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Old 09-06-2012, 08:29 AM   #1
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What makes a reputable contractor


I just wanted to get some feed back from some consumers on some good experiences that you've had with a contractor. I am just looking for ways that we can try and stand out more from our competition in the heating and cooling field.

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Old 09-06-2012, 08:31 AM   #2
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What makes a reputable contractor


other than the obvious ones, like price and completed the job on time.. I am looking more for the little things that stand out... any input is greatly appreciated..

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Old 09-06-2012, 05:46 PM   #3
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What makes a reputable contractor


I am not exactly a typical consumer but have a bought a furnace and ac unit for my own properties a time or two. I have good and bad experiences with you folk though.

Biggies for me?

Your part of the trades is, unfortunately more than all but maybe roofers, plagued by contractors that take advantage of people and at times when they can least afford or spend time shopping around (-20 or 120 outside!). If you are one of the honest HVAC companies, and there are many, I would not hesitate to brag about it if you have references to back you up. And stress that you go over written estimates with the consumer so there are no surprises.

Nothing worse than securing a job when its cold or hot knowing full well you cannot get to it in a reasonable period of time. Nobody likes to walk away from business but if you are overloaded and cannot take it on refer the persons to someone else reputable. They will remember you.

I have often not let you all work on a job if I was not present and there to follow around. Some of you have little or no respect for other trades and just hack air returns and heating vents in place any old which way. If you do better work, talk it up.

License, insured and bonded is a nice thing to remind the consumer about. If you have a history with zero complaints or claims against you that can be a selling point.

One plumbing and HVAC company and the electrical contractor I worked with most never left scraps like fittings, sheet metal, empty tape rolls, wire nuts and other crap on the job. I would have cleaned it up but it showed a lot of respect for their work to clean it up themselves. Of course I appreciated not to having to do so. It amazes me how many tradespeople think their mothers work for them and will pick up after them! They leave job sites an absolute mess and I guess they don't think others notice or that it is alright.

One plumbing and HVAC company aiming for highend consumers in a community where I lived promised to wear hospital booties and tyvek suits. I thought this was a bit much until I thought about it. The strategy worked and sent exactly the right signal in a way no other advertising could. The company got a lot of business working on classes of homes $500K and up because of it. It was certainly an inexpensive enough tactic to pull off. $3 or so for the suits and booties in bulk? $5 if you want your logo digitally printed on it?

Build a database and remind your customers when it is time for filter changes, service, etc. Even if it is something they can (and probably should) do themselves, it gives you a perfect excuse to stay in touch. Nice color postcards will not cost you much.

Logo up your crew so they look like they work for you even if they are "freelancers". Nice, digitally printed teeshirts are like $6? Don't forget a sticker or magnet to place on the HVAC unit and the frig! Chimp change for nice color ones.

Last edited by user1007; 09-06-2012 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:43 PM   #4
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What makes a reputable contractor


Thanks, there are definitely some good ideas, customers seem to be hesitant, because they've been burnt before so gaining trust takes longer. "Once bitten, twice shy."
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:55 PM   #5
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What makes a reputable contractor


To find a good contractor look in a 3 or more year phone book. If a name is in there they have survived the average mortality for businesses. Tell people who call how long you have been in, (the phone book), business. My teacher in Trade School said he always showed people his hands. He still had all ten fingers. I am willing to bet some people looked at the other guys hands when they came to bid! I do when hiring.
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:59 PM   #6
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What makes a reputable contractor


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To find a good contractor look in a 3 or more year phone book. If a name is in there they have survived the average mortality for businesses. Tell people who call how long you have been in, (the phone book), business. My teacher in Trade School said he always showed people his hands. He still had all ten fingers. I am willing to bet some people looked at the other guys hands when they came to bid! I do when hiring.
The ten fingers suggestion is magical!!!!
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Old 09-06-2012, 08:03 PM   #7
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What makes a reputable contractor


I had a furnace installed last year by Therwood. They are in the Durham and Brock regions slightly south east of your location.

They won the bid because they offered a ten year parts and labour on my Bryant unit.
They showed respect for my timetable by showing up to both the interview and the job on time

They were repectful and polite at all times
They laid tarps down on the floor from the front door right to the furnace room
They made sure I knew how to operate the thermostat
They didn't leave a scrap of garbage
Their admin followed up with the warranty and completed all the paperwork regarding the Fed rebate program.

