As you know, the HVAC industry is a unique one that requires specialized vehicles to ensure a job well done. In fact, the right HVAC vehicles are essential, and that’s where the importance of upfits comes in. But before you upfit your next commercial vehicle (or fleet of vehicles), take a look at these four important considerations, which can save you time and money — and potentially avoid a headache or two.
1. Upfit Package vs. Individual Upfits
Budget, budget, budget. It’s understandably one of the most important considerations, so here’s the question: How can you save when it comes to upfits? Consider an upfit package, which is usually more cost-effective than buying individual upfits. Plus, installing a package means your vehicle will be upfitted all at once, instead of losing precious downtime for individual upfits.
Also, here’s a tip: You may be able to swing a deal if you’re upfitting a certain number of commercial vehicles.
It’s also important to note that if you’re buying a new HVAC truck or cargo van and decide to finance, you might be able to finance your upfits simultaneously. If you choose to upfit your vehicles at a later point, you’ll likely have to pay for your upfits up front.
2. Essential vs. Nonessential Upfits
You need to figure out exactly what you need, which sounds obvious, but there are a lot of available upfits. Do your homework, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Dealerships and upfit manufacturers may try to sell you more than what you actually need.
Here are some questions to think about:
- What upfits are most important, and which ones are nice to have?
- Do you have existing vehicles with upfits that you aren’t using — and therefore don’t need on future vehicles?
- Which upfits will ensure the successful transport of your HVAC equipment?
Below is a list of some of the most common upfits for HVAC vehicles. Again, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, especially considering your needs and budget, but this is a good place to start:
- Branding and decals
- Tank racks
- Hooks to hang manifolds
- Bins for small parts
- Ladder racks
- Drawer units
- Shelving modules
- Anti-slip flooring
- Roof vents
You might need all of these upfits, or just a few, which is why it’s important to do your research. Plus, the dealership point of contact or upfit manufacturer should welcome your questions. If they don’t or they aren’t helpful in answering them, it’s probably a sign you should take your business elsewhere.
3. The Upfitting Timeline
There are a few important points to consider when it comes to timeline. First, at what point would you like your HVAC vehicle(s) upfitted? Upfits can happen at any point — during the initial sale or a few months (or years) into vehicle ownership. It might be more financially beneficial to upfit during the point of sale; plus, it’s one less thing to worry about down the line.
The second important point is the time it takes to actually upfit the vehicle. This will depend on a few factors, including how many vehicles you’re upfitting and which types of upfits you’ve selected. As we’ve mentioned, an upfit package means everything is done at once, which saves time. But timelines can shift, especially if there are supply chain issues, so it’s important to contact your commercial vehicle partner or upfit manufacturer for an estimate — especially if you need your vehicles as soon as possible.
4. Finding an Upfitting Partner You Can Actually Trust
At the end of the day, you want to work with someone who understands the HVAC industry. That’s why it’s important to find a reputable upfit manufacturer and installation company. If you purchase your vehicle(s) from a notable dealership, they can help you spec the best aftermarket equipment and select the best upfit vendors, which removes the stress of trying to find a good upfit partner.
Many upfit manufacturers work with a variety of industries and trades, but it’s important to confirm that the people you’re dealing with have previous experience working with and upfitting HVAC commercial vehicles. So, how can you find a partner you trust? References are a good start, but they’ll likely be mostly positive, which is why you should seek out objective third parties, such as Google reviews. You can ask your family, friends, and co-workers and also contact the Better Business Bureau to read customer reviews and complaints.
You can’t avoid every potential problem when it comes to securing new commercial HVAC vehicles, but keeping these considerations in mind can help ensure the upfitting process goes as smoothly as possible — whether you’re upfitting one vehicle or an entire fleet.