Don’t let the HVAC slow season go to waste. Reflect on the busy season and prepare for the next one through training, marketing, and service contracts.
Busy season is over, and now that we’ve had some time to enjoy the slowdown, it’s time to start looking to next year. Over the next few months, you’ll enjoy some well-deserved rest. But your staff still needs things to do, and your business needs to be prepped and ready for the next busy season. Here are five ways you can maximize the rest of your downtime before the busy season comes back around.
REFLECT ON THE BUSY SEASON
We sat down recently with our Contractor Success Manager, Jeffrey Gaskill, to get insight into how he maximizes downtime between busy seasons. Jeffrey’s team provides live support for our contractors, so your busy season is also their busy season.
“We try to take advantage of the downtime to review our processes,” Jeffrey said. “Where were our key successes? Where could things have gone better?” After taking inventory of how things went, Jeffrey advises using what you’ve learned to come up with a game plan for the new year.
As you reflect on the busy season, include your staff, too. Every person has a different perspective on how the busy season went, and getting everyone involved helps paint the whole picture.
FOCUS ON TRAINING
The HVAC slow season is the perfect time to focus on training your staff. New technology and new HVAC regulations are always coming out. And homeowners are increasingly interested in smart technology and sustainability. You may have had to help staff members one-on-one with these developments during the busy season. But now that things are slow, it’s time to get everyone up to speed.
Check with your distributors to see if they offer free HVAC training sessions during the slow season. Distributors often provide training on their new products and bring in industry experts for workshops. Sometimes, training will cost a small fee, but the knowledge is valuable. Plus, it saves you time from developing your own training.
Don’t limit your slow season training to only HVAC products, though. Reach out to your other partners to see if they offer training. Maybe your staff needs more help offering financing to customers, or your admin needs guidance on managing your customer relationship management system. Your account representative likely has resources for you and can help train your staff while they have the time.
The slow season is also a great time to train new or seasonal staff. Your regular staff has more time to train, and your new or seasonal staff will be ready to roll once the busy season rolls around again. Whatever the case, it’s the perfect time to catch up on training.
OFFER SERVICE CONTRACTS AND DISCOUNTS
While reflecting and training are great ways to maximize downtime, your business still needs to bring in money during the slow season. Service contracts can help with that. Customers pay regularly — you can set annual, bi-annual, quarterly, or monthly terms in the contract. Your company then services their HVAC system a set number of times per year. This keeps cash flowing during the off season and, ideally, prevents these systems from needing maintenance during the busy season.
Here’s another idea: Offer discounts to your regular customers, especially those with service contracts, for service they get done in the off season. For example, you could offer a 10% discount on any upgrades or replacements from November through March and $25 off any tune-up done during the off season for those without service contracts. Every customer who uses a discount brings in cash you may not have gotten otherwise during this time of year and potentially reduces the busy season workload by handling it ahead of time.
WORK ON YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY
Building a marketing strategy for your HVAC business takes time, especially if you’re doing it on your own. It’s not something you necessarily have time for during the busy season; you’re more focused on customer service and only necessary admin tasks. So, take advantage of the slow season to implement a marketing strategy.
The easiest place to start is ensuring you have an online presence. Create a website. Engage with your customers and potential customers on social media. If you’re already active on social, maximize your downtime by taking the time to respond to reviews. Ideally, you should respond to reviews within 24–48 hours, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Take this time to catch up on responses so you can start with a clean slate for the next busy season.
And if you still have time left over, consider trying your hand at email marketing. These emails can range from appointment confirmations to promotional emails. Depending on the type of email and the system you use, you may even be able to send emails automatically, so you can just set it and forget it.
PREPARE FOR THE NEXT BUSY SEASON
Slow season is perfect for catching up on everything you don’t have time for during busy season. But don’t let the next busy season sneak up on you — start preparing for it now. Hire seasonal staff as early as possible so you can get them onboarded and ready to roll. And be sure to do whatever you can now that you won’t have time to do later.
For example, do you have a financing partner yet? At FTL Finance, our registration and onboarding process is simple; it can take only a couple of hours to complete. But when you’re in the height of the busy season, you don’t want to spend a couple of hours figuring everything out when a customer asks about financing.
Taking the time now to prepare can help you and your team when the next busy season comes around. By discovering your areas for improvement and focusing on training, you’re setting your team up for success, freeing up more time during the busy season, and hopefully relieving some stress.