How to Choose a Contractor


I entered the HVAC industry more than 15 years ago, and a lot has changed in that time. New equipment, technology and incentives are constantly changing the way we do business. However, one thing that hasn’t changed, and probably never will, is sales.

Every time I’ve ever met with a prospective client in their home or business, I’ve been faced with the challenge of trying to persuade that client that we are the best company to fulfill their needs. This is challenging when they’ve already met with several of my competitors, all of whom have guaranteed unequivocally that they have the best products, the best technicians, and the best customer service!

Imagine how great the world would be if that were true. Everyone is the best! If that were true, there would be no buyers’ remorse, no crooked companies and no dissatisfied customers … but it isn’t true. Nearly everyone I know has heard a contractor horror story or has one of their own. So how do you tell the difference between good and bad when everyone claims to be the best?

First of all, one thing that I will never do is try to paint the picture that I own the only reputable HVAC company in the area. There is more than one good company to do business with in northeastern Wisconsin. Unfortunately, there are also more than a few terrible ones. I’ve put together a checklist to help you decipher the good from the bad. If you follow these guidelines, you will drastically increase your chances of having a good buying experience, even if it’s not with Apex Heating and Air Conditioning.

5 Steps for Choosing a Contractor
  • Qualify
    Before inviting a few different companies for quotes, you will want to qualify them. Narrow your list by checking online reviews and talking to friends, neighbors or co-workers who have made a recent heating or cooling purchase. Their experience, good or bad, can help guide you in the right direction! You may also want to determine the company’s accessibility and attention to you. If a company is inattentive or difficult to get in touch with when you are looking to make a major purchase, chances are good that they’ll be even more reluctant to serve you after the sale.
  • Estimates
    Once you have narrowed your list to a few companies you feel comfortable with, invite them to your home to give you a proposal. You should avoid companies that are willing to quote you a solid price over the phone. A qualified contractor will need to get to know your home before making any recommendations. The estimate process can reveal a lot about the companies you’ve chosen to interview. Sales presentations will vary with regard to time spent in your home and information shared. The best companies will not rush this process. All estimates should have a few things in common. Your sales rep should always perform a load calculation for your home to determine the proper sizing of your new unit. They should also ask you questions about your living habits. Contrary to popular belief, heating and cooling equipment is not a “one size fits all” application, and your system should be customized to your needs.
  • Compare
    Once you have several estimates, it’s time to compare them. Each company will attempt to highlight what they perceive to be their strengths, but they will not often reveal their shortcomings. It is up to you to be sure that the company you choose has not skipped over something that is important to you and your family.
  • Due Diligence
    Once you’ve eliminated the companies who didn’t pass the comparison stage, you may be left with only one choice. If that’s the case, it’s still important to do your due diligence and make sure all of the promises are kept. If you’re torn between two or more companies, you will likely find that the devil is in the details. Get all the specifics – warranties, fine print and guarantees of each of the finalists. Don’t forget to also check references and reviews for more information.
  • Installation
    When you have awarded your chosen company with the contract and done the paperwork, ask for a pre-installation walk through. By partaking in a pre-installation walk through, you will know what to expect and where the installers will need to perform their work. You should also ask if there is anything you can do to facilitate an easier installation such as move storage shelves, or give the installers easier parking access. Your willingness to work with the installation crew will be appreciated and reciprocated. When the job is complete, do a final inspection. The installer or sales rep should take their time to go through all the details of your new system. They should explain the operation of the equipment, thermostat, and/or any installed accessories so you’re completely comfortable with owning and operating everything they’ve installed.

I hope this information helps you in your search to find the right contractor to take care of your HVAC needs. As always, if you have any questions, please contact our office or leave us a message and I would be happy to address any of your concerns!