What Is The Biggest Challenge Of Starting An HVAC Business w Zach Psioda

Episode 509. In today’s episode, Tersh and Zack talk about 5 reasons small business owners fail soon after beginning their heating and air conditioning business. They both speak from personal experiences within the business, and share topics that were never shared with them before they started their businesses!

Show Notes

Tersh talks with Zach Psioda from the HVAC Shop Talk Podcast!

“I think a few people have talked about this, where you are a good technical person in HVAC and you believe that the HVAC gods will rain down business on you as appreciation for your progress and success, which doesn’t happen.”

Zack is well known around the air conditioning community for his YouTube channels and multiple podcasts pertaining to the skilled trades, mainly the HVAC industry. 

He has owned multiple air conditioning businesses in North Carolina over the previous 20 years, and we tap into this experience to ask him to share his largest struggles when it comes to operating a business. 

In today’s episode, Tersh and Zack talk about 5 reasons small business owners fail soon after beginning their heating and air conditioning business. They both speak from personal experiences within the business, and share topics that were never shared with them before they started their businesses!   

Our Deep Dive~

  1. Being too technical.
  2. Not being technical enough.
  3. Not seeking the guidance of coaching.
  4. …you’ll have to listen to the rest of the episode for these juicy details! 

The most successful people out there are not half technicians and half owners…they step out of the van and become full owners. 


“If you know how people will emotionally react, you have an advantage more valuable than all of humanity’s innovations.”

Thank you for listening to another episode of the Service Business Mastery Podcast!

Learn more about Tersh at https://ServiceBusinessMastery.com 


Tersh Blissett: [00:00:00] Are you ready to go live?

Zack Psioda: [00:00:02] Yeah, I’m ready.

Tersh Blissett: [00:00:04] All right, I think we’re live

Zack Psioda: [00:00:07] So you think so?

Tersh Blissett: [00:00:07] According to the little thing

Zack Psioda: [00:00:12] Up there says media is now streaming live on Facebook, so I guess this is also a meeting.

Tersh Blissett: [00:00:18] Yeah, welcome to the meeting.

Zack Psioda: [00:00:20] Yeah, I appreciate it. I like this. Let’s go live. OK.

Tersh Blissett: [00:00:24] All right.

Zack Psioda: [00:00:24] Cool doing it later today. So, yeah.

Tersh Blissett: [00:00:28] Well, I mean, you don’t do anything. 

Zack Psioda: [00:00:35] Tersh is like…let’s do it. Let’s do it like. Well OK.

Tersh Blissett: [00:00:38] Yeah let’s do it. So. BackStory here, since we’re already love, this is the Service Business Mastery Podcast, I’m your host, Tersh Blissett today we have zero buddy of if you don’t know who’s actually it is, follow him. He has like you, you only have like one YouTube channel. Right.

Zack Psioda: [00:00:56] So yeah. Right. Like a bunch of channels. I got YouTube channels for each activity that I do. Tell me how much in-depth you want me to go and like.

Tersh Blissett: [00:01:05] Yeah, tell us all of your YouTube channels that you can think of out of your head.

Zack Psioda: [00:01:09] I suppose we can do two shows. OK, so the H back shoptalk channel, which is just some random videos like Fortysomething Show on what channel I have the skilled trade up channel. I’m looking at this like I wrote this down…skilled trade up channel and then

Tersh Blissett: [00:01:26] You came on really prepared for this show.

Zack Psioda: [00:01:28] So yeah, I don’t know until a few minutes ago. This is my favorite way to be. Anyway, I need to go straight up is just a game show that I do where we give away tools. And so HVAC Techs play tonight. We’re doing the first time we do multiple people at the same time. So it’s gonna be fun. Yeah. Oh yeah. We’re going to pit them against each other. I don’t know. It’s gonna be fun for them, but it’s it’s fun for me to see the social experiment play out. Yeah. And then on Friday nights, as you may know, because you were on last week, the ill-fated show, they got interrupted in the middle. But on AC training videos, we have interviews every Friday night at 8:00. So that’s pretty. That’s pretty much it.

