|Across the U.S., a growing portion of the country’s 85,469 heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) businesses are choosing to offer on-demand services inspired by Uber, the ubiquitous on-demand car service. Call it the Uber Effect.
Through sites like Pro.com, Porch, and Amazon Home Services, homeowners can now schedule and even pay for a visit from a heating and cooling professional right from their desktop or smartphone, reports the ACHR News. These sites hand-pick home repair professionals, perform background checks, and require them to be insured.
But what do these services mean for the HVAC companies and contractors that don’t list themselves on these on-demand sites?
Most of today’s HVAC professionals agree that while these sites aren’t an immediate threat to business, they could threaten traditional contractors’ livelihoods in the long run.
“Professional HVAC contractors who rely on loyal customers and referrals for the majority of their business are customer-focused, bonded in a personal relationship and are not an immediate threat,” said Jerry Grendahl, CEO of Grendahl Mechanical Inc. in Edina, MN. “However, believing in the old adage, ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,’ will not carry the day against highly-motivated and capitalized players wanting to claim our flag. One can anticipate that, someday, on-demand service companies will be a threat to the traditional professional contractor, to some degree.”
Grendahl elaborated that this burgeoning on-demand business model will likely lead to more one-man HVAC businesses, ultimately bringing more competition. Additionally, these sites could encourage homeowners to select their contractors based on who charges the lowest for HVAC services.
However, most HVAC repair equipment manufacturers have policies of selling only to licensed heating and air conditioning professionals, the ACHR News reports, meaning even the one-man businesses will have to be fully licensed and certified in order to perform repairs on a home’s furnace or air conditioner.
And the industry does have some good news to look forward to. According to ContractingBusiness.com, consumer demand for HVAC services is projected to reach an amazing $20.4 Billion by 2019, a sign that this line of work will continue to be very lucrative.
For now, the traditional HVAC business model can continue to thrive as long as the business offers excellent service, warranties and professionalism. But in a few years, these businesses and contractors might have no choice but to adapt to a new way of doing business.