The Tip of the Iceberg – Hiring a contractor isn’t so much about what you can see, as it is what you can’t!
March 14, 2013
Being in the heating and cooling industry in the Kitchener Waterloo area is a tough business. With about 80 companies publicly vying for business, and another 50 or so working out of the back of trucks, it’s a saturated market to say the least. For this reason I do not envy being someone in the market for the services we offer, whether it’s service or installation of new equipment. It’s very easy to get lost in a pile of brochures and scribbled down information about variable speed motors and SEER rating, etc.
I’ve been an advocate for asking more from your contractors and the reps they send out to your home my whole career and work hard to instill that culture in our organization.
What people see is a box that will heat or cool their home. They see a smiling rep who promises to be the best. And they see a price. These things are what I call the “Tip of the Iceberg”. Often homeowners will go through 2-4 of these presentations and still have a hard time determining how they are different.
Here are a few questions to ask that will identify the clear front runners for who will be a good long term decision to do business with:
1. Does your company use sub-contractors? – This is a big one. Many home improvement industry’s quality of workmanship has been brought down by this trend meant to save the money it costs to keep someone on staff and pay benefits, a work truck, etc. Both small businesses and believe it or not, big corporations have chosen this path. Understand as a home owner, these installers or service reps are paid by the job. Their priority is to be done quick, as opposed to staying until it is done right. A rep should be able to explain this. Maybe they use sub-contractors for small, specific parts of the job. This is different than someone showing up in an unmarked van.
2. Can you prove that your workers will be both licensed and insured? – Many home improvement industries require licensing to perform the trade of services. Although governing bodies are cracking down, there are still many workers out there who have done it a thousand times, but have never been trained to do it properly. Also, an uninsured worker, can mean liability on your end if they injure themselves in your home.
3. Who owns your company? Are they local? – Asking this question can often reveal that the name you have seen for years has been sold to a major foreign corporation. Although they have great sales literature and big marketing budgets, your dollars are leaving the community where you live. Help our local economy and keep people working locally by choosing a locally owned company. Ask what they do for community support.
4. Can I see examples of your work and referrals? – Your rep should be able to show you both of these on the spot or very shortly after via email.
5. Can you put this all in writing? – Words are great. But you will be signing a legal document, that should the experience go bad, is legally binding. Some companies have clauses such as “The details in this contract supersede any verbal information either implied or expressed.”. They have covered themselves and so should you.
6. One last tip I have, is read the back of the contract you are going to sign. I recommend doing this in front of the representative. Reading a very one-sided or hidden detail packed back side of a contract can make a seemingly trustworthy representative squirm in his seat and stammer for words.
There are trustworthy contractors out there. With a little due diligence, you can separate who the real deals are and who is all about the show.
Have you had any experiences that you would like to share? Would love to hear your thoughts?
Posted in: Cooling, Heating - Tagged with: air conditioner, Cambridge, contractors, cooling, cost, Elmira, furnace, Guelph, heating, hiring, Hogg, insured, Kitchener, licensed, Mechanical, sales, Waterloo