our opinions: ABOUT SERVICE PROVIDERS In The Comfort Zone Why do I feel like they’re ripping me off? The real reason why a service call is so expensive. BY BRETT HOBSON CEO Comfort Experts AUGUST 2016 PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY E verything at your home consists of moving parts. And those moving parts sometimes break or they wear out. Your garage door, your pool, your air conditioner and heater, plumbing systems, electrical systems, you name it and it can need a service call. It sometimes seems like the cost of that service call is outrageous when the tech spends such a short time fixing whatever is wrong. Many people feel like they are being ripped off whenever somebody comes to their home or office to fix anything. The cost of service calls can be explained fairly simply. A great service tech makes about $50,000 a year. At a busy service company they would like him or her to make 1,000 service calls a year. So that should be about $50 per call per hour, right? According to an MIT study, employees cost a company 1.25 to 1.4 times their salary to employ. That covers things like insurance, employment taxes, time off and sick leave. The service 104 industries also have a higher incidence than most of injuries and disability cost because of the physical nature of the work. So now our service call is up to a minimum cost of $62.50 to $70 per hour. And since you want the service person to have what they need with them to fix whatever is wrong in one visit, they pull up in a truck or van costing at a minimum $30,000 with an additional $10 to $20,000 of parts and tools to do the job at hand. I mentioned earlier that a great service tech makes at least $50,000 a year, but I’d like to mention how hard it is to find that great tech. The average in the air-conditioning industry is only two to three years at each company. For some reason people tend to think that the grass is greener elsewhere. So we spend a lot of time recruiting and hiring people. And it’s not just our industry. According to Forbes magazine, the number one hardest job to fill in 2015 was that of skilled trade workers. Mike Rowe of the television program Dirty Jobs is my hero in furthering the discussion on the need for skilled trade workers. He appeared before a U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in 2011. At that time there were 450,000 job openings in trades, transportation and utilities. The gap has widened even more now. He espouses the view that I share, that skilled tradesmen and women are no less important to civilized life than people who attend college and beyond. So if your son, daughter, nephew, neighbor or young friend has an aptitude for working with their hands, encourage them to look into skilled trades. College is not the only route to success, especially for those that don’t enjoy the rigors of a classroom or the thought of four years or more of school. There is something to be said for fixing the things in our society that are broken, especially those things broken in our very own homes.