By Tonya West
For Hometown News
The recent dip in temperatures means two opposing things to Chris Butt: It's time to have your heater inspected and it's the best time to buy an air conditioner.
Mr. Butt, vice president of Servair Heating and Air Conditioning in Edgewater, has been helping folks prepare for the weather for more than 30 years at the business his father, Gary Butt, began in 1978 with his wife, Frieda.
How does a family business stay afloat so long?
"By making the customer happy," Mr. Butt said. "That's the best part about this business."
The company is proud of its referral rate -- almost 70 percent of its business is earned via word of mouth. The business has weathered competition and the economy, the transition from a ledger-based system to a computerized operating system, and has seen technology create greater efficiencies for homeowners.
"We've been with Lennox since day 1," Mr. Butt said. "They stand behind their product and have the most efficient air conditioner out there."
But, he cautioned, high efficiency pieces of equipment need to be installed correctly. "If it's not installed correctly, you're not going to get the benefit from the high efficiency," he said.
To make sure their customers' systems are operating efficiently, Servair technicians check on them twice within the first year of installation. Their technicians, all certified, range in experience from one and half years to seven years.
Servair provides a personalized sales experience by going to your home, including after hours sales calls as needed, to discuss the efficiencies you can anticipate. The older units, Mr. Butt explained, functioned with an "all or nothing" approach, but newer units can operate at specific percentages. "If you only need 40 percent to cool your home, the savings can be quite substantial."
Servair's systems have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of 13 to 25, with Florida Power and Light requiring a rating of 14 to qualify for an "A/C Buying Rebate."
The Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach requires a SEER of 16 or higher to qualify.
Operating primarily within Southeast Volusia County, Mr. Butt contends the "smaller area helps us take better care of our customers and our service is faster." The company has helped create some predictability for its customers as well. They have moved to flat fees, so, upon diagnosis of a problem, the customer will know exactly what to expect to pay for repairs.
Even though Lisa Miller, Servair's office manager, is predicting a cold winter, she agrees it's the best time to buy an air conditioner for a couple of reasons. "It's the best time because the prices are lowest, but it's also the best time because you'll get more attention." It's not the height of the summer season, so Servair is able to spend more time explaining options so you don't feel rushed into a decision.
"That's one of the advantages of being a small company," Mr. Butt said. "We can cater to our customers."
Also, Servair is offering a $1,000 rebate on select Ruud packages through Nov. 15.
He described how his customer base is ever changing, but some have done business with them since the company began. "Dad still has customers who only go to him," he said.
Servair at 1853 Guava Drive, Edgewater, is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. For information, call (386) 427-1531 or visit www.servairac.com.