Tersh Blissett: [00:02:02] Oh, so I asked you it was kind of a last-minute as you kind of led to there. I was thinking I was earlier today, I was like, man, I need to talk to Zach because. As far as keeping it real, you you’re kind of like my go to guy for keeping things real, like you don’t sugarcoat things, or at least you don’t for me anyways.

Zack Psioda: [00:02:28] I don’t, no.

Tersh Blissett: [00:02:30] Which I appreciate that and like I want to talk about as far as us being business owners and starting businesses, like a lot of people see the good stuff like, oh yeah, you have six thousand followers. Oh yeah, you got 20000 followers. Like you have great social media content. You have great YouTube this and that you grow in your scale, in you know, you’re doing. We only tend to show, like, really our good stuff. And I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but I want to talk about some things where we struggle to. And I feel like you would be honest with me about that. Absolutely. I will do so today. We only have a couple of minutes to talk. But I want to ask basically, what have you found is your strongest like what’s the most difficult thing for you to do when it comes to business and industry?

Zack Psioda: [00:03:26] Well, I think my difficulty probably is shared by many, especially on the technical side, to go into business for themselves is coming to grips with being a business person instead of just a technical person, because I was under the belief we talked about this, too. I think a few people have talked about this, where you are a good technical person in HVAC, you believe that the HVAC gods will rain down business on you as appreciation for your progress and success, which the case is that that doesn’t happen. You have to make a concerted effort to learn business and business strategy. And that was my biggest weakness for not just at the beginning, but for years, trying to come to grips with this. And you know what I probably never came to grips with compared to someone like you or I talked to Stephen Reardon a couple of weeks ago. So when he made it happen, you became the warrior that you are now, which like we talked about, which people can’t see because I had to erase it because of the strange ending to our live stream. You went ahead and you did something which I would have thought was a weird cult, a strange salesman thing, which would have given me pause because I put some sort of judgment on it in advance. But it was the right thing to do for you because you told me that you said it was the right thing that made you wiser in business. And that’s just something I never did. And it hurt me the whole time I was in business.

Tersh Blissett: [00:04:47] You know, I feel like that we were growing like you ever since you and I have known each other because you started your podcast a little while before mine. Right. Like, how long have you been doing the podcast?

Zack Psioda: [00:05:05] I think because it started out working Joe’s podcast.

Tersh Blissett: [00:05:07] Oh, that’s right. That’s right.

Zack Psioda: [00:05:08] To shoptalk whenever we started our blue-collar thing. Yeah, I think it was just a few months and because I was February twenty seventeen and like later on that same year.

Tersh Blissett: [00:05:17] Yeah. Like October or something September or October of 2017. But I feel like before, like around that time I mean I was growing, I mean our business was growing, we were growing between nine and one hundred twenty percent year over year and whenever never started another business or purchase icebound and then have rebranded since with Service Emperor. You know, I’ve kind of prided myself or, you know, patting myself on the back of not sticking in with the service tech side of things. But then also, like, sometimes I feel like I, I jump out of it too much though. Like, I should be doing more technical stuff than what I do. Does that make sense?

Zack Psioda: [00:06:06] It does. I think I went through the same thing all the time, even nowadays with doing podcasts, more podcast than actual fieldwork. Yeah, I feel like you’re giving up all the street cred you ever had or the next step. And the funny thing is, I think you have to do that to go to the next step. It’s not something you can hold on to halfway unless you’re going to do the next step halfway. Yeah, it’s just it’s one of those things where you might lose the respect of certain people out there that you’re not getting your hands dirty every day. But it’s just what you have to do to go the next step that took about a year to come to.

