Other Contractors notice change in customers
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    40
    Its been crazy the last few weeks, I have a very good reputation, do quality work, and take care of my regulars, but lately whats up. Lost 6 condenser changeouts in last few weeks. People wont wait if a/c is down, there starting to call around instead. Ive been doing this for 17 years, been on my own about 9 years, just seeing alot of this and ignorant h.o.'s too. One guy says yeesterday that I was out at his moms condo and condemned unit 16 years old, says my price is a litlle high, asks how much I buy the h.p. for and how much I will make, he then says so you must be making over a grand for a days work he call a friend (he works for crane co. as a manager0 I say would you go into a resteraunt and ask how much they paid for the booze, and the steak, he says I just might I have Big Balls! See ya! Another one friend of the family not really close even, his condenser is gone and I give him a price $475 cheaper than I normally would do, he says well I can get the condenser on E-Bay for $$$$ how much will you pay, and how much you making off me. Then do work for guy owns car dealership, he is buying his son a office townhouse (sons 25 years old starting own business) one heat pump gone, after I finish call old man says I forgot my check book, says he will go home to get it, I say never mind its 90 deg. out dont have time to wait, hes says he wants me to replacenever sends check for service call or dep. like promised 3-weeks ago. I just venting, but what the hell is going on, I dont even think I want to stay in business anymore if this is the way its going to be. Those a just a few stories, could tell more. Like I said too, Ive been on my own awhile, and never ran into any of this. You other self employeds going thru it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Posts
    220
    Get used to it . I am a one man operation myself and know exactly what you are goin through. I am going on vacation for 2 weeks (leaving next Thurs) and have about 6k billed out right now that is over 60 days past due. I hustled to finish those jobs so that I would have some cash put back for when I come back from vacation. Service work from now on is C.O.D. unless other arrangements have been made.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    174

    one thing...

    ...Ive learned about getting paid is that the ones that intend on paying you will bring the subject up and wont let you out the door without a check or credit card. The customers that wait on you to bring up the subject and then want to make arrangements to pay usually never will

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Dallas
    Posts
    179

    Re: one thing...

    Originally posted by hoozdis
    ...Ive learned about getting paid is that the ones that intend on paying you will bring the subject up and wont let you out the door without a check or credit card. The customers that wait on you to bring up the subject and then want to make arrangements to pay usually never will
    I'm an HO, but don't shoot me. I chose my guy by his competence. I didn't even shop his price.

    We are out there, but I am afraid for you that we are getting rare.

    Too many people are getting addicted to cheap "import" labor from contractors, not realizing that in their house the HVAC system is by far the single most complicated part of the entire building and requires a heck of a lot of knowledge to do properly. Puny egos are also a problem with people thinking their contractor shouldn't make more than them... oddballs. I would respect a guy that said directly "thats a very personal question. I don't ask my customers how much they make I would hope they treated me with mutual respect".

    Good luck to you guys... I'm rootin for ya.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Southern NJ
    Posts
    1,241
    I'm a maintenance manager and I hire alot of contractors.

    I do shop price but it's not the most important thing by far. I dont want to be gouged (because I work for a public entity, that's pretty common pratice) but I can't have hacks working for me either. I've got a couple of dependable companies that do great work that I use almost exclusively.

    The most important factor in choosing a contractor IMO is communication. Do I get a call when they're going to be late, do they call me promptly with a quote on repairs, If I've got a problem or question, do I have to wait days for an answer or call them 5 times to remind them or do they call me back the same day?

    I have enough projects behind me that I know what's a reasonable price and what's not and I've learned that the lowest bidder is never the best price. If you're one of the good contractors out there, there are big busineese and organizations that need good dependable contractors every day. And being a little guy is fine.

    I have big, big projects I'd never consider asking a small guy to bid on but I also have lots of service work, small installs, and other stuff that I'd rather deal with a one or two man shop because the process is so much easier for me to talk right with the boss. And lots of these projects are either emergencies or small enough that I don't have to get competetive bids. So my favorite contractors get the work automatically. And they should, they became my favorites by being the best.

