Don't Just Promise, Prove It!

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As consumers, we all hear promises from salespeople about how great a product or service will be. With retail products, if they don’t live up to the promise or hype, most of the time you can return them and get your money back. And when a retailer, whether online or bricks and mortar, doesn’t stand behind their promise, you probably won’t do business with them again.

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When buying services and installed products things are a little different. As a consumer, if you’re not happy with the results, it’s harder to “return” it. For example, if you have your sprinkler system repaired, or a garage door replaced, and it doesn’t quite work the way it should, you can keep calling the service company back, but they may or may not do the work to your satisfaction. Unless you’re willing to stay on them and schedule appointment after appointment until they get it right, most of us compromise or give up, and decide it’s good enough and it’s just not worth the lost time and hassle.  As a result, you end up with a bad taste in your mouth about that company, and besides never using them again, you make sure to tell all your friends and relatives to stay away from them. Sound familiar? 

Are You Losing Customers this Way and Don’t Know +It?
What if you decided to do business differently? What if you didn’t just promise great quality, improved comfort, lower utility bills and so forth, but then went the extra step to prove that your work delivers on that promise? Do you feel you’re already doing that with things like no-lemon guarantees and policies that assure you handle call-backs with great care? 

Does providing these assurances prove your work was done right, or are they just more promises?

Think back to the title of this article. Does providing these assurances prove your work was done right, or are they just more promises? Even if you make good on those promises and do everything possible to take care of your customer, have you truly proven that your work delivered what you promised? 

So How Do You Prove It?
The best way to prove something is with facts. Are you providing customers concrete facts that prove your work was done right? With HVAC systems, facts are essentially data resulting from measurements. These measurements might include refrigerant pressures and temperatures, air pressures, temperatures, and flows, plus delivered BTUH measurements and more. 

In other words, you can prove your work delivers on your promise by collecting and documenting measurements and calculations, then sharing the results with your customer in laymen’s language anyone can easily understand.

What facts would homeowners really care about? What would they want to know about their newly replaced HVAC system? If they knew they could get it, I believe here’s an answer most would like to know:

How much comfort is my system delivering compared to what I am paying to run it? In other words, what’s my Miles Per Gallon – or equivalent MPG? 

Notice I didn’t say, “Am I getting the most energy-efficient system possible?” 

What good is energy efficiency if the home isn’t comfortable? In fact, the most efficient system is one that is turned off – it uses zero energy. It’s not about whether customers get the lowest price. For most, it’s about “am I getting the most value for my dollars.”  Isn’t that true for you as a consumer?

Most contractors would point to the SEER or AFUE rating of the equipment and say, “According to the U.S. Department of Energy this box has a rating of 14 or 16 or more, or your furnace is 95% efficient, and that’s your equivalent MPG.” Is it really? 

The great thing about measuring and documenting is you can apply it to virtually any work you are doing, including service work, installing new equipment, providing basic duct system improvements, a comprehensive renovation, or balancing the system to optimize comfort and energy efficiency.

Imagine someone selling you a car says they just installed a new engine capable of getting 30 miles to the gallon. After you buy it, you come to find out that the rating has nothing to do with the actual car you are driving, which is only getting 15 miles to the gallon. Would you be happy? Our industry makes these kinds of promises every day to unsuspecting consumers. Very few prove the installed system delivers on these promises.

While the box you just installed may show its MPG rating, is that what your customer is actually getting? The fact is the box is just one component of a system, and there no way to know the system’s MPG unless you test their entire system including the equipment and the air distribution system.

The great thing about measuring and documenting is you can apply it to virtually any work you are doing, including service work, installing new equipment, providing basic duct system improvements, a comprehensive renovation, or balancing the system to optimize comfort and energy efficiency.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t just promise, prove it!

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Dominick Guarino is CEO of National Comfort Institute (NCI), one of the nation’s premier Performance-BasedTM training, certification, and membership organizations, focused on helping contractors grow and become more profitable. His e-mail is [email protected] For more info on Performance-Based Contracting™  go to WhyPBC.com or call NCI at 800/633-7058.