Although many homeowners still trust the opinions of their furnace or air conditioner contractors, they also do research of their own online before they make decisions about their air conditioning repairs and purchases.
Decision Analyst did a recent American Home Comfort study that showed that more homeowners are more often turning to the internet, rather than contractors, to obtain information about their new HVAC system purchases and repairs. In 2013, the same study showed that homeowners looked to the internet and their contractors equally for advice, and before that, contractors were the primary source for HVAC information.
Many contractors choose to embrace this shifting reality rather than trying to battle against it.
According to the study, 58% of consumers who researched their purchases on the internet visited an HVAC manufacturer’s website to obtain additional information. A massive 77% of consumers decided on the brand they wanted to purchase before choosing their installing contractors. The study also revealed that about 32% of consumers visited free internet review boards and 30% searched their local contractor’s website.
Joe Tollari, president of Metro Heating and Cooling in Des Moines, Iowa, estimates that approximately 50% of his customers do some research online before purchasing a system. He thinks it’s great and likes it when homeowners want to learn more about what they’re investing in. He notes that when they don’t know what they’re reading online, they will usually ask his staff, which means they are still seen as the experts.
Jason Ellington, president of Ellington Air Conditioning & Heat in Rockledge, Florida, notes that based on the sales calls his company receives, approximately 85% of homeowners have already done some research on the internet. He explains that homeowners tend to research the equipment they already have and are usually curious about price. They also do research on the contractor’s reputation, brand reliability and the latest bells and whistles. They are essentially simply trying to ensure that they get a good value proposition.
Steve Schmidt, president of Frederick Air Inc. in Frederick, Maryland, has experienced that customers search online before making a purchase to determine the reliability of the equipment. They are concerned about how long the unit is going to last and what sort of problems people have had to ensure that what they’re buying will be trouble-free and last a long time.
One problem with customers searching the internet is that information may not always be accurate or up to date. This is especially true as far as product review sites are concerned. Although many customers go to Consumer Reports, they don’t normally have the expertise to parse through all the information, so they sometimes arrive at the wrong conclusions. If this happens, the contractor can assist by explaining what the information really means.
Having a stellar online reputation is one way in which contractors can assure homeowners that they are dealing with experts. If customers find a company that has numerous good reviews, it helps earn their trust. Online content detailing a contractor’s services on their website, or profiles on Yelp or HomeAdvisor, can build out their online profile and help customers make decisions. On the other hand, the internet can hurt any company if it has many bad reviews, or if they have little or no content built out.