Quick: Name the company that manufactured the air conditioner that’s cooling your home. What’s the brand name? What are its specs? How old is it?
Now, what brand is your car? What are its specs? To make it even easier, what brand is your TV? Is it HD? Does it have surround sound? Can you connect to the Internet on it?
Bet you know more about your car, TV, and entertainment system than you do about one of the most important — and costly — systems in your home: heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.
In this post we look at heating and air conditioning equipment, giving Arlington, Fort Worth, and Dallas-area homeowners a brief introduction to purchasing new systems.
HVAC manufacturers, brands, and models suffer from low consumer awareness. Even if you see a Carrier or Trane product advertised on television in the Arlington market, chances are you’ll never remember the make or model shown.
According to some industry reports, only 8 percent of consumers can name the equipment brand in their home right now. Even if you’ve had an Arlington AC service or repair contractor come to your home for maintenance, do you remember anything the technician told you about the equipment?
This is because consumers buy, on average, HVAC equipment once every 17 years or twice in a lifetime if they’ve lived in the same place long enough.
And, let’s be honest: Who wants to buy an air conditioner? They’re big, boxy, expensive, and they sit outside out of sight, not in front of your favorite lounge chair in the family room. Now, if Apple made the iConditioner, maybe it would be different.
A Different Kind of “Product”
HVAC equipment is a different kind of product and should be regarded as such.
- For one, the quality of the installation by service and install specialists, as well as the company chosen to do the work, is actually more important than the product itself.
- Next up, central heating and air conditioning are part of a system that includes the entire home, not just the living room or a bedroom. Televisions, for example, may be a part of an entertainment system or network, but that’s it. Refrigerators and stoves are “plug in and forget” appliances.
- Any HVAC component, feature, function, or benefit you could compare in a detailed Excel spreadsheet must be installed and operated within a system, or environment, that’s affected by a myriad of other factors. The TV is impacted by the quality of the home theater components, but that’s it.
- Lastly, your overall satisfaction and cost of operation is determined throughout the life of the system. With a TV you don’t consider a) how much it’s going to cost to operate monthly, b) how much service or repairs will cost over the life of the set, and c) how many years before it needs replacing.
- With a product like a TV, you can always buy the latest and greatest and relocate the “old” set to a bedroom, but with HVAC homeowners may only buy equipment once in a lifetime.
- OK, one more. HVAC equipment isn’t featured in the Sunday newspaper ads for Best Buy in Arlington, Fort Worth, Dallas, or surrounding cities. No Hot Deals! on Carrier or Trane like there is on Samsung, Toshiba, or Vizio products.
Influenced by Advertising
There are about 70 HVAC consumer brands available — manufactured by seven or eight companies. That number jumps to about 150 when considering commercial equipment and overseas sales.
Only three — Carrier, ;, and Lennox — advertise on television, particularly at the start of summer (Save money on summer cooling bills with a new Trane!) or winter (Save on heating bills with a new Carrier!)
Arlington contractors, more so than actual manufacturers, send direct mail advertisements to homeowners proclaiming a great deal on a “2 ton, 16 SEER, air conditioner with gas heating, installed, with a 10-year warranty for $1,550” and the equipment happens to be made by Bryant (a Carrier sub-brand), American Standard (a Trane sub-brand), or maybe even something completely different.
And let’s not forget those “door hanger” advertisements in Arlington that scream Summer Service Check-up (or Winter Maintenance Check-up) for as low as $39! Repairs starting at $79!
In the end, 80 percent of consumers will buy equipment that does’t carry the Carrier, Trane, or Lennox name, although more than likely it will be manufactured by one of them.
Without getting into business models and case studies, choosing an Arlington contractor with ties to a manufacturer has several advantages, including:
- Access to local distributor and account reps for parts and support. When a supplier is close by, your Arlington air conditioning repair or service contractor can install equipment much more efficiently, saving time.
- Contractors keep fewer items in inventory, so they save money; but with quick, local access to supplier inventory, they may be able to offer equipment and parts at a lower cost to the consumer.
- Staying current through technical training, service bulletins, and sales and marketing information is important and easier when they are nearby, benefitting the homeowner in numerous ways.
- A relationship with an Arlington air conditioning contractor, who reps a specific manufacturer, allows contractors to provide homeowners with more options to meet their needs, giving them good, better, best scenarios when considering what to purchase and install.
- It’s possible that additional rebates and incentives can be passed along to customers.