Have you looked at your competition lately?  No, forget about Jeb workin’ out of his mother’s ’73 Chevy pick-up.  (Holy cow, you really need to get out a little more.)  I mean your real competition, the companies that have the trucks with the name painted on the side and whose technicians wear those fancy uniforms.  Yeah, that’s right, like the ones at the Post Office.  Look quick, because they’re about to run you over.

It’s time to make a decision: Are you in this business for real, or are you just playing? Look in your tool box.  Is it filled with different sized hammers, or are there various electrical testy things?  For most of the techs reading this, the answer should be the latter.  Technology is moving awfully quick these days, and hammer science has likely peaked.  The electrical testy things are winning, and you need to get up to speed.

You may also have noticed that the Yellow Pages aren’t quite doing the job they did twenty years ago, thanks to the Internet. That being said, customers are way more informed now than when you were a kid, so it’ll take a lot more to convince them that you’re a professional and worth the money you charge.   Even if the job you’re doing at Mrs. Schmoldendorf’s house doesn’t require much more than a screwdriver and some wire strippers, don’t stop there.  A little added value such as checking the gas pressure, or the temperature rise across the coil to check for maximum efficiency goes a long way to separate you from the handyman next door who, undoubtedly, will make it known that he “would have done it for half that.”

You can’t be half in and half out, though.  You have to either drag your selection of sledge hammers into that basement with pride and beat the crap out of that old furnace like you mean it, or use a carefully selected bastion of instruments like a brain surgeon, and (yes, there is a catch) be able to explain what you are doing.  If you set up the Univac (look it up) in the basement, with all of the associated flashing lights and dials, and your inquisitive customer says, “Hey, what does that mean?” you better not say something like, “Ahhh, errr, pineapple.  Ahhh, I mean, you need more cowbell.”

Like it or not, perception is reality, and some of your competition knows it.  Which reality are you?

ABOUT Richard J. Schuster

Rich Schuster has worked in many phases of the HVAC and plumbing industries since 1991, from apprentice to general manager in the contractor segment, and later as a rep for a large HVAC wholesaler. He has written two books with a focus on installation training basics. His latest book, "101 Ways to Suck as an HVAC Tech," is available on Amazon. Rich can be reached at .