    Go see the maintenance manager at some big companies, introduce yourself, explain why you're stopping buy. Lots of us have a hard time finding good contractors or are frustrated with the guys we're using. I've met several of my regular contractors that way and it's been a great relationship for both of us. I get great service when I need it and they get a lot of work from me at pretty good prices. The good customers are out there if you're a good contractor.
    Ryan
    Maintenance Guy
    -----------------
    naysayer, skeptic, conspiracy theorist

  6. #6
    Senior Tech Guest
    They wanna know your profit?....lil nosy, yes. But if they gotta know ask them if they have time to look at what all your costs are, vehicle, insurance, office supplies, uniforms, etc...and explain that in the end you hope to make 10 cents on the dollar if your lucky enough to do the job and have no snafus that eat or exceed the few dollars your going to profit. And when they say they can buy equipment cheaper, ask them what they're buying with it...there is a lot more to it than just purchasing a box...heck if they wanna buy a box sell it to them at 20% over cost and you stand to make more dropping it off the tailgate than you do installing it and maintaining it...then again you'd just have to go back and straighten the mess out after they attempt to do it themself...wow, what a vicious cycle we must endure to sometimes make a few dollars...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    174

    thanks old yeller.....

    ...for the nice comment. Well I do make a profit but Im not on track to be a millionaire. With my profit I pay salaries, insurance, operating cost and overhead, advertising, and plenty of other stuff only to be left with liabilities and warranties. Oh, did I mention the fact that this is hard, hot and sweaty work?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    small island in the Pacific Ocean
    Posts
    558
    the worst are the HO's that start with "I was looking on the internet" all of a sudden they are an expert on pricing, equipment etc. anyone who mentions ebay, just start heading for your van because the gouging and aggravation will not be worth the miniscule profit.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon
    Posts
    1,209
    Interesting post. First off, city state and county type jobs are given to the lowest bidder period. I make our installers collect when the job is done. For the customers that try to leave its quite simple, stop the job and do the paperwork before they leave or, tell them you will be back to finish the job when they return.
    We all encounter the new companies that will bid the job 500$ lower than the lowest bidder they come and go almost with the weather cycle. E-bay customers are asking for trouble and usually get what they ask for. Have you heard of the guy that bought a 3-ton unit for his home and could'nt figure out why it had 3 hot wires?
    My advice, do what you do, recognize the people that just want free service and walk away. There is plenty of work if you know how to find it. Do quality work, alway's pull permits and stand behind your work. If your in this trade to become a millionare your in the wrong business. Remember the saying, I have been in this trade for 5 years and am now a millionare, problem is I started as a multi-millionare. Good luck
    Proud supporter of Springfield Millers and Oregon Ducks.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    956
    had a guy ask me what I pay for parts and I said thats not information you need to know, you need to know what it cost you.

    he was a deli counter with premade pasta dishes, I asked if costs him $8 for the materials in those, then I fired him

    we seem to be the only trade that gets haggled, no one questions their car mechanic, altenator cost x $$'s, ok, put it in. cond fan motor costs x, Why SO MUCH, you must be getting rich, your a crook

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Atlanta, Ga. burbs
    Posts
    281

    From Atlanta, Ga. a HO

    I am seeing a general shift in people's morales, values, and ability to tell the truth at all levels. Period. It seems like we are in the me me me age. If it does not benefit me then screw you. Very sad and very wrong. I think it boils down to greed and more greed. Of course I can not cateorgize everyone because I know there are many fine people who have retained values.

    In Georgia the G.C. does not have to hold a license but the professional trades people do. Most G.C.s in Ga. are crooks. They will bankrupt in a heartbeat and start over with another name, shift assets etc. Slippery. This gives HO's a bad feeling because they link the contractors to the G.C. Which is wrong. Most of the G.C.s here will save every nickel they can to make more money for themselves. This, unfortunately, brings down the honest and reliable trades people.

    The last time I had two HPs installed here is what happened to me:

    Unit #1- Working but 18 years old, a Goodman, falling apart but I got my dollars worth. Wanted to replace. Called around and got quotes from low end to high end. Landed on a local company (two man operation) and felt really good about the perceived quality they would provide. No issues, no problems, works great. And I was not shopping price but wanted to shop the entire package. Installed by the owners son.

    Three weeks later unit #2 failed - Called the same HVAC company and the owners son came back out to see me. Gave me a quote I gave him the job. No shopping around.

    Install day. Owner's son in HVAC school for upgrade to his credentials. Owner older man, seemed okay. Installer in attic - piss poor attitude- everything was wrong for him. He moaned and complained about the two spot lights in the attic. I had added those to illuminate the attic years ago because the single 60 watt bulb was not enough light. Biatch biatch biatch. He had a very nice work area with 2x6s and plywood to SIT on comfortably. Did this when house was built.

