My furnace quit just before the holidays last year.  Some of you from the Midwest laugh at our nor cal winters but to us it still seems really cold.  In any case, the first guy I called to look at it said a new one would cost around 10K which he wrote down on his brochure.  I asked about something that was quieter than the one we had he said about another 2K more, he wrote that down as well.  That was his proposal, his black and white “brochure” with a hand written quote.

I thanked him for his time and said I would think about it. 

I have a childhood friend who’s lifelong career is in the HVAC business.  Although I have not spoken to him for 10 years I decided to give him a call and see if he could help me out.  I rang him up, we chatted for a while and caught up and he made an appointment to come out and see what he could do.

It was great to see him again, we chatted some more, reminisced and then he got down to business.  Before he did anything he broke out some professional brochures about his company and some of the products he represents.  Then he set up his laptop and printer with his industry specific design, estimating, management software on the kitchen table.  Then he asked me what I did not like about my old system and what my goals were for the new one.  Great question BTW.

Dislikes: Noisy, the whole house shook when that thing kicked on.  It woke me up every morning.  Inefficient, the lower part of the house was not usable in the winter and the upper part was not habitable in the summer.   Smelly and dusty, it seemed to lower the air quality by 50% AND increase dust production by 100% when it was on.  I had really never experienced anything better so I thought this was normal.

Only after he established what I wanted the new system to do did he take a look at the old one.  He pointed out the numerous problems: holes in the ducting, openings between the grills and floors, installation quality was poor, age of the system, and design flaws in the returns.  He made a note of the direction the house faced and explained how that affected cooling requirements.

We sat down at the table and he explained about how HVAC zones work, new filter technology, duct cleaning and how the products he represented were the most efficient and quiet.  Basically he tailored his sales presentation to my needs.  He started punching in pre-engineered packages into his software, came up with pricing, and printed proposals on the spot.

We agreed on a package that would meet all of my goals at a price that I felt was reasonable.  Although it was about 100% more that the first proposal it was EXACTLY what I wanted.  He finished me off with one year free financing.  Done, when can you start?  My friend did such a good job selling a commodity that I have always taken for granted (heat) that I was now excited about the new system.

Stay tuned for part 2: The installation