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SoCo Heating and Cooling Blog

How do you pick the right heating and cooling contractor for your project?

5 easy steps to protect your home and your wallet

If you watch the news, you have likely heard about the shortage of qualified technicians and construction workers.  But based on the adds all over TV, radio and the internet, you would think we don’t have enough work for the people we already have in the industry!

Well the sad truth is, skilled technicians are fading out.  Business owners have realized if you send a skilled technician, they will build an estimate designed to meet the needs of the homeowner within the budget the homeowner has set.  A salesperson on the other hand…

A highly trained salesperson has mastered the psychology of selling.  They are experts at making people buy more than they want and in most cases, more than they need.   They put on a wonderful show and leave you scratching your head wondering what you just spent 10, 15, or $20,000 on.

Are you ready to protect your wallet?  Well here are 5 easy ways to figure out who is in your home.

The tool bag.  Do they have one?

Does the person at your door have a real tool bag?  If you called a company because your system is not working properly and someone knocks on your door holding a fat folder and a screwdriver, they are not there to fix anything.  If you called for a quote on a new furnace or air conditioner and someone shows up with pen and paper in hand but not so much as a tape measure, then that person cannot properly design your system.  A knowledgeable contractor will take several measurements and inspections before discussing your options.

Are those loafers?

The shoes? Really?  Yes, the shoes!  A salesperson will rarely travel past your kitchen table.  A technician or skilled estimator knows we will be in the crawl space, in the attic, trudging through snow and landmines from Fido.  Have you ever tried to climb the roof in penny loafers?  Neither have I!

And it will only be $50 a month!

Here, let me translate that for you: “the price is so high I know you will never say yes if you knew the actual number”.  It is true that financing a replacement is often the best option for a home owner.  But when your estimate already includes a monthly financing option, you are likely dealing with a sales pro.  On a side note, your contractor has to pay up to 20% in financing charges.  That means every estimate they give you has those charges built in.  If you are not financing with them, you should be able to negotiate a better price.  An honest contractor will provide you with an accurate quote for your project and generally not be willing to negotiate much.  That is because they know the total cost for your project including taxes, permits, labor, materials and such and have provided an estimate that doesn’t gouge the homeowner for extra profits. 

What do you mean you want another quote?  Don’t you trust me?

Skilled contractors and technicians will never object to a homeowner wanting multiple quotes.  We know that most reputable contractors will be within a few hundred dollars.  At that point, it should simply be a matter of finding the contractor and manufacturer you are most comfortable working with and we understand that.  Generally, a salesperson will start dropping their price as soon as you tell them about other bids you are getting.  What you need to ask yourself is why that furnace cost $5,000 10 minutes ago but now only costs $3500.  Why didn’t they simply offer you a fair deal to begin with?

Did you contact a big box store for a quote (Sears, Costco, Home Depot, etc.)?

First, the big box store will not be doing the work.  They hire subcontractors so you have no idea who was actually sent to your home!  Those subcontractors are also paying a lot to get your information from the store.  Then if they get your business, they have to pay a percentage back to the store.  That means your prices have been inflated.  It also means the contractor cannot afford to pay for customer leads who do not spend a lot of money with them.  That means they are going to send out the best salesperson they can to make you sign.

Ok, I said 5 but there is one last big thing you can do to protect your home and family.

Ask to see their credentials!!!  Heating and air conditioning is the most heavily regulated part of your home.  Federal law requires anyone working with refrigerant be certified for your safety.  Where I live in Colorado, a technician is not allowed to remove the door of a furnace without a license stating they have mastered the principles behind safely operating a furnace and removal of the harmful combustion gasses.  A highly trained professional will gladly brag about their years of dedication and training to the trade.  And don’t just ask the first person from the company, ask EVERY person.  From the service tech to the installers to the owner of the company.

In most states, felons are not permitted a contractor’s license yet heating and cooling is the number 2 trade taught in prisons.  To get around that, people will often pay someone else for the use of their contractor’s license.  I know of several large heating and cooling companies all over the country without a single certified person in the entire company.  It is always a good idea to contact your local building department to verify a company’s licensing.

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