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7 Commercial HVAC Maintenance Tips for Multi-Location Businesses

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Does Your Commercial HVAC Maintenance Vendor Provide Value for Your Business?

Procuring commercial HVAC maintenance services for a multiple-location business is different than sourcing those same services for a single location. Especially when you’re managing upwards of 20 or 30 locations, your needs go above and beyond just a vendor who’s technically competent and shows up on time for appointments. To get the most value from your commercial HVAC maintenance vendor, you need a company that acts as your business partner: saving you time and money and helping you to make better decisions.

7 Tips for Getting Better Commercial HVAC Maintenance for Multiple Locations

Here are 7 things to look for from your commercial HVAC maintenance company that provide you with additional value for streamlining your operations and even pro-actively reducing maintenance costs.

1. A dedicated account manager
As a multiple location business, you are providing a significant volume of work for your commercial HVAC maintenance company, and your vendor needs to provide a dedicated manager assigned to your account. For you, it’s a single point of contact who knows your history as well as what’s going on with maintenance at all your locations. That manager can roll up information for regional management and communicate efficiently with your staff at all levels.

2. Electronic work orders
You don’t have time to wade through piles of work orders, or even remember to make a phone call to find out what happened at a service call for one of your locations. To save yourself time and paperwork, choose a commercial HVAC maintenance company that uses mobile technology to send electronic work orders upon completion of each job.

3. Quarterly status reporting
As a business manager, you rely on data to help you make decisions. So why, when it comes to commercial HVAC maintenance, should you be forced to guess when trying to budget for maintenance expenses and even the cost of replacing equipment?

A vendor servicing your multiple location business should meet with you quarterly and provide reports that show you how your locations are performing from a service standpoint, both individually and collectively as a region. Those reports should detail both the costs and the service hours for each location, and show trends over the quarter, year to date, and even over multiple years.

4. Alerting you about problems
Your commercial HVAC maintenance company should be your eyes and ears on the ground about what’s going on with maintenance issues at all of your locations. They should alert you if there’s a spike in service hours for one location, or one is consuming a disproportional number of contract hours. That allows you to look into the underlying cause of the problem.

For example, you might find out that a location that’s using 20 percent of your service hours has equipment that’s very old and outdated, and needs replacement. Having this information allows you to plan for capital improvement expenses (rather than having an emergency on your hands when that old equipment breaks down for good). Pro-actively replacing it also reduces both commercial HVAC maintenance expenses and your energy bills.

Related article: 5 Smart Strategies: Energy Saving Tips for Commercial Buildings

5. All-inclusive maintenance agreements
There are many reasons for managers of multiple-location businesses to consider all-inclusive contracts for commercial HVAC maintenance, even though they come with a higher price tag. These agreements take the guesswork out of budgeting for HVAC expenses: they cover all the labor, parts and materials for anything that could go wrong at all your locations. That eliminates your risk of facing a huge unexpected expense when equipment fails.

These contracts also cut down on paperwork and accounting, since you don’t have to track and pay invoices for every part and every service visit. Here’s another unexpected benefit: repairs can be completed faster since there’s no need to wait for approvals. Your tech can just get the part and get things back up and running right away.

Related article: HVAC Service Contract Pricing Guide

6. Creative cost-saving proposals
When you are dealing with such a large expense as commercial HVAC maintenance for dozens of sites, you want a vendor that can (and is willing to) think outside the box and offer you cost-saving options. Here’s an example: Arista has offered our large multiple-location clients the option of reducing the cost of their next service contract when they pro-actively replace aging equipment.

7. Beware of the low-ball vendor
When you solicit bids for large commercial HVAC maintenance contracts like this, the result is just about inevitable. You’re going to get low-ball bids from inexperienced vendors who don’t really understand the time and expense it takes to service multiple location accounts. If you decide to take a chance and go with one of these companies, one of two things will happen (and likely both):

  • The vendor will come back to you the next year with a much more expensive proposal (once they figure out how much it is really costing them to service your account.) If they do so, be sure the increase is justified by the numbers. The vendor should provide details of costs and service hours your contract has incurred over the year.
  • If the price doesn’t go up, the service level will probably go down. You will notice a decrease in service quality: skimping on maintenance tasks, using cheap parts. And you certainly won’t get any of the value-added commercial HVAC maintenance services mentioned above. What’s worse: if you are not paying close attention, you might not realize that they are skimping on service, and you’ll face escalating repair costs as a result.

One way or another, make sure you’re getting the value you want and need for the price you pay for commercial HVAC service.

Here’s a resource that can help you decipher the complexities of commercial HVAC maintenance agreements, and ultimately choose the contract that’s best suited to the needs of your business: HVAC Preventive Maintenance Contracts: How to Find The Right One For Your HVAC Infrastructure

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