Success as a contractor is always a moving target. As a business owner, you need to keep marketing, legal and safety regulations straight as well as stay on top of managing employees – and someone has to answer the phones and do the books. Other keys to success include maintaining ways to work safely, keeping up your customer service and staying up-to-date with industry trends.
1. Contractors License Bonds and Other Bonds to Know
The formula to success starts by making sure your licensing and other legal paperwork is in order. Still wondering what is a surety bond and why do you need it? HVAC professionals are required to be licensed, and in certain states, with this, may come a license bond obligation.
Contractor bonds are a type of surety bond that ensures your clients are protected if you break the law. If your work is deficient or negligent, your customer can make a claim against your bond. A bond essentially provides a form of insurance for your client and a claim against your bond is detrimental to you and your business. Brush up on your knowledge with a contractor license bond guide.
Other bond types you should know about are contract bonds such as performance bonds and fidelity bonds. Performance bonds are necessary for public contracts of more than $100,000 and may also be a prerequisite on some private projects. A performance bond promises that you will carry out the work according to the contract. Unlike contractor license bonds, if you don’t complete the job, the bonding company can put the job out to bid. As with all bonds, if a claim is made and substantiated, you’ll be required to pay it back.
By contrast, fidelity bonds are a means of protection for you or your clients. They are a safeguard against deceitful employees who might commit crimes such as forgery or embezzlement. Fidelity bonds have several categories including business services and employee dishonesty bonds. Learning about bonds is a must for any HVAC business owner or contractor.
2. Stay on Top of Safety
Any seasoned technician knows you should wear appropriate gear for the job and be aware of possible hazards around you, but staying up to date on safety best practices will keep you prosperous and healthy.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governs occupational safety and updates rules often. You should know both current and updated rules and regulations – not knowing could cost you. Professional organizations, state and federal websites and industry publications can all be helpful to ensure you know all of the latest safety standards and laws.
3. Keeping Up Your Skills
You went to school once, but that doesn’t mean your education ends there. It’s necessary to keep up with trends, technology and business skills; it’s all part of the big picture. Becoming a member of an organization like the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) or the Indoor Environment and Energy Efficiency Association (ACCA) will enable you to learn all you need to know to be a top contractor in your field. Falling behind isn’t an option in today’s competitive market.
4. Perfect Your Customer Service Skills
Customer service skills are vital to any industry. HVAC is no different. Every person within the company that a customer may come in contact with should be fully trained in customer service. Anyone who meets clients becomes the face of your company.
Happy customers leave good reviews. They also tell their friends and even become repeat business. Employees require training to assure any situation can be handled with skill and finesse. You wouldn’t spend your money at a restaurant with sub-par customer service, so why would you hire a contractor with poor service skills to work in your home? This one should be a no-brainer.
5. Trends, Technology and Your Business
As an HVAC professional, you should know all of the trends and changes going on in your industry. Customers are interested in having the newest and most efficient products, so you should know about and carry what is currently in demand. Going to trade shows, reading industry publications and visiting product sites are all great places to gain insight into what’s going on, such as changes and trends in 2016.
Accomplishments are achieved by planning, hard work and continuous learning. If you want to be a successful HVAC professional in 2016, you need to know about and understand contractor bonding, promote safety, keep up with training, learn and practice customer service skills, and stay up-to-date on technology and trends. These are just some of the many skills that go into a business that will aid you in being successful.
Shire Lyon is a news and media writer with an interest in business and surety bonds. She writes on a variety of topics and loves sharing her knowledge of law changes, blogging in contractor related magazines, and explaining the surety bonding process to small businesses. She’s also a regular contributor for JW Surety Bonds.