Give Customers Time to Think
“The more time the homeowner has to evaluate the options available, the more he’ll opt for,” said co-owner Michael Perri.
Among the company’s store of upgrades, Perri said one of the most important products to affect a customer’s IAQ is the variable-speed motor. “They can operate in shoulder seasons,” spring and fall, “giving a customer constant filtration even when their system isn’t calling for heating or cooling,” he said.
The 35-year-old contracting firm has a $13 million sales volume and 85 employees total (20 technicians and 20 installers on the HVAC side). There also is a plumbing division and a duct cleaning/IAQ department.
ADVANCED SYSTEMSFurther out on the cutting edge, the contractor installs technology that ties the motors and air handlers into the next generation of Carrier Infinity™ thermostats/controls.
“What they allow customers to do is take advantage of the technology,” Perri said. The system can control humidity as well as temperature. “That wasn’t available until recently in a single-point controller,” Perri commented. “Prior to this technology, you would need the furnace to run in heating or cooling to humidify or dehumidify the space.”
The system helps maintain constant humidity levels even when the humidity is rising but the temperature outdoors is relatively low, he said. This may commonly occur during the cooling season overnight, during summer cool spells, and during spring and fall (typically known as allergy seasons).
The system is turned on, he said, but the fan speed is low. Air moves across coils slow enough to pick up and remove more latent heat.
AN IAQ HISTORY“We’ve been selling IAQ from the beginning of this company 35 years ago,” said Perri. “At first, we probably offered consumers two basic offerings, a filter and a humidifier.
“I would have to say that some of the changes in products are due to residential building construction,” he added. “There is a need for us to install fresh air intakes.”
Advancements in HVAC technologies, like the more sophisticated control of variable-speed motors, “also let us offer consumers more IAQ products. When you have people who suffer from allergies and asthma, you can put in a really great filter, but the allergy seasons are spring and fall when the furnace or air conditioner typically doesn’t run.”
The advanced thermostat features a program with a special IAQ setting, Perri explained. “The fan operates every hour for a predetermined amount of time. We can program the thermostat to come on a little bit each hour to keep the air moving and filtered.”
A.J. Perri does IAQ evaluations that assess a customer’s need for humidification, air filtration, increased ventilation, or whole-house dehumidification. Products and services that can be offered include duct cleaning, electronic air cleaners, UV lights, humidity control, and energy-recovery ventilators.
Perri said the best IAQ solutions involve the HVAC system as a whole. “Because these components are now working together as a system more than ever before, we rarely just change a furnace or air conditioner,” he said. “We typically sell complete systems. We offer a lot of extended warranties at the same time, and extended maintenance agreements.”
Customers may wind up spending more money than they thought they would, “but their system is covered and their maintenance is there. It’s like the old adage: There’s a difference between price and cost.”
Publication date: 03/19/2007