The following interview is part of our series called Business Ownership During COVID-19. In this blog we are exploring topics like: What are businesses doing to stay afloat right now? How are they keeping their workers and their customers safe? What advice do they have for people considering starting a business during an economic downturn? We hope to highlight innovation, collect advice from experienced business owners, and better understand how the pandemic is impacting day-to-day life in American industry. Most of all, we hope to offer support and knowledge to the community during the pandemic. The following is an interview with Chris Hardin who runs Air Done Right Mechanical, LLC
Tell us about your business
Air Done Right is a heating and air conditioning contractor in the Ponder and Plainview TX area. We have been in business for 10 years and have more than 25 years of experience.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business? What if anything are you doing differently?
We had to reinvent ourselves. For a lot of people [in HVAC], maintenance is their bread and butter, so it did affect us that way. Only 2% of customers wanted us to do maintenance because people did not want us coming into their homes. We had to shift to a different venue, in other words, supplying. We also started doing a lot more emergency services and worked with the construction market because that industry is still moving forward.
We also try to do everything we’re told to do to keep customers and our employees safe. We’ve acquired PPE for our employees. We’re doing no point of contact, At first it was hard because we used to handshake, fill out paper invoices. A lot of it [the invoices] are now covered in tablets and we’ve never done it that way, but we had to learn. And we’re still here for all our clients for air conditioning and heating maintenance. But that’s how we shifted gears. We had to, to survive.
What professional advice do you have for HVAC service industry professionals/business owners during this economic downturn?
The first thing business owners have got to learn is customer service is priority number one.
If you have no customer service, you’re not going to have a service business. If the rules changed with Covid, you have to go through more protocols to do it correctly.
If you own businesses, one thing I will stress to them is get an air scrubber and put that in your HVAC unit because you’d be amazed how much that helps. Those air scrubbers are the same as what you put in UV lights. It is a scientific way of cleaning your air and cleansing the air that your breath. It is good for everybody and I wish more people would get them.
What advice do you have for people considering starting a business during COVID-19/during a recession?
It’s hard to even start a business.You have some people who do it, and it’s like a side hustle to them. And you can’t do that. Jump into the market and pray that people want you to do the service that you provide. That’s the key. If it is something that you dreamed of doing, just have faith in yourself when you start it that you can do this.
And don’t expect much. The first three years in my business were really low key. I only brought in 37,000 for the first year. It's hard because I started my business right after the mini-recession in 2008. But things just got better for us. Now we don’t advertise as much because we get 90% referrals from our clients. If you give them good customer service, they will come back to you.
Also, stick with your local companies. They are going to treat you better. Stick with them because they are the backbone of who is giving you money for schools and small companies. Get in with the Chamber of Commerce in your community, pay dues and stay with the Better Business Bureau.