In my latest adventure of home ownership, I was slowly starting to lose my mind all thanks to the constant, annoying drip of a leaky shower faucet. Is there a more irritating sound than the steady drip-drip of a leaky faucet? I’m not sure there is. Now, my husband can be pretty handy around the house, but for anything HVAC, electrical, or plumbing related, my gut reaction is to call a licensed contractor. However, in this case, the old ball and chain insisted he could fix the problem. So I calmly waited while he made the “repairs,” put the faucet handles back together, and turned the water back on.

Imagine my surprise when the water came rushing out of the faucet.

You may be asking yourself, what’s wrong with that? Well, the answer to that question, dear reader, is the faucet handles were in the “off” position. So, after taking it apart and putting it back together several more times, Mr. Fix-it threw in the towel, so to speak, and decided to call a professional.

The HVAC industry is no stranger to do-it-yourself (DIY) homeowners, especially with the growing popularity of smart thermostats that just happen to be readily available at their corner big-box store or online via two-day shipping. These plug-and-play connected devices appeal to homeowners of all ages. And the number of homeowners turning to DIY is only increasing. Per Technavio, the DIY market is expected to be worth over $13.9 billion by 2021.

“A lot of people think it’s an easy thing to do, and we’re finding that most homeowners who make that (DIY) attempt actually create additional problems, or they short a transformer or blow the fuse on their furnace board,” Paul Sammataro, owner, Samm’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Plano, Texas, told The NEWS.

But with the ever-increasing popularity of do-it-yourselfers, HVAC contractors must find new ways to provide value to those consumers. For example, Sammataro tries to put a positive spin on any call he receives from a DIY project gone wrong, even going as far as talking the customer through the problem over the phone, since he or she felt capable enough to take it on.

“Even though this customer is a do-it-yourselfer, there’s not a high probability that he’s going to take his air conditioner apart to maintain the system,” Sammataro explained. “He may need professional help in the future, and I want him to remember our name when he does.”

Sammataro referenced a recent example where his advice sprouted a budding relationship with a new customer.

“A guy was interested in home automation and he liked the idea of including his thermostat, so when he called me with questions about hooking his unit up, I asked him if he had heard about the system we offered and the flexibility and the ability to expand on it versus some of the popular models on the market,” he said. “After a short conversation, he took his thermostat back and we put ours in.”

Joe Ramunni, HVAC forced-air zoning specialist, J. Ramunni Consulting LLC, Wadsworth, Ohio, told The NEWS that now is the time for HVAC contractors to reinvent themselves in this changing marketplace.

“We need to learn from the automotive dealers; there are many people who have no desire to do their own automobile repairs, and there are some that do,” he said. “They provide the best service they can and charge the rate they require. What they don’t do is waste their time and energy boycotting the $3 billion online replacement parts industry. Instead, they continually reinvent themselves to better serve and to earn a profit from the marketplace as it changes.”

So, instead of refusing service to do-it-yourselfers, HVAC contractors should be using the opportunity to form a relationship with a new client. Find out what prompted the consumer to buy the thermostat to begin with and make them aware of the benefits of your own offerings, much like Sammataro did. Who knows, that DIY call just may turn into a sales call for your company.

Publication date: 10/22/2018

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!