Tersh Blissett: [00:06:38] Yeah, I mean, the thing about it is it’s so like whenever when I first became a service manager, I was told like, hey, you can’t stay in the field, you can’t get back in the field. You can’t do this. You can’t do that. And I was like, all right, cool. I don’t want to be in the field. But then, you know, the ego part of it’s like, hey, I need to be able to fix this for my guys. And so then it’s like, hey, nobody else can fix it, but I can fix it so that myself on the back of my head up, I’m the fixer of this. And then so that’s more of an ego thing. So I don’t know. I mean, I definitely am right there with you, though, like, I can’t get to the next step if I keep staying in the field. And but it almost becomes a crutch, though, too, because like, if somebody quits and instead of searching really hard for another employee, like, it’s really easy for me to jump back in the van. And you probably saw that this past summer where like, I had a lot more content because there were times whenever I was three days out of the week, four days of the week, I was in the van running service calls to because we had more work than we could handle.

Zack Psioda: [00:07:42] I was wondering what was happening. It was either you had more work than you can handle or Tersh company has fallen apart. Yeah, completely built by himself of us.

Tersh Blissett: [00:07:53] Yes. And that’s how it felt sometimes to it was like, oh man, what am I doing here?

Zack Psioda: [00:08:00] But I think the most successful people that you probably study from are the books that any of us would read about the subject. Those people are not half technicians. Half owners they are all the way owners. And they’re not going back because I think they realize and I’m kind of speaking out of turn here because I’m not an expert in this area, but I think they must realize you can’t go back and go to the level of success they want to go to.

Tersh Blissett: [00:08:21] Yeah, yeah, I definitely believe that. I think that this year I. Gave myself the excuse of covid and everything else, that it’s just a weird year, but I think in all honesty like I never should have gotten back in the band at all. I should have totally just found people to work.

Zack Psioda: [00:08:38] Yeah, and it’s on my struggle. I never did grow like you’ve done or like a lot of people that I felt like we talked to Greg Fox. Yeah. Was one that has really been to me. He’s been like an idyllic business owner over the last five years. It’s just because we followed him from before he even owned a business to now have a complete picture of his life. I’ve never been able to replicate that or come to terms with the fact that I can’t be the guy in the field. And it’s almost like you get a clear picture of who you’re going to be in life. If you can’t come to terms with that, you need not be an owner to work for you or you’re not going to be successful like someone like yourself or like Greg who can compartmentalize and say, well, that’s no longer what I have to do, but I can do it if I need to. If something happens or we get 12 calls at one time or something, which is kind of it’s kind of nice. And every now and then you get that satisfaction of going out outside and enjoy your new run capacitor, ma’am. And thank goodness that’s what it was.

Tersh Blissett: [00:09:34] Thank you. Yeah, exactly. I’m glad that’s all it was, because that’s all I brought with me and my personality,

Zack Psioda: [00:09:40] You know, that’s what you know, that’s what happens. You know, the owner goes out there, it’s like wrong capacitor, low refrigerant. Let’s do this, you know, get out there. I don’t have any refrigerant so we hope it’s just a capacitor. And I only have one turbo.

Tersh Blissett: [00:09:52] It’s like if you have a if you’re blower motor capacitors bad, you’re getting a turbo 200.

Zack Psioda: [00:09:58] Yeah. You’re getting ninety microfarads to help your blower and forward to blowing

Tersh Blissett: [00:10:05] With another guy a service. There’s going to be out here tomorrow with the blower.

Zack Psioda: [00:10:08] Yeah. A real service dog will be back online. That’s right. Because you have cockies on in a time.

Tersh Blissett: [00:10:13] Yeah. Well the weird thing is, is like they’ll listen to me and I’m like you really need to be listening to this guy because he knows what he’s doing. Like, you wanna talk business, I’ll talk business with you. But like, don’t take my advice about air conditioning.

Zack Psioda: [00:10:29] Oh, no. You’re still a good tech. I mean, I know some of your pedigree Tersh because it goes back to our buddy Brent’s days back in when he was in Savannah, I guess. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s for the fact that one day back in time you were a technician.

Tersh Blissett: [00:10:42] Yeah, that’s very true. Very, very true. I need to talk to Brant, too, because he’s he’s still in the field a pretty good bit, isn’t he?

Zack Psioda: [00:10:49] Yeah, a pretty decent amount, I think.

Tersh Blissett: [00:10:50] Yeah, yeah, it’s oh, yeah, you have the selfie of me with Brant, don’t you?

