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Who Is The Best Heating Contractor In Battle Creek?

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Apr, 17, 2018 @ 08:04 AM

It's human nature to make the best buying decision. One you can feel confident Best Dealmaking. No one wants to make the second best buying decision or have regrets. In this day and age, it seems difficult to determine who or what sources are credible and who you can trust. I thought I'd address that.

I know there are plenty of choices out there when it comes the heating and cooling contractors. At Sims Heating and Cooling, we don't 'claim' to be the best deal, but we can make a pretty good case!

Click on the following links to find out:

Who We Are - Our Qualifications

How We Work - Getting The Best Installation

4 Ways We Hope To Establish Our Credibility With You And Earn Your Trust

 

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Topics: Best Furnace Service, Best Price, Customer Value

What Exactly Does 'Best Price' Mean Anyway?

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Jul, 05, 2017 @ 12:07 PM

I don't know about you but when I hear in advertising the claim of "best prices", IBestPrice.jpg always ask myself what exactly do they mean. They didn't say lowest prices, cheapest prices or best value.

If you're a Detroit Tigers fan and watch their games, another HVAC contractor on the eastside of the state makes that statement in their advertising.

Now, I'm not saying anything disparaging about the contractor. They may very well do a great job at what they do. But I know a lot of people I'm sure hear the same thing. I'm not sure how they back up that claim. 

In order to determine what the 'best price' is, it would take some algorithm and computing power to take into account and evaluate all the factors to arrive at that conclusion. It's a fair amount of data inputs.

I realize having an idea about what a new furnace or air conditioner will cost installed is important. It's just not something we can quote over the phone and hopefully this will help you understand why.

Based on over 40 years of consulting with homeowners, what they really want is the confidence that they feel like they're making the best buying decision for them. 

Here are the major variables or data needed to determine best price:

Our goal is to provide enough information before we ever step foot in your home and then meet your expectations so you feel confident in the decision you make for us to do the install; as well as the months and years after the installation we continue a long term relationship.  

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Topics: HVAC Systems, Best Value, Proper Sizing, Best Price

An Ideal Way To Buy A New HVAC System - The O.P.E. Method.

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Jun, 06, 2017 @ 12:06 PM

I'll use this story of a homeowner's journey to buying a new HVAC system. TheOPE.png O.P.E. Method - "Other People's Experience" - I'll provide commentary where necessary.

Here's the story in their words:

Our home is 22 years-old, a relatively young age for a house, but not so for a furnace and air conditioner. For years now we've had our furnace checked before the winter season and we've been told "it has one or two years left in it." This year, when the AC was checked, we were told it had a few (minor) issues and that the furnace "has something major wrong with it -- I wouldn't ever start it again." Whether or not it was in this bad of shape, we knew that the time to replace it was not that far off. And since the federal government is offering a $1,500 tax credit when a new furnace is purchased (with certain requirements, of course), we figured that this was the year to replace the unit and the AC as well.

My comments: I congratulate them on doing some pre-planning to make the purchase. Too many wait until it fails at an inconvenient time. If we had "checked your furnace for years" I am very confident we would've earned your trust to simplify your purchase.

If You Don't Have A Relationship With A Trusted HVAC Contractor

The story continues:

The Quoting Process:

"They all said that our current system was way too big for our home (162,000 BTUs). No wonder it sounded like an airplane was taking off every time it started up. :-)

They all recommended relatively the same furnace/AC set-up (95% efficient heater, 13-SEER AC, 100,000 BTUs -- heating is what's most important up here in winter country).

The first guy was a very slick marketer and was all schmoozy with us (at least I thought so, I'm sure my wife thought he was nice -- she's always seeing the good side of people). Anyway, his price was way over the top -- around $9,000 before the government tax credit. He also quoted $192 for annual check-ups.

