What are the two most important qualities customers look for in a refrigeration contractor?

Regular readers of our FROSTlines newsletter know that my (much) better half works for a magazine that serves the assisted living industry — an industry even more heavily regulated than our own.

She recently reported on a survey that found the two most important qualities for a successful assisted living facility are staffing and food service.

Staffing, because 1) certain levels are mandated and 2) the proper staffing ratio means each resident of the community can get the care they need and are paying for.

And food service, because in many cases the meals are pretty much the highlight of the day.  Many residents don’t have a lot to look forward to from day to day except perhaps a nice lunch or a favorite dinner.  (I will not amuse and/or depress everyone by pointing out that on many long work days, the same could also be said for those of us who are not in an assisted living facility.)

So I started thinking: if staffing and food service are the two primary factors for assisted living operators, what are they for refrigeration contractors?

I don’t have a survey to go by as my wife did, but I know the two I would cite.

The first is responsiveness. As the saying goes, “Ice cream has no patience.” Unlike comfort cooling, refrigeration is often mission-critical at supermarkets, restaurants, and anywhere large inventories of perishables are at stake. When your clients need you, they need you. In a way, this is the equivalent of the staffing factor for assisted living. You must have a team that can respond appropriately to any situations that arise. Unlike assisted living it’s not government-mandated, but it is business-mandated.

The second most important quality is knowledge. In this era of constantly changing refrigerant and energy regulations, your clients are going to count on you more than ever before to advise them. Should they keep their older HFC-based system for as long as they can? Should they look at transitioning to HFOs? Or should they make the investment in new equipment and go with systems that use natural refrigerants? In many cases, you are the only person they can turn to and ask. The advice you give may well help them make a decision that they’ll live with (and pay for) for the next 10, 15, or 20 years — and that advice is colored by a constantly changing regulatory landscape. In other words, it ain’t easy.  

Knowledge is power, and it’s definitely one of your most valuable assets. Use it wisely to help your customers navigate this era of ongoing change.