open flood gates??

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Seems like somebody opened the flood gates again.... I'm booked up for the next week and a half with system replacements and seasonal service. Seems like the more seasonal service calls I do, the more systems I sell. All are mid to high end heat pumps and dual fuel/hybrid systems.
Tip of the week... For those(like me) who are not set up to take credit/debit cards, suggest to the customer that they can use the courtisy checks that the credit card companies send out. Walked into seasonal service type calls twice last week and both times walked out with a "paid in full" check for a new system.
I have 2 more heat loads to do next week too. I have a lot of spec houses here where the existing systems are 10 - 15 years old, and the systems are *GROSSLY* oversized. The system replacement for Monday/Tuesday, I will be taking out a 5 ton, 10 seer system with 125,000btu gas furnace, and going back with a 3 ton, 15SEER dual fuel/hybrid with a 75,000 2S/VS gas furnace...... in a 2240sqft home. Some of these folks are still smartin from those heating bills from last winter, and the summer cooling bills weren't very kind to the checkbook either.
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Yes, those credit card checks are wonderful. I'm not set up for V/MC payments.
Sadly, many customers think that if they replace a 100,k BTU furnace with a 150k, they will be warmer. Hard to convince them that the house really needs between 60k and 70k.
One customer years ago. Had a 3.5 ton AC, which was providing zero cooling. He figured if 3.5 wasn't doing it, he'd need 5 for the next one. Fortunately, I was able to use my Jedi powers, and repair the extisting system. Which was about right, actually.
Strange as it sounds, I've had two commercial no-heat call last week or two, at malls.
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Not at all.... get the customer involved in taking measurements when doing the heat load/loss calcs and show him/her the numbers of what the house actually needs. If you don't do the math, your guessing.
CY: Good way to do it.

I don't do commercial, no money in it here. They want the cheapest of the cheap.
CY: Really? I'm sure it's the same with most customers. Residential or commercial. People want cheap, at all costs (sorry; not funny). Sometimes the mall people think that they just pay rent, and "someone" pays for all else.
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My customers want the very best, most qualified person to take care of their HVAC stuff. They don't mind the price because I do *EVERYTHING* on flat rate, there are no surprises when I write out the bill. They know up front how much the repairs will be *before* I start. I keep my truck fully stocked with the parts so I can effect permanant repairs 95% of the time, the FIRST time. Most of my customers have been screwed by the cheapest service call, or by a tech that goes to get parts and never comes back, or by the tech that has to come back(charging every time) 4 or 5 times and still hasn't corrected the original fault(s).
My customers want to be kept in the loop, and know whats going on. They want a tech that is going to show up on time, or get a phone call to tell them the tech was help up on a job but will be there at XX time. They want a tech that will come back to check a new system a week or so after its been installed to make sure that everything is right. They want a tech who looks and acts professional. They want a tech whos truck, tools, and equipment is kept clean and well maintained. They want a tech who is going to put down mats to protect their floors. etc.....
Its not about cheap, its all about providing the very best customer service, the very best equipment, and the very best workmanship..... *THE FIRST TIME*, and they are happy to pay for it.
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That's a good niche. Of course, there are plenty of customers who want quick and cheap. At least, that's what they want the first couple times. But, those are often the ones who don't pay the bill.
I like the flat rate idea.
I've also found that people like to know what's going on. I've found one or two customers over the the years who are a PIA. But, they are very few.
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There is nothing wrong with firing customers. I get paid at the time of service *period*. I don't do credit, I'm not a bank. On the very rare occassion that I do extend credit, or have not gotten paid at the time of service, I generally have to spend a bunch of time trying to get my money and it takes weeks or months. To date, I have only had 3 that paid when they said they would.
Flat rate is really the way to go. When I was doing time/materials, I was almost able to pay my bills. when I went to flat rate, the labor rate in the book was only $110/hr. My gross reciepts doubled, and my net increased by a factor of 10. The labor rate in my book is twice that now, my company is making a profit, and I am making a decent living.
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On 10/22/2010 3:56 PM, Steve wrote:

I got an interesting call this morning from my pharmacists. It seems someone in the family, possibly the four legged cold nose member knocked a whole jug of concentrated liquid laundry detergent over so it spilled into an HVAC supply register. It will be late before I get there today and it should be a lot of fun.
TDD
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On Fri, 22 Oct 2010 17:10:44 -0500, The Daring Dufas

    At least it will be a clean job :-)
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Sounds like a potential supermess. I got to help clean up some laundry detergent that got pushed down a flight of stairs. Ended up in the carpet. Please let us know how that goes.
Most interesting call I've had, was the cat in the furnace. Years ago. I'll tell you about it, if you like.
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wrote:

    What do you do when a customer says ' I want a break-out of T & M, or you don't get my business ' ?
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Simple....
"Do you go into any other retail business and ask for a breakout of T & M??" "like say a resturant?? or electronics store? or when purchasing any other major appliance?"
But it never comes to that.... I pull the book out and show them.... "Mr. XXXX, The cost of this repair is $XXX.xx" or "The installed price is $XXX.xx". I then get asked "Well..., What about labor??" to which I reply " I'm sorry, we don't charge "labor". If they want to quibble about price, I tell them I can offer them a 15% discount if they purchase a Prefered Customer Agreement for $169.00.
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wrote:

    If what I'm purchasing consists in large part of labor, yes, you're damned straight I do.
    If you take your truck to the shop for repair, don't you want to know the estimated / quoted hours, and the shop rate, separate from the parts ? The hours may come from a book, but they are still hours, and 'parts is parts'.

    At which point, as a customer, I call 'bullshit'. You just told me you don't charge for your labor, and I called you a liar.

    At which point I call 'bullshit' again, I call yuo a salesman ( even worse ), and tell you to GTFO :-)
    BTW - how much of a discount would you have to offer them is you had Stormy with you as a helper ? :-) 150 % ? 200 % ?
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In that case, you would have called the "tech"(?) with the lowest service call price, not me. But then you wouldn't know what the total bill was going to be *BEFORE* the work was started. Chances are the "tech"(?) you called wouldn't have the correct part on the truck either.

When I take my truck to the shop, If I need any repairs done, I want to know what the total bill is going to be, an a rough idea how long its going to be before I can get back on the road *PERIOD*. If its just for regular service, I know how much its going to be and I will be back on the road in 20 minutes.

I don't charge "labor" as a seperate line item. The prices in my book are fixed and not subject to negotiation for some cheap ass SOB like you to try and get it for nothing. The price in the book is the price you pay and it doesn't matter if the task or repair takes 3 minutes, 3 hours, or 3 days.

They knew up front what the repairs were going to cost. They agreed to the original quoted price in writing, and their signature is on the ticket authorizing the repairs at that price. Yes, I have to be part salesman, as well as office manager, and accountant, etc. Its all part of running a business.
Its no wonder why you couldn't make it as an HVAC contractor. First you have to understand the business of running a business, and figure out that you can't work for free. Turning money is not *MAKING* money. I am in business to make a profit, not just for a hobby.
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On 10/22/2010 10:02 PM, Steve wrote:

I have people who want me to workup a written estimate for free then they want to take it and go shopping for someone else to do the work. I tell them that if they want a written estimate, it's $65 an hour which can be folded into the job. I don't sell parts, my product is my time. If you want to take up my time, you have to pay for it. Steve, I think you have a wonderful business and a fantastic business model which will carry you through good times and bad especially with the loyal customer base you seem to have. Is your Preferred Customer Agreement an annual service contract that gives a customer a regular seasonal checkup for the price? It's very hard to convince a lot of people to have preventive maintenance done on their systems. I used to do it with backup generators some years ago when I was in better health.
TDD
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My PCA is a service agreement... it gets 2 seasonal service visits a year, priority service, 15% discount on repairs, etc. Service agreements are a no brainer...... present it like this; , You buy a new car, and your real good about having it serviced every 3000 - 5000 miles. Most folks are in their car for *maybe* an hour a day. Your heating and cooling system is the single most expensive appliance in your home, and it runs 24/7. Why would you not want to have it serviced twice a year??
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wrote:

    Ummm.... 'Because for $ 170, I can change my own filters and wash my own coil, and that's all it needs' ?
    Face it - a reasonably new ( < 10 years ? ) system that was properly installed, and has not been damaged or abused, doesn't NEED 'yearly service', except as above.
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You can do whatever you want..... same as the other landlords, and majority of home owners who come in here that you dispise so much. You have turned into one of them.
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wrote:

    No, I just know what's up.
    Bi-annual service contracts are purely a money-maker for the contractor, and that's all. Assuming the HO can figure out how to change his filter ( when needed by inspection, not on some arbitrary schedule ) and wash his coils, even annual inspections are overkill. A properly installed system, under normal use conditions, simply does not need it.
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On Sat, 23 Oct 2010 12:36:23 -0400, .p.jm.@see_my_sig_for_address.com wrote:

Look at it this way. Either he can sell unessential work or spam for the teenage green girls...
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