It's no secret that a key to survival in the HVAC industry is building the right maintenance program so that it works for you, not against you. Maintenance programs are valuable for the following reasons:
- To provide enough work in your slow season to keep your staff employed and the bills paid.
- To establish your business as the customer’s go-to HVAC company who takes care of their equipment and the one to call when a need arises.
- To create potential add-on sales opportunities from being in front of the customer routinely.
- To have an avenue for training new technicians on a low-risk routine call.
The first one is probably the most important of all. However, having maintenance appointments during the wrong time of year can be detrimental to your business too. There’s a time of year when work comes more easily due to weather and seasonality. Every maintenance call you perform during the busy season means one less opportunity to sell a new system or make money on a repair. Plus, it could mean having to pay overtime to your already swamped employees. Or worse, having to furlough your trained technicians in the slow season and risk them being hired by your competition!
So, how do you move around your maintenance contracts so that the jobs get scheduled when your workload is the slowest?
Obviously telling a customer who has just gotten a tune up in October that you don’t want to perform their annual maintenance again until a year from January will not fly. So, consider packaging the maintenance with other benefits such as discounts on repairs, warranties on parts, priority on service calls, etc. Sell the annual maintenance program as a special offer that if they sign up now, they can get 15 months of program benefits for the cost of 12. That way you’ll have effectively moved the annual maintenance call to January – right when you need it – and the revenue lost on the three extra months will be minimal. The same strategy can be used for maintenance agreements sold during the busy season to push them to book their appointments during slower months.
Maintenance needs to be done regularly on HVAC equipment, but it doesn’t necessarily need to happen exactly every 12 months, or as a "pre-season tune-up". Therefore, the other option you have is to use price to motivate customers to agree to have their routine maintenance done in the off-season. You can offer the same program benefits at a slightly lower price point, or keep the same price point and offer additional discounts. Choose what works best for you and is the easiest to implement. Not only will this benefit your workload, it may also drive more cost-conscious customers to buy into the program.
Actively managing your maintenance by moving it to when you need the work can reduce your costs drastically and stabilize your work load over the entire year. Try these tips out and let us know how it works for you!