The Internet is now the most powerful marketing tool in the world. Despite that fact, many businesses do not take full advantage of what is available on the Internet and reap the rewards of positioning themselves properly. If your residential air conditioning business does not take the necessary steps to have a significant online presence, then you can bank on the fact that your competitors are picking up the business that you leave on the table.
Start with your website. If you already have one, then you need to consider whether or not you have the ability to update information on the website. If you don't already have one, then it is less expensive than you might imagine having one put together. You can easily contract with a freelance worker that can construct a basic website for a few hundred dollars. Just make sure that when you do this, you set yourself as the administrator and have full access and ownership to the site.
Make sure that you have put together a solid keyword strategy. This is how people will locate your website, and it does not cost any more to use the right keywords. If you are not sure what to use, then use some of the free keyword generating websites. If you are contacting with someone to build a website, make sure that they have a solid understanding of how to effectively use keywords.
Make sure that you can quantify the amount of traffic that your website is getting. You can either do this using Google Analytics or Alexa. When your website is new, you might not be getting much information but as the administrator you can tell how many hits each page on your site gets.
Keep your geographical location in mind. A residential air conditioning business is something that is specific to a certain location, and you need to effectively market to that location. When people go to a search engine to look for HVAC services, they will probably type the name of the city where they live followed by a service that they need. You can try it out on a search engine and see if you can find your own business.
Content is king when it comes to the Internet. You need to have information about residential air conditioning that people can use and be able to offer something that they appreciate. If you do not have good content on your website, it can also be a problem with search engines. You should use keywords effectively but make sure that your keyword density does not go over the limits that will cause search engines to your mark your site as spam.
If you ensure that you have a good website and a method of driving traffic to it, then you are ultimately going to spend less on advertising. There are a number of different strategies like affiliate marketing, email marketing or article marketing that will not cost much in terms of overhead, but greatly increase the amount of traffic and potential clients to your site.
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If you want to move forward in business, it is necessary to realize the importance of existing customers. Not only can they provide you with ongoing business in the form of service contracts or installations down the road but they can also potentially provide you with new customers if you treat them well.
Consider for a moment how much a business will spend on marketing to try and gain a few new customers. If you then take into account the fact that an existing customer basically takes no capital to retain, then you will see that the most cost-effective marketing strategy is to keep clients that you already have.
Something that many HVAC companies are doing effectively is offering some kind of rebate or cost reduction to let clients know that they are important to the company. Don't let it feel like you are giving money away; when you consider the fact that the revenue generated from that client is going to be many times when you gave away in a rebate, it will soon be evident that it is very worthwhile.
Servicing is the most important factor in maintaining a good customer relationship. Some companies will strive to do quality work and make sure that their employees are well trained and highly skilled. The truth of the matter is that the customer does not always know how good of a job your employee has done. If the company or the employee has not communicated well, then all of that effort might be lost.
Make sure that you set up a protocol for dealing with a client right from the initial contact. Whether it is you or an employee that is speaking to a customer, make sure that you are clear with them about what you can do for them. It is never too early to start asking them if they have questions and you will find that they are much happier if these are addressed early. Touch base with them during the process and most importantly, make sure at the end of the job that they are pleased with the work that has been done. They may offer you information that they might not have given if they were not prompted.
Not many people are experts on HVAC equipment or servicing. Try to put yourself in the shoes of somebody who needs your services and consider what is important to them. You should have materials that indicate to them that you are a professional outfit that will help to solve their problem. No matter what the medium, try to give them as much information as possible about what you do and how you can help.
Maintaining existing customers is important for the revenue stream. When you have the same clients that are engaged in a service contract with your business, then you can more easily anticipate the profitability of your business. It can allow you to be more confident when it comes to expanding the business as you know that you can count on a reliable customer base.
It is crucial for contractors in the HVAC industry to stay on top of changes and connect with both customers and peers as often as possible. Here are 10 resources that will help to keep your knowledge current and provide you with valuable contacts.
The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) – this is a trade association that represents a majority of manufacturers in the industry. On the website, contractors can learn about certified manufacturers and also get statistics regarding the industry. Information about market trends can help contractors better position their businesses.
The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) – this is a resource that can be used by both contractors and consumers. They can act as an advocate and offer important business resources. Consumers often look to the ACCA to find reputable contractors.
Heating/ Piping/ Air Conditioning Engineering (HPAC) – this is a magazine that will help keep contractors updated on the latest innovations and procedures in the HVAC industry. They are also an excellent source for news that can affect a contractor.
HVACRinfo.com – this is a valuable guide to all of the different resources that you can avail in the industry. They talk about equipment, supplies and tools that are currently used and also have excellent write ups about new procedures. You can find manuals and also uncover information about less frequently used equipment.
Contractormag.com – this is the website that is filled with useful information. You can find news articles about the latest developments and learn about innovative and green products that have recently been introduced. They also offer an excellent classified section and have information about peripheral industries.
HVAC-Talk – this is an excellent resource for contractors to share information or ask questions about products or marketing. Here you can find out about industry resources, gain insights from other contractors or even test your knowledge with quizzes about the business.
Energy Star – with a name that is known throughout the country both by contractors and consumers, Energy Star can not only help you to stay on top of procedures and methods that will make HVAC systems more efficient, but it will also provide checklists and resources that you can use with your clients.
Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) – similar to the ACCA, this is a useful tool for both consumers and businesses. It offers insightful articles about installation and equipment that is used as well as information about safety and regulations. You can even find online training resources here that will help you and your employees enhance your skills and qualifications.
Local Associations – being identified with a local association will not only help you to stay on top of geographically specific information about the industry, but it also reflects well on your company. People are more likely to do business with companies that are recognized and involved with local associations. They can also act as an advocate for contractors.
The Service Coach Blog – not all of the information on this website is specific to the HVAC industry, but much of it is useful. It will give you countless tips and tricks for marketing your business and maintaining your customer base. Here you’ll find a number of techniques then you probably did not consider before.
Data from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) and the Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) in 1997 indicates that households could see a substantial decrease in their heating bills by simply decreasing the temperature on the thermostat by 1° F.
The actual savings that are realized will depend on the energy source that the household uses to heat the home but it was estimated that savings could potentially be $15 to $40 and in some cases even more. Savings may also be dependent on the size of the structure and the properties of the insulation used along with other variables.
Looking at all of the different energy sources gives a slightly clearer picture of the numbers. The projected change in heating costs for each source from 1997 to the 2000-2001 heating season was also calculated.
If a household used natural gas, they would have 5% less consumption by reducing the thermostat temperature by 1° F. This translates into a cost savings of $22 for 1997 and the number increases to $33 using the projected numbers for 2000-2001.
Households that used electricity would have consumption reduced by 6% as a result of a 1° F reduction in thermostat temperature. The savings for these households would have been $16 for 1997. The number stays the same in the case of electricity for the next period because the projected prices of electricity were the same for 2000-2001.
For households that used fuel oil as the main space-heating fuel, a reduction of 4% would result from the 1° F reduction in thermostat temperature. This would have translated into a cost savings of $28 for 1997 and the projected cost savings for 2000-2001 would be $39.
Homes that used kerosene would have seen a 5% savings of energy and the 1997 reduction in energy costs would have been $16. Using the projected numbers for 2000-2001, the cost savings would increase to $23.
Those households that use liquefied Petroleum Gases (LPG) would also have experienced energy savings of 5%. This would have translated into a cost savings of $27 for 1997 and this would have increased to $35 using the projected numbers for 2000-2001.
The numbers will differ from one region to another. In warmer climate areas, the heating system is likely to be used less often. While this seems obvious, it actually has a more significant effect as the thermostat will reach the borderline temperature less often. As the heating system will be used fewer days of the year, this will actually result in a larger percentage drop in energy consumption and therefore a larger percentage increase in price reduction.
As an example, households in New England that use natural gas would see a 4% reduction in energy consumption. In the South Atlantic Census Division, a similar household using natural gas would experience a 6% reduction in energy consumption.
There is also a reason why electricity showed greater percentage savings in energy consumption. There are a greater number of households that use electricity as their main heating source in the Southern Census Divisions. The aggregate cost savings for electricity are also necessarily lower for the same reason.
In the market assessment report that was conducted for the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, the market for light commercial HVAC was analyzed for the Pacific Northwest region. For the purposes of this study, light commercial was considered to be less than 25 tons and the objective of the survey was to discover the nature of the different players in the market and analyze the size of the market at the same time. A secondary purpose of the market survey was to analyze perceptions about energy efficient products such as indirect evaporative cooling systems.
According to a Dun & Bradstreet search of SIC codes, there are 5700 companies involved in the HVAC business in the Pacific Northwest. Of these, approximately 850 had 10 or more employees and it is assumed that those are likely to be the ones involved in light commercial HVAC. Of these, about 800 were contractors and approximately 50 were distributors. For the purposes of the survey, 46 different individuals were contacted.
In terms of HVAC products, it was found that approximately 50% of the market share is sold by Trane. Carrier has about 30% and Lennox has about 15%. The remaining 5% of the market is taken up mostly by York. It appears that both Carrier and Lennox are increasing market share rapidly due to favorable products and prices.
Regarding the distributors in the Pacific Northwest, there are six major players in the region. For the big three manufacturers, Lennox products are distributed exclusively through the factory, Trane products are available through the factory and one distributor and Carrier products are offered through a variety of different distributors.
It seems that while there are a large number of contractors in the area, there are relatively few that handle the majority of the installations. It would seem that this is a result of distributors who make a practice of sticking with a preferred group of contractors.
This is not the first market assessment of its kind. To evaluate the results of this survey (that showed approximately 6800 packaged units per year), results of past surveys were compared to the findings here. These found that generally 9000 to 9600 packaged units were sold on a yearly basis. The discrepancy in numbers may have to do with recent economic realities or errors in computations due to the overlap between large residential and small commercial equipment in previous studies.
Regarding indirect evaporative cooling systems, none of the contractors that were interviewed were regularly installing them. Aside from the occasional unit that was installed in a kitchen make-up air system the contractors generally had no experience with these kinds of cooling systems.
Feedback was garnered from the contractors as to what would help to increase the number of evaporative cooling systems in the market. One of the first responses was to say that prices needed to be competitive with current systems. Further, they indicated that maintenance must be straightforward and easy to carry out. They also suggested that the existence of utility rebate programs would be a significant step forward in having more of these kinds of units installed as it is a measure of cost reduction for consumers.