Monday, March 31, 2014

Staying Positive in a negative business environment.

Wow! Is this even possible? Yes I believe how we approach life everyday will determine our outcome. Stuff does not just overcome us. We have the opportunity to overtake and control our circumstances by approaching it with a can do attitude. Don't you just hate it when you call some type of service oriented company and the person they send is a can't do person? It seems to defeat the whole reason for calling in the first place. When I approach a job, it is always with a can do attitude. Unless you tell me that it is not worth fixing or we determine that to be the case we can fix it. Staying positive has other very fun consequences like being pleasant to deal with. Life is too short to walk around with negative bias all over us. We have the choice to make things better around us and that is what being in the service business is all about. We fix broken things so they work again. What a great job we have. There are plenty of ways to stay positive when you see how much we have all been given. We have so much more than many other people around the world. Rejoicing in the small things like running water and "flowing away from the house" sewage are a couple of really good things to rejoice about. I approach life with the premise that people are basically good and they want to have positive experiences and they want to give positive experiences. Therefore I am not looking for the other person to screw me over. I believe in the goodness that is inside of people wanting to get out. I love what I do.
   I would like to suggest that a negative business environment comes from a selfish perspective and flows down hill from there. If you have an idea that everything is always about you and the way that you feel, that is felt all around you. It tends to rub off too. This is the last thing that will help us as a community and a nation. We are all in this together and being in the service business is about community. This is why we like to say give us a chance to prove to you our excellent service. I am sorry that I got a little off track here. If you came here looking for mechanical solutions. This is not an article about that at all. This is just one of my random thoughts and you don't have to read it. I will try to keep writing on subject for those of you who get irritated by people getting off subject.I do, however, try to keep with the title of the article so you can weed out something that you are not interested in.

thanks for reading.   

Why Spend Big Money on Name Brand Equipment. Isn't all equipment basically the same?

    This is a question that deserves to be answered and that is the subject of this blog today. I have been an American Standard Dealer for many years but I have worked on so many other types of equipment. The major contenders ie, Lennox, Carrier, Bryant, York are very similar in quality provided you match the efficiencies and other features. But when it comes to some of the other brands such as Goodman, Armstrong, Ducane, and many other knock off brands. These prove to be much lower quality and will provide you with a product of much lower life expectancy. Often these products will be sold under the allure of a very enticing warranty, but as I tell many of my customers, you are going to need that warranty. While American Standard (Trane) does have a very good warranty with their product, I have found that I rarely need to use it.  The equipment has a very high quality in the way it is manufactured and I tell my customers that even if they did not know anything about what they are looking at, they would still pick out the American Standard product if it was setting side by side with some of these other manufacturers products. It is that obvious.Often the thickness of the metal makes it obvious. 
     Having to fix equipment everyday I see what works and what doesn't. That is why I continue to sell and service American Standard equipment. I believe that it is worth the extra money spent to get their quality equipment. Another very good example of how reliable American Standard equipment is, is by looking at the extended warranty costs. This is basically an insurance policy. With insurance everything is about statistical data. If the track record is that the equipment has lots of repairs that cost a lot to fix, the insurance policy will be much higher. With American Standard's extended warranties, you can purchase a 10 year parts and labor warranty for a very cheap price. This means that they have statistical data that says their equipment is very reliable therefore they don't have to charge very much for an extended parts and labor warranty. This is why I continue to only sell their product year after year. This is a tough decision since there have been many times when I have lost sales to people with the lower quality equipment but I know that in the long run, I am happier to be providing quality that lasts. So in the end, all equipment is not basically the same. There are very important differences. And as we have heard so many times before, you get what you pay for. This seems to be very true in this instance. 

If you have other questions or comments feel free to contact me at and click on the contact page. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Are Home Warranties Really Worth Buying?

