Before diving into this topic, I’ll repeat three essential, related themes you’ll see throughout our website: a- The quality of the AC and heating equipment installation matters more than equipment brand. Quality includes selecting right size and type of equipment for the local climate and the envelope of your home or building and also how the equipment is installed. b-There are more equipment brands than there are major manufacturers of the most important components. c- Our website is brand neutral — we don’t accept payment for writing about brands.
Within that context, when buying a new AC system or getting your existing one repaired, it can be useful to know why your local AC and heating contractor has chosen to be a dealer for a particular brand, or a limited number of equipment brands. The info below is taken mainly from my daily reading of a forum of independent heating and AC contractors. These tend to be both candid and insightful.
Listed below are 10 common reasons — and their possible benefits to or impact on you:
1- Access to or trust relationship with local distributors and their account reps for parts and support.
When their supplier is close by, your local contractor can install or repair your equipment more efficiently. This can save time for you too, and can even mean the difference in you being without cooling or heating overnight in some cases.
2- Lower number of items to keep in inventory, both new units and brand specific repair parts.
This can result in your equipment getting installed faster, better, at a lower cost or a combination of these.
3- Time required for required to stay current technical training, service bulletins, sales and marketing info, and internal policies of each manufacturer or vendor.
Same as above…this can result in your equipment getting installed faster, better, at a lower cost or a combination of these.
4- Contractual reasons: Franchise, Ownership, etc.
Being a dealer for a particular brand may be required due contractual obligations of a franchise, or in some cases, being owned by a equipment manufacturer or its parent company.
5- History with that brand, and the expense of / reluctance to change.
Each service company wants the quality of their service to be your main focus. This is natural part of the industry — don’t look at it as a problem. However, if a service company has been a dealer of a brand for a long time, there is a certain inertia involved. Adding another brand or switching brands will have inherent costs and unknowns for any service company.
6- Ability to meet different price points and give their customers a choice: Good, Better, Best.
Positioning, wholesale costs or profit margins can vary among brands. Some brands have been or are “positioned” in the market as premium, good, or “tract home/builder grade” equipment (usually associated with lowest cost and quality).
7- Seeking a lower level of defects, higher reliability, or better warranty / service
All brands will have defects or failures from time to time, and these can come in “waves”. The practical issue for you and the service company is how efficiently the manufacturer handles claims to make things right with the homeowner and the dealer.
8- Seeking lower competition
Contractors prefer to have less competitors, especially from installers who cut corners or those who have a “captive” audience. Though competition is generally good for consumers, for the contractor more competitors also means more opportunities for the “corner cutters” to underbid the high-quality installers who won’t cut corners (in places like training, insurance, replacing existing ductwork or dealing with existing wiring issues). Re: the audience, there is a growing trend of utility companies (who have more of a “captive” audience via their utility bills) getting into the HVAC business.
9– Rebates and incentives that can be passed along to customers
Any way to lower the initial cost will help sell more systems. It also means a quicker return on/of the homeowner’s purchase of a new system rather than keeping an older, inefficient one going.
10 – Personal preference of the service company owner.
Each AC heating brand has a company culture or “personality” in both customer perception and in behind-the-scene operations. In some cases, either aspect can be enough to cause a service company owner to be attracted to a brand, or choose to avoid or drop it.
If you need more info on how to choose a reliable contractor, use the main navigation in the gray bar at the top of this page. Also, if you are considering a private label AC heating system, here is a related blog.
Do you have a related experience or opinion to share? If so, please send it.