- The HVAC industry is on the rise, offering a prime opportunity to start your own HVAC company
- Writing a business plan, calculating startup costs, and obtaining the appropriate certifications are a must to launch a successful HVAC business
- A professional website and online profiles on Yelp, Facebook, and LinkedIn can help you earn new clients
Starting an HVAC business has never been as lucrative as it is now. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is booming, prompting HVAC technicians like yourself to strike out on their own and launch small businesses.
The demand for HVAC services—including maintenance, upgrading, installation, and consulting—is through the roof. In fact, the HVAC services market is expected to grow by over $10 billion in the United States over the next 10 years.
Naturally, consumers want to cut costs and make their HVAC equipment more efficient. The newest HVAC systems can yield a 20% savings in energy usages throughout the year, fueling the demand for HVAC contractors like you.
This guide will show you how to build your own HVAC business from the ground up. You’ll learn how to organize your business plan, develop your brand, and launch your company so you can set yourself up for success.
7 steps to starting an HVAC business
Starting a successful HVAC business requires some preparation and planning before you embark on your entrepreneurial journey. However, there’s an easy formula you can follow to launch a successful business. Let’s walk through some basics of starting an HVAC business.
1. Write an HVAC business plan
A well-organized business plan will put your new endeavor on the right track. Business plans help you organize your thoughts and determine if it makes sense to start an HVAC business.
You’ll identify your competitors, learn about the current state of the market, and formulate financial projections. You’ll also set up your business model, define the structure of your business, and lay out your HVAC marketing ideas.
A business plan is also required if you’re going to seek business loans or other funding. Banks and investors will need to decide if you have a feasible business idea they’re willing to get behind.
Here are the core components of a business plan:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organization and management
- Marketing and sales
- Financial projections
You can find detailed information regarding business planning on the Small Business Administration website.
2. Estimate your startup costs
Before starting an HVAC business, you need to know how much it’s going to cost. Startup costs can quickly add up. However, there are ways you can limit your spending and launch your HVAC business with a reasonable budget.
Account for all potential expenses to avoid starting your business unprepared. Startup costs will range between $2,000 and $10,000 on the low end but could balloon much higher if you want to purchase brand-new equipment and vehicles.
It’ll be easier to bootstrap your business if you buy a used vehicle and second-hand equipment from certified resellers in your area.
Consider the following expenses:
- Service vehicle
- Liability insurance
- HVAC tools
- Safety gear
- Company uniforms
- HVAC certifications
- Marketing expenses
You’ll also need to account for getting an HVAC certification to launch your business.
3. Obtain an HVAC certification
There are specific certifications and licenses you’ll need to acquire to become a certified HVAC professional and start your own business. A bachelor’s degree isn’t required, but you will need credentials to legally work in the HVAC industry.
Accredited schools offer certification programs that vary from state to state. Beyond that, each state requires a license to legally work as an HVAC technician along with certification exams for different areas of HVAC servicing. A majority of these classes and certification programs involve hands-on training at facilities in your area.
These are common certification programs you should know about:
- EPA Type I Certification (Small Appliances)
- EPA Type II Certification (High-Pressure Systems)
- EPA Type III Certification (Low-Pressure Systems)
- Universal EPA Certificate
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE: Certifications in specific service areas)
Read more about HVAC certifications.
4. Develop your HVAC brand
Customers have plenty of HVAC companies to choose from—many with years of experience. A unique company name, logo, and branding will set you apart from your competitors and improve your chances to win over local customers.
Come up with a creative business name that clearly defines your HVAC company. Potential customers should know what your company is about from first glance. For example, “Fire and Ice Heating and Cooling” is a potential name that clearly describes your business. On the other hand, a name like “Johnson Solutions” may be too vague for customers to immediately understand your business.
Once you choose a name, your next step is coming up with an attractive logo and branding elements to represent your company. Your logo should have a clean design and professional look.
You also need to come up with other branding elements—like a color scheme and typography—that you will use on marketing materials such as your business cards, website, and email communications. Studies show that you can increase your revenue by over 20% by using consistent brand elements across all of your marketing channels.
If you’re worried you can’t design a logo on your own, outsource the work to an experienced graphic designer. You can find freelance contractors on sites like 99designs who will handle the entire design process for you.
5. Register your HVAC business
Before you start offering your HVAC services, you’ll need to officially register your business. You have a few business structures you can choose from—sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation.
A limited liability company is the most suitable for aspiring HVAC business owners for a few reasons. LLCs take some of the most beneficial aspects of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations and roll them into one business structure.
An LLC allows you to avoid double taxation when tax season comes around. You can “pass through” your business earnings to your personal tax return in the same way sole proprietorships and partnerships allow. Corporations tax you at the business level and also on your personal tax return.
LLCs also give you the liability protection that corporations get. Your personal assets are protected in the event of legal action, like being sued for property damage while on the job. Sole proprietorships and partnerships do not have this same protection.
You can find more information and register your business on the Small Business Administration website.
6. Set up online profiles
There are a handful of online profiles you should consider setting up for your HVAC business—specifically Facebook, LinkedIn, and a Yelp Business Page.
Facebook will give you access to your current customers and open doors to new customers. You can use this social media platform to stay in touch with customers, supply them with useful content, and offer current promotions and discounts. For instance, as the warm season approaches, you can offer homeowners an early bird discount of 15% off their air conditioning maintenance.
LinkedIn is more focused on professionals and networking opportunities with other professionals and small business owners. It’s an effective way to expand your network and forge partnerships with other business owners who could send referrals your way. For example, you can connect with construction contractors who could potentially refer clients to your business and vice versa.
A Yelp Business Page will also expand your online presence. It gives potential customers a way to research your business before deciding to enlist you for their heating and cooling needs. You can add a business description, post photos related to jobs you’ve done, and respond to user reviews.
Yelp gives you direct access to your customers. You’re able to respond to reviews—both positive and negative—and provide excellent customer service for potential customers to see.
7. Design a professional website
There’s a good chance many potential customers will research HVAC businesses online before deciding to go with a particular service. It takes only 0.05 seconds for someone to form an opinion of your company based on your website, so it’s best to make a positive first impression. Your website serves as the face of your company and must build trust with visitors so they feel comfortable contacting you for services.
Organize your website into several core sections to make it easy for visitors to find the information they want. These can include your services, areas where you provide service, an “about us” page, and contact information.
Your landing page must also include an enticing value proposition, which is a statement that clearly explains the benefits you provide, how you solve a customer’s problems, and how you’re different from competitors. Come up with a short one-sentence value proposition that explains your business and the value you can provide.
For example, you could write something like, “On-demand HVAC servicing that won’t put a strain on your wallet.” You can follow this up with a call to action like “Get your free quote today” with a link to your contact details.
It’s time to break into the HVAC industry
Starting an HVAC business has the potential to be a rewarding business in more ways than one. You can help people improve their home environment, and the industry is booming, offering plenty of opportunities for new business owners like you.
Put in the work to figure out if you have a feasible business model by organizing a business plan and estimating your startup costs. Then, officially register your business and move onto other areas like building your brand, claiming your Yelp Business Page, and designing your website. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to a career in the HVAC industry.