A solid equipment service center makes all the difference when it comes to preventing unplanned equipment downtime. It’s about more than just making repairs. It’s about the whole picture, from on and off-site service repairs to preventive maintenance and emergency services.
It can be an incredibly time-consuming and stressful process to find the best equipment service center. That’s why so many businesses settle for subpar service centers; they go with the nearest one, or the most affordable option.
A small repair can turn into a massive ordeal for your business when that equipment service center doesn’t have authorized or trained technicians or the part you’re looking for is on a six-month backorder.
At Imperial Dade, we don’t want you to settle for anything but the best, that’s why we put together this quick and easy guide on how to choose the best equipment center for your business.
Here are six key steps for finding the best janitorial equipment service center:
- Identify Potential Service and Repair Centers
- Perform an Online Search Audit
- Create a Shortlist of the Top Three Service Centers
- Contact Each Facility
- Conduct a Fact Finding Session
- Assess Cost-Effectiveness
1. Identify Potential Service and Repair Centers
The first step towards identifying potential equipment service centers is to decide how far you’re willing to travel for maintenance and repairs. If you’re not willing to drive an hour to get a replacement part, then you shouldn’t look at shops that are 50 miles away.
Once you’ve decided on a search radius, start reviewing your available options. How to review potential options? Start with a Google search or word-of-mouth recommendations. You may also consider asking your equipment manufacturer for a list of preferred partners.
2. Perform an Online Search Audit
After you’ve put together a list of local equipment service centers it’s time to perform an online search audit of each one.
This search audit has two purposes. The first is to get a better understanding of each business. The second is to compare facilities and see how they stack up against each other.
During the search audit, you should first check for business reviews and customer testimonials. Reviews and testimonials will detail both what the equipment service center does well and poorly, as well as relay personal experiences so you can tell if you’d be happy with this partnership.
After looking at the reviews, go to each candidate’s website. A website says a lot about how a business is run; an outdated webpage implies that they may rely on outdated technology and processes, no contact information can indicate poor communication, etc.
3. Create a Shortlist of the Top Three Service Centers
After performing a search audit and comparing local equipment service centers, it’s time to create a shortlist.
A shortlist will have the top three favorite facilities you found during your search audit. These are the places that have good customer reviews, are within your geographic range, and fit any other criteria you may come up with like preferred partner, trained technicians, on-site repairs, emergency service, cost, etc.
Having identified the top three candidates, it’s time to move on to the next step.
4. Contact Each Facility
Now that you have a shortlist, it is time to reach out to each of the equipment service centers. The purpose of this step is to better gauge how responsive the staff at each facility is. To do that, you’ll want to both send an email and give them a call.
While in touch with the equipment service center, ask yourself the following questions: did they pick up the phone right away? Were you put on hold for a long time? Did a human pick up, or were you sent to an answering machine? Lastly, how long did it take for them to respond to your voicemail or email?
The answer to each of these questions acts as an indicator of how responsive and available they’ll be when working with your business. For example, if you had to call or email multiple times just to set up an introduction, imagine how difficult it’ll be to get in touch when you need an update on equipment repairs.
Now that you’re in touch with the equipment service center, set up a time to meet with one of their equipment representatives so that you can conduct a fact-finding session.
5. Conduct a Fact-Finding Session
This is a great opportunity to ask about their qualifications, certifications, and experience.
Because each business has a different set of needs, these fact-finding sessions are going to look different for everybody. However, three topics that every fact-finding session should cover are parts availability, service coverage, and staff qualifications.
While it’s not possible to have every part for every machine, if you end up doing business with an equipment service center that doesn’t have comprehensive parts availability, you could potentially wait months for them to receive a back-ordered part.
That means extended equipment downtime, lost productivity, and more headaches for you, which is just one reason why parts availability is a key factor when deciding on an equipment service center.
Some questions you should consider are:
- How large is their parts inventory?
- How much of that inventory is held on location?
- How are they managing the difficulty of parts availability in light of current and looming supply chain issues?
- Are they authorized to service all of the equipment you need to be covered?
Service coverage is another important factor that can affect how quickly your equipment is repaired and returned. This is an especially important consideration if you have more than one business location. Will this business service all locations or will you need to find multiple service centers?
When deciding on the right equipment service center, consider some of the following questions:
- Do they perform onsite work?
- Do they do preventative maintenance or just service on an as-needed basis?
- How many technicians do they have?
- Are they able to service you if you have multiple locations?
- Will they come do you, or do you have to drop equipment off at their facility?
- Will they service all equipment or just equipment purchased from them?
Lastly, don’t forget to ask about their staff’s qualifications. Is the team factory trained? This helps avoid voided warranties on some brands.
Important questions to ask here include:
- Are they authorized by any manufacturers for service and warranty work?
- Are their representatives certified by a manufacturer, or will you break the warranty by going to them?
- Are any of their technicians factory-trained?
- Do they have any experience working with OEM manufacturers?
6. Assess Cost-Effectiveness
The final step of the process is to assess the affordability of each equipment service center.
One comparison point is how each business bills its time. Do they bill hourly, by the half-hour, or is it by the job? Think about whether you’ll be using them more often for small repairs or big repairs, and what billing methods best fit your needs.
Then compare how each of their rates holds up against OEM manufacturer rates. It may not be worth working with a company that doesn’t have factory-trained technicians or OEM parts if they’re more expensive than going to the OEM.
Ask about how they conduct their estimates and whether they guarantee their work.
Another good comparison point is how they conduct trip charges for on-site repairs. For example, do they charge for the transportation it takes to get to and from a location? Is it a flat rate? Do they have additional charges for unexpected return trips?
Lastly, when discussing rates and cost-effectiveness, be aware of companies with rates that seem too good to be true. It’s not unheard of for more affordably priced service equipment centers to take twice as long to make a repair, owing to a lower skill level.
Don’t just settle for what’s convenient, like the nearest or most affordable equipment service center.
When searching for the best equipment service center can be time-consuming, you’ll be thankful in the long run when you have ready access to a lineup of solid technicians and a comprehensive parts catalog.
If you’re still not sure where to start your search, consider reaching out to Imperial Dade.
We service and sell a wide range of janitorial equipment, and our highly-rated technicians are dedicated to providing our customers with ongoing support to ensure complete satisfaction. We offer both on and off-site repairs, as well as both in-person and virtual consultations.
If you’re already happy with the state of your equipment and your equipment service center, you may still want to consider setting up a preventative maintenance program. We offer comprehensive preventative maintenance services, from planning to execution.
Our growing network of facilities is conveniently spread across North America. Call any one of them today and one of our janitorial equipment specialists can set up a free consultation to discuss developing a preventative maintenance plan and routine service schedule based on your business needs.