When you’re running a business, or starting a business for that matter, it’s relatively easy to find yourself forgetting about your long-term goals when you’re so heavily focused on day-to-day operations. But, creating an HVAC business plan can help draw your attention away from the day-to-day so you can focus on your larger business goals. Not only does it help you realize your goals and the steps it will take to get there, but it can help you save time and money, and prevent unwanted headaches. An HVAC business plan is a document that takes all the business ideas that you have and turns them into a feasible action plan for preparing, managing, and operating your business.
Creating an HVAC business plan is a great way to solidify and materialize your goals. Determining what your goals are and exactly how you plan to achieve them can make achieving your goals simple, efficient, and painless for everyone involved.
Plus, if you are looking to find an investor to help fund your business growth, providing them with a thorough business plan illustrates that you’ve come up with a thoughtful growth strategy, and it can entice them to invest in your business.
Ultimately, creating an HVAC business plan can help you: set realistic goals, develop a marketing strategy and sales strategy, maintain focus on what’s important, identify your weaknesses and find ways to strengthen them, create a roadmap to success, and raise funds for your business.
In this article we’ll address elements to include in your HVAC business plan, the process of writing a business plan, and common questions regarding business plans. Plus, we’ve included a free HVAC business plan template below for your convenience.
The process of writing a business plan
In general, there is no right or wrong way to write a business plan. That said, there are two common categories that businesses typically fall under: traditional and lean. Deciding which category your business falls under can then guide how you construct your business plan.
Traditional business plan
Traditional business plans are more common, use a standard structure, and encourage you to go into detail in each section. They tend to require more work upfront and can be dozens of pages long.
Some business categories often found in traditional business plans include a(n):
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organization and management
- Service or product line
- Marketing and sales
- Funding requests
- Financial projections
Lean business plan
Lean startup business plans are less common but still use a standard structure. They focus on summarizing only the most important points of the key elements of your plan. They can take as little as one hour to make and are typically only one page.
Some business categories often found in traditional business plans include:
- Key partnerships
- Key activities
- Key resources
- Value propositions
- Customer relationships
- Customer segments
- Cost structures
- Revenue streams
Including some or all of these elements in your business plan can help your overall business structure function more efficiently, as you can continually return to the business plan if you need a reminder about your long term goals and what actions you need to take to achieve them.
Major questions you should consider when building your HVAC business plan
Just like people, fashion, and music trends, businesses also change over time. In some instances, things might not have gone as planned and you may simply have to pivot. In others, you may have found a unique niche to explore that you hadn’t intended on exploring in the first place. Regardless of how it happens, change is usually inevitable. And as a result, your business plan can and should change accordingly.
When drafting a business plan, playing out hypothetical scenarios in which your business goals, services, and more change can be a helpful exercise.
When building out your HVAC business plan, here are some questions to consider:
- If you expand to multiple locations, how will that change your overall business plan?
- If the preferred methods of consumer communication changes, how will you adapt?
- What if market trends change by the time you’re ready to start officially building out your business?
By considering questions such as these, you can more thoroughly understand what it takes to grow and adapt your business according to the world around you. Plus, in considering these potential obstacles, it shows potential partners and investors that you can be flexible and adaptable.
Components of HVAC business plans
Now that we’ve addressed the critical components that should be included in a business plan, we’ll expand on what you should consider as you begin drafting each section.
Make a sales strategy
There are five steps that go into a sales strategy: prospecting, outreach, qualifying, demonstrating value, and closing. Hitting each step is essential to gathering and closing important leads.
The first thing to do when you’re selling anything is to figure out who you’re selling to. Determine who your potential customers are, where you can find them, and how you should contact them.
From there, you can create an HVAC sales lead generation list. Lead generation involves finding and contacting new potential customers. Leads can come from a variety of places including, customer referrals, networking at trade shows, the contact form on your website, social media followers, and elsewhere. Plus, investing in a lead generation software like Podium Reviews is a simple and effective way to collect and manage leads. Once you’ve created your list, it’s important to gather as much information about each lead as possible. Some things to consider including are their name, phone number, email address, and where you found them.
Once you’ve compiled your list of leads, it’s time to get in touch with them. Connecting with potential leads on the channels they prefer is essential, so when the time comes to reach out, make sure you know what works best for them. 90% of customers prefer to engage with a business through text, so it’s important to take that into consideration as you begin reaching out. But beyond text, you can reach out via email, snail mail, social media, or phone call.
Making sure you can manage all of your contacts is essential. By using a communication software like Podium, you can set appointments, send texts, receive emails, and chat live with website visitors all in one easy-to-use inbox. You can even try out Podium for free today.
Whether you’re calling, messaging, or meeting in person, make sure you know what you want to say in advance. That said, you don’t want a formal script. Keeping the tone conversational makes the meeting seem more personal and less business-related.
Focus on getting to know the customer and what their pain points are instead of diving directly into a sales pitch. Be knowledgeable, but also as friendly and as personable as possible to ensure that you make a great first impression.
While you may assume that any lead who’s willing to give you the time of day is a potential customer worth pursuing, that simply isn’t the case.
Try to focus your energy on a few high-quality sales leads rather than focusing on anyone who crosses your professional path. Finding potential leads that are ready to hire you and that have the budget to afford your services tend to be the most fruitful.
But how do you know which leads are qualified ones? You might consider using the BANT framework to determine qualified HVAC leads. Using the BANT framework is an easy, systematic way to qualify prospects. This system looks at whether the prospects have the budget, authority, need, and proper timeline to become a customer. From there, you can decide which leads to prioritize and which ones you can save for later.
