How much will you expect to pay for a fleet of HVAC technicians, the tools they need to do their job, as well as the different pieces of HVAC equipment? How much does commercial HVAC maintenance cost?
When it comes to running your HVAC company, most of the time, cost concerns regard labor and equipment.
The mistake you don’t want to make is focusing on how to make the most profit on a single job. Instead, you want to figure out how you can secure recurring customers. Having set maintenance plans is a key factor in building out your business and giving your customers the confidence and the satisfaction to use your services more than once.
What HVAC Maintenance Plans Entail
With this all said, there are two main methods that commercial HVAC companies provide AC service and other services to their clients:
- Report when clients need service for their heating and cooling systems, on an as-needed basis.
- Put together a proper maintenance contract the first time you do an installation for that client.
Option A may be more common for residential HVAC companies, but for commercial setups, maintenance contracts (also known as servicing contracts) are preferred. The main reason is that a person in their home may be able to tough it out for a few days if their air conditioner doesn’t work. This lets them wait to get the service they need without having to pay the extra costs of a service contract. However, commercial buildings don’t have that luxury. They risk losing clients, customers, and having disgruntled employees if those same air conditioning systems aren’t repaired right away.
So, with that said, what is covered in the average service contract? While this will ultimately depend on the contractor you work with, you’ll expect to see services like:
— Checking the condenser coils and evaporator coils
— Looking at the heat pump
— Changing any filters
— Diagnostic analysis
— Basic tune-ups
— Testing out all systems to make sure they are functioning
— Discussing any potential signs of trouble to the client, even if they are not a true problem yet
These contracts generally allow for a certain amount of visits per year to make sure that there is minimal risk of basic wear and tear growing enough to impact the performance of HVAC systems.
How HVAC Maintenance Costs Are Calculated
Having an appropriate suite of options is key, and being able to offer a maintenance contract may make the difference between you getting a possible client and losing them. With that said, how can you appropriately price the HVAC maintenance cost to be competitive, without hurting your bottom line?
As a start, you can’t apply a “one-size-fits-all” mentality to your maintenance plans. Different customers have different budgets and needs. For one thing, though, it’s a good piece of starter advice to offer a basic preventative maintenance contract. This is the cheapest option for commercial structures that still provides long-term service. Most of the time, your professionals will just be working on cleaning and inspection, rather than any major service. In some cases, you may even not include the cost of small replacement parts in the contract (filters, etc).
More expensive options begin with the full labor contract. With this, your client is fully covered for all repair, replacement, and general upkeep, but still has to pay for the parts. The final, and most expensive option for clients, is a full coverage contract. This covers not only labor, preventative maintenance, and parts, but also any emergency service you need. For commercial installations where HVAC service is critical (retail, food service, etc), this is the option that you want to market.
Even outside of the type of plan you offer, there are going to be other factors that determine an appropriate cost for your commercial HVAC service plans. These include:
Age and condition: If your client has a lot of older equipment, in order to do your job properly, you need to monitor them more frequently to see any failing parts before they cause further damage.
Usage conditions: In some commercial installations, HVAC systems may be put under a lot more usage and stress, being used year-round, 24 hours a day. In some cases, like restaurant kitchens, the conditions are harsh as well. This means more service necessary, so be prepared to charge more for these clients to offset that.
System size: By nature, commercial systems are going to be larger than most residential ones. This means more items that need service and more man hours to do a proper service visit.
System type: Some HVAC machines are preferred due to efficiency or comfort factors, but by nature, they may cost more to maintain due to more expensive parts.
System location: If the system is located in an area that requires special equipment to access, these extra man hours should be factored into the cost.
While there are a lot of outside factors that can impact the cost of your typical extended service contract, we can give you some average numbers to consider. Most contracts will cost around $150 to $500 a year, depending on how much equipment you have and where it is located. Depending on the components the client has in their building, they may opt for a modular contract. For example, if they have an AC system still under warranty, they may just want their furnace under a service contract so they can save. Being flexible is a good rule of thumb here in order to help keep all your possible customers happy.
Ultimately, your average contractor needs to be well aware of the different costs of preventative maintenance when budgeting for their daily operations. The same applies to putting together bids for various jobs. If you don’t know what it will cost to replace parts or how much repairs cost, a project that may seem profitable at first can erode over time. This means you need a combination of knowledge on how much you can expect to pay, as well as how to cut down on those HVAC maintenance costs without compromising on quality.