Dr. Kool‘s

Where Good Neighbors and Good Servicemen Meet

Advanced Koolness

(Guidance for the Contractor)

This article is about air conditioning, but any contractor can make the application to his particular trade.

Your customer is hiring you to look out for his interests. If you faithfully honor his trust, he will call you for future work, and recommend you to his friends.

Here's what I tell my customers: If I look out for your interests, the Lord will take care of me.

We live in a fallen world, and none of us is perfect. Still, we aim for the mark. One of my koolisms reads as follows: "Perfection is the goal. Excellence will be tolerated."

Honesty

In no way do we exaggerate, distort, or manipulate the facts. Be objective and accurate in both your diagnosis and reporting. Make recommendations, but also offer choices, and explain to the customer his options.

You're the Expert

You understand the repair or service situation. You're the teacher, so take the initiative, and explain to your customer what he needs to know. When he asks questions, answer them in layman's terms.

Humility

Nobody knows everything, and we all encounter problems that not only try our patience, but also challenge our experience. If you don't know, ask someone else. The idea of the customer running from one repairman to another trying to get his problem solved is a disgrace to any profession.

As a dealer for a major comfort company, I first call my tech. service rep. I also have friends with whom I exchange ideas and even services. I do not hesitate to ask any of my competitors, and have found them to be generous with their advice. The air conditioning contractors in College Station/Bryan work together harmoniously.

Your Customer Comes First

The Golden Rule declares, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Philippians 2:4 says, "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."

You are being paid to do the job. If you honor you customer's trust and faithfully manage his resources, you are what the Bible calls a faithful steward.

MAKING THE APPLICATION:

Minor Repairs

If the repair is minor or routine, I just do the job, but that's not all. I wouldn't think of replacing a faulty electrical part without also performing routine maintenance and checking the freon. When I leave, the unit will not only be running, but also running well. For air conditioners, repairs and maintenance go together. But for many jobs, that may not be the case. A good steward pays attention. If he finds things that need to be done, he will ask his customer whether he wants the additional work.

Major Repairs

If the unit is old, and an expensive repair becomes necessary, offer options and ask questions: For example, "Do you want to put that much money into an old unit, or would you rather apply the amount toward the cost of a new piece of equipment?"

Recommending Quality Equipment

I learned early in my repair career that some brands of air conditioners and furnaces are of higher quality than others. A huge quality factor is the ease and expense of repairs. For over 20 years I have continued as a dealer for a company I will call ABC. At this time I can charge only $225 to replace an ignition control for ABC, but have to charge $450 when replacing the same control for another brand. "Why the difference?" you ask. The part is more expensive, and it takes twice as long to do the job.

When we handle and recommend quality equipment, we are looking out for the interests of our customers.

Keep it Simple

Unless there's a good reason for a complicated AC/heat system, I recommend high efficiency basic equipment. I avoid variable speed blowers, multi-speed compressors, zoned systems, programmable thermostats, and heat pumps. Often the utility savings is small, or the comfort advantage insignificant. The inflated cost of future repairs can more than offset any immediate user benefit.

Having said all that, I respect the choice of my customer. I explain the options, but he makes the choice. If he wants complicated equipment, and is willing to pay for it, I graciously honor his wishes.

Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats are right for some people, but terribly wrong for others. There must be enough AC power for recovery, there should be a reason for setback, and the customer must be able to program and operate the electronics.

For a community to mandate a programmable thermostat is insensitive, stupid, and unconstitutional. Yet some communities, under some circumstances, are doing that.

So why is it so stupid for a community to require a programmable thermostat? They have gone to great lengths to smooth out the load on their generators. (See my article on Heat Pumps.) Programmable thermostats cause generators to be loaded more heavily at the most demanding time of the day, when people come home from work. If a customer asks me to install one, I ask some important questions:

  • Will you be using the setback feature on a regular basis?
  • Do you have a fairly consistent schedule?
  • Is there someone who will do the programming?
  • Will there be a problem if he's away on buisiness?

If my customer still wants a programmable thermostat, I determine whether his equipment can handle the recovery.

Plan for the Future

In my article More Kooler, I give examples of installations that have been poorly planned: They later give the repairman headaches, and cost the homeowner big bucks.

Here's an example that is best applied to a new construction situation. If the air handler or gas furnace is of the upflow design, it will usually be installed in a closet. It's best if the closet door extends nearly to the ceiling. This allows the evaporator coil to be removed for cleaning, repair, or replacement. If that precaution is not taken—and it often isn't—coil removal becomes very expensive.

Advanced Koolness,

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Dr. Kool

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Good For The Soul: Confession is good for the soul, but hard on the reputation.Merle Krafthefer
Winning: It's really hard to win an argument when you're wrong.Dr Kool
Going for Broke: The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money.Margaret Thatcher
Between a Rock and a Hard Place: If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do, you're misinformed.Mark Twain
Doing The Right Thing: You can always count on Americans to do the right thing--after they've tried everything else.Winston Churchill
Kool Kommunity: Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
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Blessings: The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.Sir Winston Churchill
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