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My Gripe of the Day (maybe the week): GoingDuctless.com won't help you find a contractor

Created 6/3/2013 by Eric Miller
Updated 7/5/2013 by Justin Holzgrove
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So I am an average guy (Joe ShoeMo) and after browsing GoingDuctless for a while, I decide to see who does installations in my area - Central Washington. So I put my zip code in (98953) and it shows only one installer within a 100 miles of me (because it shows only Master Installers). So then I mosey over to the right hand side of the page and select the link for "Washington Installer" - that takes me to the featured "Installer Spotlight" (who is about 180 miles from me). If you read the text on that page, there is an inconspuous link for those who don't live near the featured installer company and that link takes you...   BACK where you STARTED.
After a certain amount of experimentation, you decide that what you need to do is select "Download List" which opens a spreadsheet of 1030 installers. Then if you want a list in your area, you need to go into the zip code column and unselect all the zip numbers that don't apply or (more logically) sort the 1030 companies by zip code which at least gives a logical list that can be manipulated. After messing around with it for 15 minutes or so, I came up with a list of 20 compainies located within about 40 miles. A user friendly experience - Not. How about something similar to the technician search on the PTCS site: you put in a zip code and limit the selections to those within 5, 10, 25, or whatever miles and the search gives all technicians within that peremiter - such a deal.
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Comments (11)
NW Ductless Heat Pump Project Team on 06/03/13 on 05:15 PM (Pacific Time)
The Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Project made a decision last year, after the installer finder grew to more than 1000 installers, to modify the installer finder (http://goingductless.com/consumer/how-to-go-ductless/find-an-installer) to feature Master Installers exclusively.  The Project continues to provide a link to a sortable “qualified installers” list on the installer finder main page that provides additional options for homeowners who might be located in areas where there are few Master Installers.  While this might create an extra step for some folks, we are building functionality and usability into the finder in a way that serves as many homeowners as possible across the region.  

It would be great to increase the number of Master Installers in Central WA and the Tri-Cities. We encourage utilities in the area, as well as manufacturers, distributors, and of course, installers to promote the Master Installer program.  

We recently conducted a usability analysis on the installer finder and received some great recommendations that we hope to implement in the near term.  In the meantime, if you have any specific challenges with the installer finder or would like to talk through solutions, please send a note to info@goinductless.com and the Project will follow up with you directly.
Marty Robinson on 06/11/13 on 11:43 AM (Pacific Time)
I agree with Eric Miller. The current situation is not good for my electricity customers OR for my local installers. I spend extra time when I talk to the customers to make sure they know there is more than one competent, qualified, local company.  Some one- and two-person installers don't get the number of jobs to be a Master Installer.  Multiple bids for the customer is a way to hold down costs.
Thomas Elzinga on 06/13/13 on 08:37 AM (Pacific Time)
I agree with both Marty and Eric.  My only question to the NWDHP Project Team is how are the non-Master Installers supposed to get the required amount of installations when our members don't even know that they exist on the qualified list?
NW Ductless Heat Pump Project Team on 06/14/13 on 05:02 PM (Pacific Time)
Thank you Marty and Thomas for the additional feedback.  

We understand your concerns. As mentioned in an earlier post, the Project is working on some updates to the website. We are exploring Installer Finder usability improvements that could include more prominent access to the list of all qualified installers.   

The intent of the Master Installer program is to distinguish installers who are experienced at selling and installing ductless heating and cooling systems. The Master Installer Program is an important part of our market transformation effort, as it ensures sustained commitment to quality equipment, installations and customer service. The NW Ductless Heat Pump Project (Project) recognizes that not all markets are created equal, which is why Project set the Master Installer requirements at 25 installations (15 must be Project-qualified) over a three-year period to be sensitive to installers working in small shops in small markets. Installers have indicated that this is a reasonable requirement; and installers, both large and small, who are serious about integrating ductless systems into their business model have been able to meet this requirement. While the Master Installer Finder provides leads to installers, installers have many interactions with customers through their day-to-day business activities that provide opportunities to sell ductless systems. In addition, the Project offers training, marketing tools and templates, and cooperative marketing funds to all Oriented Installers. The most successful ductless installers leverage these resources.     

The Project is working to increase the number and quality of ductless system delivery channels for customers by providing training, market channel support, and regional marketing. These efforts are helping to build installer and market capacity as well as customer demand.  

We welcome your continued feedback on Conduit, or send us a note at Info@GoingDuctless.com, and we will follow up with you directly.
Eric Miller on 06/17/13 on 08:22 AM (Pacific Time)

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Ductless Team

This probably already occured to you, but it seems like you could maintane your objective by locatiing the Master Installers on the map with a larger colored dot and represent the other installer companies with a smaller black dot.
Justin Holzgrove on 06/20/13 on 02:22 PM (Pacific Time)
Great post, Eric.

Also, I like your map idea. We have similar issue here in Mason County. (reural, residential)

I look forward to seeing the installer locator improve.
Susan Gillin on 06/21/13 on 12:38 PM (Pacific Time)
I got around the installer problem by creating my own list of local installers and linking to it off our website. I realize that won't work for those of you in larger markets, but it's been a nice work-around for us.
Ty Stober on 06/27/13 on 05:58 PM (Pacific Time)
Hi, this is Ty Stober, Initiative Manager for the NW Ductless Heat Pump Project. I’m just now getting caught up on the latest comments on this thread -- thank you all for the feedback on the Dealer Finder functionality on goingductless.com. I am working with the NW Ductless Heat Pump Project team to evaluate the site's current functionality and how best to incorporate the suggestions. Eric, I will follow-up with you next week via phone to talk through this in more detail. We will circle back with the Conduit community with an update once we have established our course of action.

Justin Holzgrove on 06/27/13 on 09:29 PM (Pacific Time)
I wish I could edit my earlier post. Rural. No "e". #typo.

I, on behalf of Mason 3, agree with pretty much everything said here so far. I understand what you're aiming for with the "Master Installer" program, but unless you're in a very urban area, the strategy definitely fails. We have several excellent installers in our area that, for one reason or another, are not Master Installers, and therefore not easy to find.
Eric Miller on 07/05/13 on 09:17 AM (Pacific Time)

Ty Stober (see above) called me a couple of days ago and we had a nice conversation about these issues. He and other members of the staff have a meeting scheduled to address the problem. I was impressed with his earnest manner and his level of concern about finding the best possible solution to providing a quality contractor locator tool. In other words, they are workin' on it and I look forward to seein' the results.

Justin Holzgrove on 07/05/13 on 10:27 AM (Pacific Time)
Thanks Ty, and Eric!

This resource is Public

Sector: Residential
Function: Implementation, Marketing