Not too long ago a morning television show did a “sting” type of operation on several HVACR contractors that were called out to service a system that had one simple problem. The good news is that all the technicians found the problem quickly. The bad news is that all the technicians then tried to pad the bill by replacing unnecessary parts. You don’t need to cheat people to make money. In fact, I think that cheating people ultimately ends in losing customers. Most satisfied customers will refer you to friends and family. The HVACR business works best with long term repeat customers, not a long string of patsies.There was once a contractor in Athens who specialized in getting their foot in the door and then condemning equipment. They are no longer in business. They literally ran out of people who would do business with them. When you cheat your customers, you are slitting your own throat. It does not take a high profile television program sting for folks to figure out something is wrong. Eventually, your customers will catch up to you. When they do, everyone they know will know about it.
There is nothing wrong with making a profit, and there is nothing wrong with being paid well for your time, expertise, and investment. So be up front and charge people for your time, expertise and investment, not parts they don’t need. There is also nothing wrong with offering premium services. If you want to sell setback thermostats or other system improvements, you should make your argument based on the increased comfort, energy efficiency, or convenience that the customer will enjoy. We make money by solving problems for people, not creating them.