5 Steps to Attract and Grow Your R-1234yf Business

July 1, 2024
This time of year, temperatures are literally heating up, which drives a figurative “heating up” of air conditioning repair and maintenance business.

This time of year, temperatures are literally heating up, which drives a figurative “heating up” of air conditioning repair and maintenance business.

Also on the rise during this year’s peak AC service season is Chemours’ supply of R-1234yf (Opteon YF) to the automotive aftermarket. So far in 2024, Chemours has seen a significant increase in supply of the refrigerant. This growth indicates that an increasing number of shops want to capitalize on the competitive advantages they can gain by providing R-1234yf service.

As the number of vehicles with R-1234yf systems increases, shops prepared to service these vehicles will find growth opportunities. Several dynamics are expanding the market for R-1234yf service, starting with environmental regulations. Offering zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and a global warming potential (GWP) of less than one (AR5), R-1234yf is better for the environment than the legacy R-134a, which has a GWP of 1,300 (AR5). Due to these environmental reasons, many manufacturers have selected R-1234yf, equating to it being the refrigerant fill for more than 95% of new cars manufactured for sale in the U.S.

Consequently, there are more than 95 million R-1234yf vehicles on U.S. roads, with 15 million vehicles coming out of warranty annually. This means the potential growth for R-1234yf aftermarket business is tremendous. Plus, considering the influence environmental consciousness has on consumer decisions, supporting the R-1234yf transition can also be good for business.

Ensuring your shop can service both R-134a and R-1234yf vehicles is certainly a smart move. However, if you’ve made this decision but are unsure of what’s next, you are not alone. Here are five steps to get you started on bringing in and retaining R-1234yf business.

  1. Assess your competition and determine how much R-1234yf business you want in your bays.

There are two objectives for preparing your shop to service R-1234yf vehicles:

  • to prevent your current customers from going to the competition, and
  • to be the solution for customers whose preferred shop can’t service their vehicles.

When looking at your competition, get a full picture of where you might draw business from and where your customers may end up if you can’t meet a need. Include shops like yours — of equal, smaller, or larger size — as well as quick-service options, DIYers, and dealerships. Current trends may also help drive service your way. For example, according to a 2024 survey by Consumer Reports, vehicle owners favor independent automotive service shops over dealerships, and 83% of people surveyed use shops less than 30 minutes from their home.

  1. Estimate how much R-1234yf business you’ll be doing.

In today’s market, you can expect that 30% to 40% of your current AC service business will come from R-1234yf vehicles. Use this as a guide to forecast how much business you’ll be doing, determine your R-1234yf supply needs, and decide what equipment investments make the most sense. Also consider the types of vehicles you service. Vehicles with greater charge sizes — such as SUVs, EVs, and hybrids — typically require more refrigerant for servicing. If you skew toward any of these vehicle types, you may need a larger R-1234yf supply.

  1. Select the right R-1234yf packaging.

Once you have an idea of how much R-1234yf business you’ll be doing — and how much R-1234yf you’ll need to handle it — use this information to determine what product packaging and equipment will best serve your shop. Using Chemours’ Opteon YF options as an example, here are guidelines to follow:

  • If your shop performs a high volume of AC work, the 10- or 25-lb. cylinders are ideal. These cylinders will require an appropriate R/R/R machine — customers tell us it pays for itself after servicing just six vehicles.
  • If your shop only performs single-use or multiple-use charges to service customers, 12- and 28-ounce self-seal cans offer a cost-effective option. This packaging does not require an R/R/R machine, but please make sure you are aware of your state’s small-can regulations.

Also consider cost vs. quantity vs. potential waste. Some smaller fill packaging may initially be more appealing for the cost-conscious individual, however, if that amount cannot fully charge an SUV, for example, you may find yourself wasting product and dollars in the long run.

  1. Use a trusted source for all your R-1234yf needs.

Your source for R-1234yf should do more than just deliver product to your door. Look for a supplier that has longevity in the industry, has earned the trust of manufacturers for first fill, offers a ready and reliable supply, has a reputation for strong customer support, and provides training to ensure safe and proper use. In addition, find a supplier that offers R-1234yf and R-134a, since for the foreseeable future, your shop will be servicing both types of vehicles. Lastly, consider factors that are important to you as a shop owner, to your customers, and to the community in which you do business. Such considerations may guide you toward, for example, R-1234yf that is made in the U.S. or to a refrigerant manufacturer dedicated to reducing carbon emissions during the production process.

  1. Prepare your team and your shop.

Because R-1234yf is classified as a mildly flammable A2L refrigerant, it’s critical to ensure your technicians have the training to handle it safely and properly. In addition, to prevent R-1234yf from being mixed with R-134a, modern equipment has built-in safety guards, like opposite-side threading. You’ll also want to make sure your shop has the right equipment and tools to perform the job.

As you take these five steps, remember that it’s perfectly fine — and sometimes more strategically sound — to walk before you run. In an ideal world, every shop would be ready to service hundreds of R-1234yf vehicles. But financially, it may not be practical, possible, or necessary for your business to make that large of an investment right now. The important thing is that you get started offering R-1234yf service, and that you do so at the pace that is best for your business. Taking this approach can help keep your bays busier with business from current customers, new customers who are first-time R-1234yf vehicle owners, and customers coming from businesses that aren’t prepared. To learn more about R-1234yf, visit opteon.com/yf.

About the Author

Danielle Lovett

Danielle Lovett has nearly a decade of experience in the chemical industry. Her early roots in research provided a solid foundation for her evolving roles, which have supported the introduction and scale-up of next-generation products. In her nine years with Chemours, Danielle has provided research, project management, and marketing leadership in a variety of industries, including advanced electronics, chlor-alkali, industrial lubricants, and automotive. Before taking on the role of market development leader — automotive aftermarket for Chemours, Danielle was a global program manager for the company’s Advanced Electronics Venture. Currently, Danielle focuses on supporting the automotive aftermarket in the transition to low-global-warming-potential refrigerant technologies that enable enhanced sustainability. Danielle received her bachelor's degree and master's degree in chemistry from Villanova University, while conducting research in organometallic and polymer chemistry.

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