Indoor Air Quality Services to Grow Revenue and Profits

June 15, 2000
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You want to grow and generate more profits, but how can you do it? Do this: expand to include Indoor Air Quality services, including air duct cleaning. You already have the clients, built up over the years. You are in their homes every day. Why not offer those clients additional services, services that are a natural extension of carpet and floor care? This article will help you begin to understand the business opportunity that exists, as well as the options that are available to you in Indoor Air Quality services. What IAQ Products and Services can be offered to homeowners?

There are four main products and services that can be provided to the homeowner: system cleaning services, improved air filtration products, anti-microbial fogging and ultraviolet light air treatment. HVAC System Cleaning

You are already providing an IAQ service to your residential customers. Carpet, upholstery and drapery cleaning, as well as restoration services are IAQ services. You are removing the visible contaminants for aesthetic reasons or for cleanup. That’s why most of your customers ask you to do work for them. But you are also removing hidden contaminants that impact the air quality inside the home, including many allergens. Now simply expand the scope of your cleaning services to include some or all of the listed IAQ products and services.

It's important to note at this time that if you choose to do “air duct cleaning,” the entire HVAC system needs to be cleaned – not just the air ducts. Cleaning the air ducts without cleaning the HVAC unit itself is not acceptable. Some states have licensing requirements for accessing or servicing HVAC equipment, so be sure to understand your state’s requirements. HVAC system cleaning is just that: removing dirt and debris from the ductwork and air moving equipment. Current cleaning standards recommended by the National Air Duct Cleaner’s Association (NADCA 1992-01) require that “All non-porous air conveyance system surfaces must be visibly clean and capable of passing the NADCA vacuum test.” In the standard, the vacuum test procedure is explained and states that not more than 1.0mg/100cm2 of debris can be collected using this test after the mechanical cleaning is completed. Although NADCA membership is not required in order for a company to market HVAC system cleaning services, the voluntary standards that NADCA has developed provide a good source of information to help you do the job right. High Efficiency Air Filtration

When you are in a home cleaning the carpets or providing restoration services, take the time to educate your customer on filtration options, and the need for regular maintenance or replacement. There are many filter options that you can offer to your customer. Some filter manufacturers will accept custom-size filter orders that they will drop-ship directly to your customer, or you can stock popular sizes for your area in your truck for installation by your technicians. Either way, you are providing the customer with a valuable service, and making a profit at the same time. A wide variety of premium filters are available to the contractor at varying costs between $15 and $35, depending on the filter size and type. These same filters will sell to your homeowner customer for anywhere between $50 and $90, a nice incremental profit for you. Anti-Microbial Fogging

Another valuable service that can be offered to your customer after the HVAC system has been cleaned is anti-microbial fogging. The name of this service is certainly impressive, but the service itself is quite simple. A small chemical fogger is used to introduce chemicals into the ductwork system, chemicals that kill germs, bacteria and fungus. EPA-registered chemicals specifically for use in ductwork systems are available that do not require the evacuation of family members and pets from the occupied space while the chemical is being used. As the contractor, you simply add the liquid chemical to the fogger, and fog the supply ducts before replacing the registers. Then turn the central fan on, and fog through the return, with the fan helping to distribute the chemical throughout the system. The best news is that this service can be repeated every 6 months, while system cleaning is at best required every couple of years. This is a simple service that provides real benefits to your customer – and incremental profits for you. Ultraviolet Lights

Lastly, consider offering your customers ongoing surface treatment using Ultra Violet lights. UV treatment of coils and/or drain pans is gaining popularity. Ever hear of “dirty socks” syndrome? This is often caused by damp coils or drain pans, which harbor the growth of bacteria and often are the cause of the smell. UV lights kill the bacteria and can “cure” the dirty sock syndrome. Check with the individual UV light manufacturer for appropriate sizing techniques. Again, note that certain states have licensing requirements that could impact your ability to supply this service. This IAQ product and service requires care and expertise, so do your homework before offering the service. Installed UV treatment will cost the consumer customer approximately $500 to $600 per system installed.

Video Inspection A Must

No matter what type of equipment that you choose to clean the system, always use a video inspection system. There are three reasons: First, use video inspection to verify that the system needs to be cleaned. Of course, don’t recommend system cleaning to customers when it is not necessary, but let’s also not shy away from this technology that will identify real customer needs. Use the video technology to sell the services when the homeowner may not even realize the problem exists. Second, use the inspection equipment to assist you in proper system cleaning. Much of the HVAC system is inaccessible. How can you know if you are properly cleaning the system if you cannot see what you are doing? Remember the first requirement per the NADCA standards is visibly clean. If you haven’t accomplished that, you will not be able to meet the more stringent vacuum test hurdle. Thirdly, use the video inspection equipment to confirm to yourself and to your customer that the system was properly cleaned. That diligence will get you referral customers.

Marketing and Pricing Of Cleaning Services

Many service providers who are considering system cleaning as an option to grow their business wonder how much they can expect to earn from the “typical” cleaning job. Of course, pricing is dependent upon local market and competitive conditions. But there are rules of thumb that can help you estimate your earnings potential. The following table shows typical pricing of residential HVAC system cleaning services, collected from numerous discussions with such service providers. The data assumes a 2000 sq. ft. home.

Some service providers use a flat fee of, say, $325 to quote, and then offer other services to the customer that are available at an additional cost. Using the above ranges of prices, you can now estimate how much revenue you can expect to generate, assuming a certain number of jobs per day, to help you justify new equipment purchases.

Grow with New Services to Existing Customers

You already have customers that you see every day. If you want to grow, you can either provide the same services to a greater number of customers (necessitating ongoing new customer lead generation), or you can expand the services that you offer to the customers that you already have. IAQ services are a natural extension of the current carpet, floor care, and restoration services that you provide. Take advantage of new services that can smooth out the valleys in your revenue, and increase your bottom line. u

Duct Cleaning Standards (Per NADCA 1992-01, abbreviated and summarized)

Use source removal techniques to render the HVAC system visibly clean

Use HEPA filtration if exhausting air inside the building

Use a mechanical agitation device to dislodge debris adhered to the interior of the HVAC system while the vacuum system is running

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