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The #1 Rule for Restaurant HVAC System Installation

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Why choosing the right HVAC system installation company is so critical for restaurants

If you own or manage a popular restaurant in New York City (or anywhere, really) you know that staying open is crucial to your bottom line. Not only do you lose money every hour that you’re closed, but your regular customers are forced to go elsewhere… and the last thing you want is for them to discover a new favorite. That’s why it’s a major decision to undertake a renovation or replacement of mission-critical systems (such as an HVAC system installation) that will force you to close your doors for any period of time.

When you do finally decide to bite the bullet and do a renovation or equipment replacement, the schedule must be meticulously planned to be completed as quickly as possible. There’s no margin for error, contingency plans or time built in for delays. Everything has to go right so you can open again ASAP!

But the fact is, things are going to go wrong during any major renovation. So here’s your contingency plan: only hire vendors who are committed to the schedule. When it comes to the HVAC system installation, the trick is to find a company that will do what it takes to overcome obstacles and get the job done on time.

Rule #1 for HVAC System Installation: Do What Is Takes to Stay On Schedule

When you’re seeking out a vendor for an HVAC system installation, there are many important qualifications to look for, including:

  • Technical knowledge (proven by industry certifications such as MSCA Star)
  • Experience with restaurant installations (especially kitchen ventilation)
  • Experience with the type of equipment and controls you’re installing (especially for VRF systems)
  • Knowledge of building codes and local regulations
  • Design engineers on staff to validate all aspects of HVAC system installation plans

While all of these qualities are must-haves, there’s another that can’t be overlooked for a restaurant HVAC system installation: a willingness and ability to do whatever is necessary to deliver on their commitments, particularly when it comes to the schedule.

The problem is, how can you tell if a potential vendor will really keep their promises for your HVAC system installation? Guarantees from sales people when they are trying to win your business can sometimes turn into excuses for not delivering on time when the unexpected happens.

Here’s the secret to finding out how a company really operates. Speak to a long-time company employee and ask them to tell you about situations when they provided great customer service. Any field tech who has been with the company for a while should not have to think too hard to come up with an example. If customer service is truly a company value, their actions should reflect that on a regular basis.

To show you what we’re talking about, here is an Arista story that speaks to our ability to think outside the box and our willingness to go the extra mile to deliver on our commitments.

An HVAC System Installation Story: Equipment Delays Threaten a High Profile Restaurant Opening

When a high profile restaurant in Manhattan was slated to close for a major renovation, the schedule was challenging (to say the least!): everything had to be completed in one week. To add to the pressure, a grand-reopening was planned with media coverage and a tour of the new space. There was no postponing that event, so no excuse could delay the project.

Arista was brought in to complete the HVAC system installation for a brand new, state of the art system. We were given 3 days to get the old system out and the new HVAC system installation completed and running in time for the tour, and so the renovation schedule could stay on track.

So we developed a plan to do just that. We’d remove the old system on a Friday, do the new HVAC system installation on Monday and have a day to configure and test the new equipment on Tuesday. Perfect.

It would have been perfect… but then we got a call from the equipment manufacturer. They informed us that the equipment would be delayed by 2 weeks! Well, that just blew the plan right out of the water. What to do now? We knew we couldn’t let this unforeseen problem delay the restaurant opening.

What happened next involved a lot of negotiating, strategizing, pleading… we even offered to send our own trucks to retrieve the equipment from the manufacturer. We’re nothing if not determined here at Arista; we simply refused to take no for an answer. Finally, we did get the manufacturer to come through, but we would not have the equipment until late on Monday. So that gave us just one day to get the new HVAC system installation done, configured and tested.

To do that, we were going to have to work fast and come up with ways to cut time out of the schedule.

We started at 5:00am on Tuesday morning and immediately hit a snag: it looked like it would take hours to move all the pieces of the huge new system into the mechanical room. Then our field supervisor had an idea: there was a shortcut we could take, but it meant convincing the Building Engineer of this prestigious building to let us move equipment the size of a school bus through their conference space. We promised him we could have it in and out in 30 seconds.

The Building Engineer laughed at us! We were talking about an air conditioning coil that was 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and weighed at least 1000 pounds. He wanted to see us do it, and so he agreed. So we staged the plan in the service area, used Masonite to protect the space, and we were in and out in under 30 seconds!

After accomplishing that feat of superhuman strength, we were pumped, and we had the entire unit back together and running by 11:00am. Even our company president was amazed! The restaurant tour went on as planned at 2:00pm with the air conditioning running and the space cool and comfortable.

Restaurant HVAC System Installation: The Moral of the Story

That’s just one of many stories we could tell you, because that’s the way we do business. At any point in that story, we could have thrown in the towel and blamed the manufacturer for the delay. But no matter who was to blame, the result would have been the same for our customer: lost business. And we were not going to let that happen.

Here’s moral of the story: choose an HVAC system installation company for your restaurant that cares about making sure you get the outcome you want, need and expect.

Related articles:
VRF Cooling Systems Provide Customized Comfort for Restaurants
Restaurant Refrigeration Installation: Get It Right the First Time

Choosing equipment for a new restaurant HVAC system installation can be overwhelming, given all the new technologies and types of systems on the market. How do you know what’s right for you? We’ve made it simpler with our helpful guide that explains the commonly used systems for various types of businesses and building locations. Get your free copy of The Ultimate Guide to NYC Light Commercial Air Conditioning.

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