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Sell What They Ask For

HeatingHelp
HeatingHelp Posts: 465
edited September 2020 in THE MAIN WALL
image

Sell What They Ask For

Don’t try to decide what they can buy. Just sell it to them.

Read the full story here

Comments

  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 279
    Bingo!
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 918
    That is so true Dan. Thanks for reminding us
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    edited September 2020
    A client wants an atmospheric 2X oversized boiler, which he sized himself, based on the square footage of the house, by an online plumbing store sizing page. I know its wrong.

    Then a big question. Am I a yes man, will do what the client wants or I just walk away after understanding that argument is fruitless. Do I tell the doctor how to heal? Do I tell the pilot how to fly the plane?

    What we sell is not a commodity. Not a tv, not a scarf, not a brick. We sell know-how, not boilers.

    We must listen to the client and understand his goals and provide solutions to his problems. Not follow his instructions.
    Robert O'BrienAMserviceskcoppGroundUp
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 279
    gennady said:

    A client wants an atmospheric 2X oversized boiler, which he sized himself, based on the square footage of the house, by an online plumbing store sizing page. I know its wrong.

    Then a big question. Am I a yes man, will do what the client wants or I just walk away after understanding that argument is fruitless. Do I tell the doctor how to heal? Do I tell the pilot how to fly the plane?

    What we sell is not a commodity. Not a tv, not a scarf, not a brick. We sell know-how, not boilers.

    We must listen to the client and understand his goals and provide solutions to his problems. Not follow his instructions.

    You don’t tell the pilot how to fly the plane, but you do tell the pilot where you want to go. If the pilot starts telling you that you really want to go somewhere else, you will probably find a different pilot.

    If the homeowner really wants a heating unit 2X oversized and is willing to pay for it, why not install it properly for the homeowner? I certainly would tell them it is more than they need and will be more costly and less efficient, but if that is what makes them happy, why do you care? If you don’t install it, they will find someone else who will and who may do a crappy installation.

    What is better for them: a 2X oversized unit well-installed or a 2X oversized unit poorly installed? I agree that the best solution is a properly sized unit well-installed, but if that is not an option, why not give them the next best thing?
    Mosherd1
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    edited September 2020
    What is better for them: a 2X oversized unit well-installed or a 2X oversized unit poorly installed? I agree that the best solution is a properly sized unit well-installed, but if that is not an option, why not give them the next best thing?


    As an expert, you have to guide your customer to the correct solution to achieve their goals with their system. If he wants brand X vs Brand Y and they both work for his application then there is no issue there. But if Brand X has venting restrictions and Brand Y is specifically designed for their application, then you need to inform the client. In our experience, at the end of the day, when the problems occur because the client disregarded the contractor's warnings, the buck stops with the contractor. The client doesn't remember that this was their decision, they don't even care. They insist that you should have known better. There is no good installation of a 2x oversized system. When the short cycling starts, the contractor will be to blame. It is our responsibility as experts to design the system. We aren't labor for hire, we are professionals.

    For example, we had a client, in steam to hot water conversion, who did not want to increase the size of the radiator in their bedroom. They insisted that they don't care that they will be underheated, they preferred the original undersized radiator. We informed them that they will be too cold, we made them sign a waiver that they understand the risk. The winter started, and of course, we got the call that the bedroom was too cold. It didn't matter that we had a waiver, it didn't matter that we had a bunch of emails insisting this was wrong, the client insisted we should have pushed harder because we knew better.

    Another example, a potential client wanted in-floor radiators in their brownstone. Upon initial inspection, that wouldn't be possible due to the heat loss. Two factors made them choose another contractor, one was our price and the second was our insistence on free-standing radiators or larger floor openings. They went with the contractor who let them decide the radiator size. After one winter, we were back on the project tripling the size of the in-floor radiators which required cutting massive openings in their gorgeous brand new floors, not to mention probably doubling their budget. My conversation with the owner was that she wished the contractor didn't let her make the decision. She wished the contractor had insisted that it was the wrong way to go.

  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,106
    In the HVAC business, it is the experience and knowledge you are selling more than a product. Usually, you are asking someone to tell you what you want.

    But there are knuckleheads in the business.

    I had a company replace my parent's octopus gravity furnace. They wanted to install a 200,000+ btuh input furnace. I wanted a 104,000 Btuh, 80% efficiency model. They gave me what I wanted but I owned the performance. The important thing is they gave me what I wanted and I appreciate it very much!

    The new furnace is an oil sipper and keeps the house comfy warm. We went from almost 4000 gallons a year to less than 400 gallons per year during the first heating season and it was a cold one!

