Chad Setchell, owner of Hansen Air has been in the industry for decades. His father worked for Lennox for 35 years, and while Chad started out in electrical services, he’s been in the trades long enough to know exactly what it takes to run a successful business.
Quitting high school at the age of 16, Chad was kicked out of his home and immediately found work for an electrical contractor. He found that through hard work and grit, success was inevitable. It wasn’t long before other companies took note, and he was picked up by an air conditioning contractor. This began his long and storied career in the trades.
In his mid-30’s, Chad was a bit burnt out by the industry and wanted a fresh start, and relocated to Mobile, Alabama where he still resides. When he moved, he was doing home projects and side jobs here and there, but the industry kept calling him back. Before he knew it, he was starting Hansen Air with $100 bucks in his pocket and a single van. Now, Hansen Air is pushing $50 million and dominating their market. If you ask Chad, he’ll tell you there aren’t any secrets to success. Just a simple formula that’s served him well!
MARKETING + BRAND + PEOPLE = 50 MILLION
When Chad was starting Hansen Air, the territory was pretty open. There were a few major players, but they were doing things the “old school” way. Chad was quick to take advantage of Google Adwords, which was just starting up, and was the only contractor in his area using it for almost 2 years. In combination with Yellow Pages ads and some traditional marketing, Chad used an all-in digital and physical marketing strategy to crush his territory. There were times as he was adding more techs and vans that putting the cart before the horse was a concern, but he continued to double down and be more aggressive with his marketing approach—a strategy he still uses to this day.
Chad continues to stay ahead of his competitors by outspending them, especially in the Adwords market. He also continually searches for fresh ideas, and teams up with great partners. One fresh idea he’s had incredible success with is offering free freon checks. While many contractors will scoff at this idea, Chad knows that if someone is calling for a free freon check, they probably already have a freon problem. Another opportunity was learning that one of the large Mardi Gras parades in his area (yes, Mobile has Mardi Gras parades!) was being charged by the trucks carrying the floats. Chad offered to do it for free, and now every year there are 40-50 Hansen Air trucks pulling the floats in front of thousands of people to see their logo.
His territorial lead means that his competition is usually following suit, which pushes Chad to innovate and try new things all the time. He always has an eye on what others are doing, and uses that to his advantage. For example, he noticed that no one in his area was using direct mailers because they felt they were dead. So this year, Hansen Air sent out direct mail marketing, and it worked great because they were the only ones doing it. Next year, Chad anticipates everyone else doing it. He still uses door hangers and Facebook ads, but the main thing is saturation. Hansen Air is everywhere, they are aggressive, and Chad views marketing as warfare in which spend and visibility are the offense of choice.
In the beginning, Chad was having a lot of success gaining customers and getting work done. However, to stay busy, he was lowering his prices down to a point that left little room for growth. It’s a common theme with a new business, and many will price their services so competitively they effectively run themselves out the door. After a year of long days and a ton of service calls, there wasn’t any money to show for it. This motivated Chad to do things differently, and not just pricing for growth.
At that time, Dan Antonelli of KickCharge Creative was someone who Chad had been following for a long time. Dan was a big deal in graphic design, and his resume of brands he had worked with was (and is) amazing. Chad got the courage to call him up and get a quote, and the number almost made him pass out. It was quite a bit of money at the time. Still, Chad was prepared to do whatever it took. He took all of the money he had, and got a fresh new website, van wraps, logo, letterheads, business cards, SEO, and the whole marketing kitchen sink. Basically everything he could sign up for, he did, and it paid off in spades. Having a badass brand gave Hansen Air that leg up that paved the way for explosive success.
Chad points out that you can market all you want and have the baddest brand on the block, but if you don’t do things right on the backend you’re just wasting your time and money. You have to answer the phones and have great people that perform great service, follow up, follow through, and are accountable at all times. By training and holding his employees to Hansen Air standards and always working to improve his processes, Chad continues to push his company forward and lead the pack. It’s all about having the right people in the right places with the right training to set them and yourself up for success.
If you have lead generation and conversion down, answering the phones and booking appointments is going to be the final piece of the puzzle. You have to look at each call and dissect it to justify how much you’re spending on marketing. If your CSR doesn’t book the lead, nothing else matters. Hansen Air has a formula and great people that allows them to answer every call that comes in. That number is no joke, either, with an average of 1,500 calls per day—2,000 and more during peak seasons! It can be stressful, but by focusing on perfecting their first point of customer contact, they are enjoying a 95% call booking rate.
If you follow the right recipe for branding and marketing and have the right people and training for your company, success is inevitable. Chad used to be stressed about getting enough calls to stay busy, and now the stress is all about getting to every call. Hansen Air is growing at a rapid pace of $10 million/year, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. If you market, stand behind what you’re marketing, and are dynamic, you’ll have no choice but to grow.
You can find Chad and many other like-minded industry leaders frequenting the HVAC Managers and Owners group on Facebook.