How to Become a Successful HVAC Contractor in 7 Easy Steps

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Jul 18, 2018

Jul 18, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

There aren't many careers that offer the same advantages that being an HVAC contractor does. The environment is always changing, and they get to work with their hands. HVAC contractors enjoy the benefits of making customers happy and completing physical tasks.

But, it isn't for everyone.

To become an HVAC contractor, you need to learn the stepping stones to get there. A career in this field doesn't happen overnight. You must be willing to put in the effort.

If you're ready to see what it takes to become an HVAC contractor, keep reading.

1. Have Realistic Expectations

The journey to becoming an HVAC contractor takes many years. So, it's important to understand what you're getting into.

To start, you won't be making crazy amounts of money. Most contractors make around $25 000 the first year. That can increase to around $50 000. Significant income increases occur when you get more certifications and experience.

Owning your own HVAC company can earn you in the six-figures. But, it's a lot more work to manage a team.

The work itself is strenuous and physical. You'll be pushing your body so it's a good idea to have an active lifestyle to start. You'll also be in a new place every day or so.

This career isn't for people who want to sit at a desk. HVAC contractors' tasks are always changing and very hands-on. They also deal a fair amount with customers and the public.

2. Obtain Basic Certifications

It's crucial that you have your high school diploma to be an HVAC contractor. Since your training will need further education, you need that basic education.

After high school, consider applying to a trade school or community college. Many schools have HVAC programs that will teach you the basics of the field. You'll learn about workplace safety and the scientific concepts involved in HVAC.

Many people don't realize how science-based HVAC is. You need to understand the properties of gas, hydraulics, and physics. HVAC programs will teach these concepts through classwork and laboratory time.

If you're someone who doesn't enjoy school, don't worry. Much of your HVAC training is hands-on during and after the classroom.

3. Acquire Work Experience

It's beneficial to learn about HVAC on the job from a veteran contractor. There are many concepts you can't learn from a textbook.

If you choose to go to school for HVAC, there will likely be apprenticeship opportunities. Apprenticeships are an awesome way to get your foot in the door. Not only do you get to learn and practice your trade, but you get paid.

Apprenticeships come with more classroom training but they're also very hands-on.

Some contractors have gone a different route than apprenticeships. It's possible to apply for an HVAC contractor assistant position in a company and work your way up. This means you'll likely only be carrying equipment and cleaning to start.

Whichever route you choose, know that it's crucial to your career that you get on-the-job experience.

4. Build Your Reputation

You may be diving into owning your own HVAC business or work for someone else. Either way, your reputation matters.

Aside from the technicalities of your job, your personality is a huge part of your reputation.

By being open to questions and a good listener, customers will feel comfortable with you. Add that to completing the task they hired you for and you're on track for referrals.

Recommendations are your biggest marketing strategy because they're free and effective.

You should also come dressed to succeed every single day. Yes, your work can get messy. But, that doesn't mean you show up in dirty clothes.

Every time you enter a customer's space, you should appear put together and presentable. Your communication skills are also important. Being able to listen to the customer's concerns increase your likability.

5. Create a Reliable Business

Even if your business is only you and your equipment, you need to prove its reliability.

This can mean a few different things. First, you need to get all the accreditations you're eligible for. Customers choose companies they can trust; certifications are endorsements of your trustworthiness.

Look into the licenses, permits, and the insurance you need to run your business. Make sure you have a contractor license bond. If new technology and methods come out in your field, get certified in them.

The other component of reliability is in how you run your business.

Phone calls and emails must always get answered. This might mean hiring a virtual assistant since you can't answer the phone 24/7.

Also, your website needs to look professional and easy to navigate. Ensure all information is current and accurate.

6. Focus on Return Customers

The stats are shocking but true: 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. This means that customers who enjoy your service are likely to come back to you.

You need to place a strong focus on customer service and return customers.

One way of doing this is by creating an email marketing campaign for past customers. It could include promotions or even referral incentives. The goal is to remind customers of your business.

Every new customer should get excellent service so that they return in the future.

7. Network Everywhere

Word of mouth is the best marketing strategy because it's free. But, there are other ways to garner business as well.

First, always keep business cards in your wallet. You could be making small talk with someone when they mention needing HVAC services. Be prepared to pitch yourself.

Second, it's important to network with contractors in different fields. Someone who does asphalt driveways might not know HVAC. If they know and trust you, they can suggest your business to an inquiring customer.

New customers are everywhere you go. Take advantage of your fellow tradesmen's referrals.

Ready to Become an HVAC Contractor?

This career path isn't for everyone, but it's perfect for some. If you enjoy physical work and an ever-changing environment, it could be for you.

The steps above outline the process of becoming an HVAC contractor. Of course, there are many details between them. Consider speaking to a current HVAC contractor to see how they got to where they are now.

For more information on landing your perfect career and navigating the world of business, check out our career blog.