The second guy seemed very informative and business-like. His pitch was different in that he would repair ANYTHING on the unit for ANY reason for 10 years if we committed to two annual check-ups totaling $278 (the others simply had basic manufacturer's warranties). His price for the units were $7,500 before the tax credit.

The third guy was the only one I wasn't there for. My wife really liked him because he would 1) talk to her in plain language and 2) tell us if we really didn't need this or that. His price was $7,400 before the tax credit and he had annual check-up costs of $135." 

Give Us a "Firm Estimate".

"So my wife set up an appointment and he came out to our house, made some more measurements, and counted the registers in our home. Then he left and we didn't hear anything back from him for two weeks. We finally called him and he said he'd lost our number. Yeah, right. Then he gave us his revised/firm cost and it was $8,700! Yikes! It was $1,200 more than what his original bid was (and notice how it was similar to the amount we'd gotten him to come down on the annual fee over 10 years?) With this sort of change, we decided to re-look at our options.

We thought that maybe we'd misunderstood and that everyone had given an estimate rather than a firm number. So we called company #3 and asked if the $7,400 was a firm cost or an estimate. We were told it was a firm cost. But their number didn't have a whole-house humidifier in it, so we got that added in and their new number came up to $7,932 before the tax credit -- $800 (or over 10%) cheaper than the next closest competitor. So we decided to go with this company. Even if the guy we'd originally selected had come down in price (we didn't ask), we felt like we couldn't trust him anymore, so we decided to move on."

Get References:

"We told the new company that we wanted to go with them but would like three references from them. They provided the names of current customers and my wife called and checked with them. Of course they gave rave reviews (we wouldn't have expected anything different), but with $8k on the line, we didn't want to leave any stone unturned. (FYI, this company also received the strongest positive recommendations from our friends, so we had good confidence in them already.) With this done, we decided to proceed with this company."

The Installation

Two guys came out and installed the furnace and AC over a two-day period. I was only there for a bit of that time (stopped home for lunch with the family and to see how things were going), but my wife reported that it was mostly smooth sailing (their work did uncover an unrelated house issue that we'll need to look at, but nothing major -- I think.)

All Done

When I arrived home on Tuesday night, the system was up and running. I programmed the thermostat to be at the temps we needed when we are/aren't at home (it was a very simple exercise.) The system is soooooooo quiet -- we can't even hear it when it's on (very nice, indeed.)

My Comments: Avoid all of this time consumption and deliberation in your buying decision when you establish a relationship with a credible HVAC contractor. Hopefully, you choose us!

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Topics: Pricing, Buying A/C, Best Price

Which One Of These 5 Different Types Of Buyers Are You?

Posted by John Sims on Thu, Mar, 02, 2017 @ 14:03 PM

Let's face it, we all go online to do research on almost anything we need, or if we're interested in making a buying decision. We always know there's an endless supply of 5types.pnginformation. Boy, the yellow pages seem like ancient history.

From our experience, most homeowners fall into 5 different buying behaviors. We do our best to meet each one where they are, and provide the information not only make the best buying decision, but make their experience of choosing us one that gives them the best feeling after they've made it. For us it's not just a transaction of the initial purchase, but a relationship for a lifetime of homeownership.

Here are the 5 different buyers and how we address each one:

1. Immediate Buyers, Two income families with children who are equally busy. Time is at a premium.

When they’re on our website, they’ll look for your contact information, web form and other elements to see how easy it is to work with us. Our digital presence is geared to be responsive. When they submit a form to our site, we call that homeowner right back.  

2. Who Can I Trust Buyers - When they come across our website, the first thing they visit sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List and the BBB to look at your overall ratings and reviews. They’re looking for feedback from people who have done business with us, good or bad. They want to know what to expect. Are they going to do it right the first time? Are they going to be there in the long run

3. The 'Curious George' Buyer - They're more of a 'how-does-it-work' personality who likes the opportunity to learn more. When they need a new HVAC system, they’re going to dig up as much information as possible. It's all about educating and comparing; what are the options.