This is my objective opinion as a contractor. I have no experience from the contractee side. I have dealt with many different home warranty companies, and one seems to stand above the rest for me.  First American Home Buyers Protection is my favorite because they seem to be the most fair for both the customer and the contractor.  I have been doing more service calls for them than all of the others combined.  You may ask why I can have an objective opinion since I work for them.  Fair enough question and I am prepared to answer that. I have consistently tried to put myself in peoples positions when it comes to service companies.
This is, of course, because I am one but I want to always evaluate the value to the customer and not just to the contractor.  I have been on many calls that only took two different sevice calls in one year and the whole year's premium would be used up.  A home warranty generally protects your cost by the fact that you only have to pay a small service fee per call and the home warranty covers the rest.  Often, the service fee is only about half of the smallest service call. 
When choosing a home warranty, always consider their claim coverages by checking with someone who has the same company and call them and ask them their experience with the company and how well do they pay claims. From my side of things, as the contractor, "First American" pays in a very timely fashion. They also rarely turn down paying for repairs.  I worked for the some of the other home warranty companies, and they seem to have tried everything to deny a claim.  The fact is sometimes with certain home warranty companies, I wonder what they will cover. Home warranty companies are essentionally insurance companies and the same thing applies.  It's not just how cheap is the premium, but also how well do they pay their claims.  This is why I say that First American is one of the best home warranty companies and my favorite one to work with. The only thing that really bites about home warranty companies is:  They are the ones to make the decision as to whether to repair or replace. Most often it is always to repair and repair and repair.  Also though, when it comes to replace, you are at their mercy as to what type of component they will replace with.  Most often they use the least expensive item they can buy. There is usually one option given you if you do not want to have the replacement item be chosen for you. Most companies offer what is called a buy out. This is the cost of the replacement item including the labor will be paid to you in a check and you can contract anyone you would like to put in whatever component you would like. Of course, you will likely be adding more than twice the buyout amount to put in a quality item including the labor.  But one must remember, any amount that you get is more than what you would have to take off of the bill had you had no home warranty company. Often, I find that it is a very good deal to have a home warranty especially if it is a good company.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Heat Pumps 101. A homeowner's guide.

First let me say that homeownership brings enough with it without having to worry about the mechanical parts. Unfortunately, no one in the buying process sits you down for an education on the workings of the heating system.  Most of the time they are quite simple, however in the case of a heat pump, (air source which is most common) there are things that you need to know.  In fact on my first call to a heat pump owner, I generally give them this short little infomercial about how they operate. Most of them are appreciative to know how they work so... here is that class. The first thing you need to know is that a heat pump system is like two integrated heating systems in one.  For us in the north at least.  The first thing that happens is a call from the thermostat for first stage heat which is the heat pump. Now depending on the temperature, this will try to satisfy that call for heat.  If it cannot because of the outside temperature or the heat loss being too great it will, after a one degree drop in temperature, call for second stage heat which is in most cases an electric strip heater. Similar to a toaster oven element. This is usually when it starts to blow much warmer air and this then satisfies the thermostat until the next call for heat.  That is when the whole process starts over.  One of the big myths that homeowners go for is the setback thermostats will save you money.  This is true if you have a system that is not an air source heat pump. A heat pump has to run for a long time to add enough heat for the house and as the temperature drops outside, the heat pump produces less heat. This is why it needs a backup system.  The electric strip heaters are that back up system.  A setback thermostat attempts to drop the temperature for a specified amount of time and then suddenly brings the temperature up at a specific time. When the thermostat jumps up two degrees or more it skips right to the electric strip heaters bypassing the efficient heat that comes from the heat pump.  One other part about heat pumps is that the thermostat often has both auxillary heat and emergency heat which are both confusing to homeowners and often give the wrong impression.  Auxillary heat is simply the same strip heaters working as a backup after the heat pump could not get the job done.  However, when you set the thermostat to emergency heat, it bypasses the running of the heat pump altogether and goes straight to the electric backup.  Note: When the outdoor temperature is below 20 degrees you may as well set the thermostat to emergency if it is not setup to automatically do that, because at the temperature you are using more energy between the defrost cycles and running the heat pump than you would to just skip it and turn on the electric back up. But you will want to remember to turn the thermostat back to normal heat after it gets above 20 degrees again.  The most common complaint with a heat pump is that they blow cold air for a long time.  This is not technically true, but practically true, meaning the air temperature feels cold because it could be as cool as 75 to 80 degrees which certainly feels cold but technically is warm.  Since you are only adding a small amount of heat to the house at a time at the lower temperatures a heat pump will run a very long time.
That is another complaint I get often especially when homeowners have grown up in a gas furnace heated home. It seems to run all the time. While this is not technically true again, it seems to them to be the case.  The fact is that in order for heat pumps to do their job, they must run a long time. This does not mean that they are using more energy.  Actually what uses more energy is to skip the heat pump running and turn on the strip heaters. Those will make your electric meter spin really fast. The heat pump is basically an air conditioner in reverse. Taking the heat from outside and bringing it inside. Even though there is not as much heat outside in the winter, a heat pump can use what is there down to a specific point. One more thing to keep in mind, keeping the thermostat at a constant level is the most effective way to use a heat pump.  If you are constantly turning it up and down, you will be going in and out of auxillary heat instead of just using the heat pump. 
    As a side note: I personally like installing what I call a hybrid sytem. What that is- is a heat pump with a gas furnace as a back up. That way you get the efficiency with a less expensive backup. Of course everyone doesn't have that as an option if you do not have natural gas.

