There are common signs in the marketplace which can instill confidence or concern in a potential customer, and the furnace repair business is no exception. In fact, it’s an industry where due diligence is highly recommended considering the consequences which could arise from poor workmanship. Also, in some places, like here in Seattle, the unforgiving winters will make a furnace repair much more of a priority. This is when a reliable, ethical service provider can truly prove their worth.
So on that freezing February morning when catastrophe strikes try to bear in mind these six tell-tale signs:
First Impressions – How helpful is your first point of contact? It should be professional: no phones ringing out or delayed email responses. If the company cares about its reputation there will always be a prompt reply from a polite member of staff. Also, vagueness can be a concern: if your first point of contact cannot confirm an appointment, or confirm whether it’s possible to do the job at all, they should make an effort to get this information for you. Not receiving a clear answer early on is a sure sign of customer apathy.
Transparency – Transparency, or lack of it, can lead to unpleasant surprises when it comes time to pay up. Most homeowners have little knowledge regarding the cost of a repair and an ethical provider will try to give an estimated bill as soon as possible. When the repair gets properly diagnosed the company should keep the customer updated with any increase in costs.
Level of Professionalism – When a repairman finally arrives, how does he behave? How does he dress? Most companies are aware that their employees are their ambassadors to the world. To knowingly allow an employee to show up wearing dirty jeans and a food-stained shirt probably indicates a deeper lack of discipline within the organization.
Relevant Documentation – Have insurance and industry certification details been proffered? Or have these documents been shown promptly when asked for? Most companies love to show off these kinds of things. None of them come cheap. It’s a badge of honor for an organization, and a reluctance to show may indicate a shortfall in liability or expertise.
Straightforwardness – Receipts and associated guarantees should be easily obtained. Having to call the company office for a receipt two weeks later is not good. At the very least it is unprofessional, at worst it could be fraudulent.
Online Reviews – There should be lots, and lots of positive reviews at the company’s website or on independent websites which review this particular trade in this particular area.
These signs may well be an indicator of how ethical a service provider is, but they’re not definitive ones. A good solid heating and cooling company can get it wrong occasionally, but overriding this will be the organizations response to its own mistakes. It’s also possible to find businesses with not so great customer skills but very strong ethics. If a furnace repair guy comes to your home at 2 am on a cold February morning, gets the job done, then gives you a 15% discount because he overestimated the bill, you wouldn’t be too upset, would you?!