Being an HVAC contractor often carries a stigma. A stigma that unfortunately paints a lot of wonderful, hardworking, honest, and intelligent folks in a negative light. We have all heard the horror stories, read the awful reviews, and almost certainly know someone who had a bad experience with a contractor at some point in their lives. I hear these stories all the time when I’m performing a consultation with a prospective client.
I’m tired of hearing these stories, so I decided to put together a list of common red flags to be aware of when shopping for an HVAC contractor to help save you time and money.
Red Flag # 1 – Bait & Switch
We’ve all seen the ads, “$39 Tune-Up” or “$2,900 AC System Installation” this type of Bait & Switch pricing used by companies is meant to get themselves in your home or business where they can then find costly and always “necessary” repairs. These companies train their technicians to deceive customers so that they can make a profit. As for the $2,900 installed air conditioning system, this is so far below the cost of even cheap equipment, let alone the cost of the labor to install. Any whole house A/C system replacement that is properly engineered and sized for your home, and is properly installed by trained installers, is going to cost you upwards or over $5,000, and that is with low-end value level equipment, not the highly efficient equipment you would want. If you see a price that is much lower than the competition and seems like an amazing deal, beware.
Any HVAC contractor you decide to go with should be honest and realistic about what it costs. HVAC is a highly specialized trade and can get expensive very quickly. Here at Spurk HVAC, we want to be as open and direct as possible. We’re always willing to work with you on price and provide you with a solution that works best for you. We also provide financing options.
Red Flag # 2 – Reviews
In our wild and wonderful age of technology. Reviews are king. I don’t take my family out to eat at a new restaurant until I read the reviews first.
While no HVAC company is perfect, a large number of bad reviews online can be a red flag. Read a company’s bad reviews more carefully than its good reviews, and you’ll see whether or not you have cause for concern. Here’s why:
A company that really cares about its work and its customers will respond to those bad reviews and do one of two things. In the case of a legitimate complaint, the company will apologize and compensate the homeowner by redoing the work. In the case of a hard-to-please homeowner, the company will apologize and explain what the homeowner can do (e.g., If the homeowner isn’t noticing much of a difference after a component upgrade, the company can direct the homeowner as to how to see that difference, whether it be in the monthly energy bills or water heat).
A bad HVAC company will neglect the bad reviews all-together, simply not responding to them. To these companies, HVAC is not a service but a numbers game. They are not seeking long-term customers but immediate income from one-and-done customers.
The worst offenders are often big-name HVAC companies. These companies use their name recognition in the area to attract droves of new clients but do not intend on keeping those clients. They often spend their money on advertising instead of customer service and education.
That is not to say that all large HVAC companies are substandard and lack customer service skills. However, you should perform due diligence on all HVAC companies, no matter whether they have name recognition.
At the end of the day, my last name is on our shirts, our building, our trucks, and our work. I take pride in every job that we do and I’m proud to show that off in reviews from happy customers.
Red Flag # 3 – Appearance
This one seems trivial. But it’s true. – No uniform
A uniform represents an investment by an HVAC company to create a professional image. But more importantly, an HVAC company that has spent resources on uniform design and production is also a company that cares greatly about all aspects of their business. A company that does not have their employees wear uniforms has likely not been in the industry long enough to properly develop all aspects of their business, including HVAC education, spare part maintenance, and technician training.
In addition, HVAC company scams have happened in the past with non-uniformed “technicians” entering homes under the guise of an HVAC company. The presence of a uniform ensures you that you’re working with a real company.
While being scammed by a fake HVAC company is unlikely, the uniform should at least give you confidence that you are working with a real company. Most importantly a uniform is a sign of professionalism. Much like surgeons, HVAC professionals are entering an important part of your existence and making serious changes; just as a surgeon or doctor must wear a uniform, an “HVAC surgeon” should wear one too.
A good HVAC company should understand both this and the fact that a first impression matters to the customer. An unkempt man knocking on your door with an unmarked, black, windowless van behind him should instinctively spur feelings of mistrust. Good HVAC companies want you to trust them the first time so that you will hire them a second time – do not deal with nonuniform HVAC companies.
This article is not meant to discourage you for shopping around for the best possible solution. In fact, I recommend it. See how much time and effort companies are willing to put in to get to know you, your needs, and how they can best serve you. There are a ton of great contractors in the region that I’m friends with and compete with on a daily basis.
If you’re in the market for any HVAC service including:
Please reach out to us. I would love the opportunity to get to know you and prove to you what separates a good contractor from a great one. Click here to schedule an appointment with us.