Zack Psioda: [00:10:56] I wish I had it loaded up. I was not prepared for that. But if you do join us on Sunday night, I will bring it out just for the fun of it.

Tersh Blissett: [00:11:02] Okay. All right. Yeah. So Brent’s mom still lives here in town. Brant lived moved up to Atlanta with his dad. And so Brant called me and said, hey, my mom’s dehumidifier quit working or something just so happened. Like it was 4th of July weekend, I think I’m pretty sure it was July weekend. And I had given all the guys the day off and I was on call and I went over there and I’m like, dehumidifier wins. Less them work on dehumidifier. I don’t know. So I go over there, I’m looking at it and I’m like, wait a minute. And and briskman like, that’s Bryansk high school graduation picture. I’m like, oh, selfie, time to me and selfie with Brant Senior Brant.

Zack Psioda: [00:11:44] That was great. That was fantastic. Immediately because I’m in a text with Brant and a couple other people. I immediately took that picture directly over that text said, hey, guys, who’s this guy? Brent’s like, ha ha ha.

Tersh Blissett: [00:11:56] I don’t even think I said it to Brent yet…

Zack Psioda: [00:11:58] In a way you did look

Tersh Blissett: [00:12:01] Like I think I took it. I’m like, I don’t see Mr. Brenton. I forgot. And I was like a so much as well. I mean, basically what you

Zack Psioda: [00:12:07] Did is it’s like taking a flight. There’s a layover on Zakho that went right to Brant. Yeah. I couldn’t resist that. Cassian and Brant, anybody back when they’re 18, 17 years old, they’re going to look me. Yeah, like a baby. You look out of place, you always have some kind of different air. You know, Brant had I said I think I said, which BG is this Brant? Because he has, you know, Jagi, I really wish that I was geared up. I don’t have

Tersh Blissett: [00:12:32] He’s got to say, man, when I was a senior man, I had my hair was parted in the middle and it came down like this for like I was a straight surfer dude, like always the real. Oh, yeah, yeah.

Zack Psioda: [00:12:45] Everything go opposite.

Tersh Blissett: [00:12:49] I don’t have a choice.

Zack Psioda: [00:12:50] I used to chew on my hair. My hair was so long in high school would come down now to chew on it.

Tersh Blissett: [00:12:54] I don’t think mine was that I was really long. It was like down to the bottom. My ears for sure.

Zack Psioda: [00:13:00] It’s a phaze.

Tersh Blissett: [00:13:01] Well it is. And I’m not looking forward for my kids to go through it and we’ll shave our heads.

Zack Psioda: [00:13:06] Yeah. Good luck with that. I don’t know. How old are your kids now from twelve.

Tersh Blissett: [00:13:11] Eleven. Twelve year old boys.

Zack Psioda: [00:13:14] Ok, my my son’s about to be seventeen. He went through the phase where his hair was down and now he’s doing stocking for soldiers. We passed that phase. Thank goodness that ROTC people will not let him fly with that hair.

Tersh Blissett: [00:13:25] No, absolutely not. You know, whenever I was in JROTC, we were like Onaga, like we were just ate up with it because like most of us knew that we were going Air Force after high school anyways. And then the one guy that he literally shaved his head like mine, he got points off at one of our events because of hair on his ear.

Zack Psioda: [00:13:45] Oh, wow.

Tersh Blissett: [00:13:47] Yeah, it was really ridiculous.

Zack Psioda: [00:13:49] Oh, yeah. My son, he flips out when he has, like, one little thing out of place on his uniforms. I know, because you got, like, rulers out and stuff and he is super anal about it. I mean, I say anal like a negative term, but he really cares. Yeah. Say like say it like that.

Tersh Blissett: [00:14:01] He takes pride in his work.

Zack Psioda: [00:14:03] Absolutely. He’s going to go into the military. I’m you’re there.

Tersh Blissett: [00:14:07] What’s the link for that. I want to put that in the in the Facebook live there…

Zack Psioda: [00:14:11] Oh let’s see. I can’t I share a link on here. I don’t know. Let me see. I’m not familiar with Zoom but I can send it to you. Maybe I can Facebook it to you while we’re talking.

