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How Do I Start an HVAC Business?

An HVAC technician can install, repair, and provide maintenance on heating and air conditioning systems.
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  • Written By: Tess C. Taylor
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2014
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If you are currently working as an HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) technician for a company, you may be dreaming of starting your own HVAC business. HVAC is a service business that is in high demand in many regions; however, without solid skills and an excellent reputation, being successful as an independent HVAC business owner will be a major challenge. However, there are some common-sense ways to start an HVAC business.

Starting an HVAC business isn’t simply about hanging a sign stating you are open for business. Just like starting any service-related business, having a solid business plan and references of the quality work you perform is key to a successful new venture. When formulating a plan to start an HVAC business, a careful inventory of the level of HVAC services you are qualified to offer is a good place to start.

You must get the proper HVAC training from an accredited school in order to obtain a license to practice HVAC contracted services in your locality. It would be not only irresponsible, but in many cases illegal to provide shoddy HVAC work to customers without the correct training and licensure. While regional requirements may be different, most HVAC technicians must have a minimum of two to four years of HVAC training and a license before performing HVAC services for others.

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Once you have obtained the HVAC training and earning a license in HVAC work, it's important to obtain the equipment needed to perform this type of work. Some of the tools of the trade may include a work van, temperature and pressure gauges, hand tools, gas and air measurement equipment, and duct and tubing connectors. In addition, it's important to provide yourself and anyone who works for you with safety equipment and commercial liability insurance in case of any accidents or problems.

One good way to start an HVAC business is to do some pro bono work for a friend or colleague in exchange for a reference or testimonial of your performance as an HVAC contractor. It’s perfectly acceptable to do some work on your own time, using your own equipment while you work for another HVAC vendor, but it is never a good idea to use your employer's equipment or vehicles to perform work for your own clients. Over time, you should have enough work on your own to officially launch your independent HVAC business instead of working for another company.

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Discuss this Article

pitman9
Post 5

As a tech turned business owner 27 years ago, I would suggest changing the training order. The first training I would recommend would be taking business classes. I spent far too many years floundering around, behind in my taxes, late paying my vendors, shorting my family.

About 13-14 years ago I came to the realization my business hadn't taken me to where I had envisioned, nor would it without changes. I went to a homebuilder/remodeling show and attended all the business seminars I could. I read several books on managing a business. In short, I gathered a lot of information on managing a successful business over the course of more than a year.

Fast forward to today. My taxes are all current. I get discounts from vendors for prompt payment. My vans look very good with professional vinyl. I had enough in the bank to pay cash for the last one van including all the vinyl, shelving, etc.

The change didn't come from being a better technician. It came from learning how to calculate my break even point, how to charge what we needed to charge to stay in business and make a profit and how to get new clients and keep them with us all while making more money.

I highly recommend anyone considering starting a business, any business, to get business training first. There's a reason why 95 percent of all small businesses fail in the first five years, and it’s usually not because the owner is a lousy technician.

cupcake15
Post 4

@SauteePan -I agree with you, but you have to make sure that you are buying a healthy HVAC business with a good reputation. The reason for selling the business can tell you a lot about the health of the business.

For example, if the business has been around for a long time and the owner is retiring, then it is a good sign. However, if the owner is selling because he was in the red all of the time then it may not be a business worth buying.

You also have to consider the reputation of the owner because if it is negative you will be better off buying a different business because his reputation will continue to follow you.

SauteePan
Post 3

@Suntan12 - I know what you mean. I think that anyone looking to break into this field should consider buying an HVAC business that is for sale. This way the business is established and you have a current set of customers that you can draw from. You also have a reputation in the market and you will know what the business is capable of bringing in from the income and cash flow statements.

A good business broker should be able to help you find the right HVAC business for you. Buying an existing business is always more expensive than starting your business from scratch, but you get the advantage of being able to hit the ground running which will make you profitable right away.

By starting a business from scratch you will have to prove yourself in the marketplace and do a lot of marketing in order to get your clientele established which is going to take a lot of time.

suntan12
Post 2

@Icecream17 - I could not agree with you more. My aunt lives in Miami and she had a problem with her air conditioner and had to have it repaired immediately. It was a Saturday and luckily they were able to squeeze her in because the repairman said that they were almost completely booked.

My aunt had to pay a premium because it was a weekend appointment, but it was well worth it because using a fan is just not going to cut it especially when the temperature outside is over 95 degrees.

icecream17
Post 1

I would imagine that an HVAC business is really in demand because people can’t live without their heating and air conditioning. I know that here is South Florida if your air conditioning is not working, you pay whatever you have to to get it fixed because the weather is so hot that it makes it unbearable without air conditioning.

I remember I once went to an attraction in Key West that had no air conditioning. I was sweating through the attraction and could only spend about 15 minutes in the home. It was the Ernest Hemingway house and not only did it not have any air conditioning, but it also had no ceiling fans because his wife thought that they were unsightly.

You really have to have central air in every home and business which is why I think that the HVAC field is perfect for South Florida.

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