On October 30, Jason Julian treated his team of ten employees to lunch and a tool giveaway. They were celebrating the company reaching one million in sales. And to the owner of Julian Heat and Air, it was very important to reward his crew.
They’re the reason he was able to reach this goal so quickly.
While other HVAC and trade businesses can sometimes struggle for months to find their next quality hire, Jason found ten in six months.
In this piece, we’ll tell you Jason’s story: how he built such a great and loyal team and reached the one million mark in a little over a year. And we’ll offer tips to help you find similar success.
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The story behind Julian Heat and Air
In August of 2019, Jason Julian left the company that he’d helped manage and build with the promise that the owner would sell it to him. The owner had backed out of the deal after deciding he was making too much money to sell.
Jason decided to strike out on his own.
“I left that company with the idea of what I can do,” he explained in a phone interview. “Just continue to do really good work, but if I have the right people in the right places, we can accomplish a lot more in a shorter time.
For six months, Jason was mostly on his own with the occasional part-time help. It was a rough start. “I knew that I could do good work. I just didn’t know if I could make it last. I didn’t know if I could get paid enough to keep going.”
But around that six-month mark, he hired his first secretary and a couple more helpers and things started to take off quickly. Within the next eight months, he’d grown his team to eleven people.
It’s important to note that the pandemic did play a role. People are home more and realizing they’re uncomfortable. Some of Jason’s customers used stimulus money to catch up on home repairs, including HVAC.
But this wasn’t the sole reason Jason’s business grew so fast and is outpacing other businesses in his area. According to Jason, what has made the biggest difference was how he treats his team.
1.Having a hard time finding good help? Try posting more on Facebook
For years Jason has been taking pictures of his work and posting them on Facebook.
“There were a lot of technicians that worked for other companies that were noticing the type of work that I was doing, and they wanted to be a part of it. Several of the guys that work here now called me up and asked me for a job and said, ‘I want to work with that’”
Some of the guys had been following Jason’s work for years.
Conduct values-based interviews
When looking at a new potential team member, Jason asks them about their values:
“I treat everybody the same, no matter if they’re someone renting a place or the owner of a magnificent home. No matter what we are doing or what budget they’re on. And I really seek that out whenever I am hiring guys,” Jason said.
He can tell from these conversations whether this is a person he wants to join his crew and represent his company.
Pay what you’d want to be paid
So he attracts quality technicians with his work, and he filters out candidates based on their values, but then he has to keep them happy with his company. One piece of this is the pay.
Even though Julian Heat and Air is still a young business, Jason pays his team the most of any HVAC company in town.
In fact, one of his lead technicians is making $6 more an hour working for Jason than he made after 12 years working for another company. “He’s every bit worth it. And he feels it each day,” Jason said.
(The flip side of this is if you don’t want your team members to be poached, you have to pay them well.)
Consistently show appreciation to your team
But his team is happy to work for him not just because of the pay. Jason consistently shows appreciation for his team, through public posts, tool giveaways, praise on the job, as well as individual coaching and mentorship.
Every Monday, there’s a team meeting at Julian Heat and Air. Jason supplies coffee and sometimes burritos and talks about personal issues and the business. He asks about their families and their pets, and he shares his own personal story with them, as well.
“And when I know a little bit more about them, I can specifically find out what they appreciate and then show them that appreciation,” Jason said.
The result of this personal attention and appreciation isn’t just loyalty to the company. The team is also loyal to each other.
Jason explained that, of course, their team has issues once in a while, have conflicts, and even go off on each other. But they work through it because they legitimately care about each other.
“It’s pretty cool to be that be a leader of a group of people that want to help each other,” Jason said.
Having a hard time finding customers? Get involved in local Facebook groups
Jason’s Facebook presence isn’t just noticed by other industry experts: potential customers take notice, as well. He often gets new customers from the platform.
Best of all, his strategy is free. No Facebook ads, just strategic posting.
Jason is involved in nearly 100 local groups and, whenever it’s allowed, he’ll post pictures of his work.
“If it’s cleaning season on heating and air equipment, I love the really dirty, nasty ones, because they have been totally neglected. When I get done, it looks brand new, and I show the people what the other companies are not doing.”
Facebook becomes an entire marketing center: a place to connect with new customers, show off work customer reviews, and show a little about who you are.
“Facebook has changed everything I’ve done in business. People are more than willing to share their experiences” good or bad. So when I asked others to share what it was like working with me, I’ve had nothing but good feedback,” Jason said.
Give people choices and you’ll earn their trust
Jason offers upfront flat rates — something that’s unique for his area. After diagnosing the situation, he’ll present several options and let the customer choose which package works best for them. Sometimes customers don’t know what they need, and giving them options helps them have a sense of control.
“Most of them choose what, whatever I recommend. I’ve basically established the trust that I’m here to help you, whether you choose to go with this repair or not. And whether you choose to pay me to do whatever, I’m going to charge a diagnostic fee, but I’m going to give you options and you choose. I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’ll just show you what is possible.”
Housecall Pro makes this easy with our sales proposal tool that helps the customer visualize their options. Create an estimate in the field within minutes, then turn the estimate into a job with the click of a button.
Another way to earn trust: Educate your customers
Jason is the most expensive contractor in the area when it comes to preventative maintenance work. People will often tell him they paid twice as much as they paid someone else last year, but it was worth it. The reason? He educates his customers on what he did and what they can do to better maintain their systems.
He sells preventative maintenance work through recurring service plans.
Communication matters A LOT
The final reason Jason is growing so fast is his customer communication. It’s one of the biggest compliments he receives after each service call, and he gives the credit to Housecall Pro.
“The very first thing I did the day that I went into business for myself was call and set up Housecall Pro. And that was the first thing I did so that I could send “On the way” texts to my customer and let them know I’m going to be there at this time,” Jason explained.
In 2021, Jason’s goal is to open up a second location. We recommend following Julian Heat and Air on Facebook to keep up with their amazing growth.