HVAC/PE Contractors Shoot Their Own Foot!

Contractors - Don't Shoot Your Foot!

Coupons,  promo’s, discounts,  and other specials all have their place in generating sales.  They can be successfully used to increase traffic, create a new customer, and help keep your business in the spotlight.  There can be a very fine line between these promo’s and a bait and switch scam, and often  business people utilize “situational ethics” to help them overcome an otherwise unethical or even dishonest situation.

During a recent visit to Florida, I picked up a “Coupon Booklet” that had “sales, deals, promo’s, coupons, special savings” and more.  I rarely ever even look at this type of advertising,  but since I had a couple minutes, I read through it page - by – page and was shocked at the gimmicks being used in an attempt to get business. 

One advertisement read “$9.95 AC Inspection”   No I didn’t mis-type, it is nine dollars and ninety five cents to come and “inspect “ your Air Conditioning.  And it gets even better… $29.95 to ”recharge” the system.  Can any legitimate HVAC Company even walk to their van for $9.95 much less $29.95?  Even "one man and a van" operation incurs over $100 to take his vehicle out on the road for a single service call.  I should also mention that both ads had a little tag line that offers full repairs and service available. I wonder what that involves and what the cost is, and how much high pressure is used?

Here is the question you knew was coming… “Is this type of HVAC promo legit and/or ethical?”  Should they be run out of town, as the saying goes, or is there a way to expose them for what I think may be “situational ethics” at the very least, and possibly a true bait and switch program?   My opinion is that this type of advertising and the likely pressure tactics at the job, costs legitimate HVAC Contractors, as well as Plumbers and Electricians much more than some lost revenue.  I also think it devastates the overall credibility of the legitimate companies, making it impossible for the buying public to trust any of us.

It’s any wonder that Social Media platforms like: Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook, YouTube and others are so popular – because the public is telling the world about these scams – and they are also telling the world about their good experiences too.  Only 14% of the public believe Advertising, and 78% of the public believe word-of mouth, including word of mouth posted on the social media sites.

The Coupon Book did have ninety nine cent hotdogs and cokes, and $2.49 margaritas.   I think I'll use those.

Author:  Dick Wagner    HVAC/Plumbing & Electrical Marketing Consultant