04. Demonstrate Value
In this step, a solid sales becomes essential. Once you’ve decided which leads to pursue, it’s time to start peacocking—explaining what your brand brings to the table that your competitors don’t is a great way to get leads intrigued.
If potential leads are still hesitant, consider offering a free property evaluation. By scheduling a visit to check out the current HVAC system, you can chat directly with the property owner about how your team can address their specific pain points and concerns.
This conversation not only demonstrates value, but it also allows you to put together a personalized offering that speaks to the homeowner’s specific needs, budget, and timeline. 80% of customers are more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand who provides personalized experiences, so creating a personalized experience can ultimately help you edge out the competition.
05. Seal the Deal
By this point, you already know if your potential lead is serious about hiring you. All you need to do is close the deal by getting them to commit to a service appointment. One way to do that is by motivating them with a limited time offer, or you can share past-customer testimonials to boost confidence in your team’s ability to exceed their expectations. That said, it’s important that you don’t pressure potential leads into agreeing with something they’re not interested in.
Preparing for this section of your HVAC business plan is incredibly involved. While it requires quite a bit of research, it’s guaranteed to pay off in the end. This step is where you look at trends, size up your competition, and figure out how your business can beat out the competition to exceed customer expectations. This research involves gathering information from market research companies, reviewing trend stories in industry trade publications, and reading reports in general business publications. After gathering all of that information, you should summarize the results and include them in the market analysis section to strengthen your business plan.
Develop a marketing strategy
77% of contractors have no marketing plan, which means that taking the time to develop a solid marketing strategy can really make your HVAC business stand out from competitors. By optimizing your marketing, you can generate new leads and close more deals than you ever could otherwise.
In a world where an online search happens more frequently than a yellow page search, it’s essential that the first step of your marketing strategy is creating a website for your HVAC business. It only takes 0.05 seconds for users to decide whether they’ll stay or leave your website, so it’s essential that your website is attractive and user-friendly. Adding content like videos, icons, testimonials, and pictures to visualize your high-quality services can help capture potential leads’ attention quickly, and making your website easy to navigate and digest is important when potential HVAC leads are taking a brief scan to understand what your HVAC business has to offer.
After your website is built out to perfection, think outside of the box for ideas for marketing HVAC. Consider sending out press releases, wrapping your service truck, or creating yard signs with your company name, phone number, email address, and more to make your business stand out around town.
Beyond physical and “old-fashioned” marketing, creating a strong online presence is essential. One strategic way to improve your online presence, capture HVAC leads, and beat out the competition is by using local HVAC SEO. An easy way to boost your SEO is through optimizing your Google My Business listing. Google My Business is a free, easy-to-use marketing tool for businesses, designed to help business owners like you manage their presence on Google—including Google Search and Google Maps.
A well-optimized Google My Business listing also boosts your business’s reputation by leveraging the power of online reviews. Since 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as word of mouth recommendations, a listing packed with 5 star reviews, and glowing feedback is a cornerstone of a reliable search engine strategy.
Another modern marketing practice is PPC, or pay-per-click advertising. Pay-per-click is a digital marketing model in which advertisers, such as your HVAC business, pay a fee each time one of your ads is clicked on. Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than solely relying on organic traffic.
Implement social media
As a local HVAC business, it’s also important to have an impressive social media presence. Whether your business is large or small, using YouTube, Instagram, FaceBook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms is an effective way to reach your audience and add credibility to your products and services.
On any of these social media platforms you can provide a behind-the-scenes look at how your HVAC business runs, you can create DIY projects related to HVAC, share informative videos on basic repairs, and more.
You can also use social media outlets to network and make connections, and YouTube is no exception. If you allow viewers to post comments on your videos, you can provide answers and create a connection with them. Plus, if a potential customer sees one of your videos on social media, they may end up becoming a lead in the future.
Overall, social media acts as a more fun, creative, and interactive form of digital marketing that can get potential customers engaged and interested, and it can make your HVAC business stand out from the rest.
Put together financial projections
In this section, you’ll be presenting your five-year financial forecast. If your business is still in its early stages, the income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and capital expenditure budgets you present will be estimates. But, if you’re an established business, your financial forecast will include its financial statements from the last three to five years. Incorporating charts or graphs in this section may help illustrate your business’s financial picture.
Within your financial projections section, you’ll want to discuss how you plan on tracking your profit margins and what you expect your profit margins to be. The average net profit for the HVAC industry is about 2.5% to 3.5%, so aiming for something in that range is a practical, healthy goal for an HVAC company. When determining how you plan to track your profit margins, it’s important to note that tracking them all in one place will be the easiest, most efficient way to record everything. Conducting research on and purchasing profit margin tracking software may take some extra time and money, but chances are, it will be hugely beneficial in the long run.
HVAC business start-up cost.
If you’ve come up with a projection for your HVAC business start up costs, but you aren’t sure if the numbers are practical or not, here’s what you need to know: according to Entrepreneur.com, typical startup costs for an air conditioning business are between $2,000 and $10,000. If your projected cost is lower or higher than the $2,000 to $10,000 range, consider going back through the information that lead you to your final number and figure out why that is.
The results are in: creating a business plan is worth it.
Whether you’re looking to start your business or expand your business, creating a business plan is the essential first step. Without a business plan, achieving your long term goals or attracting investors can be incredibly tricky, if not impossible. By creating and implementing a solid business plan, you can create a feasible roadmap for success that will help your business stand out from the competition.
Drafting an HVAC business plan can be intimidating, so if you’re looking for a place to start, check out Podium’s HVAC business plan template.