Tersh Blissett: [00:14:24] Yeah, that’s something that I feel like anybody that’s listening to this or watching this, they need to be donating to the ones that wins the deadline.

Zack Psioda: [00:14:35] The deadline is the end of this month, so the end of November

Tersh Blissett: [00:14:39] In November, twenty twenty, I can do

Zack Psioda: [00:14:41] Those two. Look, I’m a multitasked.

Tersh Blissett: [00:14:44] Second, look at you like a tech genius

Zack Psioda: [00:14:47] There, screens everywhere, Tersh,

Tersh Blissett: [00:14:49] I can imagine they’re

Zack Psioda: [00:14:51] Everywhere. Well, there’s three of

[00:14:52] Them,

Zack Psioda: [00:14:54] Two computers at work together to stream one stream.See,

Tersh Blissett: [00:14:58]  look at their.

Zack Psioda: [00:15:00] Yeah, well, you had to have it, you know, what’s the matter? I’ll say it crap that we try to do on one of our streams with all the different things that go on, with all the different thumbnails and stuff and music that plays, it requires a computer for the hang out like we’re on and a computer for the stream to make it work.

Tersh Blissett: [00:15:16] Yeah. I mean, but the thing about it is, is like it’s a true product to the production value whenever you watch one of yours. Hats off. Hats off to you for that because that’s a I started to mess with it and I was like, nah, I’m not diving in this rabbit hole.

Zack Psioda: [00:15:35] Yeah, but it’s intricate. Sometimes I’ll forget something. I’ll kick myself. But there’s literally there’s there’s the mixing board, which is very similar to your road mixing board, except it’s zoom zoom and there’s a stream deck with a bunch of buttons on it that had to hit some manually that are in the stream yard hang out so people can see it because I can’t see it otherwise. So it’s and I just sent you that information through messenger so hopefully you can.

Tersh Blissett: [00:15:58] I got it already pinned. It is in the jet.

Zack Psioda: [00:16:02] So he’s doing a great job. He’s going to be on the news today. I know you guys are going to see different parts of the country, local news

Tersh Blissett: [00:16:10] Channels, Channel three. I’ll I’ll tune in on Channel three.

Zack Psioda: [00:16:13] It is it is Channel six. It’s TV

Tersh Blissett: [00:16:17] Channel six. So I’ll sit there and patiently wait for Channel six.

Zack Psioda: [00:16:21] I don’t know what your Channel six will be is probably Telemundo or something. I don’t even

Tersh Blissett: [00:16:25] Have a Channel six. I don’t know.

Zack Psioda: [00:16:27] But I think you can probably see it online or we’ll post it to that page. If you want to follow the page like he posted in there, you’ll probably see it there.

Tersh Blissett: [00:16:34] Right.

Zack Psioda: [00:16:34] Cool on that from there. Trying to search your TV for local channels, for places you don’t live. Where do you live at again?

Tersh Blissett: [00:16:41] North Carolina somewhere. Let me search every town in North Carolina and Channel six.

Zack Psioda: [00:16:46] I’ll tell you, we’re in Willard go in search that.

Tersh Blissett: [00:16:49] I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that.

Zack Psioda: [00:16:51] Well, that’s the way it’s going to be. Probably population one hundred and four or something to pin on, you know.

Tersh Blissett: [00:16:59] You know, that’s about like the population of Savannah. No, no, I mean, this is crazy, I was looking up because we were looking at demographics and how large of an area it is and how much it’ll handle like the competition was. And people were like, you know, is large. You know what? You have a million people there. And I’ll Google it. And it was like one hundred and forty-four thousand. It’s like, wow, that’s a big small town.

Zack Psioda: [00:17:27] That is the big small. That’s like Wilmington. It’s one hundred and twenty-six thousand Metro and then you have a quarter million in the whole area. Yeah. So it’s pretty similar to Savannah I think.

