Raise the Level of Your Game: Q&A with top contractors

We asked contractors to share some advice and best practices on things other professionals can do to prepare for a home visit, manage the company reputation, and create more positive experiences with customers that lead to repeat business.

The contractors contributing to this article are Ray Isaac, of Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning in Rochester, NY, and Dave Hutchins of Bay Area Air Conditioning in Crystal River, FL.

Q: What are simple ways to make a good impression with a homeowner?

A: (Dave) One thing that happens to all of us is using too much technical jargon that our customers don’t understand. If you have to check static pressure, explain that it’s like checking blood pressure. Use analogies that people can relate to, and always take time to ask if they understand what you’re explaining.

(Ray) All the little things are extremely important. Be polite, don’t have a filthy uniform, and always wear boot covers in the house. This may seem like common sense, but it’s so easy to overlook and it makes a world of difference. If you care about their floors they’ll know you care about their AC system.

Q: How do you compete with non-certified contractors?

A: (Dave) Years ago there were significant barriers to entry in this business. Equipment was expensive and the certification was longer. Now the cost of entry is fairly low and we have many unlicensed or uncertified contractors just looking to make a buck. Educating our customers about the difference in quality service is critical to maintaining our industry standards.

(Ray) I actually think we have fewer bad contractors right now because it’s so hard to get away with bad work. Online review sites, word of mouth and trade associations will all call out unscrupulous activities. There may be some of these contractors that come and go, but it’s not sustainable as a business practice. Educating customers about certifications, licensing and other standards will ultimately help raise the level of the industry.

Q: What other general advice can you give?

A: (Ray) Be a steward for the environment, for your community and your reputation. Be smart about how you behave when you’re in uniform. Also, belong to something whether it’s a trade association, Rotary club, etc. It gives you a standard to abide by. And always keep the floors clean.

(Dave) Become knowledgeable about your trade. It’s about more than just ‘the box.’ Take a whole home approach to helping customers and they will reward you.

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2 thoughts on “Raise the Level of Your Game: Q&A with top contractors

  1. It depends on the system. Check with the OEM who made the unit to see if the indoor fan coil and installed system tubing are designed to accommodate R-410A pressures. Many OEM’s started doing this with residential systems after 2005 in anticipation of the eventual shortages of R-22 and migration to R-410A. If the OEM did not design the indoor fan coil to accommodate R-410A then you can’t retrofit it. If they did design it for both R-22 and R-410A you are in luck, and might be able to retrofit it. However, you should check with the system OEM to make sure you use their guidelines for the indoor retrofit since you will have to change the expansion device (e.g. TXV) on the evaporator. You will also have to drain out all the mineral oil and recharge it with POE oil. Hope this helps.

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