Strategy & Leadership

3 Ways HVAC Companies Can Maximize Seasonal Downtime

With the summer’s hottest stretch behind us, and the winter cold still a way’s away, the fall can be a slow time for HVAC companies and other businesses tied to the seasons. But that doesn’t mean those months can’t be put to good use. Here are three ways field-service companies can make the most of any lull.

1. Double Down on Training

It’s back-to-school season, right? So go back to school. Wendy Moore, of Moore Mechanical Heating and Air Conditioning in Dublin, Calif., said her eight-person technician team uses the fall as its training season to stay updates on the latest technologies and systems. Employees can either attend local in-person certification courses, or sit in on Web-based training sessions through GoToMeeting.

Whether through the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification program, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), or a local training organization, take the opportunity to brush up on new products, new regulations, and old tricks.

2. Push Preventative Maintenance Programs

Donna Pratt, of AC Systems, Inc., in Walnut Creek, Calif., says almost 90 percent of customers only call when they have a problem. “It’s the nature of our industry,” she says. But that’s not a great way to ensure year-round business. Instead, she advises filling up the slow months of spring and fall by scheduling preventative maintenance calls for that time of year.

“We specifically set that slack time aside for our maintenance programs,” she says.

Pratt says that particularly with long-standing customers, her business can take those pre-planned visits and fill up the slow times. The maintenance calls also clear out the summer for dealing with emergency calls. As an added benefit, she says, the local union offers a rebate during the fall, meaning every technician call (hers is a union shop) qualifies for a $50 kick-back.

“That’s also when all the manufacturers have the highest rebates on installations,” she says. “So the fall’s really the best time to buy.”

3. Focus on Marketing

They say advertising’s more important when business is down than when it’s up. And that’s certainly true in cyclical business like HVAC repair. Pratt says her company sends out over 500 mailers to local customers during the fall, encouraging them to take advantage of lower prices, and urging them to either get their overworked AC checked out, or to let someone take a peek at the furnace before the winter rolls in. It may take a little extra elbow grease to keep business coming in during the slow months, but by re-thinking strategy, you can stay productive year-round.

More: Tips for Working the Field When the Weather Ramps Up.

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