Finding a Competent Air Conditioning Contractor
The information and products on the site is great BUT I still want to hire out the work. Can you provide me with advice on finding and verify I have hired a competent air conditioning contractor?
Standard Industry AdviceWell, here goes the industry accepted things to look for when hiring a qualified and competent air conditioning contractor.
- How long have they been in business?
- Are they a licensed contractor?
- Do they have complaints on their license?
- Are they registered with the BBB?
- What type of guarantees do they provide?
- Do they drug test?
- Do they background test?
- I am probably forget a few more...
What to look for when using the above measurements!
How long have they been in business?The is a great metric to use. Be aware of the following responses, I have been in the business for 20 years. This personally means nothing and in most cases counts against them since 20 years ago they were doing things completely different and the industry standards were very immature. In my experience, someone that has been in the business for 20 years knows all the shorts cuts and takes them. They also resist any of the new technology be it tools, equipment or industry processes. They will not put it to the customer this way but they will things like "You don't want that!", "You don't need that!" or "Stick with the the old stuff". This metric only tells me they will not be out of business next year. It tells me nothing about the quality of work they do, anything about there know how and nothing in regards to their integrity.
It doesn't hurt but shouldn't be weighted to heavily.
Are they a registered Contractor?I see this one promoted by the industry, manufacturer and consumer advocates groups. Now first off, you should use licensed contractors. BUT not for the reasons you probably think. The biggest reason I say this is not what you think is customers assume it ensures competence and quality. It doesn't. Most passed their licensing exam by attending Arizona Contractor Center or a similar outfit. These outfits teach you to pass the test not to be a competent contractor. Now I have nothing against these companies. I recommend them to guys wanting to get a license because I know most if any would ever pass the test. But this is a whole different topic. The issue I have is the only person licensed in almost all cases is the owner of the company. Not one of the employees. There is a fear of even hiring an employee that is licensed for reasons as stealing work, customers or starting their own company. This too is a whole different large topic. License requirements weed out the cheap, broke and scared. It says nothing about qualifications. What does provide the customer? It provides a customers a some where to go an file a complaint. If and if they really screwed up, you have a bonding company to go after. It provides no guarantee of a certain standard of quality. Any contractor coming to your house should be licensed but remember it is most often not the people working in your house that have the license. It is the company's owner that has the license.
Do they have complaints on their license?In my book this counts against them, but most well companies that have been around any length of time learn how to manage this. They get frivolous complaints, vendors can file complaints even if you have a dispute with them and most of the real screw ups never turn into complaints since a smart company will try several time to fix it or just give the money back and say call someone else.
Are they registered with the BBB?The BBB does not have any qualifications regarding competence, quality or efficiency. Using a company that belongs to the BBB is a good idea but it does nothing to ensure quality.
What types of guarantees do they provide?This is the hook most established companies use as the hook to get you to call.
- 100% Satisfaction
- 2 year repair warranty
- Money Back Guarantee
Do you drug test or background test employees?This is important and I highly recommend it. But saying it is not proof, companies do this to protect themselves and employees. This is important
Highly Trained Technicians
On the job training is essential but not enough in it's own right, you need a knowledgeable technician. The three recommend credentials are Technical College graduate, NATE certified, and Factory certified on your brand of equipment. Any less and you are gambiling. Beware a company saying or advertising as a NATE certified company or factory dealer is a gimmick. Verify the technician standing at your door is NATE certified and factory trained and certified for your brand of equipment.
What to be on the look at for?
- Commission based paid technicians: Don't use them. They are sales people and not technicians. I don't care what the company tells you or the employees. I am sorry if I offended anyone but you know this is true. They will sale you things you don't need, don't want or are just plain shams. It is like bringing the infomercial right into your house. Invite the car salesmen in for coffee. Don't do it!