I was shocked and appalled at the state of our industry when I read the news item in the December 2006 issue of Supply House Times (page 24) “Emerson Survey Shows Most Of 10 SEER Inventory Installed,” for it told of how supply houses and contractors alike had stocked up on 10-SEER residential air-conditioning units so they would have something cheap to sell. The sad fact is that more than half of residential contractors in the United States are only interested in giving customers the lowest bid - even when they are only bidding against themselves! This is an industry-wide problem.

When is it truly the best idea for customers to buy cheap?

  • When they are planning to sell their house (because most home buyers don’t pay attention to the quality of the HVAC unit).


  • When they seldom run the unit.


  • When their utilities are super cheap.


  • When they don’t qualify for enough credit.

    That’s it!

    How do contractors sell the better equipment their customers actually need, without losing their business? Try SALESMANSHIP - and also offer a lowest price option.

    Now, I know you likely think that’s not your problem, but it is! Greater income provides greater profit to you, your customer and your supplier, and it’s a better idea for consumers who don’t fall into the categories listed above. Yes, they deserve 10-SEER units. However, higher- efficiency units are the best idea for all the rest, because they cost less to operate, they’re quieter and they last longer.

    My question is: Since this is a great idea for your business, how are you going to get the message out? Do you have advertising campaigns? Do you have territory managers who care enough to help show the way by going along on sales calls (but yes, they have to be true salespeople, too)? Do you provide training?

    I talked to a good salesman for a major local residential HVAC service contracting company the other day, and he was telling me how he got in trouble with his boss and fellow employees for selling up. It seems that they have another salesman who has worked one specific (huge) condominium development exclusively for many years, and when he fell ill, this salesman I was speaking to took a couple of his calls. He sold a top-of-the-line system, which the other “salesman” had never done before, and it made the other guy (a popular fellow) look bad.

    Unfortunately, ours is an industry largely made up of order takers and low bidders; and the work that some do is often so poor that perhaps they belong in that group. However, the good ones don’t; and it’s your job - for your own sakes - to show them a better way.

    Do consumers only want the lowest bid? Ask any good HVAC salesperson, and they’ll tell you no!