In one of our previous articles, “10 Tips On How To Keep Your HVAC Business Thriving During Slow Seasons,” we talked about how to keep your HVAC business afloat even in the midst of slow seasons. But with winter around the corner, it’s time to shift gears and prepare for a lot more business during this peak season.
The struggles of running a seasonal business
Managing construction or trade businesses is never as easy as it seems. Aside from writing up punch lists and analyzing your profits, contractors, who are part of project management for construction, have to supervise their crew and look at almost every detail of all job orders and projects.
But seasonal trades like HVAC are particularly challenging because customers can come and go like the wind, making business somewhat unstable and unpredictable. It takes more than the right HVAC tools to make your company thrive.
You get stuck in your regular day-to-day routine, see that your employees are fine, and business is doing reasonably well overall. Because of this, you fail to see the importance of proactively setting aside time and energy for planning for future events, specifically for peak seasons.
By the time you notice you’re overwhelmed with the phone’s non-stop ringing and the bulk of job orders, it will be too late to see that you could have done something about it.
HVAC’s business varies from season to season and each period presents its own unique advantages and problems. This is why it’s important to be prepared. If you neglect to plan ahead, you might find yourself drowning in chaos or without business at all.
What happens during peak season?
Peak seasons are times when companies see a lot of business because of the current season’s influence. There is a massive influx of new customers and high demands from existing ones.
Generally speaking, the HVAC industry has two peak seasons: summer and winter. As the temperature increases, people want a fully-functioning cooling system to escape the blistering summer heat. During this time, HVAC tradespeople should expect an abundance of repairs and maintenance job orders. The same goes for winter. Their heating systems need to be in tip-top shape to battle the harsh winter cold. So, HVAC contractors and technicians have a bulk of jobs during these times.
As previously mentioned, HVAC contractors and their technicians must be ready for the influx of job calls. Here’s what you should do to keep your HVAC business on track during peak seasons.
Identify your peak season (or seasons)
Although summer and winter are typically peak seasons for HVAC businesses, that is not the case for every region. For example, in Texas, where it is almost always hot and the winters are mild, winter is not a peak season.
You can review the previous reports and logs to see when you had the most call orders. It would also be helpful to employ the aid of a call tracking provider. From there, you can check out your marketing and appointment conversion.
If you had peak calls during a specific time, but the conversion dropped, you’ll need to do some research as to what prevented you from converting appointments. It could be because you were at a scheduling capacity, or maybe your team failed to handle the high call volume properly. When you determine the root cause, you can establish expectations for the upcoming peak season and proactively work on making it a successful one.
1. Start planning during slow seasons.
The sooner you plan for the increase of jobs, the better equipped you’ll be to handle them– and the slow season is the perfect time to start planning for the busy months. With the downtime you have during these months, instead of waiting for clients to walk through your door, prepare for the future when business does pick up.
2. Stock up on supplies
With demand at an all-time high, the last thing you want during peak season is to run out of supplies. Do an inventory on what supplies and materials you have: which ones you still have a lot of and which ones need to be replenished. Aside from an inventory, look at last year’s numbers and check which ones are the bestsellers and most needed materials. Also, take a look at the current trends and have some stuff for that, too.
It’s also a good idea to check on the condition of your tools. You wouldn’t want to send out your techs with an incomplete toolset. It’s best to replace ones that don’t do the job that well, anymore.
The best time to do an inventory is during downtime so that you have time to look for replacements if your vendor runs low on their own stocks. Plus, manufacturers slash down prices during the autumn slow season to make way for winter inventory. You can save when you purchase supplies, materials, and equipment during this time.
3. Evaluate current employees; add seasonal employees.
The increase in the volume of job orders during busy seasons requires more hands-on deck than in slow seasons. Before the busy times even begin, examine your staff and see if they are prepared for what’s to come. If you find that you may be understaffed, start hiring able bodies to fill the team up for the season.
One way to recruit some new people is to participate in local job fairs. You can also get in touch with some past seasonal workers who you thought did a good job. Being open to apprenticeships might also be a good idea.
But adding bodies is not enough. Because HVAC is a trade, your staff must be trained and skilled for the sake of their jobs and your company. Also, best done during slow seasons, train your team, both old and new, to prepare them for the influx of job orders. Their training can also serve as a refresher on the trade, improving their skills, thus helping the company build a good reputation.
4. Make sure you have enough money.
Being financially prepared is one of the key elements in maximizing seasonal profits.
With the added people on your seasonal team, you’ll also need to beef up your hiring budget, including money for job ads, recruitment, training, and more payroll. You might also need some extra to get you through the rush.
Doing this is a continuous thing. You have to keep in mind your budget for the peak seasons, so you have to continuously save up, whether it’s peak or slow season.
5. Manage and organize your schedule
One of the most significant issues contractors have during peak seasons is having so much to do with so little time, which can be very stress-inducing. With a long list of things to do and their deadlines fast-approaching, it’s easy to feel anxious and get distracted.
This is why proper time-management is essential in any business, but especially during peak seasons.
While a to-do list is a step in getting organized, it has its cons. For one, the lack of a definite deadline can leave you confused and overwhelmed because you feel like everything must be done at once. So, instead of a to-do list, try blocking your calendar. Set aside specific times of the day to do and finish certain tasks. Knowing what to do and when to have them done will help manage your workload and give you a sense of control over them. With that, you’ll have a higher chance of staying on track and reduce the risk of stress due to work feeling “too urgent.”
How construction crew scheduling software can help you in peak seasons
Peak seasons are the busiest and most stressful times for any HVAC business. With the overwhelming amount of job orders, it can be easy to fall into disorganization and mess.
One solution to help HVAC contractors stay organized is by using scheduling software. Pro Crew Schedule’s HVAC contractor software has a myriad of features that prove to be essential in an HVAC contractor’s work life, especially during busy times.
For one, it’s wholly digitalized and mobile, so you can run your business and stay connected with your team with just one single tool. You won’t have to worry about having stacks and stacks of paper scattered around your office and the stress they bring.
On the platform, scheduling and time-tracking are a breeze. You can send the right job order and schedule to your team so they can immediately be dispatched to tend to the client. Then, with the time-in/time-out features, accounting and payroll computations are done fluidly.
More than that, offsite contractors can still collaborate in real-time with their team. Because the app is cloud-based, you can remotely send essential documents like instructions, maps, and drawings so your team can do their jobs efficiently.
If you want a digital tool to help you stay on top of things, check out Pro Crew Schedule and see what plan fits you.