Simple Payback: Communicating the Value of HVAC to Homeowners

Helping homeowners understand simple payback for HVAC services isn’t just good customer service. It can help improve your sales. 

How many times have shared an estimate with a homeowner, only for them to ask, “Is that the best you can do?”  

Most of us get this question every single day. 

When it comes to HVAC repairs, there is often the quick fix and the repair that the unit needs. Time and time again, I see contractors struggle to sell the value of the repair. 

From the customer’s point of view, the general feeling about their HVAC is to pursue the cheapest solution to “make it work.” Homeowners have multiple maintenance and upkeep expenses, and the heating and cooling system isn’t typically the priority. It’s not something they want to spend fun money on, like a kitchen renovation or new bathroom fixtures.  

As HVAC professionals, we know that a quick fix will likely result in a return visit. That’s why it’s essential to communicate simple payback for HVAC services. 

What is Simple Payback?

Simple payback refers to how long it will take for an investment to make sense. 

Here’s an example: let’s say you need a leaf blower for some lawn work. The local home improvement store rents one for $20 a day. Alternatively, you could purchase the leaf blower for $240. The simple payback is $240 / $20 = 12 uses. By the 13th rental, it would have made more financial sense to have purchased the leaf blower. So while the $20 rental seems like the better short-term choice (particularly on a tight budget), there is a logical argument for purchasing the $240 leaf blower.

Simple Payback for HVAC 

When it comes to air conditioning and heating systems, we should communicate the estimated future repairs if the homeowner decides to go with the cheaper option. 

For example, if there is a leak in a homeowner's air conditioning system, most contractors would offer to top off the refrigerant or do leak detection and repair.  Let’s say the top off service is $200 and the repair service is $500. From the homeowner’s perspective, both services have the same result: an air conditioner that works. So why should they go with a repair that’s more than double the price? 

It can be useful to add the anticipated 5-year cost to the estimate. For example, if you’ll have to top off three times in the course of 5 years, that’s $600 spent in 5 years. Not to mention, you could add, that the homeowner will have to deal with a broken A/C two more times after today, and take time away from work or family to schedule an appointment. 

I Can See Your Future

Sometimes homeowners need a little help seeing the future. Taking a few extra minutes to communicate the simple payback of any HVAC service can help nudge customers in the right direction. The goal should always be to inform the customer and help them make the best decision for their home. For more tips on HVAC business, check out the other posts on our blog. 

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