Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning contractors maintain, diagnose and repair or correct problems within heating or cooling systems. They also read blueprints; install fuel and water supply lines, air ducts, vents and pumps; use diagnostic tools to check various components; replace components and conduct regular maintenance. HVAC technicians are licensed by the state in which they operate their business and are often required to undergo technical training or an apprenticeship prior to obtaining their license. If you are willing to invest the time learning your trade, or you are already a skilled technician, starting your own business may be right for you.
Acquire the necessary skills through an apprenticeship or training from an HVAC school. Visit the North American Technician Excellence website to find training and education in your area.
Obtain a certification with either the National Center for Construction Education and Research, HVAC Excellence, or the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation.
Apply for your state HVAC license, if necessary. Contact your licensing department to take the exam and pay the applicable fee. You’ll need to provide proof of your HVAC experience. Once approved, obtain your business license and liability insurance.
Arrange space to house equipment and supplies and conduct accounting. Look for a low-rent office within a reasonable distance of your service radius. A storefront isn’t required, since you will be dealing with your clients on site.
Secure the supplies and equipment needed to operate your business. Purchase hammers, wrenches, electric drills, metal snips, pipe cutters and benders, measurement gauges, thermometers, pressure gauges, voltmeters, manometers, safety equipment and acetylene torches, as needed.
Purchase a commercial van and outfit it with your license number and business information. Purchase common replacement parts and shelving to store them in your van.
Leave fliers and business cards at home improvement stores. Visit homeowners and introduce yourself. List your business on HVAC directories and sites such as Hvacwebconnection.com and Builderspace.com.
Hire an answering service to take calls throughout the day.
–Start with a business plan that identifies your competition, how much startup money you can procure, and how you intend to operate and market your business. –Open a separate business account for your business. Always keep business and personal purchases separate. –Learn your tax liability ASAP. Review the tax forms you will need to file at year's end to get an idea of how you will need to account for your business. –Keep copies of everything related to your business. –Don't wait until the end of the year to analyze your financial health. Always know where your business stands. –Always be looking for ways to cut costs when dealing with suppliers. When making purchases, use a business card that gives you rewards for each dollar spent. –Don't undercut your competition. Charge enough to ensure that you can make a profit.
Shanika Chapman has been writing business-related articles since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Science in social science from the University of Maryland University College. Chapman also served for four years in the Air Force and has run a successful business since 2008.