Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Have you ever heard of Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Costco? Of course you have, these “big box” retailers are well known. On the other hand, do you know the name of the local HVAC business right around the corner from your house? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But, who are you going to trust when it comes to purchasing your new air conditioner or heater: the nationwide giant or the local HVAC business that’s been around for decades and employs people right in your neighborhood? The answer is pretty clear.

Customer’s purchasing patterns are defined by habits. They go to the same grocery store, pharmacy, or restaurant, until an issue or problem arises. This trust or loyalty is what these “big box” businesses are relying upon. Are you a Lowe’s or Home Depot person? If you prefer Home Depot and have built a trust with their products, then you are more likely to purchase their goods. This may include HVAC products, like water heaters or heating and cooling systems.

“Big box” companies are convenient. They have set hours, don’t close on holidays and don’t rely on one purchase to make or break their quarter. In fact, many of the employees really don’t care if the consumer buys the product or not. They are just there to get paid and go home. There is no pressure or obligation for the customer to buy anything.

Competitive prices are something “big box,” companies can offer because of their ability to purchase in bulk. Many of these businesses are trying to sell large quantities of product; therefore, they are less concerned with the quality of the product, so long as it sells, and sells a lot.

On the other hand, we have the local HVAC contractor. This company specializes in HVAC-related products and services only. They don’t sell socks too, just “because.” Instead, this company employs experts in the HVAC field, whose livelihood is tied directly to the success of the company.

In order to open this HVAC business, it is presumed that the owner had some type of prior experience working in the HVAC field. Not to mention, he or she is very likely to hire experienced workers who have gone to trade school and learned the technical aspects of the business. Unlike “big box” companies, there’s not likely to be college kids working for these “mom and pop” shops simply trying to make some extra spending money between semesters.

Companies that specialize in HVAC work will have more choices to offer than “big box” stores. A reputable contractor will come out to your home for a free in-home estimate, and will properly evaluate your existing system, and discuss your needs and expectations. They will have more sizes, different models, and newer, better equipment. Not to mention, your local HVAC contractor will have all the parts necessary to fix a broken unit.

Every customer means more to a local, reputable company. These businesses are relying on this business for their livelihood. They want to do everything in their power to help because their reputation is on the line. These companies are in search of the repeat customer and therefore will always provide the best customer service possible.

At the “big box” stores, the customer is just a number. They aren’t Matthew or Mary. At the local HVAC contractor, that customer is valued for their business on an individual basis. There is a real chance to develop a relationship between employee and customer.

These companies want to be involved in the community, and are often the sponsors of local Little League teams and community events. Giving back, is an instrumental part of the success of a business, and a way for the company and its employees to connect with the community on a personal level the way no “big box” company can.

A reputable HVAC company will also offer 24 hour emergency service, and some even staff their customer service center 24/7. This amazing and unique service provides customers with a strong piece of mind that would be hard to find at a large retail store. They also commonly offer service agreements, which help cover you in the event of a break down, and maintenance packages to help prevent breakdowns and extend the life of your equipment.

Lastly, just because the local HVAC contractor may not have the capital of a “big box” vendor, doesn’t mean they can’t offer the lowest price. A local HVAC company should value their customers, and want to see them happy. Therefore, you should always be sure to compare prices before assuming the “big box” vendor is the cheapest. The expert estimators at a reputable company should be able to provide several options to you to help keep your installation job within your budget.

Which company would you trust: One where the customer is a mere statistic to employees that are just waiting for the weekend, or one where each customer is valued as an integral member of the community by a certified technician, whose sole goal is customer satisfaction? I’ll take the “little guy.”