SmartServ is in conversation with Mohsin from Calgary Heating Services, Alberta.
How did you start your HVAC business? What was your motivation?
Mohsin’s brother started a part-time HVAC business in 2009 and another full-time job, which he left years later. He experimented with roles, but things didn’t seem to work out. That was when Mohsin proposed starting with their own field service business on a serious note instead of a part-time business. Right then, they started investing, and Calgary Heating Services took off!
What were the challenges you faced over the course?
One of the biggest challenges for the HVAC business is keeping steady throughout the year. The HVAC business is not stable as there are times when some weeks will be crazy busy, some calls might come in the middle of the night. And then there are days when nothing is happening. Therefore, finding work during the off-season is tough.
Another major challenge mentioned by Mohsin was managing the paperwork. The business operations are so extensive that keeping a manual record becomes tiresome.
SmartServ is the first software that Calgary Heating Services started using. Mohsin mentions the business experience to be above and beyond what they were doing before.
Was there a point where you felt like giving up on the business?
Managing an HVAC business is not a piece of cake. Mohsin mentions that the thoughts of quitting the business keep bouncing back. They usually appear when things are super slow and dull.
He mentions that they left the business in between because they were not earning enough. When they came back and decided to take this up seriously, they built an online presence. They felt that maintenance agreements would be the answer to having steady revenue during the off-season. However, due to heavy paper-dependency, they were not able to pull it off quite well.
With SmartServ, keeping track and organizing the maintenance agreements became easy. Now, membership is a crucial part of their business.
When it comes to the topic of services, Mohsin mentions there is no hard and fast rule. In busy times there are jobs they don’t accept. But in slow seasons, they take up all jobs.
Do you feel managing a business today is any different than it was before?
As the business has transformed today, Mohsin emphasizes getting reviews from the customers. He says reviews on google, Facebook, etc. are their number one priority. Most of the customers search and read the reviews of companies before booking appointments.
The second thing on Mohsin’s list is investing in field service management software early. He feels that most businesses like them make the mistake of not going paperless from the start of their field service business.
Mohsin mentions that he looked up many field service software but was not sure. He currently feels that if they had made an early investment in software like SmartServ, they would have been a comparatively bigger business with so many memberships by now. Losing receipts and disorganization ate a lot of their time.
He believes field service management software makes things organized with a few clicks and allows to do so much more from anywhere – field or office. With field service management software, the owners can focus on priority tasks than being tied up with monotonous duties.
What is your vision on expansion for the company?
Calgary Heating Services is focussing on increasing the memberships for their field service business. Mohsin believes that maintenance agreements are the key to financial stability in the long-run. He also hopes to invest in more vans.
Any suggestions for the budding field service entrepreneurs of today?
Many people start their field service business, but more people fail than making it because of a lack of hard work. Mohsin added that less than 10% of businesses stay more than three years in the industry. He suggests that one must not give up during the ups and downs as they are a part of the journey. He emphasizes getting online reviews and investing in any sound field service management software.
The key is to stay at it and not have a lazy attitude. An online presence and investment in good field service management software for your customer database is crucial.Mohsin, Calgary Heating Services
If you get a chance to meet your younger self, what one piece of advice would you give?
Mohsin states that they didn’t have a proper business plan. They took money from their private accounts and started dumping it into the business.
If he has to go back, he will find a proper accountant and get advice on where funds are coming from, handling cash, and more. He says it is good to start with an accountant and then go from there. You don’t want to hit the road right away!
Further, he adds that the business foundation should be strong from the start, so if the time comes when you are too busy, you can avoid unnecessary headaches.
Mohsin believes that on the other side of it, no matter what you do, you’ll have your ups and downs, bad and good days, and eventually, busy days look like they will never stop, and then soon the same is the case with the slow days. One must keep going.
How do you keep up with the competition?
Mohsin says that they are not too concerned regarding competitors but the work ethic and quality of service. They leave the result for the customers to figure out themselves. And with quality service, the customers usually stay with the company.
When it comes to online competition, Mohsin does not carry the experience with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). They are a small company, and they have a few people outside the firm who look after their website, including SEO. The current investment towards the same is close to $75 per month. However, he mentions that SEO is for big companies, which have a hefty marketing budget.
For Calgary Heating Services, google reviews have worked the best. He says that people will look for business in their areas and read reviews. With just a few years, he noticed the difference right away.
He repeats that everyone is reading reviews these days.
HomeStars reviews also made it easy for them, especially with the older generation. The only place Mohsin pushes his customers is in getting honest reviews for the service they provide. He mentions that he does promotions stating – we ask for honest opinions over the best reviews, and they gift a 10-dollar coffee card to the customers.
How do you deal with bad reviews?
Mohsin mentions that as their focus has always been on providing quality service to their customers, they haven’t had any such experience. However, one person did write a negative review for them who was not a customer but a competitor who runs an HVAC business in the same area. When Mohsin tried dealing with Google, they said that the same is not against their policies.
He intends that such instances take place during the course of field service business, but one must not lose focus on their goals and values.
SmartServ presents you with the blog series: How to start your own field service business 101. We aim to dedicate the series to budding or new business owners who wish to start their business from scratch. If you wish to ask any questions or want us to cover anything that would help you build your service business, let us know in the comment section!
SmartServ is an all-in-one cloud-based field service management software. We are expanding to providing affordable marketing services for small businesses. To book a free demo, reach us out at https://smartserv.io/demo-request/