Airconditioning contracting is a highly competitive and exacting business. Not only do you have to try to beat your competitor quotes, but you also have to maintain a high standard of work on very tight and sometimes seemingly impossible deadlines. Even the smallest mistakes can end up costing you not only money but future business opportunities.
The key to getting the job done quickly without sacrificing quality boils down to 5 key points. Here are the most common mistakes to be aware of when you are in this industry.
1. Are you in Residential or Commercial HVAC?
If you start out as a residential airconditioning contractor and plan to expand into industrial and commercial work, you need to take the time to understand how they are different and have a clear understanding of:
• Commercial systems often have much larger heating and cooling loads and have different peak loadings during certain parts of the day. If the equipment shuts down, the customer’s production is down. It is important to consider the quality and reliability of the equipment not only the initial cost.
• Often a building management system is incorporated to provide overall control. A thorough understanding of how integrated control systems operate in essential.
• Processes in the workspace can affect conditions so it’s important to understand the application and what the customer is trying to accomplish.
2. Ventilation is as important as heating/cooling
When some contractors think about HVAC, they only consider the heating and cooling, and completely ignore the ventilation component. It is essential to know more than just the building codes – you also need to be able to assess the environment of each individual component of any building. There is a need to focus on analysing what processes are in the building that require ventilation; how much air is exhausted from the building; and how many people are in the building. This will enable proper equipment location, configuration, air flow patterns and indoor air quality requirements.
The ventilation for the system should reflect the most efficient scenario for keeping the space at ideal temperatures. Based on the use of the building, you need to consider if energy recovery is a practical and efficient process to aid the ventilation requirements. Pre-treatment of fresh air can have a substantial effect on the overall end result.
3. Poor Design Calculations cost dollars
For the sake of saving time during the quotation process, some contractors feel comfortable going by previous experience instead of taking the time to do the design calculations for a particular project. Although initially it is a time saver, it also nearly guarantees that the system you install will not be ideal. No matter how similar a project is to ones you’ve done in the past, make sure you do the proper load calculations for that specific project and application before you do anything else.
4. Understand all the project components
Good design can often go wrong if you don’t consider a holistic view of all the elements of the project. Building elements such as window placement, insulation, and wall thickness play an extremely important role in how efficient an HVAC unit will be. If a contractor operates under an erroneous assumption instead of understanding all the aspects of the building, there are much greater odds that the contractor will be back out there trying to fix something that isn’t broken because the installed system doesn’t meet the needs of the facility.
5. Do you have a ‘Lowest Price Focus’?
This is the most critical element of any contract because if you focus too much on being the lowest bidder, you will miss what’s important. If you are successful in winning the contract, your client is going to expect you to fulfill the agreement and not add costs when you realize that you have under quoted the project. This is the easiest way to lose your profits and your customers and potentially your business.
The best way to avoid this mistake is to ensure your sales team is knowledgeable about HVAC system design and equipment so accurate proposals can be made. While the final cost may be higher than your competitors, you can justify it by your ‘point of difference’ that makes you stand out from the rest.
As an HVAC contractor, you know that the competition is fierce. With a little extra caution and awareness, you can avoid the most common mistakes that cost more than just money. By keeping the customer satisfied and your employees happy, you can get the positive reviews that will help your business forward.
Spend the time to specify quality, pay attention to the design details, and insist on quality installation. This will result in happy customers who are willing to pay on time.