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.


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.


8 – Want to Stop Chasing Clients and Have Them Chase You?

Are you ready to learn how to get clients to chase you instead of the other way around?  In this episode, I discuss the basics of starting off on the right foot with marketing a lone wolf OR entrepreneurial venture in HVAC.

  1. Brand Promise.  Who is your customer, specifically?  Think narrow here, not broad.  What, specifically, do they want?  What can you promise them that no one else in your market is promising?
  2. Referral strategy – the least expensive and most effective marketing strategy for a service business is referrals.  If you have a great promise and you do great work, it will be easy to get referrals from the clients you serve.
  3. Off Season Strategy – The HVAC business is one of many that typically has a busy season and an off-season.  Use strategies to push work from your busy season to your off season to balance things out.  In the off season, do as much preventative maintenance as you can, work on business development, and take a vacation to recharge before you hit the busy season again.

Recently, I heard some advice for the lone wolf that I disagree with.  In this episode, I share what it was and why I disagree:

  1. Online marketers can’t help the lone wolf.  Many online marketers you encounter are not worth your time or dollars.  But, don’t discount online marketers or online marketing.  In the next episode, I’m going to dig deeper on this topic, specifically Google AdWords.
  2. Facebook Advertising is Good for Lone Wolfs.  I disagree.  I think if you nail your Brand Promise, Referral Strategy, and Off Season Strategy, you don’t need Facebook advertising.  Also, if you haven’t nailed those three, your Facebook advertising isn’t going to be very effective and you could potentially lose a lot of money on it.  It has its place but I don’t believe the lone wolf should play in this fire – at least alone.
  3. You Have to Have YouTube Videos.  I 100% totally and completely disagree with this.  Videography, even mediocre videography takes a LOT of time to do well.  It’s not worth your time as a lone wolf to invest in this.

Top 10 Reasons People Don’t Choose You

  1. I don’t know you exist.
  2. I’m not aware of what you offer.
  3. I don’t trust you.
  4. I don’t believe your promise.
  5. I worry about what my peers will think.
  6. I have different goals than you think I do.
  7. I have a different risk profile than you think I do.
  8. I tell myself a different story about money than you think I do.
  9. I can wait and there doesn’t feel like there’s any benefit for acting soon.
  10. I don’t have the resources, can’t find the resources, won’t pay the price to get the resources.

To learn how to overcome all the items on this list, join the mailing list.


7 – Shoot, Communicate, and Move on Out

Basic Combat Training Platoon

You are fighting a battle every day in business – a battle against mediocrity – a battle against your competition to bring more value to your customers than any one else can.

In episode 5 – Work Yourself Out of a Job, I talk about the need to get a crystal clear picture of your expenses and revenue which I elaborate on in episode 6 that includes an easy to use worksheet for helping get a handle on your business finances. I also talk about developing and implementing procedures in your business – a set of guidelines that instruct your business how to function day to day. In this episode, I elaborate on why that’s important and give some examples of other businesses that do this successfully.

  1.  Shoot – Make sure every single employee knows exactly how to do their job and what is expected of them.  Your business machine can’t run with broken parts and if your employees don’t know what to do and meet expectations, it will break your machine.
  2. Communicate – Establish and make clear the communication channels in your business.  Technicians should know when and how they’re expected to communicate with customers, dispatchers, sales, and ultimately you as the owner if needed.
  3. Move on Out – This is where the big money in HVAC is – it’s in continuing the mission (Charlie Mike).  You need a good process that’s repeatable that brings maximum value to your clients.  Then, you repeat it until you’re ready to retire on the beach.


The tactic this episode is a repeat and extension of the last episode because it’s so important – get to work on getting out of debt.

The Dave Ramsey Baby Steps to getting and staying out of debt:

  1. Save $1,000 for emergencies ONLY.  (Not Zoomlock, Not Vacation but broken down cars and such.)
  2. Pay Off Debt – Use the “debt snowball” technique to get laser focused on eliminating your debt – list your debt in order of smallest to largest and throw every penny of extra cash at the first one on the list until it’s vaporized.  Pay it off and close that account.  Then, repeat until they’re all gone except your mortgage which is excluded from this step.
  3. Increase your Emergency Fund to 3-6 months worth of your expenses – 3 months if there is little to no risk of you losing your income, 6 months if your income is more unsure.  This emergency fund prevents you from going back into debt in the event you lose your job or otherwise your income for a period of time.
  4. Invest 15% of your income in retirement.  We’re living longer and longer these days and the costs aren’t going down.
  5. Save for College or other Education for your Children.  This helps them get on the right track for living debt free.  It’s also perfectly good for them to work AND attend school.  I did it and highly recommend it.
  6. Pay off your Mortgage.
  7. Build Wealth and GIVE.

The Course I mentioned: Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University

The Book I mentioned:

Keep Climbing folks!