If you live in a hot climate, you know just how important air conditioners are. Not only is it just so darn uncomfortable to constantly be sweating in your own home, but it can straight-up be dangerous to sit around in sweltering heat. As the summer heats up (or perpetually stays at an uncomfortably warm temperature for those who live in warmer states like Florida), you might want to consider selling air conditioners. Not only are you practically performing a public service, but you can make some serious cash, too. From HVAC sales gimmicks that work to buying your first unit, there are some key things you should know about how to sell an air conditioner.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
If you want to expand your business beyond selling window units, you'll probably need to go back to school
Determine Your HVAC Sales Process
Not all air conditioner businesses are in the realm of a full-service HVAC company. Some deal with central air, heating and cooling. Others simply sell portable units. There’s a huge difference between these two types of trades. One requires a state contractor’s license, and the other just requires some serious wholesale purchasing skills.
Moreover, you have another big choice to make: are you going to launch an independent business or open a franchise? Franchises already have a trusted brand name and eliminate some of the headaches like crafting your own business plan, but you stand to make more money owning your own independent business entirely.
Lastly, you're going to have to choose how you're going to service customers. Are they going to come to you, as you would at a retail store, or are you going to come to them, like most full-service HVAC businesses? Are you servicing only businesses or are you servicing residential neighborhoods? There’s no right answer, just whatever HVAC sales process you decide on, stick with it.
Pick A Location
Let’s be real: people only need air conditioning when it’s hot out. For this business, location is key – especially because portable units are extremely costly to ship. You’re better off selling to those who are local enough to pick them up (or be the one who installs the unit in the first place). Opt out of cool climates like the Pacific Northwest. You can open a seasonal business in states on the east coast where the summer is sweltering or set up shop permanently in Texas, Nevada, Florida or the wealth of other perpetually warm states.
Getting Started in the Business
If you’re planning to sell an air conditioner, it can be as easy as uploading a photo of your used portable unit and placing it on Craigslist. This does not require a license, but a certain amount of education can actually make your air conditioning selling business way more lucrative. There are a number of HVAC sales gimmicks that work, but offering the best service always reigns supreme.
The best way to make cash is by not limiting yourself to simply selling used or new window and portable units. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to go to school if you want to service, install and maintain central air units.
Go To School, If You Have To
In order to get started with a full-service HVAC business, you typically need four years of journeyman-level HVAC experience, which means you need to go to trade school. After that, you have to pass a state contractor’s license test and apply for an HVAC contractor’s license. During this phase, you need to pick the name of your company and wait several months for everything to be approved. You'll also need to get an EPA certification because you're dealing with coolants.
One thing to note is that licenses aren’t free. It can cost between $400 to $500 to secure the paperwork needed for a state contractor's license alone.
Purchase Your Stock
If you want to sell air conditioning, you’re going to need air conditioning units. You can purchase these through wholesalers or accumulate them used. You'll need to decide: are you going to be a used unit retailer or only stick to brand new goods?
Always Get Insurance
Any small business needs insurance, especially if you have a fleet of vans and your team is driving to customers' homes and installing air conditioning. You'll definitely need general liability insurance and commercial vehicle insurance.
Advertise Your Air Conditioning Business
Remember when we stated that there’s a number of HVAC sales gimmicks that work? Well, you have to advertise regardless of your HVAC sales process or niche. It’s a great idea to start a Yelp page for your business and encourage family and friends to leave positive reviews. You can advertise in community bulletins or simply post Facebook ads that target people in your area. Either way, advertising is the final step, and without it, no one will know your business exists.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.