Keeping Your HVAC Business Profitable During The Off-Season

The HVAC industry tends to thrive during the extreme temperatures of summer and winter. Naturally, consumers often ignore their heating and cooling systems during the milder seasons of spring and fall. This slowdown can be challenging for HVAC businesses needing to retain staff, maintain equipment, and cover overhead costs. Additionally, fluctuations in demand, exacerbated by events like the COVID-19 pandemic, have made these slow periods even more pronounced. For example, HARDI reported a 19% decline in sales in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

However, the slow season doesn’t have to be a drag on your business. Here are six tips to help HVAC contractors and business owners stay profitable during these times:

keeping your hvac business busy in the winter

2. Offer Discounts

  • Special Deals: Provide special deals for regular customers to upgrade their systems during the off-season. Many homeowners and businesses take advantage of lower prices to install new HVAC systems.
  • Seasonal Discounts: Encourage customers to maintain their equipment with off-season discounts. This helps keep your workforce engaged and ensures steady cash flow.
  • Target Other Seasonal Businesses: Offer preventive maintenance at special rates during their off-seasons. Highlight the importance of servicing systems before the peak season to avoid breakdowns. This also helps clear out old inventory, preparing you for the new season.

2. Pace Out Recurring Jobs to the Off-Season

  • Schedule Routine Work: Use the slower period to handle routine upgrades and annual maintenance, freeing up your technicians for the busier peak season.
  • Use Scheduling Software: Leverage HVAC scheduling software to organize and pace out these routine inspections.

3. Reorient Marketing Activities

  • Maintain Marketing Efforts: Instead of cutting your marketing budget, reorient your efforts to reach out to previous customers who haven’t taken up annual maintenance contracts or serviced their equipment recently.
  • Sell Maintenance Agreements: Offer long-term service contracts with perks like priority service and inspection fee waivers. Focus on building relationships with customers for guaranteed recurring revenue.
  • Follow Up on Leads: Review customer profiles and follow up on non-priority leads that might have fallen through the cracks.

4. Form Strategic Partnerships

  • Alliances with Related Businesses: Partner with non-competing businesses to offer package deals that provide a range of services.
  • Diversify Services: If needed, diversify into unrelated business lines. For example, an HVAC business partnered with a pet supply company to make home deliveries during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. This can provide immediate cash flow and new customer prospects.

5. Build Out Your Social Media

  • Engage Online: Use the slow season to enhance your social media presence. Update your website, improve SEO, and queue up blog posts.
  • Respond to Reviews: Address online reviews on platforms like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Offer personalized responses to both positive and negative feedback.
  • Use Listening Tools: Invest in social media listening tools to understand customer preferences and improve your services.

6. Leverage HVAC Software Fully

  • Optimize Operations: Use HVAC service software to streamline operations, track technicians, and sync inventory. Efficiency improvements can lead to significant cost savings.
  • Analyze Data: Review seasonal data from previous years to gain insights and make better predictions for future planning.
  • Automate Processes: Add new functionalities, automate routine processes, and roll out mobile apps for field agents and customers.

Tying It All Together

Taking these steps during the slow season can not only help your business break even but also set you up for greater success during peak times. By focusing on training employees, updating inventory, and upgrading your HVAC management software, you can ensure your business runs smoothly year-round. Consider the slow season as an opportunity to sharpen your operations and prepare for the busy months ahead.