Insights From a Management Company VP Reveal What Commercial Customers Want

March 13, 2013
What do commercial HVAC contractors' customers want? We asked the executive vice president of a large real estate management firm to find out.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with the executive vice president of a real estate management company. The company is a big one: it manages 11,000 apartment units and more than 8 million square feet of commercial space, including office buildings, industrial plants, and warehouses.

The vice president’s goal, as you may well imagine, is to keep his clients happy. And he certainly needs the help of good HVAC contractors to do so.

What’s important to him in a commercial contractor? Great service and honesty.

“You want the truth,” he said. “In our business we’re fiduciaries for our clients. We need to know the truth to make the right decisions with their money. If we make the wrong decision and it becomes a financial problem for our client, it becomes a financial problem for us: Either we lose our job or we have to make it right financially.”

For contractors, that means diligently maintaining and accurately assessing HVAC equipment to ensure that it provides both maximum performance and maximum lifespan. Not always an easy task, to be sure. But you didn’t get into this business because you thought it would be easy, did you?

Here are three more pieces of advice the EVP offered to commercial contractors. Use these insights as you will!

• Get involved in the local industry associations. That kind of industry exposure builds relationships. “I know it’s like this in our market, and I suspect it’s the same in others, you don’t really give business to people you don’t know, so you have to build loyalty and trust by being involved in your community and working with property managers before you just ask for the business.”

• Always “do the right thing” for the client. “It’s no different than us keeping the needs of our real estate clients foremost. Do the right thing for the client, even if it’s not always the best thing for your bottom line. Sometimes vendors can lose sight of that, and the salespeople just drive sales. Don’t ever forget the value of building a long-term relationship.”

• Excellent customer service and response time is essential. “When tenants go hot or cold, nothing is going to make them happy until they’re comfortable again.”