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Field Notes

How Much Does HVAC Digital Marketing Cost?

Published on March 4, 2021
image of dollar bills

A question that we get all the time here at Rival Digital is “how much does HVAC digital marketing cost?” The short answer is “it depends.” There are a lot of variables that go into play when it comes to pricing our services. So before we can answer how much it will cost, we need to first understand these three things:

  • What are your business goals?
  • What is your marketing budget?
  • What pricing model makes most sense for you?

In this post, we are going to break down each of those three questions. Knowing the answer to these questions will help speed up the buying process for digital marketing services, and will allow you to avoid wasting your time with agencies that may not necessarily be a fit for your company.

Setting Goals For Your HVAC Business

Before we can even get started understanding how much money you should invest in marketing, we need to lay the foundation. Marketing without strategy is a complete waste of time and money. So, what are your business goals? We always try to coach prospective and present clients to set sales goals, and operations goals. The reason is because marketing is sales enablement, and sales fuel operations.

Creating HVAC Sales Goals

Let’s pretend that your HVAC business does $1 million in annual revenue, and you want to grow to a $5 million a year business. Awesome! There is your sales goal. Now, we need to create actionable monthly goals to achieve this. So, let’s just say that when you hit $1M in sales, you did:

  • 100 install jobs at an average of $8,000
  • 500 service jobs at an average of $400 per job

So, that means $800,000 in install sales, and $200,000 in service calls. Sweet, now we can divide those numbers by 12 to get our monthly goal. In order to hit $1M in annual revenue, you’ll need, on average 8.3 installs per month at an average of $8,000 and 41.7 service jobs at an average of $400 per job.

Knowing our monthly goals for $1M, we can calculate the $5M goal by multiplying those numbers by 5.

  • ~42 install jobs per month at an average of $8,000
  • ~209 service jobs per month at an average of $400

It may seem like a far stretch, but now you have actionable goals to hit. Now, there is always room for variance with this – because as we all know, install jobs and service jobs are sometimes more expensive or less expensive. This also isn’t taking value based up-sells into account. But you need to find the average cost for service and install and use that number as your cornerstone

Creating HVAC Operations Goals

Any good HVAC business operator knows that in order to make more money, you need to have the right people and processes in place. So what does your operations look like? If you want to hit that $5m goal, you’ll need roughly 42 installs a month and 209 service jobs per month. We know this from earlier. But, this number of jobs cannot be completed without having technicians to do the work.

If an install crew of two technicians can knock out an entire HVAC replacement in one day, and the average amount of days in a month is 30, then you’ll need 4 to 6 install technicians – at the very least.

If a service technician can complete a service call in 4 hours, and they are working 10 hours a day, we can estimate that they’ll get ~2.5 service jobs done each day. Which averages 75 service jobs per month. Divide 209 by 75 and you’ll see that you need roughly 3 service technicians – at the very least. 

We say ‘at the very least’ because we all know that sometimes service jobs take much longer than 4 hours, and can turn into HVAC replacement jobs. So before you’re able to realistically hit your sales goals, you will need to know how many technicians and office staff to hire.

Creating Your HVAC Marketing Budget

Marketing is sales enablement. Read that again! If you want to hit your sales goals, then you absolutely need to have an adequate marketing plan in place to get those phones ringing and get your technician in the home. We know how many install & service jobs we need to hit in order to achieve the goal of $5M, now we need to discover how make it happen.

How To Determine Your Marketing Budget

The easiest way to figure out your marketing budget is to take 10% of your annual revenue. So from our example, the company did $1M last year. Knowing this, we will allocate $100,000 towards marketing for the year. If you want to be really aggressive with your marketing, you can do more. At Rival Digital, we have seen some clients allocate as much as 20% to marketing. This is an investment!

If you are a dealer of a particular HVAC manufacturer, then you likely have a marketing co-op program that offers you marketing dollars. Use this to your advantage!

How to properly allocate your HVAC marketing budget

Based on your sales goals, and your budget, we will need to figure out the best way to invest these dollars in order to see the greatest return on investment (ROI). Here are a few things to think about before shopping for HVAC digital marketing services:

  • How is your current website?
  • What marketing has worked well in the past?
  • Do you want to do traditional advertising, digital advertising, or both?
  • What does your co-op program already offer you?

Once you have some of these questions answered, then you can better assess how to spend your money. If your co-op program offers Local Services Ads on Google, then you shouldn’t hire an outside agency to try doing the same thing. Instead, invest your marketing dollars in something that they don’t offer, like search engine optimization (SEO), or other online advertising. Remember, take advantage of what your manufacturer offers first!

If your website is a train-wreck, you’ll need to invest some of that budget into a new website. And vice-versa, if your website is incredible, then you can invest the money elsewhere. Pro-tip: if an HVAC marketing agency tells you that your website needs to be improved, ask them to provide evidence as to why it’s bad, and ask how they can make it better. Don’t just blindly purchase a new website.

Choosing The Right Pricing Model For Digital Marketing Services

We are in the home stretch of this article. Now it is time for you to determine what pricing model is best for you! You can’t answer this question until you know your business goals, and have determined a marketing budget. So, there are 3 pricing models that most agencies offer: hourly rate pricing, project-based pricing, and monthly retainer pricing. Let’s break these down.

Hourly Rate Pricing surveyed freelancers from 16 different countries and found they typically charge $50-$100/hour. However, we’ve found that high quality freelancers in the United States start at $100/hour and go up to $250/hour depending on their level of expertise.

With hourly rates, every hour spent on your project is a billable hour regardless of the task performed. So answering email, time in meetings, and actual hands-on marketing work will all end up on your monthly invoice. The pros to hourly rate work is that you only pay for what you use. The downside is that you may pay way more than you budgeted for if you aren’t careful.

Project-Based Pricing

Project-based work is very popular in the digital marketing industry, and often found with website design. The price you will pay will be one-time, and follow-up work will require additional payment.

The pros of this model is that your expenses are capped, theoretically, and you won’t have to pay more than one-time. The downside of this model is that if you don’t have someone in-house to manage or maintain the deliverable, you may end up having to pay more down the road when you need maintenance and updates done.

Monthly Retainer Pricing

The monthly retainer pricing model is far more favorable for the growth-minded business operator. This model allows you to account for your monthly expenses, and never have to worry about being charged more when more work is required.

The scope of work and monthly cost is often determined up front. If you need additional services provided, a new scope of work and contract can be created. But this model allows you access to unlimited work each month within the scope of work.

However, the downside to this model is that you will get a bill every month. With the HVAC industry, some regions experience slower seasons due to climate, so this model can be less than ideal during those slower months. If you have a full-time need for marketing, this is the right option for you.

Choosing The Right HVAC Digital Marketing Agency

There a lot of different options out there for you to trust with your digital marketing. When looking for an agency, keep in mind that your business is unique, business goals are unique, and your marketing should be unique. And always remember – you get what you pay for! Just because a company is the cheapest, doesn’t always mean that they are the best option for you.

At Rival Digital, we only do HVAC digital marketing. We don’t serve every chuck in the world who is looking for digital marketing services. We exclusively service residential HVAC contractors only. We are HVAC marketing experts and would love the opportunity to prove it to you. For more information on working with us, contact us today.

We will set up a free digital marketing review and help you determine the best option for you based on your business goals, budget, and pricing model needs.

Eric is the Founder & President of Rival Digital. He has been doing HVAC digital marketing for several years and brings a wide range of knowledge to the table.

How Much Does HVAC Digital Marketing Cost?

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