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HVAC slow season: 3 ways to handle the downtime

Service technicians in commercial kitchen

HVAC service companies see most of their business during the hottest and coldest months of the year. While summer and winter are prime periods for technicians, the fall and early spring can bring everything to a screeching halt. So how do you fight the HVAC slow seasons that strike from September to December or March to May? Here are some tips for conquering the downtime.

Make preventative maintenance a priority

Emergencies happen throughout the year, so there will still be the occasional emergency calls in the fall and spring. Make them count! This is the perfect time to educate customers on the benefits of preventative maintenance and service plans. Point out how everything from changing filters to replacing worn out parts can help extend the life of an HVAC system and improve air quality. Selling these plans throughout the down period helps bring in revenue with first-time fees and annual renewals, allowing you to offset the lack of appointments in the slow season. 

Of course, getting someone to lock into a preventative maintenance plan isn’t always easy. This is why connecting with customers is crucial. As Toni McLellan laid out in her article about building great customer relationships, being memorable is key. When you leave a business card or marketing materials after a visit, consider including a flyer with some of your preventative maintenance packages. Also, use your follow-up call or email to mention the options you have for annual and semi-annual check-ups.

Offer “early-bird” deals for upgrades

Freezer with open door

One way to add some appointments to the calendar is by offering upgrades during the spring and fall. Most customers call in as soon as their equipment breaks down. Why not offer them a chance to get ahead of the curve? See which of your clients have old HVAC systems. This is the perfect group to contact about upgrading their equipment during the slow season.

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That sounds like an easy strategy, but you’ll need something to entice your customers. Special pricing is a good way to help seal the deal. Think about offering “early-bird” discounts for anyone who upgrades the HVAC equipment in the spring or fall. The message can be as simple as “Get X% off new heating equipment this fall” or “Upgrade your AC unit this spring and get X% off.”

Focus on marketing, shows & training

While repairs and maintenance are essential to your day-to-day operation, there are other crucial factors that help your business run smoothly. The HVAC slow season allows you to focus on areas like marketing, trade shows, and recruitment and training programs.

Different factors throughout the year can dictate how you market to customers. Still, you should develop a strategy that serves as a road map for an entire calendar year. During the fall, map out your game plan for the following year. Budget how much you want to spend on things like advertising and campaigns, and plan when you want to run different discounts. Ask yourself what’s working and what needs to change. Maybe your business requires rebranding or a new website. Without a large influx of business, this is the perfect time to explore these possibilities.

The downtime also gives you a chance to hit the road. During the spring and fall, attend different trade shows and career fairs to recruit a new wave of HVAC techs to your company. Showcase what makes your business stand out from the rest, and explain the perks the HVAC field offers to college-aged prospects or folks looking for a career change. When recruiting service technicians, mention the average starting salary, free training, and opportunities for growth. If you have newer techs starting, the slow season is a good time to onboard. They can be eased into the job, focusing on certification courses and riding along on low-impact service calls.

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