Few businesses succeed, or even get off the ground, without a solid business plan behind them. This isn’t just a list of goals the owner hopes to achieve at some point but is a detailed formula for how to grow and solidify the company. The best time to create a business plan is in the beginning so you don’t have to make drastic changes later on to your processes. Sometimes business owners alter the plan once they experience how certain processes work and can see what would make them better, but having a plan set in place from the start prevents a lot of unnecessary headache in the long run over just going with the flow. Here are a few tips on how to create a business plan for an HVAC/Roofing/Electrical/Plumbing company.
Believe in Your Company, Believe in the Process
First and foremost, you need to believe in your business and believe in your process in order for it to work. If you have reservations, your employees and your customers will also have reservations. Decide on a mission statement that you could support and deliver on all the time. When choosing your team, hire those who can support your company culture and be an advocate for whichever processes you decide upon. When making decisions, stand firmly in your choices (but also be willing to adapt if employees or customers have legitimate concerns). Sometimes people need an explanation for why you chose a process over another. Be willing to share the basics of your thought process so they can see the reasoning.
Develop a Marketing Strategy
Marketing is a huge part of a business plan for Contracting company, and it’s what will help you stand out from the other HVAC/Roofing/Electrical/Plumbing companies in the area. Commercials, billboard ads, and newspaper ads are not the only forms of marketing today. Neglecting internet marketing can cause huge barriers to thousands of customers you’re not connecting with. Consider hiring someone to look at your website for any suggestions they would make for user friendliness and searchability. If your site isn’t showing up in local searches, then it’s nearly useless even having one.
Another marketing strategy to consider is entering the online social scene. Not only can you advertise on social media sites and make your own business page but running marketing campaigns on social can sometimes yield high rewards. Many people are on social media every day, and share posts they are interested in. They may even recommend your business to a friend on social, as a way of online referral. Social may not be necessary for your particular company, but at least consider it and understand how it can help before dismissing it as a tool.
From appointments to employee payroll, you will need an organizational system in place before ever open your doors. There are several online tools you can use to manage bookings, client information, and employee documents. Utilize them. It will make things like email campaigns, customer follow up, and taxes so much easier when it comes time to handle them. Staying organized from the beginning can help you avoid the mess of organizing a haphazard system later on.
Create a Budget and Stick to It
Obviously, every business needs a budget to prevent out of control spending and not enough income generation. Most budgets are smaller in the beginning when they are building up their customer base, so you will need to be even more careful about spending during this period. Decide what you can spend in each category (equipment, employee salary, marketing, rental space, utilities, insurance, etc.) before making any purchases. Always look for deals on purchases before buying new. Sometimes you can find great equipment for lower prices from liquidation sales, eBay, and other online shops. Get creative.
Many times, a business owner will need to personally contribute funds or apply for a loan to pay for essential items in the beginning, but having a realistic budget can help prevent going too much in the hole. As you start generating income with jobs, you will have a better sense of what those numbers will be from month to month. Tracking finances becomes essential for sticking to a budget. Most business owners decide to set their monthly budget based on last month’s income, that way the money is already there, and they know they won’t overspend even if the current month is slow. When there’s a surplus, you may consider saving at least some of it for future slow months to meet your fixed expenses.
Choose Incentives Wisely
While some customer incentives can help increase sales in the short term, but not all help the business succeed in the long run. Offering deep discounts can even hurt your brand if customers are always waiting for a discount and not purchasing services at full price. Some may also see discounts as cheaper service and fear that they won’t get a quality technician. Decide what incentives you can afford, and which will help you in the long run before just arbitrarily offering discounts.