Russell's HVAC, HVAC maintenance contractor, VA

At Russell's HVAC, we're honest and professional.

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(VA) 757-995-2807
(NC) 252-489-4431

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Now comes the most crucial part of this whole process - finding the right company. You may decide that the right company for you is the one that will do it the cheapest. If that's the case, you may want to get on the phone and just start calling for bids.

I would encourage you to shop in a completely different way than you may be used to. As I've stated before, if everything about HVAC equipment were equal, you wouldn't have any problem calling around to find the lowest price. But there are way too many variables to shop that way.

That's because if you start getting bids on your job, it's probably going to be almost impossible to compare apples to apples. One company might recommend doing it one way and another company will probably take a completely different approach. How can you know which one is right?

That's why I feel it's more important to find a company that you're comfortable with, and trust them to do the job right. How can you find that company? I'll tell you, and it won't take up nearly as much time compared to calling and set up estimates, and then wait around to have 5 or 6 different companies out to your home.

The approach I recommend is to survey several different companies by phone. First, pay close attention to the way you're treated when you call. Are the phone reps courteous? Friendly? Helpful?

Remember, you're choosing a company that you'll probably be dealing with for years. You don't want to have to deal with a bunch of disinterested or uncaring people every time you have a problem.

Tell them you're interested in purchasing a new system or HVAC component and that you'd like to speak to a salesman. If there's no one available to talk to, notice how long it takes them to get back to you. Do they seem like they're anxious to help you? If it takes days before they even return your call, scratch them off your list. After all, if that's the way they treat you when you want to buy something, how will they treat you when you need them to do something for free, like warranty service?

Once you've got the salesman on the phone, take control of the situation by asking questions. Our survey in the back of this report will help point you in the right direction. Be sure to ask the questions exactly as they're written. A lot of salespeople will try to tap dance around and never really give you an answer. That's exactly the type of behavior you want to identify up front. If you like the answers they give you, find out how long it will take before they can come give you an estimate and how long it would be before the equipment could be installed. Again, if they can't respond quickly to a sale, how will they respond when it's time for service? Are they setting the appointment at a time that's convenient for them, or convenient for you? If they really appreciate the opportunity you're giving them, they'll bend over backwards to accommodate you. If they act like they're doing you a favor, don't expect much from them down the road.

Up until this point, you still haven't talked about price. What you're trying to find out is which company you'd like to have give you a bid. Remember, you're shopping for a company, not a product or a price.

One thing I strongly suggest is to visit their place of business. Ask if you can come by and look around. What better way is there to see what kind of organization they have? You know anybody can sound great over the phone. What if you get to their office and it looks like a pig pen? If they treat their own place like this, how will they treat yours?

You need to know if they will work well with you for the long haul. Find out how they treat their own people. What kind of benefits do they have? Are they full-time, long-term employees or just part-timers who sit and answer the phone? Is the office modernized, do they use computers? What kind of support do they have for their people in the field? All of these "behind the scenes" factors will impact you directly if you choose them as your company. It's in your best interest to find out as much as you can before you buy.

Now its time to buy. You need to keep your guard up for just a little while longer. Once you open a dialog with a company about an HVAC system, you should pay attention to the order that they wish to discuss subjects and the time spent on each subject. This is when you don't want to lead the conversation. A quality company doing quality work will have plenty of good news to offer to you - you shouldn't have to dig for that.

It is an easy trap to fall into leading the person with various statements like "Will you do this? Do you do that?" In providing information this way to the contractor you allow them to simply answer Ôyes' implying a guarantee of work to be done. Let them tell you what they can and will do for you; and then, get all statements in writing and signed. If it isn't written down - it probably won't happen.

Think about the information that you have been digesting during this on-line seminar. How much of it has been brand? Model? Price? Maybe 20%. The rest of this information centers around everything else. Your buying experience should also be in this proportion. If a salesperson spends 80% of your time on brand, model, and price - what does that say about the quality of their installations, or supplying you with solutions to your comfort issues, or providing you with guarantees of their workmanship?

Remember, if it is not written on the proposal or some other document - it's not there!

If you follow this plan, it will take a lot less time than having several different companies out for estimates. Plus, you'll be able to make a much more educated buying decision without having to sort through a lot of mumbo jumbo that may be hard to understand.

When you shop the "traditional" way, all you have to go by are the salesperson's words, brochures and prices. When you shop this way you can see, touch and get a feel for the company you're choosing - you know what you're getting.

Maintenance Plans

Russell's HVAC, HVAC service technician, VA

Regular annual maintenance keeps your system operating at peak efficiency. Experience has shown that a system that runs well keeps your utility costs in line — in fact, independent 3rd party research shows that you can save over $30 per month on utility bills.