How Does Your Heating and Air Service Technician Get Paid?

How does your tech get paid.

It may surprise you to know that many technicians are paid a commission as all or part of their pay for repairing your furnace or air conditioner. In and of itself, paying a commission to repair technicians is neither good nor bad. As long as you are aware of it before you make a buying decision.

When a salesperson calls on you to replace your equipment you know that he is there to sell you something, in fact you invited him into your home to sell you something. And you have an expectation that he will be rewarded for the sale.

But when a service technician comes to fix your furnace you expect a qualified technical expert who has the skills to diagnose the problem and repair your equipment. The fact that their compensation is tied to the cost of your repair doesn’t cross your mind. And as such you may be vulnerable to suggested repairs that you may not necessarily need.

There are three basic compensation models for service technicians in the HVAC industry:

  1. Wage plus bonuses for selling accessories after the repair is completed.
  2. Base pay plus commission on the total invoice.
  3. Straight commission on the invoice amount.

In the first business model, the technician will diagnose your problem and quote you a price for the repair. He may also offer you a humidifier, or high-efficiency air filter, carbon monoxide detector, etc. But it will be clear that those are items that are offered separate from the cost of fixing your system. In this business model, the technician is paid a fair wage for repairing your system, but he can make a little bit more by offering you items that will make you more comfortable or safer. If you decline the additional items, you have still paid a fair price for the repair.

In the other two business models the technician’s ability to make a good living is tied directly to his ability to upsell you and increase the cost of the repair. This business model doesn’t have to increase the risk of fraud (selling you repairs that you don’t need), but it does present that risk.

At the very least you should know how the service technician is paid. So, when calling a service company, be sure to ask how their technicians are compensated.

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