The Agony of Defeat: A Furnace Replacement Loss

By: Brian Schutt  |  December 15, 2010

You might be surprised to hear this, but every customer that calls us doesn’t end up using us for their heating and air conditioning needs.  < Pause for jaw dropping/spit take>  Now that you’ve had time to collect yourself, let me explain this one, and why it’s a loss that’s tough to take.


First, this prospect was a direct referral from someone who had replaced a furnace with us earlier this year.  He was a very satisfied customer, and one that has a maintenance plan with us.  Referrals go a long way with such a big investment.  So we started out strong.

Secondly, we sent out one of our top technicians, who has consistently provided the highest customer satisfaction in the heating and cooling business.  He quickly evaluated the issue, passed along the specs to the company, and we had pricing in the prospects hands before the end of the hour.

Finally, we were competing against one of the large, impersonal companies in town.  One of these that promise to be their within 60 minutes, or you pay nothing — but don’t tell you they mark up the get there in an hour service call about 400%.  Nothing wrong with that, just the facts.  We’re always pretty comfortable how we stack up against those companies, so were happy the prospect called someone else.

So once the apples to apples comparison was made, our introductory quotes were about $1k difference.  The customer, being a shrewed negotiator used our better priced quote to negotiate the other company down.  And, in fact, they had to throw in multiple years of maintenance to sweeten the package on their end.

So there the customer stood, 2 nearly identical prices and packages.  Ours the technician who performed the diagnostic would do the install, and the other company had sent a technician then a sales person.  Ours she had spoken with one of the owners, the other company she had met with an hourly employee.  Ours we gave a fair price from the get go, the other company was comfortable making an additional $1k off her had she not negotiated down.  The customer chose them.  She must have really liked their jingles.

I guess I’m sharing the story, because I’m at a loss for understanding.  Not all customers buy how I might buy, that’s a certainty.  But, if you have anything to share of how we might have proven our differences and benefits better, we would love to hear from you.  Above and beyond the facts of the situation, I know that we care more than the other company.  That may not win us every deal, but we’re going to keep on caring more than our competitors and hopefully that’ll pay off in the long run.

Posted in: Heating

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