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A gentleman who operates a one-man contracting business in Idaho left a voice mail for me a few days ago, complaining about some administrative point of our operation. He was so displeased that he topped it off by saying that he really didn't like our news magazine at all and that the quality had been going downhill for nearly a year. (Oops. I joined The NEWS nearly a year ago; I wonder ...) He also noted that, in his opinion, there had even been editorial content that was denigrating toward small contracting companies.
In fairness, we also get reports from small contracting companies that tell us our editorial material is very valuable and is often used as fodder for staff meetings - even staffs of one.
However, back to offending people. A common axiom I hear touted by many small contractors is that the level of quality rendered is directly proportional to the number of employees of the servicing or installing HVAC company. The thought is that a small to very small company can be more focused on quality than a super-size-me company. The big contractors lose sight of quality as the company becomes so overburdened with administrative tasks, or so the story goes.
Another commonly-held belief by many larger companies is that they provide better quality service as they have the capability of staying more technologically current and have better-trained staffs.
Of course, small and large contractors often use these axioms/fallacies to leverage their success in the competitive marketplace. Certainly, good competition will take all shapes and sizes. However, regardless of size, ignorance has no advantage in the market.
IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISSWhether it is a one-person or 100-person company, there are some things that every good company does. If a customer was smart enough to pre-qualify you over the phone before inviting you into their home or business, how would you respond to these questions?
I know small and large contractors who don't perform load calculations, won't sell IAQ products or higher energy-efficiency equipment because they don't believe in them, and tell customers that zoning doesn't work because they themselves don't know how to make it work.
If a customer knew that you should perform a load calculation, and you answered no to the first question, how would you feel if they simply hung up the phone at that point? It does not matter if your company is large or small; it only matters that it is good. Yes, good can come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, so can bad.
To the gentleman in Idaho: I hope our comments that were perceived to be denigrating toward small companies have in some small way, become more equitably discharged.
Mike Murphy, Editor-In-Chief, 248-244-6446, 248-244-2905 (fax), firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: 04/17/2006