Why are business owners entrepreneurs? In a word: passion. They have passion for what we do.

There are many other reasons. The overriding factor is they love what we do. Education level doesn’t matter. Money doesn’t matter. Entrepreneurs see a need, enjoy doing something or want to do something and the only way to get it done is through businesses of their own. 

They don’t fit the corporate world. I jokingly say that I am unemployable right now. In fact, that is not far from the truth. 

Janet Walsh, an expert on people who works for BusinessTVChannel.com, another one of my ventures, says many of her corporate clients refuse to hire people who have been “out on their own” for many years. Why? They don’t usually fit the corporate mold anymore. 

Look at the problems that many HVAC business owners had when they sold their businesses to consolidators about seven years ago. Again, owners are entrepreneurs. They chafe at being told what to do. 

In other cases, they don’t fit in working for our competitors. They don’t like their ethics, the way they treat customers or even more basic, they get tired of not being recognized for accomplishments. 

When you start your own business, you are boss and can mold the company in a way that you see fit. If you’re good, you are rewarded. If you don’t run the business well, you’re penalized - you likely lose money. 

As a result, many of you learned your lessons working for someone else and have changed the way you manage people. Others thought that owning their own business would be easy because they were making $20 per hour and the boss was charging $100 per hour. They had a rude lesson in economics and business management. 

Entrepreneurs put up with the stress, the terror and the “darkness” because they are trying to make a difference in the world. 

Now that it’s 2007, it’s time to start thinking about what you plan to accomplish this year. Knowing why you are in business is a critical factor in shaping your goals, hopes and aspirations.

Ruth King

In the service

On another subject, I’ve always said that it is easy to do well in the HVAC industry and it is easy not to do well. The choice is yours. In the past 19 years, I’ve helped and watched hundreds of contractors do very well. All have committed to an ongoing service agreement program. This means everyone, from the owners to receptionists.

Are your employees doing the maintenance on their own systems at home? If they live in an apartment, do you allow them to take care of their parents’ or another close relative’s system instead? 

If the service technicians aren’t maintaining their own systems and those of your employees, how can you ask any employee to recommend to customers that they invest in a service agreement?

It’s also best if you let technicians design the service agreement. Using this method, the service agreement is “theirs” and they should believe in it. Many years ago, I worked with a company whose technicians weren’t recommending service agreements to their customers. They were frustrated with the program and didn’t believe in it. When I asked them why, they said that they were still doing springtime checkups in July and that wasn’t a good deal for the customer.

In addition, they felt they weren’t doing everything they thought should be done.

I made them a deal - they could design the service agreement and the company would set the price. All seasonal maintenance would be by June 1 and Nov. 1 each year.

As I expected, the price was higher than the competition’s price. However, technicians didn’t care because they believed in what they designed. They educated the customers, who then saw the value and invested in the service agreements. The program was successful.

Selling service agreements is a cultural activity. Everyone must believe in the program, have their systems checked, and design a program that works for all.

Copyright 2006, Ruth King. All rights reserved. Write to Ruth King, 1650 Oakbrook Drive, Suite 405, Norcross, GA 30093. Call (800) 511-6844; e-mail ruthking@hvacchannel.tv.