Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Clearly HVAC contractors are not Enterprise 2.0 yet..

I'm trying to get a price to replace some heating baseboard in my house in Maine. Heat's important in Maine. I sort of expected I would call three people, ask for a price and decide. I assumed a week or so. I mean it's literally to replace 32' of forced hot water baseboard from slant fin.

So I looked on google, found two new companies and my local furnace guy and asked them to come over and look at what I needed.

The first guy came in two days. He was the owner, very knowledgeable and helpful. We also talked about installing central air conditioning and upgrading some of the heat too. He left some brochures for us to look at. After five days I called and reminded him I was waiting for a quote. I got a total price, but no real break down so had a few questions. We traded a few emails to clarify some things. I think I understand what I am getting but will need a more detailed breakdown before I sign anything. I'm assuming at some point I will get a design that we can work through showing where the ducts will go, where units get placed outside and inside etc.

The second guy came out the next day. It's been a week and I still don't have a quote though I've called twice. He did bring some literature that explained what the products look like and I was able to review the manufacturers web site. This company actually has no website. The only way I found them was google and yelp kicked out a phone number for me to call.

The local guy that we normally used, answered the phone, but needed to "go to town" to get a price. Clearly not an example of enterprise 2.0. In fact Mayberry from "The Andy Griffith show" comes to mind. Town is literally the next town over, about 10 miles. I've driven further than that for a burrito. It's not like he has to drive to California to see it. I'm not sure why he can't call for a price.

As an exercise I googled "slantfin baseboard price" and in 5 minutes worked up a price ($511 or $645 depending on model) for the materials from I think the labor is about 1 hour to drain the system, 2 hours to remove the existing baseboard, 2 hours to install the new one and 1 hour to test and refill. So 6 hours of labor with 2 guys is probably  $780 ($65 an hour I'm guessing). In my head this is less than $1500. The first guy quoted $1600, so we are close. I'm guessing he gets better pricing on parts, and is faster than me so he can sharpen his pencil a bit.

Now maybe I'm spoiled with some of the high tech companies I work with. Maybe I'm impatient with most responses in a few minutes, or hours. Maybe I just have high expectations, but so far I'm not real impressed with the HVAC vendors I've been dealing with. Clearly not social media aware or ready for Enterprise 2.0....


  1. Great post about HVAC enterprises! I have been online reading reviews on different HVAC contractors because I have been having issues with my heater, that's when I came across your post. I'm happy I did because this was such a insightful read, thank you for sharing this with us!

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