Every contractor wants your business — the advertisements and promotions will tell you that — but the question is, can they offer your business the best service?

When choosing an air conditioning and ventilation maintenance contractor, there are a number of ways you can whittle down the options: you can ask around, you can do a Google search, you might already have a couple of companies in mind. Faced by a myriad of options it’s not always easy to wade through the marketing spiel to reach the best decision. To make life a little easier, we have created a simple 3-step checklist for you to use before signing a contract.

1. DO YOUR RESEARCH

Who are the contractor’s clients and what do they say about them? Nothing gives you a better pic-ture of what to expect from a service provider than their clients. Most contractors will have testimo-nials on their websites. Check that they have worked with some clients for a long time; this will demonstrate reliability and repeat business. Make sure the testimonials are fairly recent. Obviously, the comments that a contractor chooses to publish on its own website are going to be positive, but try to establish the key areas of strength. Are the things that people mention (for example friendliness, cost-effectiveness or availability) of particular importance to you? Aria works with Cofely, Kier, and Sodexo, amongst many others, who provide us with a lot of maintenance work. We have a broad selection of testimonials on our website; if a contractor doesn’t, it might be a bad sign.

What is everyone else saying? As we have already mentioned, a contractor is only going to high-light its positive feedback and reviews. But there has never been an easier time to get independent opinions. Whether it’s checking out customer reviews on third-party websites, searching conversa-tions across specialist AV and ventilation forums, or even asking colleagues and friends for their recommendations, it’s important to hear from a variety of people, particularly those you can trust.

How long has the contractor been in business? This is one of the most important factors to consid-er when hiring an air conditioning and ventilation maintenance company. How experienced is the team? What sort of qualifications do they have? Aria has been around since March 2004 and has a wealth of experience. Why would you work with a company that doesn’t?

2.CHECK THE CREDENTIALS

Does the contractor hold industry accreditation? This is a non-negotiable factor when choosing an air conditioning maintenance contractor. The Environment Agency (EA) stipulates that a company must hold an EU fluorinated greenhouse gas (F gas) certificate if they are to install, maintain or service air conditioning containing or designed to contain F gas refrigerants. At Aria, we chose to be accredited by the market leader Refcom, a company which played a key role in the creation of the F gas company certification scheme in 2009 alongside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Companies like Aria invest heavily in becoming compliant with industry and governmental standards and so should any contractor you deal with.

Is the work going to be conducted in line with health and safety standards? The contractor is re-sponsible not just for the safety and wellbeing of its own employees, but also for everyone in the surrounding area. Maintaining AC equipment can include working at height, in confined spaces and difficult to reach areas. It is essential that any contractor has adequate Health and Safety ac-creditation, which can cover not just insurance and health and safety procedures, but also equal opportunities and modern slavery. Aria is accredited with Alcumus SafeContractor, which has 30,000 members. A scheme such as demonstrates that the contractor is taking responsibility for their legal health and safety requirements. Make sure they have it!

Does the contractor have any special partnerships with leading manufacturers? Any partnership a contractor has with an industry manufacturer benefits you as a customer, whether it is in the form of extended warranties; in-depth product training; priority access to advanced technical support; greater product awareness; access to case studies or information on design innovations and emerging technologies. Aria is partnered with Daikin D1 & Mitsubishi Business Partners, for exam-ple, and we pass on the benefits of these alliances directly to our customers.

3. IDENTIFY SERVICE LEVELS

Does the contractor offer excellent customer support? We all know how important this can be and it’s a definite deal breaker when it comes to choosing an air conditioning and ventilation mainte-nance contractor. Are the people at the end of the phone friendly, reliable and easily reached? What hours of support are offered? Is the technical information they provide given in clear, lay-man’s terms? Are the staff knowledgeable and able to immediately understand any concerns or questions you have? All of these things will hugely impact the success and cost effectiveness of a maintenance contract. If you choose a contractor with a solid history of successful maintenance contracts, this should all be in place.

Will the contractor listen to my requirements and offer a bespoke service? Every installation is dif-ferent and every business has different needs when it comes to AC maintenance. You’re looking for a contractor who will offer you a bespoke maintenance service, tailored to your individual re-quirements. Flexibility is also key — things can change and you need to know that your service can be altered and amended as and when required.

Is the service cost effective? This might seem like the most important question, so why is it last on the list? Because you need to identify a reputable company first, one that can negotiate the cost dependent on your specific requirements. So once you have run through the above checklist, you can think about cost and which contractor is going to give you not only the best service but the best return on investment.

Choosing an air conditioning and ventilation maintenance contractor doesn’t have to be a head-ache. Run through these simple steps and you’ll have a far greater chance of choosing the right AC and ventilation contractor for your business.

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