The problem is the Internet is full of misleading and confusing information. The way we help this type of buyer satisfy their search for information is with our Education Center, our Buyer's Guide for Furnaces and a Buyer's Guide for Air Conditioning. Also we welcome website visitors to Ask a Question,

4. Internet Savvied Buyer - They'll ask Facebook friends or other social networks. They are looking for referrals and recommedations from people they know and trust.

It's why we are pretty active on Facebook posts. Educating homeowners on all sorts of subjects homeowners wish they knew when it comes to comfort, performance, energy efficiency and maintaining a healthy home.

5. Cheap, Cheap, Cheap Buyer - Of course, price is important. It's the most expensive appliance in your home. For a lot of people it's an unexpected expense at a time maybe where financial stress is high. Going without heating or cooling isn't a very good option. There's a difference between shopping around to find the same thing cheaper, and getting an idea of the range of the price

They may be using search terms such as “cheap” and “affordable.” Many times they call to get a price over the phone which isn't helpful. It's like trying to 'give someone a haircut over the phone'. Many jobs can’t accurately be priced until a technician is on site. We do however have articles on our website to help homeowners at least get a ballpark range

We prefer buyers to be better informed whether they buy from us or not. Any credible source will tell you the secret to the best value is determined by the installation, not the actual equipment.

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Topics: Buying A/C, Best Value, Best Price

Buying  A New Furnace After 'Cyber Monday' (HaHa...)

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Nov, 29, 2016 @ 15:11 PM

Let's see, we had Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. NonCyber.jpg
Maybe you're sick of the 'flood' of emails offering a Cyber Monday deal.

We realize buying a new furnace is not exactly an impulse item, or something that fits in a shopping day.

In most cases the situation of buying a new furnace finds you before you start shopping for it. Not exactly and impulse buy. If you do regular annual maintenance you're in a much better situation. Just sayin'... However it is a buying decision you want to get right and feel confident in making the best decision for you when the time comes.

Whether you need to replace a 'dead' furnace or install an entirely new heating system, you're looking at sizable investment. So any way we can give you the best advice, we're happy to do it!

Natural gas furnaces are the most commonly used furnaces, particularly in areas that endure harsh winters like here in the Battle Creek area. Gas furnaces are especially recommended for homes that endure harsh winters as it is less expensive to heat your home with gas than it is to heat it with electricity.

Natural gas furnaces as compared to electric furnaces come with the added expense of putting in gas lines from the street and building extensive ductwork in new construction. But they're usually much more efficient, and that can translate to lower utility bills. A fairly abundant resource in the United States, natural gas has become a relatively inexpensive fuel source.

Natural gas furnaces also have the advantage of warming up the home extremely quickly compared to other fuels, so consider that you're not only paying for efficiency, you're paying for convenience and comfort.

Average Prices for Gas Furnaces

The national average cost of furnace replacement is $3,940, with most homeowners spending between $2,309 and $5,573. This represents prices for an average house with average needs, using an 80,000 BTU furnace with a 2 1/2 - 3-Ton blower that is installed in basement of a 1600-2000 square foot house. A typical installation and it's just a frame of reference.

Natural Gas Furnace Replacement Costs

Replacing or installing a natural gas furnace tends to be a more complex job. Often, this project doesn’t end with just the furnace replacement. It can also include:

  • Replacing or installing the correct ductwork. 
  • Requiring inspections to ensure that the equipment operates safely. Inspections and permits can be relatively inexpensive. 
  • Removal of the old furnace. Removal can be fairly inexpensive, but local safety or environmental regulations may add to the cost.  
  • Existing ductwork and ventilation inspected. Existing work may need resealing to prevent mold, dust and gases from working their way into the home. Since these are major contributors to respiratory illnesses and lung cancer, according to the EPA, it’s important to treat ductwork and ventilation carefully. Leaky ducts can also cost homeowners about 10 percent to 30 percent in efficiency. This will make a 96 AFUE high-efficiency furnace run at 66 percent to 86 percent and make an economical 80 AFUE not much better than an open fireplace.

