Moving from residential to commercial air duct cleaning

Moving from residential to commercial air duct cleaning

Commercial Buildings resized 600

In an effort to grow their business, many residential air duct cleaning contractors look to commercial air duct cleaning projects.  This is a natural progression as residential contractors first add light commercial projects (one story office strips, etc.) and then add multi story commercial projects (office buildings, schools, hospitals, etc.).

There are differences, however, that the residential contractor needs to be aware of so they can be prepared as they move into doing commercial air duct cleaning projects.  These differences include:

  • Work Time: Residential projects are typically done during the daytime while the majority of commercial projects are done during 2nd shift (4:00 pm to midnight).
  • HVAC Systems: Residential HVAC systems are relatively simple to understand and are modest in size while commercial HVAC systems are larger and more complex.  You’ll deal with many more components like inline heat coils, VAV boxes, fire dampers, turning vanes, internal insulation,  ductboard, etc.
  • Average Revenues: Residential project revenues will range from $300.00 to $700.00 depending on the services provided while commercial project revenues will range from $1,000.00 to $1,000,000.00 or more with an average of $4,000.00 to $5,000.00.
  • Payment Terms:  Residential is great for cash flow because you typically get paid at the end of the project while payment on commercial projects can be 30 – 60 – 90 days or more.  A good line of operating credit with the bank is needed to meet payroll and other expenses while you wait for payment.
  • Project Cleaning Specifications:  Residential projects typically don’t have a cleaning specification; the contractor must satisfy the homeowner while most commercial projects have a cleaning specification.  This cleaning specification tells the contractor what requirements have to be met (experience, certification, insurance, bonding capability, cleanliness verification, etc.) and what HVAC system(s) have to be cleaned.
  • Certification:  None is required for residential projects but certification can be a good marketing tool.  More and more commercial project specifications are requiring the contractor to be a member of National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) and have at least one Air Systems Cleaning Specialist (ASCS) to even bid on the project.  In these cases certification is vital for success.
  • Equipment:  Commercial HVAC systems are larger and more complex.  They require additional and larger equipment so the contractor can be productive and profitable.   Labor is the single biggest cost in commercial air duct cleaning so maximizing productivity and cleaning quality is very important.
  • Marketing:  In the residential marketplace the contractor is marketing to the homeowner while in the commercial marketplace the contractor is marketing to a wide variety of audiences: mechanical contractors, fire/water/mold restoration contractors and engineers/architects (that write specifications, etc.

Commercial air duct cleaning is a great business opportunity for residential contractors.  To be successful however, good planning and preparation are necessary.  For a full examination of commercial air duct cleaning request our Blueprint for Success: Commercial Air Duct Cleaning Guide or contact Peter Haugen at 800-597-3955 or 952-808-1619.