By: Gary Xavier
Small ball, as baseball players often call it. It’s a concept, a managerial style, perhaps, that shows the importance of a walk, a single, and maybe a stolen base. Before you know it, runs appear on the scoreboard. Home runs count, too, of course, but not every player, not every time at bat, will hit a homer.
When customers are plentiful, the jobs are stacking up, and the installation and service staff are overwhelmed, and when every job seems to be a home run, it’s difficult to think of playing small ball.
But between the busy times, between the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter, when the install team is doing busy-work around the shop and the service techs are working shorter days, playing small ball might make the reduction of staff size less necessary.
Many HVACR service companies offer services other than heating and cooling. Some have a plumbing side, others an electrical side. HVACR service, by necessity, often requires knowledge of the other trades as well. And while not all service technicians can be expected to be proficient in every field, most have at least a rudimentary understanding of plumbing, electrical, and sheet metal work.
Cross-training technicians to make them proficient at small multi-craft jobs can reap benefits when thinking of the possibilities of playing small-ball with existing, and sometimes new, customers.
Commercial and residential customers alike may often have small jobs that could use the help of a technician – an HVACR technician – that are beyond the scope of services typically offered by a heating and cooling contractor.
A simple suggestion from a technician or installer to a customer, such as “we can help with the small jobs, too…” may reap rewards during the slow times.
1.) Bathroom exhaust fans. Often a nuisance to do, but so necessary, is a bathroom exhaust fan replacement. Because the job requires the skills of someone who can handle electricity, ductwork, and maybe even a little carpentry, it’s often beyond the capability of the home or office building owner to do it themselves.
It’s not glamorous work, and not nearly as pricey as the installation of a new heating and cooling system, but it’s usually a fairly simple job for someone with multiple trade training and it can be quite profitable as well.
Technicians should remind the customer that a poorly installed or malfunctioning exhaust fan can lead to serious moisture problems in walls, ceilings, and attic spaces. An ounce of prevention, as the old saying goes.
2.) Clothes dryer vents. HVACR techs don’t service household appliances. True. But appliance repair companies may not want to bother with things like installing a new dryer vent system or cleaning the old ones. Once again, if left unchecked, dryer vents can cause the homeowner problems, up to and including a fire from trapped lint.
Dryer vents, like ductwork for HVAC, need to be properly designed, installed, and periodically cleaned, and it doesn’t take an appliance repair person to do that.
3.) Kitchen exhaust hoods. Another venting application that may be difficult for a homeowner to get help with is the kitchen range exhaust hood. If a vented model, it needs to be properly installed and maintained. Stores that sell kitchen appliances may not want to provide installation, but a multi-craft technician can most likely handle it with ease.
4.) Outdoor lighting and DIY security cameras. With the increase in homeowners wanting to know who’s at the front door, porch lighting and easily installed items such as doorbell cameras have become a boon for the manufacturer’s sales. These items are designed to be fairly easy for the typical do-it-yourselfer to install, but many HVACR customers may not have the ability to do it themselves.
Offering a service to install these devices may turn into a reliable and profitable source of small jobs.
5.) Any other small jobs that can be handled by a skilled HVACR technician! There are numerous small jobs that homeowners and commercial maintenance teams may have to face on a regular, or just occasional, basis. If customers know that skilled service technicians or installers can help with these mundane tasks, little jobs can become a steady source of income.
There’s a reason that many HVACR contractors expand their businesses to include electrical, plumbing, and air-duct cleaning, for example. It’s the same reason that lawn care firms offer snow plowing in the northern climates when the grass is dormant and covered with snow and ice. They are keeping their equipment and personnel busy!
Asset utilization is critical to a healthy cash flow and bottom line for any business. When trucks, equipment, and personnel are not doing billable work, they put a drain on the profitability of the firm.
It’s easier, of course, to justify the time and expense of chasing and securing large contract and time/materials work. Those jobs provide the base that keeps a HVACR service company in business. However, for nearly no added expense, promoting the idea that a firm can also perform the small jobs may just be the answer to smoothing out the rough spots in the cash flow during the shoulder seasons.