What Every Facility Manager Should Ask Their Commercial HVAC Contractor
Factory Authorized Service Inc.
Evaluating and vetting the vendors that provide service to the building you manage is one of the most critical aspects of your job. The right partner can make you look like a superstar to everyone, from your staff, to your boss, to those who use the building every day. However, the wrong selection can cause serious damage to your budget and reputation.
Whether you are looking for specific HVAC maintenance, specialized upgrades or installs, or you’re looking to sign a long-term maintenance agreement, choosing a company that is professional, dependable, knowledgeable, and affordable is an important task.
Fortunately, there is a trick to finding the perfect HVAC company for your business. By simply asking the right questions, you will be able to identify the contractor that best fits your needs. The team at Factory Authorized Service put together a list of questions we hope clients ask of us.
Questions mean the customer is prepared and has a baseline understanding of the services we provide. It also leads to a deeper and more transparent relationship with a client, which is beneficial for both sides.
Is your team certified?
This is a simple question in which you’re hoping to hear a simple answer— “Yes.” HVAC equipment is complicated, intricate, specialized, and expensive. You need a company who can verify their employees have been properly trained and schooled on how to maintain and install what you might need.
Ask the company about their hiring process, as well as the skills and certifications they require of their staff. You can even ask specifically about industry-standard certifications like California State HVAC Contractor License (C-20) and CFC/EPA Certification.
How long has your company been in business?
There is no right answer to this question—more experience does not necessarily mean better service or a higher quality of work. However, it is common sense that a company that has been operating for a longer period of time is doing something right, and probably many things right.
What you are really hoping to reveal with this question is some evidence of a proven track record, usually in the form of ten to twenty references you can contact. Whether a company has been in business for five years or fifty, they should be able to provide a list of former satisfied customers.
What kind of liability insurance do you offer?
This may be the most important question you can ask, as its answer can directly affect your liability in future legal battles. You want to hear that they carry insurance for any employees that will be working on your property. Any HVAC company you choose to hire should carry adequate coverage to protect you (or the property owner) if the facility is damaged in any way or if any person on-site is injured as a result of their work or presence.
If a contractor in any way seeks to dodge this question, that should end the conversation. Immediately. Working with a vendor without proper insurance means you can be held responsible for costly repairs, catastrophic medical bills, and other unforeseen consequences. It’s not worth the risk.
Who will be directly involved with managing my project on-site?
It’s completely appropriate to ask the specific name of the person who will be charged with the success of your project. They will ultimately be the one dictating whether your project works out and stays in budget.
You need to know who to contact if you have questions or if you discover things are not going as planned. It’s also a good idea to be reassured that there will be someone physically at your facility who is focused on tracking the progress of the project and keeping everything on track.
What’s the most important indication a project was a success?
This is a great question to ask because it should lead to a wider and deeper conversation. There doesn’t necessarily have to be one right answer you’re listening for either. However, we recommend that in the course of the conversation, you want the contractor you’re speaking with to eventually bring up customer satisfaction.
Overall customer satisfaction can be a proxy for nearly everything else you’re hoping to find—an affordable final cost, high-quality work, dependable work, a project with no surprises, etc.
Incredibly, there are businesses that don’t put a real emphasis on customer satisfaction. They may be highly skilled, but if they take a long time to respond to messages and leave behind a huge mess for you to clean up, they might not be worth it.
While on this subject, you should also ask them how they handle disputes and complaints. You will learn a lot from how they answer that question.
Finding and hiring the right HVAC contractor is an extremely important aspect of managing a facility. Be patient while finding a partner that can give you the answers you’re looking to hear from these questions and any others you might have.