Tersh Blissett: [00:17:40] Cool bud. Well, I just wanted to get on here and talk to you a minute about that. I know that we all have our struggles with stuff, and I feel like you hit the nail on the head and just kind of getting out of our own way. And at this, I think that’s one of the biggest struggles that a lot of us as business owners have.

Zack Psioda: [00:18:00] That was my main one. There’s there’s more we can do, like a ten part series if you want Tersh. Whenever you’re hurting for something to do, you can let me know the truth. There is plenty more, but that is probably the main one as far as being a businessman. There’s other stuff that just comes along before that gets in the way. So it’s a little different story.

Tersh Blissett: [00:18:18] Yeah, and we’re going to talk about that on Sunday, too, a little bit.

Zack Psioda: [00:18:23] Absolutely. We’re we’ll get you a link for that, too, because I have created that event. But as soon as I do, I’ll send it to you

Tersh Blissett: [00:18:28] Because people I’ll share it with everybody that’s listening and watching. I’m excited because I get to talk with Brant and I haven’t seen him in like a year.

Zack Psioda: [00:18:40] So I kind of got to invite Brant. You’re the first person I invited. I got to still talk to Brant. Now he’s got to come. He’s got to come now because we showed a picture. And if he doesn’t, it’s just going to piss me off.

Tersh Blissett: [00:18:50] He doesn’t have a choice.

Zack Psioda: [00:18:51] Now, what

Tersh Blissett: [00:18:53] What we’ll do is just have a fourth box sitting there with his picture in it.

Zack Psioda: [00:18:58] Yeah. With that particular picture, I’ll blow it up and put his face in there. He better come in. I’m tempted just to call him from here like that

Tersh Blissett: [00:19:06] Once you go ahead and call him right now while we were on here,

Zack Psioda: [00:19:09] Let me see what I can do with this. If I have my little cord, I could plug it into this mixer and do it. I can do it with the. Hmm, I’ll get

Zack Psioda: [00:19:18] Brent on here, we’ll put them in the device room in the hot seat. Mm-hmm.

Zack Psioda: [00:19:25] Brant Riddley. The. Record, a newer record, was more professional. Hey, buddy, what’s up? Hey, Brant, you’re online with Tersh and me. All right. All right. So Tersh Tersh can’t talk to you per se, because he’s not plugged in. He says, what’s up? But we want to invite you to an event Sunday night at 8:00 p.m., a live stream. Can you do that? So absolutely count me in this, not just because we’re put you on the spot, you’re going to be later and say that coronavirus or something else. OK, OK. All right. So I like that. All right. Well, we’ll let you go. We’re going to get back to this live stream, OK? All right. I’ll send you a message in a moment. Explain. All right. That’s funny. There’s a reason why. You know, another thing in business, if you need something done, don’t put it off. Just do it. Exactly. Just do it.

Tersh Blissett: [00:20:31] Speed, speed of everything, speed of implementing

Zack Psioda: [00:20:35] That letter to their Tersh. I mean, that’s a whole nother story. Don’t put anything off. Just, you know, whether it be an awkward conversation with the person who just lost their ceiling because of your drain pan or whatever, just just take care of it. You know, I’m saying it happens. Happens. I had had one raining ceiling issue.

Tersh Blissett: [00:20:52] That’s horrible. It was one. It was

Zack Psioda: [00:20:55] Stupid. Aluminum coils with their slime. Uh, long story with a different day, I guess.

Tersh Blissett: [00:21:02] Different doing. Coool bud, thanks for coming on the show.

Zack Psioda: [00:21:05] No problem. Glad to be part of it. Thank you. Tersh.

Tersh Blissett: [00:21:07] Yeah, I’ll see you later.

Meet the Hosts:

Tersh Blissett

Tersh Blissett is a serial entrepreneur who has created and scaled multiple profitable home service businesses in his small-town market. He’s dedicated to giving back to the industry that has provided so much for him and his family. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Joshua Crouch

Joshua Crouch has been in the home services industry, specifically HVAC, for 8+ years as an Operations Manager, Branch Manager, Territory Sales Manager, and Director of Marketing. He’s also the Founder of Relentless Digital, where the focus is dominating your local market online. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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