The industry of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) services is poised for significant growth in 2022. In 2021, US shipments of air-source heat pumps and central air conditioners rose by 9.3%, and the projected future outlook appears similarly positive.
If you work in the plumbing business, chances are you’ve considered adding HVAC installation to your service offerings – and if you haven’t, this is your sign to start.
Finding ways to improve your plumbing business’ competitive edge is integral for long-term growth, and HVAC requires a very similar set of tools and skills to what you may already be using.
Both HVAC and plumbing will remain in-demand services for the foreseeable future, which is part of what makes them well-matched as a package offering. Clients can employ your business for more significant projects, and you’ll gain footing on all the other companies that have limited their service offering to purely plumbing.
This article will go through the pros and cons of adding HVAC services to your plumbing business in 2022. Plus, we’ll answer commonly asked questions about the required tools, service standards, and even what to expect in terms of marketing.
Let’s dive in!
HVAC And Plumbing: What Makes Them So Compatible?
The connection between HVAC and plumbing may not seem obvious at first, but the two industries share some notable common ground. Even though household pipes do not generate cooling or heating, the mechanical components of an HVAC system do produce water – sometimes significant volumes of it – that only a plumber can drain away.
In this sense, fixing an air conditioner or in-house heating system can often demand the skills of a plumber anyway. By providing both HVAC and plumbing services, you can become far more valuable to clients and probably even save them money while making more of it yourself.
Obtaining loyal, long-term relationships with clients will become more natural if you advertise HVAC and plumbing services as a package deal. They get the benefit of dealing with just one contractor, and you get the benefits of upskilling, being more marketable, and potentially upping your revenue.
What Do HVAC Services Entail?
Before you can get too excited about the prospect of a new service offering, you need to familiarize yourself with what it will entail. HVAC services are no simple hack, but the more experience you have as a plumber, the easier it will be to learn.
- HVAC system installation
HVAC installation is one of the most demanding aspects of providing HVAC services. Installation typically requires an in-home assessment, where the contractor takes measurements and uninstalls the previous system (if there is one) while minimizing the damage done to the property. And finally, installing a new one that meets the client’s requirements has this part of the HVAC service offering complete.
- HVAC system maintenance
Clients may call on you to repair or maintain an existing HVAC system that is underperforming, broken, or in need of an upgrade. This will require in-depth knowledge about how HVAC systems work and the appropriate tools for fixing them when they need attention.
- Duct cleaning (optional)
While it’s not typical of every HVAC contractor to provide duct cleaning services, it is yet another way to gain traction with clients and stay one step ahead of other contractor businesses. Duct cleaning is a form of maintenance involving internal dust removal and deep-cleaning that facilitates better air quality and a much longer HVAC system lifespan.
The Benefits Of Adding HVAC Service Offerings To Your Business
We’ve already discussed some of the most obvious benefits of adding HVAC services to your plumbing business, but it’s time to get a closer look.
- Providing an in-demand service
The demand for HVAC services is already high, which means your business takes a low risk of losing money or time due to training exercises and equipment procurement. According to the American Energy Association, a staggering 87% of homeowners have a central AC system – and yet contractors who exclusively provide HVAC services only have a 2% year-on-year growth rate.
- More gross profit
The equipment needed for offering HVAC services is the real prize here. Comfort systems like central AC carry a substantial gross profit for both materials and equipment, allowing your business to generate a much higher gross profit per hour of work.
- Easy license acquisition
Getting a plumbing license may be tricky, but getting an HVAC license is less so. That means you can obtain your own permit quickly and catch the wave of new HVAC contractors straight out of school that can start working (and earning) for you.
- Widens your target market
Expansion and upskilling are two major components of any successful business. In order to not just survive but thrive as a business, picking up new skills and adding to your list of valued services makes your business more marketable. Plus, it opens up your target market to a whole new realm of interested clients. If most of your clients have AC anyways, why not help them where you can?
As with any new business venture, there are both pros and cons to consider. Now that you understand the many benefits of adding HVAC to your business toolkit let’s look at some of the challenges you could meet along the way.
- Dramatic seasonality swings
The plumbing industry is no stranger to seasonality, but the HVAC industry is practically owned by it. The demand is exceptionally high during the summer and winter months, and during the milder spring and fall months, you’ll experience a massive dip in demand. If you move into HVAC service territory, make sure you have other jobs lined up for the off-season to ensure your business remains afloat.
- Expensive equipment
While it’s true that there are gross profit margins to be had in selling HVAC systems to clients, you will need to obtain those systems first. And they are costly. If you want to provide this service, you’ll need substantial initial capital to set yourself up first.
- Shifting your business relations and management
HVAC salespeople and technicians tend to have a different approach to business than the average plumbing company, so you will need to adjust how you engage with them and how you manage your business. HVAC equipment is typically purchased from a professional salesperson, which means you will need to make new industry connections.
Equipping Your Business For Providing HVAC Services
Before adding HVAC to your list of services, you’re going to need several new tools and pieces of equipment to set you up properly first. Some of them you probably already have in your trusty plumber’s toolkit, and others tend to err on the more expensive side. But once you have them, they’ll help you make back what you spent many times over.
- Nitrogen regulator
Nitrogen regulators are essentially pressure control valves. They reduce the intensity of highly pressurized gas and turn it into a more usable form, such as liquid. Having a nitrogen regulator on hand as an HVAC contractor will allow you to have more control over the AC pressure.
A multimeter is a safety device. If you’re going to be working on HVAC systems, you’re going to need protection from live wires and electrical hazards, and a multimeter can give you that. You can use it to test for safety and prevent electrical explosions from happening.
- Basic tools
In addition to some specialty tools, all HVAC contractors need to carry a variety of basic tools that support simple maintenance techniques. Some of them include hammers, screwdrivers, spanners, pliers, wrenches, flashlights, cutters, gauges, drills, and extension cords. Protective tools like gloves, masks, goggles, earplugs and heavy steel-capped shoes are also important toolkit additions.
- HVAC software
That’s right, HVAC software is being developed to help streamline the conduction of your services. While not essential, HVAC software will allow you to estimate costs, schedule appointments, dispatch equipment, and send invoices easily. You can use software like this for both plumbing and HVAC purposes. After all, who couldn’t use a little productivity lift, especially when offering a new service?
Improve Your Service Offering With HVAC
If you have the capital, the time, and the drive, adding HVAC services to your plumbing business offerings will likely reap many rewards. The demand is there. The market is ready. All you need is a couple of extra tools, some industry connections, and a game plan for the off-season blues.
If you play your cards right, you can significantly increase your current business’ marketability and client pool by starting to offer licensed, quality HVAC contractor services in 2022.
As global climates shift territory and people become more concerned about sustainable temperature control, the HVAC industry is only expected to grow over the next few decades. If you time it properly, you can cash in on that growth.