Hope this information helps when you are Shopping for a new furnace!

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Topics: Pricing, Furnace Replacement, Best Furnace Service, Best Price

Answers To The 12 Most Common Questions: #9 - #12

Posted by John Sims on Mon, Nov, 21, 2016 @ 13:11 PM

Let's continue our education process of by providing answers to the Top 12Questions9-12.jpgmost common questions most homeowners ask us. Obviously, if your question falls outside these 12 please do not hesitate to ASK!

When homeowners are better educated we better for both of us. Let's contiue...

9. Why does this part cost so much?

Part costs are based on the labor it takes to do the repair and the cost of the particular part. 

Most homeowners just want a fair price but sometimes they feel like they were 'gouged'. Sometimes people can have that perception when they call our service tech out to diagnose and fix a problem. When it is all said and done, you want your home to be returned to the state of comfort.

Charging a fair price and staying in business is our challenge. A quality HVAC contractor desires a long term relationship with homeowners; preferably for the life of homeownership. Here's what it takes as a business to be in a position to meet your needs when  you call us to schedule a repair.

Let's begin by talking about the most important component; the employees. It takes years of experience, training, knowledge about not just your equipment brand, but all the brands we run into. Training is ongoing.

In addition to the technician training, the overhead of operating an HVAC business is fairly significant.

Sims Staff.jpg

Here's a list:

  • Staff to answer the phone when you call.
  • Costs of being in business.
  • Technology to have quick response times.
  • Show up at your door with a nice looking truck.
  • The fuel to drive to your location.
  • Uniformed employees so you can feel comfortable letting the tech inside your home.
  • Providing benefits for our employees.
  • Diagnostic equipment to do the job right.

We hope this helps when it comes to meeting your expectations on your next service call.

 

10. How long will this installation take?

A typical installation takes 1-2 days; more complicated installations can take longer. Check out "How We Work" Hopefully this will help you with some specifics. 

11. What is the warranty on my equipment?

Warranty on equipment varies on the equipment.  Currently Carrier residential equipment has a 10 year parts warranty with the labor warranty varying on the equipment.  Subject to equipment registration

 

12. What are the rebates on my equipment?

Rebates are available on equipment from utilities and manufacturers.  Rebates vary on the type of equipment, times and available rebate dollars

Consumers Energy Rebates

 

Topics: Installation, Best Price, Rebates, Warranty

The 'Trick or Treat' Of Buying A New Furnace

Posted by John Sims on Mon, Oct, 31, 2016 @ 13:10 PM

I couldn't resist with today being Halloween. I thought I'd use the saying trick or Trick or Treattreat!" to make an analogy to homeowners buying a new furnace. As you well know, the phrase is a subtle suggestion that if a treat (like candy) is given, then the child will not perform a “trick" (mischief) on the owner of the house.

Well I wanted to show you what might be considered a 'trick' when some contractors advertise a really low price.

The "TRICK" of buying a new furnace

Air Conditioning Contractors Assoc.(ACCA) estimates that more then 2/3 of all HVAC contractors promote and market services based solely on price—with little emphasis placed on quality installations, expanded value, and service. So you can see what you're up against.

Here's a billboard ad that looks enticing, but the chance of you ending up with paying the price advertised is extremely small and probably not possible. The *asterisk is a giveaway.

Furnace Billboard.jpg

The "TREAT" of buying a new furnace.

What's worse than over-paying...; underpaying and NOT getting the results you hoped for!

A lot of the confusion in the marketplace starts with the typical advertising. You hear about "rebates and tax credits" and "energy efficiency claims". We believe homeowners are skeptical of it all. We understand, no one wants to over-pay for any home repair or remodel project.

