CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rick Busby acknowledged that his March 10 seminar did not attract a large crowd.

Business ethics may not seem as interesting as other subjects at the ACCA’s March 10-13 conference here, but the owner of Busby’s Heating and Air-Conditioning gives it a lot of credit for his in Augusta, Georgia,-based company’s success.

His challenge to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America members who did attend his session: “To restore ethics to our companies and our communities.”

But being ethical doesn’t mean forgoing profits.

“We should be profitable. We should charge a reasonable amount,” he said. “There is nothing unethical about making money.”

But ethical companies do not solely judge success by revenue.

“There’s a lot more to success, in my opinion, than a bank account,” he said. There’s integrity — both personal and professional.

When dealing with residential customers, Busby said he believes there is only one straightforward way to price HVAC sales and services. 

“Ethical pricing in our industry is flat-rate pricing,” he said. Customers appreciate knowing what a job will cost immediately, instead of relying on an educated guess that may be wrong.

That trust should allow you to boost profit margins, he added.

“Customers are willing to pay more to a company they can trust,” Busby said.

As an example of his business’ ethics, Busby said that he always pulls permits for HVAC work where required — even if local never seldom follow up to inspect them.

“You’re setting the example,” he said. It’s up to you as the leader of your company.”

Some HVAC contractors may have more success temporarily doing things that are unethical, Busby acknowledged. But there’s usually a price for such actions.
“In the short term, you might be able to make more money if you sacrifice your ethics or morals,” he said. “But in the long term, it’s going to catch up to you.”