These are my thoughts and small educational quips. If you live in the North Indy area or anywhere in the Anderson area, I am a professional heating and air conditioning contractor that can service your system. My company is McConnell Plumbing, Heating, & Air Conditioning.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A positive perspective on small business.

One of the most positive things about owning a small business is the freedom to make decisions about how to accomplish whatever it is that you do and how you would like to structure payment and possibly give someone a special deal.  With that said, I have considered all of the corporate structures taking over so many of the small businesses these days and the freedom to make those decisions goes out the window.  The bottom line is the bottom line with a corporate structure.  Now I do understand that this is how they keep the upper management happy but, this is not my biggest concern.  I have my name on every invoice and truck and building and with that comes my reputation.  I consider having a good name of more importance than the bottom line of my balance sheet.  Don't get me wrong, I am not in this to loose money. You don't stay in business for 19 years without turning a profit.  I love small businesses and love to take part in supporting them.  Since both my wife and I run small businesses, it is very gratifying to see small business grow and be supported and not just for our sakes. This is the great thing about living in this country. We have the freedom to do whatever we want to support ourselves. I am very thankful to be in this country and hope that you too will consider supporting small businesses whenever and wherever you can.  Thanks for reading.

Chuck McConnell 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Now is the time to start thinking of getting your furnace cleaned and serviced for winter.

Yes I know we hate to admit that winter is coming and we just are not quite ready.  However, this is the time to have your furnace serviced and tuned up for the winter. You can save yourself the headache of having a nuasance service call in the middle of a cold night by having a service pro look at and check over your furnace.  Although we don't often think it makes a difference, cleaning and servicing a furnace does allow a trained tech to detect a potential problem before it becomes a breakdown.  You always benefit from having a cleaner furnace because it can cause reduced burning efficiency when it is really dirty.  I love my service agreement customers because they always have cleaner and easier to maintain furnaces because they are cleaned once a year. Your furnace will last longer when it is cleaned regularly.  There is only one down side to cleaning a furnace- it costs money.  but right now I am going to offer a half price service agreement to anyone who mentions this blog post to my office.  Just our way of saying thanks for following us on our blog site.

Chuck Mcconnel

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tax Credit facts for 2011. Not so grand!

Well here we are in 2011. I can't believe that it's already February.  The Federal tax credits for this year consist of 30% of the parts cost only and not the labor with a cap of $500.00.  Last year the cap was $1500.00.  Now let me qualify that if you have already claimed a tax credit in previous years this $500.00 dollars only applies to the amount left from previous years. So if you have taken $1200.00 of the tax credit you would only be eligible for $300.00 in this year. If you have taken $1500.00 in previous years you have $0.00 eligible for the tax credit this year.  It, as you can see, is a very poor incentive program.  These kinds of programs work to stimulate purchases and that is the type of stimulation this economy needs.  On the other hand I don't think that people that owe $0.00 in tax and pay nothing should be allowed to be paid from our Federal treasury to buy something.  This is where I find fault.  As long as people are being allowed to lessen their tax burden, I think that is always a good plan since I think we all pay way too much in taxes anyway.  I got just a little off track there with the opinions but I hope these things clerify the Federal tax credit guidlines for this year.