That not good for your and it's not good for us. Nothing wrong with rebates or tax credits(they are available to everyone), they're an added bonus in the end, if they apply for the right installation.

It's Not That Simple. Unfortunately for consumers, the installing contractor is the weak link in the chain.

When making the decision to reinvest in a new heating or cooling system, the question always pops up in peoples mind is, how do I make sure I get the results I'm paying for and solve my problems; basically meet all my expectations!

Proper planning is a critical step and one that is often overlooked, and, unfortunately, it leads to the majority of the problems with HVAC installations. Without proper planning, there's a good chance your expectations won't be met. Although some contractors who use 'lowball' pricing, have a history of adding to the project to increase their pocket book. We don't! We prefer a nice clean project or installation. Anticipating problems doesn't mean we are trying to add to the project.

Manufacturers will tell you that no matter how well they build a furnace, the performance of their equipment in your home will depend on the contractors ability to install and maintain it correctly.

If you'd like to learn more: Check Out How We Work

 

Topics: Furnace Replacement, Furnace Pricing, Best Price

Angie's List 'Fair Price Guarantee'

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Jan, 27, 2016 @ 14:01 PM

Recently, I happen to notice the TV advertising by Angie's List offering a new service in 2016. They were introducing their "Fair Price Guarantee". Another term businesses use in advertising is the "best price" guarantee. When you think about it what exactly does that mean?

Here's what they say on the Angie's List website:

Fair Price Guarantee

If you buy from Angie’s List and the price exceeds the Fair Price Range for the service and location – you have the option to exchange the service for a new one, or receive a refund for the amount exceeding the Fair Price.*

What does “Fair Price Range” mean?

Angie’s List has years of transactional data on prices of offers and purchases for local services from which we have developed the “Fair Price Range”.  The Fair Price Range is defined as a price between 0 and the 75th percentile of all member-reported prices within the member’s local area for substantially similar service based on comparable materials by similar service providers.

If the “Fair Price Range” is based on a member’s local area, how is the “local area” determined?

Angie’s List tracks service provider offers and member’s purchases via zip codes and then groups zip codes into markets.  The purchase price will be compared to all member-reported purchase prices for substantially similar services in the market that you are purchasing in.

FairPrice.png

Now we have nothing against Angie's List and the services they provide in the marketplace. I wanted to share with you my take on this subject.

As a leading HVAC and Electrical contractor that services the Battle Creek area, we certainly don't want to overcharge you because we'd like to build a lifelong relationship with you. On the other hand, you don't want to underpay and not get the results you hope for either. That's not a good situation.

We recommend every homeowner establish a relationship with a credible HVAC contractor. Obviously, we hope you choose us.

"Fair pricing" doesn't necessarily take into the account (apples to oranges) the following questions:

  • Was my furnace the right size when originally installed?
  • When it is installed do you get the energy efficiency advertised by the equipment manufacture?
  • Were other issues exposed or diagnosed that affect performance, comfort or indoor air quality that need to be corrected?
  • Was your existing ductwork effective and efficient - distributing the air correctly?

Out of curiosity, I Googled,  "FAIR AND REASONABLE PRICE DEFINITION". Here's what came up:

A fair and reasonable price is the price point for a good or service that is fair to both parties involved in the transaction. This amount is based upon the agreed-upon conditions, promised quality and timeliness of contract performance.

'Fair pricing' to us means taking into account each one of the questions mentioned above; plus, my company making a making a fair profit for us to perform at the highest level and continue to stay in business to service you.

Boils down to the gut feeling of trust to do it right the first time at the stated & agreed upon cost and you enjoy the results for years to come (we are there for those years). Buying a replacement furnace or air conditioner is a large investment and a decision you make maybe once in 15 - 20 years based on some average for a zip code area doesn't make sense to us.

I hope this helps you when you are confronted with this decision. If you'd like a FREE estimate click here.

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Topics: Best Value, Furnace Pricing, How We Work, Best Price

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