The internet can inform you of almost any company’s online reputation in moments. It does not mean a company without a website or online presence is bad but all you have to work with is word of mouth. That is not enough in most instances. I think it is important for a contractor to have a website and be concerned about their online reputation. A few bad reviews mixed in with many good reviews should not be looked at as a problem. What is important is that the company or owner responded to the bad reviews and made an attempt to correct the issue. A large and established company has more than likely worked in thousands’ of homes. If that is the case and they only have a couple of bad reviews and there is a clear effort to handle the problem in a professional manner then they obviously care about what customers think. If they have more bad then good reviews and little to no effort to satisfy the customer then I take that as a warning sign. There are too many other heating and air conditioning contractors to choose from to take that risk.
It is important that who you choose be licensed and insured. Most should have their license number somewhere on their website or willing to give it to you if you ask. I am fairly certain that every state has a method for checking contractors license status to verify they are legal. Obviously, the company that is coming to your home to work on a major system needs to be insured. Common sense dictates confirming the business is insured.
Not everyone will agree but, in my opinion, it is critical that the outfit have a commercial office. A physical location that you can visit if needed. A physical location shows that there is at least an expectation of longevity. A place to call or go to if you have any questions or problems in the future. There is going to be someone that answers the phone. I want that peace of mind that if the expensive piece of equipment that was installed in my home has a problem that there is going to be someone there to give me the support I need to find a solution.
Beware of anyone that gives you an estimate without inspecting your property. A real professional will want to schedule an appointment to assess the situation and answer your questions. The lowest bidder is rarely the best option. That is the one who is running on a shoestring budget and will not do the job right the first time. How many corners is acceptable to be cut? If you can not afford to fix it right the first time how will you be able to afford to fix it the right way the second time?
There could be some other factors to take into consideration but taking the above into account should go a long way to helping you make the right decision. Acquire multiple estimates and then go with your gut. It is always cheaper in the long run to go with the reputable contractor. A real HVAC professional is an asset to any homeowner so choose wisely my friend.