Bed Bath & Beyond, Victoria’s Secret, Best Buy, Lowes, Limited Brands, Five Below, and Dollar Tree. What do all these stores have in common? They all have store locations spread through out multiple states here in the U.S. So many store locations located so far from a corporate office create unique logistical problems for many things. The item this article will focus on is facility services.
The retailers listed in the previous paragraph are just a few of the chain retailers that operate domestically here in the U.S. Many retailers operate both domestically and internationally. This article will briefly zero in on commercial HVAC services. For any chain retailer this is a huge undertaking, fiscally speaking. Overhead, overhead is devastating when it is not kept at an absolute minimum. In an effort to do this many chain retailers secure a relationship with national account management companies. Ideally this allows them to streamline the process for ensuring their multiple locations get adequate services when needed.
The problem with ideals is that most often they do not pan out as expected. It is the opinion of many that sourcing HVAC service to a national accounts management firm is not the best way to secure reliable and quality HVAC services. So the question remains then, if a chain retailer is to utilize a national accounts management company how can they best ensure they get quality HVAC service contractors when needed?
Probably the biggest surprise to most chain retailers would be how many of the HVAC contractors performing as subs through the management company are not getting paid after performing services or at least not for months. This obviously is a problem for the HVAC contractors but many over look the problem it causes for the retailer. When the HVAC contractor is not being reimbursed adequately or in a timely manner they most often will discontinue servicing the management company’s clients…the retailer. When the quality HVAC contractors leave due to non-payment, the only ones left most often are those that are not driven by quality standards. In fact many of these subs employ less than experienced service technicians.
What this means for the retailers is that due to the fact that inexperienced service techs are servicing their store locations they can expect misdiagnosis of problems. This is not cost effective and in addition repair times could become excessive as the inexperienced technician is unable to quickly and properly resolve HVAC equipment failures. This becomes a huge overhead cost for the retailer. They pay for unnecessary repairs and parts, and many times even replace HVAC equipment that was not in need of replacement at all. The reason for this is, again, the inexperienced service techs utilized by the HVAC sub contractors often found working for national account management companies that do not treat their subs well, either in timely payments or otherwise. The inexperienced tech replaces parts until him/her finally replace the right one. When they are unable to properly diagnose the equipment they will often submit quotes for unit replacement. Believe or not chain retailers install thousands of replacement HVAC systems each year that are not even needed. Being hundreds, even thousands, of miles away the retailer cannot know exactly what is going on at every store location. This is why the retailer must be able to trust their national accounts management team.
The advice that chain retailers should take away from this short, quick blurb about the use of national account management companies for HVAC services is really quite simple. Any retailer considering the use of national account management companies should always contact the management company’s HVAC subs. Contact the subs and ask how they like working for the management company in consideration or even in current use. Ask if they get paid within a reasonable time frame. Secondly, retailers should do their homework and search sites like the Rip-off Report and the BBB. When it comes to the BBB please call them and ask for information directly. There are times the BBB website does not reflect accurately the number and nature of complaints against a company.
Lastly, with the progression of social media integration with the business sector there are many options for the chain retailers. With sites like Fixxbook.com, Service Channel, Ariba, and more retailers are now able to utilize these sites in place of a national accounts management company. They can secure, easily, HVAC service for any of their store locations by finding contractors servicing each area. The retailer and contractor interact via one cloud platform thus streamlining the process and eliminating the need for a national accounts management company if done right. The caution here is that many national accounts management companies will list themselves on these sites as contractors. One way around this problem on such sites is to, again, do a little research. In addition, many times these sites require the company offering service to list whether they are self performing or not. National account management companies are not self performing. There are really good national account management companies available and there are many terrible national account management companies. The right choice is there and hopefully this information is helpful. Thanks for reading another HVACmarket.com article!!