Friday, March 5th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


Bringing a smile to customers throughout Hampton Roads

by Rick Spencer

Larry Smiley and Taylor Smiley  <BR>Photo by Michele Thompson

Larry Smiley and Taylor Smiley
Photo by Michele Thompson

A business's name can make a big first impression on potential customers. As a case in point, consider Smiley's Heating & Cooling. Many would assume that the company's name and smiley-face logo have something to do with the way customers feel about the service it provides. While employees insist that this impression is 100 percent accurate, this company is actually named after its owner.

Larry Smiley started his company 33 years ago in Portsmouth. In February, he opened a second location in Virginia Beach. The new location in the Lynnhaven area will have six HVAC specialist technicians to compliment the 14 already at the Portsmouth location. When thinking about the company's growth, Larry and his dedicated staff can't help

"Our business philosophy is based on a strong belief in being fair, providing quality work, making our customers happy and putting smiles on their faces," Larry insists. "We accomplish these goals by hiring quality people who do quality work."

"One of the ways that we access our performance is to take multiple photographs of projects before the work begins and after it ends," Larry continues "These pictures are sent to the office and reviewed by the entire team at our morning staff meetings. The team knows what management expects and they deliver!"

The company's commitment to excellence is evident in the feedback that it receive from customers.

"We are proud of our high customer service ratings," Larry declares. "Smiley's received a 4.9 score from Google, a 4.8 rating from Facebook, an A+ grade from the Better Business Bureau, and a five-star ranking from Trane Comfort Specialist. In 2016, Smiley's Heating & Cooling was the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year. According to Consumer Reports, Trade is consistently the industry leader in manufacturing HVAC units. In the very rare instance that we receive a low score from a customer, we make every effort to find out why we didn't meet their expectations. Our commitment to customer satisfaction is underscored by offering a money-back guarantee."

"Our customers are happy because our employees are happy," Larry believes. "We have a great group of experienced technicians and other staff members who enjoy what they do. Having a positive work environment is essential to the success of this company. Our newly constructed Portsmouth headquarters has a well-appointed, professionally designed kitchen, which is where we frequently have our staff meetings and relax during our downtimes. The upstairs recreation room has comfortable furniture facing a 72-inch flat-screen TV (a great venue for the team to watch sporting events such as the Super Bowl), a ping-pong table, two stepper machines and space for weightlifting."

"We have a great group
of experienced technicians
and other staff members
who enjoy what they do.
 Having a positive work environment
is essential to the success of this company."

- Larry Smiley

Smiley's team is committed to helping their clients save money through routine maintenance checks on HVAC units.

"Homeowners should get their furnaces checked at the beginning of each heating and cooling season," Larry points out.

"New heating and cooling systems are much more energy efficient than they used to be. Newer units provide energy efficiency that exceeds 96 percent. In other words, less than four percent of the energy generated goes unused. HVAC units 10 years or older could be candidates for replacement. Gas furnaces, particularly the heat exchangers, are more susceptible to the effects of wear and tear. Depending on their age, the efficiency of older units is 80 percent or less. Homeowners should not be paying for energy they don't use. With a new energy-efficient unit, average monthly savings could be in the $100 to $200 range. If a customer is financing a more modern system, those monthly savings could be used to pay off the loan. Fewer carbon-dioxide emissions is another advantage found in newer HVAC units."

Larry Smiley founded Smiley’s Heating & Cooling 33 years ago. <BR>Photo by Michele Thompson

Larry Smiley founded Smiley’s Heating & Cooling 33 years ago.
Photo by Michele Thompson

"Replacing your ductwork is another way to reduce energy costs," Guy adds. "Ductwork components expand and contract as they transport hot and cold air. Eventually, these movements cause the seams in the ductwork to leak air."

Taylor Smiley, Larry's daughter and Vice President of Operations, dispels one myth that is commonly accepted by many homeowners.

"A lot of people believe that they save energy by drastically adjusting the thermostat when they leave the house to go to work and then switching it back again when they return home. Actually, this practice increases energy bills, as the HVAC system works harder to achieve the desired temperature. It's more cost-effective to leave the thermostat alone when leaving the house."

"Smiley Heating & Cooling is passionate about providing great customer service experiences," Larry insists. "In a way, we're arrogant and humble at the same time. Our team is very proud of the high-quality service we provide our customers. On the other hand, our customer satisfaction guarantee keep us humble. When it comes to serving our clients, we know who's the boss. We offer flexible hours and recognize that our clients may not be available to come home during a regular workday. Therefore, we plan service calls around their busy schedules."

Larry recalls a bittersweet moment when someone called late on a sweltering, summer evening: "The husband said that their household air-conditioner stopped working and his wife was extremely ill. He contacted several other heating and air conditioning repair businesses, but no one had the time or technicians available to respond."

As Larry continues, his eyes glisten and his voice quivers with emotion: "The next day, this loving husband called to inform the Smiley's team that his wife died that night. He wanted to thank them for coming over when no one else would. He was grateful that Smiley's made the waning moments of his spouse's life cool and comfortable."

"Customers come first at Smiley's Heating & Cooling," Larry concludes, "and we look forward to bringing this strong spirit of customer satisfaction to Virginia Beach area residents."