    But you know something? I could have easily went to an 80,000 btuh input.
    CLamb
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,368
    @DanHolohan. Can't believe that I am saying this,  but I have to humbly disagree. Sony vs. Mitsubishi is a matter of preference. When it comes boilers and heating systems,  there is often a clear right and wrong. I have turned away jobs where customer needed 150K and insisted on 250K. I recently turned away a boiler replacement job where space was so tight that the installation was impossible without taking shortcuts.  What would happen if customer wants a steam boiler without a header? Lets say customer wants 1" header on 500000 btu boiler? It's reallly two things. First off, I don't want to deal with the headaches of a bad installation.  Secondly,  this is a labor of love. Hard and stressful but labor of love. If I can't kiss that boiler before I leave, then that boiler needs to find someone else to dance with. 
    ratioBrassFinger
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,981
    The article is not about the exact size of the product or how it's piped. It is about listening to the customer and giving them what they want.

    If a customer wants 2 boilers for redundancy, don't look that gift horse in the mouth and try to talk them out of it. Just price the boilers and sell the job.

    If a customer has had bad luck with electronics and wants a simple cast iron boiler, don't try to sell them a mod/con, give the cast iron, you're not paying the utility bills or the maintenance.

    On the other hand, if a customer is trying to push you to install a grossly oversized boiler or screwy piping arrangement for no reason, it comes down to this, "The customer is always right, unless of course, they are wrong, in which case it is your job to explain to them why..." If you don't they will blame you for it, guaranteed.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    mattmia2SlamDunk
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,710
    Don't know if this is relevant? A guy found me in Yellow Pages and paid me to obtain a permit for a new boiler. Then he hired somebody else who ignored plans & specs to install & pipe whatever. When problems arose he phoned me. I sent the money back.
    CLamb
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,106
    I don't know if it is relevant either but it does sound fishy!
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,981
    jumper said:

    Don't know if this is relevant? A guy found me in Yellow Pages and paid me to obtain a permit for a new boiler. Then he hired somebody else who ignored plans & specs to install & pipe whatever. When problems arose he phoned me. I sent the money back.

    A buddy of mine pulled a permit for a friend and neighbor. The homeowner managed to burn the house down while doing the work.
    Guess who the homeowners insurance company pinned it on?
    Don't pull permits for jobs you don't control, EVER!
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    mattmia2Canucker
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 830
    jumper said:

    Don't know if this is relevant? A guy found me in Yellow Pages and paid me to obtain a permit for a new boiler. Then he hired somebody else who ignored plans & specs to install & pipe whatever. When problems arose he phoned me. I sent the money back.

    You must notify building department and withdraw your permit.

    JohnNY
  • motoguy128
    motoguy128 Member Posts: 378
    We do our best ot guide the customers and sell that the best system for their needs. But ultimately we give them what they want and warn them of any downsides.

    However, we do draw a line if we feel it’s a big mistake they will be unhappy and we will look bad and have operating issues. Constant call backs = loosing money on a job.

    It’s also why we lean towards slightly over sizing systems. Nobody complains with a system that keeps up on the coldest/hottest days. You get complaints if it runs for 18 hours on a hot day and falls behind because it runs so much the coil needs washed 3x a summer... or they throw a dinner party with 12 guests and cook on a July evening.

    At some point people expect a syste to cool, they don’t expect 48%RH all summer and a system that runs 75% of the time or more on hotter days.
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,710
    gennady said:

    jumper said:

    Don't know if this is relevant? A guy found me in Yellow Pages and paid me to obtain a permit for a new boiler. Then he hired somebody else who ignored plans & specs to install & pipe whatever. When problems arose he phoned me. I sent the money back.

    You must notify building department and withdraw your permit.

    I took out the permit in name of building management company but my name is still on drawing & notes. I'm grateful that I was not dragged in further.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471
    On a case by case basis.  You try to be as flexible as possible, but never forget the judge will hold the "professional" liable, ultimately.    Mad Dog
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • LouieTheEngineer
    LouieTheEngineer Member Posts: 1
    Some of these comments I think took the article too literal. Naturally if a client wants an undersized or oversized boiler and you feel it is wrong it is only right for one to walk away or convince the client otherwise. I have had many instances where I specified a Weil McLain boiler and the client wanted an HB Smith of an equivalent size instead. I of course obliged.
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,369
    "Do I tell the doctor how to heal? Do I tell the pilot how to fly the plane?", well sometimes!

    I have a rule which is: I mention it 3 times and I never mention it again. When I'm called back because it doesn't work, I never, ever make the customer feel that it is his fault.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,960
    There are aspects missing form this. For example I wouldn't go to a Lennox or a Bryant dealer and expect them to procure and install a Goodman or a Rheem.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,943
    Here is an example of giving the customer what he wanted and the headaches it incurred for 21 years.

