John Tyreman

How Do Homeowners Decide Which Contractor to Hire?

July 08, 2021

After homeowners compare HVAC service providers and other alternatives, the next step is to decide on a solution. So how can contractors use knowledge of the customer journey to support marketing campaigns?

John Tyreman
John Tyreman

A recent survey conducted by Silverback Strategies looked at how homeowners approach finding a contractor. The study reveals some key marketing actions service professionals should take. This article is the fourth of a five-part series exploring each phase of the modern customer journey for buyers of plumbing/HVAC services.

An Overview of a Service Buyer’s Journey

 It’s helpful to understand the process a customer goes through before they contact you – and what they do after. We identified five phases to this journey:

  • Realization — when customers recognize they have a problem.
  • Education — when customers gather the information they need to make a decision.
  • Evaluation — when customers compare service providers.
  • Decision — when customers decide on a contractor.
  • Advocacy — when customers leave a rating or review online.

How do Consumers Decide on an HVAC Service Provider?

When my AC unit was on its last leg last summer, I called two separate HVAC specialists to provide estimates on replacing the entire system. After high electricity bills and poor performance during 2020, this past spring I decided it was time to pull the trigger. The two contractors carried different brand products. This had some impact on the decision, but what tipped the scale for me was how quickly one contractor could schedule us in. By a narrow margin, this contractor won my business.

Standing out is important. Slight differences like this can tip the scale in the minds of homeowners. The study showed more than 63% of Plumbing/HVAC buyers talked to two or more contractors in their recent purchase experience. Contractors must consider how to separate their value proposition from competitors when talking with prospective homeowners.

However, it should be noted that a full 36% of Plumbing/HVAC buyers only spoke to one service provider, who they ultimately hired. Outside of gas and electric providers, this was higher than all other home service industries. In other words, there’s a higher chance of conversations turning into business for Plumbing/HVAC companies than other home service industries. This means that HVAC and plumbing contractors should not forget about the importance of brand awareness campaigns to stay top-of-mind. If urgency is driving the demand, being among the top brands considered is a massive advantage.


Buyers behave differently and have different ways they evaluate contractors. Contractors have an opportunity to communicate value propositions and differentiators on digital channels as well as in-person when providing estimates to homeowners. Appealing to target consumers in this way will give contractors the best chance of winning new business.

John Tyreman is a seasoned marketer with experience conducting market research focused on buyer behavior. John has appeared on webinars, podcasts, and authored hundreds of blog articles. Connect with him on LinkedIn.