it takes to launch your own HVAC company.
Acquiring a State HVAC License
Before you can launch a successful HVAC business, you must earn credibility within the industry. That starts with acquiring your HVAC contractor’s license. If you’re unfamiliar with the world of bureaucracy and paperwork, launching your own HVAC business is going to give you a crash-course in both. While requirements for this licensure vary from state to state, they typically follow this framework:
Proof of Meeting Minimum HVAC Experience
This requirement typically involves completing at least four years of experience as a Journeyman-Level HVAC contractor.
Passing the Contractor’s License Test
These tests typically consist of having a general knowledge of your state’s HVAC laws and how they relate to HVAC contracting.
Completing the HVAC License Application
After passing the contractor’s license test for your state, it’s time to fill out the HVAC license application. During this step, you pick a name for your HVAC business and include information about your minimum HVAC experience.
Pay Applicable Fees
Here’s another step where the fees are a requirement, and they vary by state. For example, California residents pay $180 for their license. If you live in Florida, you’ll pay $100 to register or renew your license.
Obtain HVAC Certifications
Remaining competitive in the HVAC industry means ensuring you stay on top of industry-specific certifications and training. Examples of the top certifications include the following:
EPA 608 Certification
Working as an HVACR technician means you’ll be working with equipment containing refrigerant. Because refrigerant is a hazardous material, it requires delicate handling. Therefore, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all contractors accessing or handling these materials to obtain an EPA 608 certification.
There are four different types of EPA 608 certifications, including:
- Type I Certification: For installing and repairing small appliances, including an air conditioning unit and refrigerator
- Type II Certification: For installing, repairing, and disposing of appliances and equipment containing high-pressure refrigerant, including a heat pump and residential air conditioner
- Type III Certification: For installing, repairing, and disposing of appliances and equipment containing low-pressure refrigerant, including what you typically find in complex industrial equipment
- Universal Certification: Indicates the contractor’s ability to install, repair, and dispose of all types of appliances and equipment regardless of their refrigeration type
NATE stands for the North American Technician Excellence certification, and it’s the gold-standard for HVAC technicians throughout the industry. While this isn’t a required certification, it’s a recommendation for anyone working in the HVACR (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration) industry.
Obtaining this certification requires HVAC technicians to pass a knowledge-based exam that industry experts develop and administer. This certification illustrates that you’re prepared for the workforce and are adept at handling challenging scenarios.
Creating an HVAC Business Plan
Your HVAC business should start with a business plan that defines your company’s business model, financial obligations, local competition, revenue projects, target market, and more. It’s easier to stay on the right track when you spend time creating an HVAC business plan. This plan is also a useful tool when you need to secure startup capital from banks or investors.
Market research is essential for determining the viability of your HVAC business. That includes knowing how many other companies are working in your service area, how many homes in your target area, if there are franchises you’ll compete with, how much the competition is charging, and more. You can complete this research using various resources, including the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
This stage also includes determining your company’s service area, how far you’re willing to travel to a job site, and the circumstances under which you’re willing to work. For example, do you plan to work only during standard business hours, or are you ready to provide emergency repair service calls?
Complete a Google search for your area’s HVAC business and closely examine each company that shows up on the first page. That’s where you want your company’s website to land. You can start working on digital marketing strategies using keyword tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.
Next, you’ll move on to the phase of your business plan that details how your company meets tax obligations and removes personal liabilities from your business. For example, you can operate under an LLC, an affordable business structure that allows you to maintain separation from your company. Setting up your business also means you’re ensuring that it meets federal, local, and state requirements. That includes determining if your business needs to carry liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and specific licenses.
Now it’s time to think about the money aspect of your HVAC company. First, you’ll need a separate business bank account to prevent mixing up your business and personal finances. Next, spend some time figuring out your income to ensure you set competitive rates and paying yourself a decent salary. When setting your rate, make sure you consider your years of experience.
Developing an HVAC Company Marketing Strategy
Developing a marketing plan for your HVAC company is more than hanging flyers on community bulletin boards. Here are five tips for developing your company’s marketing plan:
1: Build a Website and Social Media Presence
Create a website that includes your contact information and company background and a way for new customers to chat with you about what they need. Building up a social media presence makes it easier to generate leads, grow your customer base, and increase your profit margin.
2: Take Advantage of Word of Mouth Advertising
Customer service is the cornerstone of any business within the service industry. When you prioritize providing the best customer service possible, they’ll be more likely to share this information with friends and family.
Remind your customers that your business’s survival depends on referrals and reviews. Therefore, you must listen to customer feedback and make adjustments accordingly. Word of mouth advertising also extends to contacting local building contractors and property managers to sign contracts with renters and homeowners.
3: Increase Your Online Marketing Strategies
After creating a website, you must get your business in front of as many potential customers online as possible. Begin this strategy by claiming your Google My Business listing. Next, add your business’s address to Google Maps. That way, you’re increasing the chances of your business showing up when someone conducts a local search for the phrase, “HVAC businesses near me.”
Don’t forget to launch a Facebook Business Page that links to your company’s Instagram account. Fill your social media accounts with photographs depicting your past projects, maintenance tips, and general information about how having a well-maintained heating and cooling system is beneficial.
4: Create an Email Marketing Campaign
One of the top ways of advertising your HVAC company is by using email marketing. Not only does this marketing strategy allow you to target specific customers, but it also allows you to send high-quality information and offers directly to their inboxes. Attract customers to your email campaign by encouraging them to opt-in on your website. You can grow your company’s subscriber list by inviting website visitors to sign-up to receive company news, updates, special discounts, and more.
Make sure you optimize your company’s emails for mobile. That means ensuring users can navigate and read every element of your emails on their smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices. If you decide to add a clickable button inside your emails, make sure the button works for every device your customers might be using.
5: Keep Your Site’s Blog Up-to-Date
Because blogging is an underutilized marketing strategy in the HVAC industry, you can use it to help your company stand out from competitors. Blogging also helps your website stand out on Google while simultaneously gaining the trust of potential customers. Focus your posts on HVAC-related topics that your target audience finds useful and informative.
Write content that helps your current and prospective customers out by thinking about what they do, the actions they take seasonally, and where they shop. Use SEO copywriting strategies to provide informative content that triggers search engine algorithms.
The Bottom Line
While starting an HVAC business is exciting, it isn’t uncommon for HVAC professionals to begin with a small client base and work their way up. Using this strategy means you can gain confidence in the HVAC services industry, know you’re serving your customers well, and earn enough income to support you and your business.