14 – Proactive Tax Planning

Today, I talk with Craig Cody, a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and tax coach about proactive tax planning. What is it? How do you do it?

If you’re like me, every time you write a check to the government, it hurts. It hurts a lot – that money was hard earned and it’s crazy how much you end up sending to the government.

Proactive Tax Planning

Craig regularly saves his clients tens of thousands of dollars on their taxes each year just by being proactive and smart about how they run their business and organize their life.

You can contact Craig by emailing him at craig at ccodycpa.com or calling his office at (516) 869-4051.

Also, as mentioned in the episode, you can get a copy of 10 Biggest Tax Mistakes that Cost Business Owners Thousands by visiting http://www.craigcodyandcompany.com/hvac/

13 – Change of Pace

In this episode, I share that HVACLadder episodes will be a little more spaced out. I’ve been putting a LOT of time into Fieldstone Service Management and other consulting efforts and don’t want the quality of HVACLadder to suffer so I’m slowing the pace down a bit.

Links I mentioned in this episode are:

Join the HVACLadder Mailing List

Join the Fieldstone Beta Program

12 – Careers – Choose Your Own Adventure

In this episode, I talk about the pressure a lot of folks feel trying to make a single decision in their life about what they should do. For me, this pressure was highest in high school when trying to decide what I would do afterwards.
Mountain View

My message in this episode is simple – don’t sweat it – take it one step at a time. So many students end up going to college and dropping out or going and finishing a degree they don’t have a use for. It’s perfectly fine to take other jobs along the way and even work while you’re going to college.

I share my path through many different jobs that ultimately led me to what I do now which is software development – a career I never expected growing up but one I thoroughly enjoy.

I also talk about a new software product I’m working on for the industry called Fieldstone and invite you to join the beta program. Learn more about Fieldstone and the beta program at FieldstoneSM.com.

11 – HVAC Careers – Interviewing a Retired Commercial & Industrial Technician – Ken Lawhorne

Are you interested in a career in commercial/industrial HVAC? In this episode, I interview my dad who started in commercial/industrial HVAC in his late thirties and worked in it for almost 20 years before retiring.

Dad Welding
This is a photo of my dad welding a broken outdoor wood furnace damper for me last winter. He spends most of his retirement time in his basement shop these days.

We talk about his career choices right out of high school and the path that ultimately led him to working in HVAC. He shares stories from his career, his challenges, and regrets.

I hope you get something from his experience.

If you have any questions for Ken, send them my way and I’ll forward them on.

10 – Are Your Customers Cheap?

If you ask a random person “what would make this product better?” most of them will tell you to make it cheaper.  Price is always the focus when the product or service isn’t differentiated in any other way.

Two Nickels

Do you let customers brow beat you into believing your service isn’t worth what you’re charging?  Do you lead with value instead of price?

Today, I discuss some pitfalls of going from employee to lone wolf when it comes to pricing your services and making sure you’re charging enough to run a responsible business.

To avoid making the mistake of pricing your service too low, look at your established competition in the market and figure out what they’re charging.  You should be within about 10% of them to be sure your business is viable.  Also, don’t compare yourself to other brand new businesses – they could be making this mistake and not realize it yet.

If you have stories of cheap customers or customers insisting on paying you what you’re worth for your services and would like to share them on the podcast, send me an Email.  My address is at the top of the site.  You can also use the Contact page to get me a message.

9 – Is Online Marketing a Waste of Money?

Online marketing is a huge and profitable industry which causes people to come out of the woodwork to sell you unattainable promises at discount prices!  It’s really NOT a waste of money but there are LOT of pitfalls along the way.  How do you avoid them?  Learn about it – that’s the best way.  Find a good consultant to help – that’s the second best way.

Once you have the basics of your business down pat, your Brand Promise, Consistent Referral Strategy, and an Off-Season strategy (I discuss these in episode 8); if you’re still not getting enough customers OR you want to grow beyond where you are, you should consider online marketing.  Where to start?  I recommend Google AdWords.

The old best way of advertising for an HVAC business was in the Yellow Pages.  I’m sure someone, somewhere still uses the YP but I haven’t seen or used them for at least the past 5 years.  Almost everyone has a tiny computer with an Internet connection in their pocket called a SmartPhone these days and that’s how they connect with the world.  That’s also how they’re going to attempt to find you to hire you.

Fundamentals of AdWords

  • Everything starts with a Search
  • Two types of results show up – paid Advertisements and Organic Results
  • Customers (searchers) click on your Ad (or someone else’s)
  • On Desktops, they go to your Landing Page on your Website
  • On Mobile, they can call you directly from the Ad
  • You can target your Ad on Location, Time, and Keyword Matches
  • Your placement in the results depends on those criteria PLUS your bid for the keyword
  • If a customer clicks on your Ad, you pay for the click.
  • Optimize for Conversions – For HVAC, a conversion is typically a phone call to you.
  • Use split testing to optimize your Ads and your Landing Pages.  Always have a champion and a challenger, measure the performance of both, and regularly throw one away and create a new one.

Questions

How do you compete with bigger companies with bigger Ad Spends?

Companies with bigger Ad spends used to be able to do very well by buying giant Yellow Page Ads and sweeping a market just because they were bigger.  That’s no longer the case.  It’s harder now for them to compete than it ever was.  The battle for a customer’s attention happens one by one now in Internet marketing and it’s the business that’s doing the best job at converting them that will win.  For the price of a good book on the subject and some time spent learning, you can handily beat the big guys using AdWords.

My book recommendation for doing this yourself is the Ultimate Guide to Local Business Marketing by Perry Marshall and Talor Zamir.

Where does Facebook Advertising come into this?

The Facebook Advertising platform is wonderful!  Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great place to advertise.  But, it’s NOT as good as Google AdWords at addressing the “bleeding neck” problem.  When customers have an issue they need solved NOW, they use search.  My recommendation is to master Google AdWords first then try your hand at Facebook Ads using similar strategies.