What things bother today’s homeowner? Is it shrinking lawn size or the closeness of the neighbor’s house? Perhaps the lack of a two-car garage?

It is none of these things. The “Your Home Survey” conducted on behalf of Honeywell asked homeowners to list their top-10 “pet peeves.”

More than half of the 1,000 homeowners surveyed ranked inconsistent temperature between rooms, levels, or at different times of day, as their top complaint. That should get your attention. If it doesn’t, perhaps you are in the wrong business.

This means that there is a possibility that more than half of your hvac customers are still unhappy after you complete work for them.

Most likely, many of them are unaware that you can do anything to take care of these temperature inconsistencies — they are conditioned to accept and/or ignore them until the topic comes up in conversation (or on a survey).

Coming in at a close second was dust, pet hair and allergens. This seems to indicate a need to consider indoor air quality when designing a system for your customers. Make your customer aware of options in this area.

Address all problems

We realize that surveys of this nature can guide results, to some degree. However, most of these pet peeves can be addressed and corrected by hvac contractors.

Contractors, please note that utility bills, humidity control, and odors beat out kitchen remodeling. It is significant.

What this all means, is that you have a great opportunity to educate your customers, discussing options and solutions with them and helping them make choices that will make their home environments comfortable and make them happier.

It is also a great opportunity to increase your profits.

A case in point

When I was growing up, my parents bought a new furnace. Over the first winter — in Northern Wisconsin — it malfunctioned five times and left us with no heat.

This wasn’t a low-end, outdated model. Without naming names, I’ll just say that it was from one of the larger manufacturers in the industry today, and was one of its newest, most-efficient furnaces.

After the third time with no heat, facing sub-zero temperatures, the service technician who had installed the furnace came to our house and pinned the blame on the manufacturer. Of course, the manufacturer directed the blame right back to the installer.

Neither wanted to work with the other to resolve the situation.

The fourth service call came with unsatisfactory results. At one point in this visit, the technician said that my family was using the furnace wrong — an amazing feat I guess, as he had never had such troubles with this model of furnace.

My parents contacted a different hvac contractor, looking for someone who would solve the problem instead of placing blame. He came over immediately to inspect the furnace, saw something that looked suspicious, and called the manufacturer to see if there was a similar problem being reported by others.

After the furnace had malfunctioned for the fifth time and he finally got through to the right person at headquarters, he found out that there was a faulty part in that model. He replaced the part and the furnace stopped malfunctioning.

Now, the really important part — and the point to this whole story — is that during his visits to the house, he noticed condensation on the windows.

After he had addressed the problem with the furnace, he took the time to look at the rest of the system in the house and ask my parents a couple of questions.

It turned out that the air-to-air exchanger that was installed was not properly hooked up — something we had the first contractor to thank for — and therefore, was not stopping the condensation build-up on the windows.

The second contractor made the necessary repairs and my parents happily wrote out the check, even including a tip as a thank you for his extra efforts.

Not only did they have heat they could count on, the air-to-air exchanger was keeping the windows clear.

Twelve years later, they still have all of their hvac service work and installations done by that second contractor.

His honesty, his efforts to get answers from the manufacturer, and his concern for the other systems in the house are just a few of the reasons.

I urge all of you to take every opportunity to make sure you are addressing all of your customers’ concerns. The few minutes it will take to ask them some questions about their home and comfort will be worth it in the end.

Showing interest and concern to your customers will gain their trust, their additional service calls, and most importantly, their loyalty — three things every contractor should strive for on every call.