The slow season doesn’t have to be a drag on your HVAC business.
A lot of HVAC companies brace themselves for a slow season by reducing their marketing efforts. As a result, their slow seasons become even slower.
If you haven’t prepared for the downturns, you’re looking at seasonal layoffs. Or perhaps you’ve factored slow times into your budget, but you’re looking for ways to keep your team busy when there are fewer calls coming in.
Even if it seems illogical, by amping up your marketing efforts before you hit your slow season, you can find new streams of income when the phone normally stops ringing.
How to turn up your marketing in the slow seasons
The following are a mix of short-term and long-term strategies to try out whether you need new customers ASAP or you’re looking to steadily grow over the next few years.
We asked 59 home service pros where they focus on marketing resources during the slow season.
The top answer was: they focus on selling and servicing maintenance agreements.
Working on social media and website marketing was second, followed by focusing in their business, either training employees or taking inventory counts.
Create special deals for other businesses
If you’re looking for work ASAP, try pitching work to other seasonal businesses. Have your office staff get some intel on businesses in your service area that might be slow during the same season(s) you are, such as hotels and golf courses. Put together a “special offer” for system check-ups, preventive maintenance, and/or upgrades, like replacing water heaters or air conditioning units. Then, have your staff start calling, emailing, or visiting each of those businesses to pitch your special offer.
It might sound something like this: We know you want to provide incredible customer service, and there’s nothing worse than having a major system fail when your place is booked up. We can help you avoid that problem by inspecting your units and fixing potential problems now — before they result in customer complaints and one-star reviews in July. Your off-season is the perfect time to knock out preventive maintenance like this, and we’re currently offering a special deal …
Reach out to your quiet customers
Another strategy that can produce fast results is to reach out to existing customers. As you know, it’s far less expensive and time-consuming to keep current customers than it is to win new ones. During your slow season, have your office staff review customer profiles and put together a list of people who mentioned additional projects they were considering tackling in the future. Then, have them call those folks!
If you don’t have that kind of data, have your staff pull records for customers who have systems that might soon need to be replaced. Then (you know what’s coming), have your team call those folks.
Don’t have any of that data, either? Develop a system to make sure you capture and record it in the future!
Remember: You lose every sale you don’t ask for, and you may be surprised by how many people will book a service or maintenance call just because you reminded them your shop exists.
Generate steady revenue with service plans
Offering recurring services is a simple way to up your income all year long. We’ve got the tools to help you set up recurring service plans, remind customers they’re due for work, and get paid.
Form strategic partnerships
Think about how you can partner up with other local businesses to serve your community well. So, this isn’t about pitching your shop’s services; it’s about helping another shop do well, too. Join forces with a plumbing company and come up with some kind of “package” deal.
Also, don’t be afraid to think outside the home services box. One of my clients recently partnered with a pet supply company to make deliveries to their customers during COVID-19 stay-home orders. It was a brilliant way to build bridges with another local business and increase public awareness of their own business at the same time.
Boost your social media content strategy
Working on brand awareness (through things like social media platforms and a blog) doesn’t always have a fast pay-off, but you’ll see the effects for years to come. When you put some muscle behind your social media, you get:
- More people visiting your website.
- Higher-quality interactions with your customers and community.
- Improved customer service and customer loyalty.
- Increased visibility.
- Better insight into who your customers are and what they want so you can better solve their problems.
Putting together social media and blogging strategies during your slow seasons gives you time to practice and refine it before things get super-busy again.
You can even schedule blog posts to be published in the future and use a social media management program to queue up posts for months! Wouldn’t it be great to know you have a quarter’s worth of blog and/or social media posts done?
Develop this strategy with your office staff and put them to work creating posts and interacting with prospects online.
Update messaging to appeal to your customer
Do your website, ads, and business listings appeal to the right people? Maybe you’re looking to attract folks in certain income brackets or specific neighborhoods; homeowners ready for complete system replacements; or commercial clients in specific industries. Slower seasons are a great time to focus on tweaking your message to attract your ideal customers. Customize the language on your website or create specific ads that appeal specifically to these people.
And while you’re at it, I recommend hiring a professional photographer to update your company photos. Having high-quality photos to use for social media, your website, direct mail campaigns, on your GMB profile, and everywhere else is really important when it comes to wowing quality customers.
Your team can help you brainstorm a desired shot list: photos of your staff, your trucks and equipment, your office, on-the-job and behind-the-scenes shots, and so on. And, of course, they can do the research (instead of you) to find someone who’ll knock your photos out of the park.
Respond to online reviews and ask for more of them
Have your staff check everywhere for reviews—Google, Yelp, Facebook, and so on—to make sure every single review has received a personal response. These responses show prospective customers that your company is responsive to customer feedback.
If asking for reviews isn’t already part of your standard operating procedure, have your office staff reach out to every single customer from the past couple of months to ask for one.
Keep in touch with your customers easily with Housecall Pro
Learn how you can get more 5-star reviews for your small business with our customer review feature. Increase the number of reviews and average score of your Google My Business rating and generate testimonials from customers.
How to assess the effectiveness of your marketing strategy
Use slow times to step back and assess your overall marketing strategy and look for improvements. In fact, most home services companies should assess and adjust every eight to twelve weeks.
Here are some quick steps to see what’s working well.
- Check out your website performance via Google Analytics. See if you’re getting more traffic month after month and see which pages they’re looking at.
- Look at the performance of your Google Ads. See which ads are working well and make sure that people are actually calling as a result.
- Assess the ROI of money spent to lead gen sites, Facebook, or anywhere else you’re running ads. Make sure you have a system in place to know how each customer has found you and what percentage of your revenue each marketing tactic is responsible for.
Beyond marketing: recurring maintenance plans
I talk to home services companies all the time who are frustrated because they never have time to work on their business—because they’re too busy working in it.
In general, your slow season is the Perfect Time to fine-tune the backend of your business.
Your office staff has time to refine their communication and sales processes, billing, and accounting procedures. You have time to focus on one-on-one meetings that build up your relationships with your staff, have lunch or coffee with your best customers and ask for feedback, and set new long-term goals for your company.
Lastly, sell maintenance plans year-round with a focus on that work being done in winter months. The HVAC industry can do a better job of marketing itself during downtime. Use this list to make your service business a leader among your competition.