Commercial HVAC Maintenance Contract Transition Series: Part 1: Transitioning as a Process

In the introduction to this series, we outlined important things to consider to ensure contract transition success. This post will discuss the importance of understanding the transitioning process.

Committing to an HVAC maintenance contract is a big decision for any facilities manager. In order to help you transition into a successful contract, we’ve come up with a checklist of 10 of the most important considerations to keep in mind.

1) Know that Transitioning is a Process

Whether outsourcing for the first time or changing providers, it’s important to prepare. Transition can take months – at every step, you’ll have to balance costs and competing needs. The way to tackle the challenge is with step-by-step strategy.

Things to remember:

  • Service contracts are different from purchasing contracts and require a different process.
  • A service contract is a significant investment, so it’s important to plan the expected ROI.
  • Research your vendor options. Visit their website to check for qualifications and testimonials.
  • Once a vendor selection is made, it’s key to work closely to avoid any outages.

By planning a phased execution, you’ll be able to select a partner who delivers on your needs. Support, communication, and collaborative spirit will make you more confident in your choices.

2) Understand Why You’re Transitioning

What are your expectations? Getting clarity about why you’re transitioning supports success. State goals, develop metrics that work for you, and evaluate your new contractor at every step.

Some reasons for transitioning:

  • Poor customer service or unreliable appointment-keeping on the current vendor’s part.
  • Inability to efficiently service a large-scale system, resolve its issues, and cut its costs.
  • Time-consuming disconnects between the technicians in the field and the main office.
  • Low consistency of service as a result of rotating, rather than dedicated, technicians.
  • Unreasonable price compared to the value delivered, with unwillingness to negotiate.

3) Know Why Transitions Fail and Take Action

Reasons maintenance contract transitions might fail are diverse. You’ll guard against many problems by focusing on good communication and making an early commitment to succeed.

Be aware of these common issues:

  • Poor communication with internal stakeholders and between facilities team and vendors.
  • Insufficient, outdated, or inaccurate equipment inventory records to establish a baseline.
  • Incomplete or insufficient maintenance tracking that fails to verify or demonstrate ROI.
  • Insufficient budget or allocation of other resources – including time for vendor vetting.

4) Make Communication the Bedrock of Your Efforts

Communication is crucial, but it doesn’t start with vendors, it begins with your team. That can include the executive team, transition personnel, employees impacted by changes in HVAC service, and property tenants or leadership.

A communication plan should be in place before transition begins, providing milestones and guidance for everyone affected. When people feel they are “in the loop,” they are more likely to be supportive of the plan.

What’s the difference between communicating and having a communication plan? It comes down to a picture of how and when communications take place. That includes things like methods to be used and frequency.

5) Put a Plan in Place on Day 0

Before you start vetting vendors, you need a cohesive strategy.

Your transition plan should align with your goals, no matter if they relate to performance, cost, customer service, compliance, or anything else. It may be helpful to interview other stakeholders and get a sense for their needs.

Once needs are clear, you should translate vague “like-to-haves” into measurable and actionable requirements. You might need to work with vendors to refine these into specifications.

How can you use planning to get better recommendations from vendors? Before you cut vendors into a “short list,” get information on the state of your equipment – including the types, condition, and quantity of all HVAC equipment. That helps drive better recommendations.

Subscribe to our blog and be sure not to miss Part 2: Transition Success.

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