How to choose an HVAC contractor for your business: why is it so hard?
If you’re in charge of your company’s facilities, you’ve certainly had experience dealing with heating and air conditioning contractors. You’ve likely vetted quite a few over the years. Yet, since you’re reading this article, you are probably finding yourself disappointed yet again. You may be wondering why it is such a challenge to find an HVAC service provider that meets your expectations.
The answer is: not every HVAC company is qualified to handle the challenges of commercial spaces, especially large corporate environments and businesses with multiple locations.
Also, you want a company that’s willing to customize its service according to your needs and priorities. Read on to learn about how to choose an HVAC contractor that’s both willing and able to deliver superior service that goes beyond your expectations.
How to choose an HVAC contractor: PRE-REQUISITES
If you’ve done this before, you’re probably aware of the typical steps for how to choose an HVAC company. Here’s a quick review (and links to more information) for those of you who may be new to the process of evaluating the basic qualifications for an HVAC service company.
Ask around. Who are your neighbors hiring to handle their HVAC needs? Ask them and find out about their experience. Are you seeing one company’s trucks around the area frequently? That’s a good indicator of a provider that people trust and turn to again and again. Read more: A Guide to Getting an HVAC Maintenance Agreement for the Newbie
Check licensing and industry certifications. Not all states require licensing for HVAC contractors (New York does not). If your state does, be sure any providers you choose are properly licensed. If not (actually look for this even if licensed), look for industry certifications such as MSCA that require years of training and passing rigorous exams. You can trust that companies and technicians with those certifications are highly qualified. Read more: Your Hairdresser Has More Licensing Than Your NYC HVAC Vendor
Verify insurance, bonding and workman’s comp coverage. You want to be sure that any provider you choose is covered financially in the event of an accident or damage. Read more: Facilities Managers: 8 Things to Look for in an HVAC Company
Check references and online reviews. Every company can provide references, but ask for ones that are similar to your business. Ideally, you want a company experienced with your type of business, building space and the equipment you have. Also, check their BBB rating and HVAC contractor reviews using sites like Facebook, Yelp and Google plus.
Take a look at this guide to learn more about choosing reputable HVAC contractors for corporate facilities: The NYC Facilities Manager’s Guide to Choosing an HVAC Company.
How to choose an HVAC contractor: advanced vetting to find the best providers
Are you a cookie-cutter company? Certainly not. Then why settle for cookie-cutter HVAC service? Here’s how to choose an HVAC contractor that will do things according to your specific requirements. When you do that, dealing with service issues becomes easier and less time consuming, and you’ll gain more value for your money.
Here are some examples of what to look for when speaking with contractors as well as their references.
Ability to work around your schedule
Not every organization can accommodate HVAC service technicians in their space whenever they happen to show up. You want your service to be performed when it’s convenient for your business. For a restaurant, service might need to be done during the lull between lunch and dinner. For a retail store, early in the morning before opening. For a school, evenings or weekends are probably most convenient. Will the provider work with you to schedule service when it works for you?
Service contract coverage flexibility and pricing
This is how to choose an HVAC contractor that will accommodate what’s important to you: find out how much flexibility they offer in their service contracts. Some companies offer the same coverage and pricing across the board, regardless of your facility’s needs and equipment. Instead, look for different levels of contracts that offer differing levels of coverage, and the ability to customize the contract to include only what you need.
Read more: HVAC Service Contract Pricing Guide
Experience with new technology
Especially given the phase out of older refrigerants, you’ll likely be facing decisions about retrofitting and replacing equipment in the years to come. Make sure you ask about expertise with modern HVAC technology, such as VRF systems, that may be better suited to the needs of your business and also reduce your energy costs. Read more: 7 Reasons to Choose VRF Technology for Your New Air Conditioning
Standing behind their work and their promises
When talking to both the HVAC company and their references, ask about examples of how they have gone the extra mile to achieve important results for their customers. For a company that truly cares about delivering great service, they shouldn’t have to think too hard to come up with stories about doing what it takes to keep their promises.
Helping you plan for the future
Commercial HVAC systems are not a small expense for any company. That’s another reason why it’s essential to know how to choose an HVAC contractor that will support your company’s needs. Facilities managers are on the hook for predicting equipment obsolescence and planning for those large capital purchases when it’s time to replace old units. An HVAC company with years of commercial experience can be a tremendous help with this process.
Ask the companies you are vetting if they will take the time and trouble to periodically report on poorly performing and older units and recommend replacement strategies.
A company that cares about providing quality service should be able to be flexible and customize service according to your needs, as well as acting as a trusted partner that’s committed helping you reach your goals.
We hope this article has served as a helpful resource for how to choose an HVAC contractor for commercial facilities. Please share it with other who may find it useful!