    They wanted a new furnace, thought the old 1960's 120,000 BTUH Lennox smelled when firing.
    By 2000 it seemed time for a replacement anyway.
    I did a heat loss and came up with 80,000 90% replacement, which was still over sized somewhat.

    The owner insisted on the next size larger, up to 100MBTUH 90%+.
    I figured we should be good as the original furnace was larger.

    Over the years, the HSI would fail almost every 2 years, often the owner changed this himself so I was unaware of it.

    Then we added a by-pass humidifier, this was enough to repeatedly trip the high limit by the hot air feeding into the return air. This burned out several high limit sensors, they would fail to reset.
    So even with blower speed on high the furnace still overheated.
    We went to the cheap air filters to compensate for the hot air bypass.
    Also dropped the gas pressure to the lowest possible WC.

    So over the years the furnace has been shutting off on high limit, then relighting.
    This explained the HSI failures.

    It came down to undersized ductwork, the old Lennox could handle the higher temp rise and when and if shut off on limit would just continue to cycle back on with it's standing pilot.

    In 2000, the up charge for 80 up to 100 was only $47.00.

    Today the homeowner doesn't recall wanting an oversized furnace nor the discussion around it, however I am sure he still has some dissatisfaction with the overall result.

    So in effect, I still own it.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,302
    edited August 17
    Jughne are you familiar with the CFM difference between an old furnace vs a new furnace? The furnace you installed requires about 1400 cfm, the old furnace needed 900 to 1000 or so. Gotta know the systems you’re booking up your stuff to 
    edit- and yes, bypass hum exacerbates the problems by a chunk 
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 279
    JUGHNE said:

    Here is an example of giving the customer what he wanted and the headaches it incurred for 21 years.

    They wanted a new furnace, thought the old 1960's 120,000 BTUH Lennox smelled when firing.
    By 2000 it seemed time for a replacement anyway.
    I did a heat loss and came up with 80,000 90% replacement, which was still over sized somewhat.

    The owner insisted on the next size larger, up to 100MBTUH 90%+.
    I figured we should be good as the original furnace was larger.

    Over the years, the HSI would fail almost every 2 years, often the owner changed this himself so I was unaware of it.

    Then we added a by-pass humidifier, this was enough to repeatedly trip the high limit by the hot air feeding into the return air. This burned out several high limit sensors, they would fail to reset.
    So even with blower speed on high the furnace still overheated.
    We went to the cheap air filters to compensate for the hot air bypass.
    Also dropped the gas pressure to the lowest possible WC.

    So over the years the furnace has been shutting off on high limit, then relighting.
    This explained the HSI failures.

    It came down to undersized ductwork, the old Lennox could handle the higher temp rise and when and if shut off on limit would just continue to cycle back on with it's standing pilot.

    In 2000, the up charge for 80 up to 100 was only $47.00.

    Today the homeowner doesn't recall wanting an oversized furnace nor the discussion around it, however I am sure he still has some dissatisfaction with the overall result.

    So in effect, I still own it.

    Did you write on the original quotation that the owner requested an oversized furnace and that it would likely have premature failures due to short cycling or high limit trips? That helps the memory when you can pull out the paperwork 20 years later and remind them…
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,943
    Well, I am now aren't I.
    Young and dumb then....today I am simply older. ;)
    There was and still is a 2.5 ton ac on top of this furnace.
    So the thought was that if this is flowing enough air for the AC, and that large of a furnace then we should be good.

    The real point is that you should not let the customer dictate for the equipment.
    Had I mentioned air flow, he could have said "but the old bigger furnace worked fine with the ductwork".....(the Lennox had a much more durable high limit control than the new furnace, I think back now that it too must have cycled on limit)
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 279
    I think everyone has to make their own call on this. If you feel the person paying the freight is really setting themselves and you up for disaster, I see that you have three choices:
    1. Convince them why what they are asking for isn’t what they need. If you succeed, then you get the work and the customer gets a good system.
    2. Refuse the work and walk away. You lose the job and somebody less skilled likely gets it and the customer ends up equally unhappy.
    3. Tell the customer in writing why what they are asking for isn’t what they really need, but give them a quote to do the job as requested. If they accept that, do the best job you can given the less than ideal installation. The customer gets as good a system as they can given what they are demanding and you get paid for the work and if someone questions it later you have the proof of what you warned the customer about in advance.

    #1 is the best outcome for sure, but I will argue that #3 is better for both you and the customer than is #2, but it is your call to make.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,943
    The request by the owner for the oversized furnace was noted on the bill/invoice.
    This was installed in March so there was some "hurry up" on the job.

    Again, young and dumb. Also condensing furnaces were a fairly new technology around here at that time.

    The main caution given was short cycling by the thermostat and less efficiency.

    The owner has accepted the operation of the furnace as just another routine way of life.