I will refer them anytime
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Old 09-06-2012, 08:08 PM   #8
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What makes a reputable contractor


Do what you say you are going to do.
Do what you say you are going to do.
Do what you say you are going to do.
Explain everything.
Clean up daily, and at end.
Communicate clearly.
Answer the phone and return calls. It is amazing how many don't, I was booked 2 years ahead because people would wait for me. I'd return calls and say I could not do it, I was busy, they would say "we'll wait"
Keep your truck clean (doesn't need to be new),
Don't dress/Look grubby
Be pleasant. Your invading these peoples lives.
Go out of your way to make them happy.
Be professional. Use letterhead, I gave customers quotes with details in a folder (recycled paper), Business card fit in slit in folder. But don't overwhelm them.
Explain ahead of time how you bill, should also be in the folder you give them.
Do the work right, if you can't do it say so.

There is probably more.
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Old 09-06-2012, 08:22 PM   #9
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What makes a reputable contractor


I have a lot more horror storys about HVAC guys then about any other field.

Units freezing up and the guy shows up at an older ladys house with a very sick husband that's bed ridden to check it out and I just happen to be there.
He never puts gauges on, never went inside the house.
He just opened up the crawl space door looks in and goes back to the truck and starts writing estimates for a whole new system.

He tells her it looks like wild animals have gotten into the ducts and have distroyed them, and there no way to work on the air exchanger because it was installed wrong.

He had no idea it the company he worked for that had installed it 5 years ago.

I checked it out for her knowing about 0 when it comes to HVAC. It was the return air filters pluged up, and some loose duct tape not foil tape that had rotted. It's been fine ever since.

Another customer asked me to check out some work that had been done on there system. I looked at the line set outside and the whole thing was black soot from cold soldering with a dirty tip, they had cought the foam insulation on fire, burned the insulation off of the wires, and left a pile of striped wiring insulation, tape and the burned up foam laying on the ground.
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Old 09-07-2012, 04:31 AM   #10
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What makes a reputable contractor


Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckweather View Post
To find a good contractor look in a 3 or more year phone book. If a name is in there they have survived the average mortality for businesses. Tell people who call how long you have been in, (the phone book), business. My teacher in Trade School said he always showed people his hands. He still had all ten fingers. I am willing to bet some people looked at the other guys hands when they came to bid! I do when hiring.

Who uses the phone book anymore?
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Old 09-07-2012, 04:34 AM   #11
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What makes a reputable contractor


Quote:
Originally Posted by mae-ling View Post
Do what you say you are going to do.
Do what you say you are going to do.
Do what you say you are going to do.
Explain everything.
Clean up daily, and at end.
Communicate clearly.
Answer the phone and return calls. It is amazing how many don't, I was booked 2 years ahead because people would wait for me. I'd return calls and say I could not do it, I was busy, they would say "we'll wait"
Keep your truck clean (doesn't need to be new),
Don't dress/Look grubby
Be pleasant. Your invading these peoples lives.
Go out of your way to make them happy.
Be professional. Use letterhead, I gave customers quotes with details in a folder (recycled paper), Business card fit in slit in folder. But don't overwhelm them.
Explain ahead of time how you bill, should also be in the folder you give them.
Do the work right, if you can't do it say so.

There is probably more.

There may be more but that is a pretty impressive list
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:43 AM   #12
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What makes a reputable contractor


That's great feed back, we do do most of the things listed, but there is always room for improvement... I love the folder idea with the business card slit great advice on here not just for us but any contractor!
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:59 AM   #13
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What makes a reputable contractor


Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisn

Who uses the phone book anymore?
Mine is in the shop and used as a placemat/coaster...

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Old 09-08-2012, 10:39 AM   #14
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What makes a reputable contractor


I like a lot of things Mae-ling said. Appearances are important. If a guy showed up on a job of mine with a 1979 Toyota pickup with rusted out wheel wells and a huge dent in the side, that wouldn't make a good first impression.

Conversely, I've seen where a lot of small-time guys buy brand new trucks and lift them with big wheels and tires. This also gives me douche chills, since they seem to spend more money on their trucks than their employees. Just a clean pickup or flatbed with your business name on it will do nicely, thank you.

Also, I've said it before, if they show up with day laborers, fire them on the spot. Those guys hang out in front of Home Depot for a reason, its because they aren't good enough to get an honest job.
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Old 09-08-2012, 03:46 PM   #15
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What makes a reputable contractor


My HVAC guy offers a special. For $100 he will service the system twice, spring and fall. He says he picks up a lot of repairs that way and sells a lot of new systems. He also gives me the work of flooring in his rentals.

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