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Marketing Commercial Air Duct Cleaning Services

Posted by Peter Haugen on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 @ 02:55 PM

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Marketing commercial air duct cleaning services can be challenging and at times confusing.  If you don’t have a plan you can waste a lot of time and resources.  Who should you contact? What group(s) can give you the greatest return on your marketing investment?  How do I find these groups/individuals?  How do you market to them?

Who should you market to?

You should market to anyone who has the potential to help you grow your business.  For each group below I have indicated why they are important and how they can impact your business.

  1. Existing Customers: If you have an existing business, your current customers will be the easiest to sell to because you already have an existing business relationship.  (For example if you are a commercial janitorial firm and you want to add commercial HVAC system cleaning.)  You already have a roster of potential customers for your new service that know you and trust you.
  2. Mechanical Contractors:  Every part of the country has a local group of mechanical contractors that bid on and perform mechanical contracting work required in new construction and renovation projects.   In many cases these projects include HVAC system cleaning and restoration work.  In many cases the mechanical contractor subcontracts to an air duct cleaning contractor. If you develop a good relationship with the mechanical contractors in your area you will be asked to submit a bid/quote on the projects that have HVAC system cleaning requirements.  Mechanical contractors can be the most important target group you deal with because they can have a big impact on your business.
  3. Environmental Consultants: They determine specifications for the HVAC system cleaning and restoration projects.  In many cases they have been hired to oversea a project and can hire you directly.  They also can be a good source of referrals.
  4. Fire/Water/Mold Restoration Contractors:  They can hire you as a sub contractor to provide HVAC system cleaning and restoration on fire/water/mold restoration projects.  Typically these are high priority projects that must be done quickly so you have to be able to respond accordingly.  Profit margins can be higher on these projects because there may not be time for competitive bidding.  They hire you based on your reputation or past projects you have done for them.
  5. Asbestos Abatement Contractors:  They can hire you as a sub-contractor to provide HVAC system cleaning and restoration on asbestos abatement projects.  These projects can be more difficult due to containment and safety requirements.  They hire you base on your reputation or past projects you have done for them.
  6. Medical/Hospital Facilities: They can have an environmental consultant or others running the project or can hire you directly.  They tend to be receptive to improving indoor air quality and lowering energy cost.  If you develop a good relationship with these facility managers it can mean a long and profitable relationship.
  7. Schools/Universities:  They can have an environmental consultant or others running the project or can hire you directly.  They tend to be receptive to improving indoor air quality and lowering energy cost.  If you develop a good relationship with these facility managers it can mean a long and profitable relationship.
  8. Mechanical Engineers:  They determine specifications for the HVAC system cleaning projects and can be a good source of referrals.
  9. Property Management Firms: Traditionally they are a tough sell for preventative maintenance items like HVAC system cleaning.  They are more receptive if there is an IAQ problem they must deal with.  The growing acceptance of “Green Buildings” and “Leeds Program” will make the property managers and facility managers more receptive to the benefits of HVAC system cleaning & maintenance.
  10. Air Balancing Contractors: Primarily a source of referrals because they cannot balance a HVAC system that is compromised with dirt, debris and other contamination.  It is good for them to know who you are. 
  11. Filtration Contractor:  Primarily a source of referrals because when they change out filters in an HVAC system they can see if it is dirty.   It is good for them to know who you are.
  12. Insurance companies: Typically don’t hire you directly but they can block you from getting fire/water/mold restoration projects.  It is good for them to know who you are. 

How to find potential customers

This part can take a little digging, some phone calling and data entry work.  You build a customer/potential customer data base.  You should put this data base of customer information in an Excel or Access data base so you can sort and manipulate the data as needed.  Here is where to look: 

  1. Existing Customers: If you have an existing business you already a good start on your data base. You have already earned the trust of these customers. 
  2. Internet:  Using the group names from above, type in the group name in to the search field (i.e. mechanical contracting firms in Minneapolis).  You should be able to find lists from local magazines, list on www.yellowpages.com , etc.  These listing should give you basic company information.  Then give them a call to find out best contact person.
  3. Association Membership Lists:  ASHRAE, ACCA, Facility Managers, Hospital Engineers, Building/Property Managers, Environmental Consultants, School Facility Managers and others have associations or local chapters of a national organization.  You may have to join the association to get this information.
  4. Project Plan Vendors can be very helpful in finding projects for you to bid on and companies to put into your data base.  They offer, on subscription bases, information on commercial renovation projects in your area.  You would check Mechanical Section in the bid documents to see if there was any air duct cleaning requirements on a particular project.  You can then get blueprints or view them online of these projects to use in your estimating.  Plus, they have a list of plan holders (like Mechanical Contractors) which you can send your proposal/bid to and add to your data base.  Here are three such project plan companies:
    • Reed Construction Data (www.reedconstructiondata.com)
    • Dodge Reports (wwww.dodgeprojectsconstruction.com)
    • iSqFt (www.iSqFt.com)

Once you are done with compiling this initial data base you should have a list of customers/potential customers under all the different groups.  You will need to continually update and expand this data base.

Now that you have found them - How do you reach them?
  1. Initial contact:  This will take time to do but a face to face meeting is the first step to build the business relationship that will fuel your success.
    • Introductory letter with statement of qualification or company capabilities.
    • Phone follow-up to set up an appointment.
    • Face to face meeting where you present your companies capabilities and experience.  If you have a website you could use that to present your company capabilities. Your goal is to present yourself as the expert so they will want to work with you in the future.
  2. Ongoing contact: To maintain awareness/visibility with your customers and potential customers you need to remind them of your capabilities periodically.   There are several ways to do this including:
    • Newsletter: A quarterly newsletter is an easy way to maintain awareness.  You can create a newsletter on your computer and e-mail or fax them to your database.  Plus you can post it on your website if you have one.  Make sure the content of your news letter offers something of value to your customers like a “job story,” “how to” section, etc. 
    • Periodic phone follow-up and face to face meetings can really reinforce the awareness of your company’s capabilities in your customers’ eyes.
    • Local Association meetings like ASHRAE, BOMA etc. are great venues to network.
    • Educational seminars are a good way to establish and maintain your company as the “expert.”   You can give these seminars as part of an association meeting, or maybe a small group of companies get together and sponsor an IAQ seminar in which you participate.
  3. Post Project Follow-up: Once you have completed a project (and did a great job) it’s the perfect time to follow up with your customer with a Customer Satisfaction Survey.  You should develop a short one page questionnaire to thank your customer for their business and then ask them for feedback on your services.  You can mail/email the post project Customer Satisfaction Survey or do it over the phone.  If you do this consistently over time you’ll get valuable information and you should be able to see trends (both good and not so good).  The survey completes the sales cycle and is another part of good customer service. 

Hopefully this information will help you to market your commercial air duct cleaning services.  If you have any questions please contact Peter Haugen, ASCS, CVI at 855-Vac-Systems or phaugen@vacsysint.com .  Also available is our free “Blueprint for Success – Introduction to Commercial Air Duct Cleaning Guide”


  Intro to  Commercial Air Duct Cleaning Guide

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