    Paid them and that was it. Then I started having problems with Unit #2. Called owner he biatched at me. My son bidded the job too low we lost money blah blah blah. Why did you not inspect our work in the attic blah blah blah.

    I found in the attic tucked away in the insulation various metal doors and componets from the old HVAC. Guy was too lazy to take it outside. He left gaping holes in the metal fittings etc etc.

    Owners son comes out fixes the issues. I told him he would have the chance to install unit #3 in sun room. Just needed a couple months to get over the expense.

    Unit #2 leaking profusely from a PVC joint not sealed properly. Discolored ceiling. Stuff happens. I called owners son and asked him to please come out and repair the drain. He tried to tell me how to do it on the phone. I realize drain was done wrong thanks to this board. And I said while you are here lets finalize a date/time for unit #3 install. He said I will call you back in 5 minutes. Never did, never came out. Thanks to this board I re-did (properly) the drain line with a trap. Works great.

    So will they get unit #3. No way.

    Now is this indiciative of everyone in HVAC no no no. But I a can guarantee you I would never give this company a reference based on the OWNER's piss poor attitude. You see he sets the tone for HIS employees.

    Good luck. Keep being honest. Bid the jobs, let them go to ebay.




  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    23
    I do believe the trend is that consumers are becoming more versed in what they are purchasing and are trying (either honestly or dishonestly) to save money. I have received 4 quotes for new heat pumps but had one salesman in particular that refused to sell me anything until the middle of the summer (we have added on to our house and he said he would not be able to determine what additional size if any I would need until the hottest part of the summer (We live in Jacksonville). So, I have quotes from 4 companies around town but I appreciated the guys honesty and will go with him no matter what.

    I do agree that it is rude of costumers to demand to know the profit that one is making but considering that overall cost of a HVAC system that could run in the high thousands, most are probably looking at the cost as if it were a car. I don't think anyone on this board would go into a dealership without knowing what the car's invoice is that they want to buy. We do have an ebay generation or at least an internet generation so people are doing more research about what they buy. For example, I'm planning on putting an aluminum fence in my back yard for our two children. I called a few companies around town to give me an estimate and I was shocked by the cost of them. I was quoted $5500 and $6000 where I was hoping to spend no more than $4000. I did some research and found an online company that would sell me the fence and all parts for $3500. Now, I know the company will make a profit off of me and I can only assume that the fence company would be able to get fencing supplies for less than what I could get it for so I'm not sure if they could justify that much of a markup. I'm figuring I could hire 4 guys at $200 each for a day to come over and help me set the fence up. So, I'm up to $4300 in total cost. I believe everyone has to eat but I'm not giving my money away as I have worked as hard as everyone else here to earn what I make.

    However, I don't compare that too HVAC. I realize the complexity of the job and I want my job done as well as possible so I'm not going to find the cheapest product out there and the cheapest person to get the job done. I want the best and am willing to pay for the best.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    40
    See whats happening, can tell by replies too, everybody wants to make as much as possible, and people get jealous when someone is making good $$$$$. Examples, I went to school 2-years recieved an enigineering degree (actual hvac design) I put 4-years in trade to relly know what Iam doing, get Ma. Ref. Lic. at the time you need 2-years in trade, 200hrs. electric code an take an exam thru state. Know you take a person here in Ma. with a nursing Associates Degree (right out of college) they start at $20-$25/hr. ( and there still dont reallly know whats going on they only had like 6-months part time thru school so there not saving lives), then when working get there RN lic. here in Ma. $45/hr. Also my dentist fixed 4 teeth of mine, no root canal but in tough shape, built them up, 45mins. a tooth $1,200.00 (what abouthe mark-up on that! $15 worth of filling!) and I took a month to pay him he charged me $60 in interest charge! Talk to a kid 16 years old at Sears, working on a Sat. I say that stinks you have to work Sat. he says, Oh! I make a minium of $400 on aSat. One more put an addition on $62,000 30'x30' just the shell foundation, framing, doors, and windows, and vinyl , materials, $10,000-$13,000 so $50,000 for 3-weeks work come on. Thats Boston prices, service calls her $100/hr. What it cames down too is that some people think were the guys that couldnt do anything else in life like years ago, so we went to Vocational School (May day they called OP Shop) but the guys in our trade are worth a lot more, some of the most inventive, some old time refer. guys I know that retired will forget more than I will ever learn, could make anything work. Also in closing, the guys that push paper, like 2 guys I now that work for the biggest health insurance co. around, $2,500 a week, not CEO'S either, been they have been there for a few years, that makes me crazy!

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