Many plumbing and HVAC contracting ventures fail within their first few years in business. Is your contracting business destined for the same fate? We take a look at some of the ways you could be falling behind the competition.

1. Not Thinking Green Enough

The modern homeowner tends to be very environmentally-aware. Even if they don’t consciously adopt eco-friendly habits, they know the difference between a low-impact system and a wasteful one. If your plumbing or HVAC business is not taking this into account, you could be losing potential business. Make sure you’re discussing the possibility of low-flow fixtures and energy-conserving HVAC systems with your customers—homeowners, especially green-minded ones, will appreciate your advice and expertise.


2. Not Focusing on Energy Savings

Some plumbers and HVAC specialists get too preoccupied with the green benefits of low-impact systems and consequently fail to mention the savings associated with these systems. While going green can be great, saving “green” can be even better in many homeowners’ eyes. Shifting the focus from environmental benefits to financial ones could be key to generating new business and securing the loyalty of your current clients.


3. Ignoring the Competition

One of the best ways to pull ahead of the competition is by learning from them. If you dismiss that HVAC startup or local plumbing service early, you’ll be caught off-guard when they become a threat down the road. Keep an ear to the ground and constantly assess your competition’s services, marketing, and size. If your business isn’t measuring up, it may be because they’re doing something right.


4. Multitasking Mistakes

Business owners, regardless of industry, often pile more onto their plate than any one person can handle. Many of those who own their own business within the construction and service industry can find themselves pulled in too many directions at once. While your technical skills may be second to none, how are your abilities as a salesperson? Can you provide your own tech support? Are you capable of handling all your business’ accounting needs? If not, it’s time to start delegating or outsourcing these responsibilities. Successful delegation can mean a more productive, organized, and responsive operation.


5. Staying Stuck in the Past

If you’ve been a plumber or HVAC specialist for over a decade, chances are the industry and nature of the work has changed drastically over the years. It’s imperative that you keep up with these changes. Failing to do so means you risk falling behind every time new fixtures and systems enter the market.


6. Being Afraid to Grow

You’ve worked hard to secure and maintain a loyal client base. Your online reviews are glowing and your staff has plenty to do each day. You’re allowed to be pleased with your thriving business, but be careful—too many plumbing and HVAC businesses develop a sense of complacency which smothers their potential growth. Don’t allow yourself and your team to fall into a routine. The idea of hiring new specialists and expanding into new areas can be scary, but these steps are necessary for healthy growth.


7. Getting Stuck in the Technician Mindset

When you’re a plumber or HVAC technician by trade, it can be tough to transition from doer to director. You might be tempted to take on more appointments than you have time for or limit your staff because you consider yourself a full-time technician. What many plumbers and technicians who transition to managers and owners fail to realize is that they can’t be everywhere at once, no matter how bad they’d like to be. The whole point of hiring well-trained, trustworthy staff is so you can rest assured that they’re providing the level of service you yourself would. Leave the jobs (most of them, at least) to your staff—they need you at the helm.


8. Missing Appointments

A missed appointment always has the potential to lead to lost business for plumbing and HVAC specialists. Few things leave customers with a worse impression of your operation than failure to show up to an appointment does. Using a customer scheduling tool can ensure that your staff knows exactly where they should be at all times. When missing an appointment could mean losing a customer, there’s no room for error in your schedule.


9. Having the Lowest Rates in Town

When you go to make a big purchase, do you look for the lowest price or the best quality for the price? You wouldn’t buy the cheapest car on the lot simply because it’s the cheapest—why should your customers be any different? Working for less than the competition usually means the more “affordable” party is providing inferior service by using cheaper tools and underpaid labor. Don’t cut corners to become the cheapest option—charge what’s appropriate for the quality of work being done and avoid the inevitable repairs, angry reviews, and lost business that said cheapest option has to deal with on a regular basis.


10. Taking Their Time

When there’s something leaking…and it don’t look good…who you gonna call? Some plumbers! Emergency calls can make up a large portion of your appointments, especially in the winter months when pipes are freezing and a broken heater can spell disaster. You and your technicians need to treat these calls with the urgency they deserve—a homeowner whose basement flooded will remember your company’s speedy response the next time they need a bathroom installation done.

Don’t let your HVAC or plumbing business fall behind. Stay a step ahead of the competition by avoiding the above-listed pitfalls, offering high-quality service, and making a commitment to your clientele. Your customers will thank you.