Online the part costs $300, but you are charging me $1,400 to install it!

Customers who wanted to get a parts and labor breakdown.

This blog was created to address a recent negative review from a service customer who did some online research and did not like our quoted price.  This customer wanted to get a parts and labor breakdown, which we stated we would not do (for reasons discussed later).

We will discuss our cost structure for service first, and then address why we did not breakdown our flat rate price into parts and labor for our customer.

Our Direct Costs:

  • Direct Parts Costs

    The part researched likely was a generic part from a website like Many times, we will choose a better Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) part more suitable we buy from Trane or Mitsubishi that is not available to the public and is always higher quality & more expensive.  Plus, many times there are other, ancillary components needed to properly install the part.  Finally, when you get the part from Grainger, it is caveat emptor (buyer beware) with no warranty.  If it breaks or you install it improperly, you ‘own’ the result.  And know that we will not install your provided part for you, that is a recipe for disaster and company liability.

  • Direct Labor Costs

    First, our technicians are ‘on the clock’ the moment they leave the shop or previous customer, many customers do not take this into consideration; and as such they are on payroll where we must bill for. Second, our top technicians have wages and benefits that exceed $100/hour.  People do not realize this, but the supply and demand for these highly skilled workers justifies that pay.  What customers quickly find out is the ‘most expensive’ tech is the cheap and unskilled one; no one who works for Evergreen State falls into this category.

Our Indirect Costs:

  • Overall Costs to Run a Contracting Company

    Evergreen State has between 15 and 20 HVAC installers, technicians, and electricians at any point in time. The overhead to keep these people working in the field is over $2 million per year, as described below.

  • Costs to Answer your Phone Call

    Small companies with low rates have low overhead. They also have a hard time responding and rely on voicemail and having customers wait in the cold or heat.  We have dispatchers who answer the phone, administrative people to organize and other office and field support personnel.

  • Costs to Dispatch the Technician

    Our technicians come out to your home in trucks valued at over $50,000 each with another $15,000 in shelving and tooling to meet your needs. We also pay rent to have an office, shop, and yard to help inventory, and dispatch our fleet.

Why We Don’t Breakdown Flat-Rate Costs into Parts & Labor:

  • The Actual Cost Breakdown is Muddy

    When you factor in the above, how do you allocate these overhead costs to parts and labor? These parts do need to be ordered by office personnel, which adds costs.  Labor is obviously the most expensive part of service when everything is factored in.

  • Giving an Answer Always Leads to More Questions

    In the past we have ‘knuckled under’ and sometimes made a best attempt to split these costs down. Invariably this has led to more questions about how we actually get to the numbers we quote.  This becomes a challenge to the office.  We keep internal formulas that allow us to recoup our overhead costs and give us a modest 10% net profit; just as many companies do.  Service work is inherently warranty prone with fixing older equipment, so even hitting our target profit goals is difficult.

We know that there will always be customers who feel they are getting ‘ripped off’ and there is really nothing we can do about it.  We make the attempt to be as transparent as possible while trying to run a business as smoothly as possible, and helping as many customers as we can as quickly as we can.

Ultimately when we give you a flat rate for service, we honor it and warrant it.  Essentially what you are doing is paying a bit extra for ‘peace of mind’ and a guaranteed solution to your problem.  Evergreen State will never promise to be the cheapest.  Our honor-bound promise is to do the job right.