Are you thinking about starting an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) business? If so, it’s good to know what you’re getting into and what to expect in the months ahead.
There’s a whole lot that goes into building a successful business. It doesn’t happen overnight. And there can even be blood, sweat, and tears involved. But if you do it the right way, all of your efforts will be repaid in full.
Before you can become a business owner and start counting your cash, there are some steps you’ll need to take. Wondering what those are?
Let’s get cranking so you’re prepared!
Get your state contractor’s license
First things first, it’s important that you do your due diligence and check into your state and county laws and licensing requirements. There may be legal hoops you must jump through before you can begin dreaming of getting to work.
Odds are, you’ll be required to jump through the hoops of bureaucracy and pursue a license. Again, this will vary state-by-state, but most every state has similar requirements that may include:
- Demonstrating proof of HVAC experience – It may be necessary to have a minimum number of years of experience under your belt. Typically, this requires at least four years of Journeyman Level HVAC experience.
- Taking the state contractor’s license test – In all likelihood, this test will focus very little on HVAC work itself, and instead emphasize the specific state’s laws on contracting.
- Applying for an HVAC contractor’s license – Once you’re a licensed contractor, you’ll need to file another application for your HVAC license. This will ask for verification of experience and the name of the company.
- Paying the fees – Expect to pay both filing and licensing fees. On top of that, you may be asked to demonstrate proof of insurance (but more on that later).
Build a business plan
One of the very first steps for building any type of business starts with fleshing out a detailed business plan. This will operate as your roadmap, guiding your business decisions and enticing possible investors. It should detail your goals, challenges, desired customers, potential competition, and organizational structure.
Key sections include:
- Executive summary – Discusses the HVAC business and your planned model.
- Company description – Reviews your plans for operation and business goals.
- Services – Delves into your position within the marketplace and competitive advantages.
- Operational plan – Details how the business will function, covering both day-to-day operations and long-term plans.
- Marketing plan – Examines the competitive market and then strategizes ways to reach potential customers.
- Financial plan – Outlines your expected budget, expenses, and revenue.
This can be tweaked as you go, but the business plan will function as a guidepost throughout the whole process, ensuring that you maintain the proper course towards your goals.
Register the business
To be a successful business, you have to make money. And the moment you start making money, the tax man gets involved. When creating your business, you have to account for local, state, and federal taxes and licensing.
To register your small business for tax purposes, you’ll have to determine the type of legal business entity you’ll operate as. In all likelihood, a limited liability company (LLC) is your best option, especially if you’re starting out as the only employee. LLCs have less red tape, formalities, and don’t lump your personal assets in with your business finances.
After you’ve registered your small business, you’ll receive an employer identification number (EIN) that will be applied for taxes and employee tax withholding (whenever you decide to hire). It functions similarly to a Social Security Number, making it easy for the government to keep track of different businesses.
Create a website & start marketing
These days, your digital presence is one of the most important marketing tools at your disposal. So, it’s important that you build a website immediately.
Even if you don’t have coding experience, there are dozens of website building platforms that can help you create a beautiful site in just a few hours. Once your site is live, register your business with review sites like Yelp, Google My Business or Nextdoor.
You’ll also want to connect with other professionals who have similar customers, including property management companies and other home repair contractors. Before you know it, your phone will be ringing with requests for repair quotes!
Protect yourself with insurance
The HVAC industry naturally comes with a variety of risks, both to people (employees and customers) and property. Before you even touch a thermostat, you need to think about insurance.
When all it takes is one liability claim to threaten the assets and reputation of your small business operation, protecting yourself with insurance is a no-brainer. Not to mention, some policies are legally required for the business to run.
What types of policies should you begin with?
General liability insurance – A general liability insurance policy protects you from costs related to the inherent risks of interacting with third parties (which you’ll be doing all the time when visiting homes and businesses). It safeguards you in the event of a third-party injury, property damage, or personal and advertising injury. It can help cover investigation, settlement, and defense for:
- Medical bills and compensation for bodily injury
- Property damages
- Personal injury
- Advertising injury
Workers’ compensation insurance – Every state but Texas requires that you have workers’ compensation insurance if you have at least one employee. It protects employees from the implications of getting injured or sick at their HVAC job. It can help cover:
- Medical bills
- Continued care, rehabilitation, and retraining
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
Commercial auto insurance – If your business owns a vehicle in the name of the business, it must legally be covered by a commercial auto policy. Each state has coverage minimums, but these policies can help cover:
- Damage to the vehicle
- Drive injury
- Third-party injury
- Third-party property damage
Once you have all your insurance bases covered, it’s time to find some customers!
Before you get to work, protecting your business with HVAC contractor insurance (general liability specific to HVAC contractors) is one of the smartest and easiest ways you can ensure that your HVAC company is set up for success.
If getting insurance sounds more painful than a heat wave with no AC, it doesn’t have to be.
At Thimble, we provide affordable, on-demand business insurance policies that can be purchased by the hour, day, or month. You pay for coverage when you need it, and save when you don’t.
Plus, you can sign up without breaking a sweat. In less than 60 seconds, your HVAC business can be covered from many of the inherent risks of the trade. Simply click “Get a Quote”, answer a few quick questions and you’ll receive a free quote instantly. Purchase the policy and your policy and any Certificates of Insurance (COI) you need will be waiting in your email inbox momentarily.
Let’s do a quick temperature read of everything we’ve learned. If you want to start a HVAC business, here’s what it will take:
- Meeting your state’s legal licensing requirements
- Creating a business plan to succeed in your local market
- Register your business for tax purposes
- Marketing your HVAC services
- Getting insurance to cover your legal liability
Stick to this plan, and your business will be heating up in no time!