Owning the building that houses your small business has its rewards. Beyond the value of the real estate, you have the satisfaction of achieving a great goal in your entrepreneurial journey. There are some less glamorous parts of reaching this milestone. You are completely responsible for every detail related to the building, including the mechanical systems. That means when the heating system fails during a cold spell, you're the one who has to make sure it becomes functional again as soon as possible. Your company's profitability depends on employees who have a comfortable enough workplace for productivity. When the interior temperature drops, you can also end up with other system failures such as frozen pipes and equipment that just doesn't run right in the cold.
To reduce the negative consequences of a heating system failure, it's important to have a contingency plan in place. With all your other corporate responsibilities, it can be easy to let this particular type of planning slip down your list of priorities. Instead of waiting until you have to deal with the fall-out of having no heat, put these action items in your day planner so that you'll be prepared to deal with the chilly details in a smooth, efficient manner.
1. Establish a relationship with a local HVAC contractor so that you have someone to call that is familiar with your building and its heating system. The best way to do this is to hire the company to handle your annual system inspection and tune-up. If you do end up having to call for heating repair services, the company will have records of the work that has been done previously, which may expedite the troubleshooting process. And because the company has done work with your heating system already, you have confidence that it has access to any necessary parts that may need to be replaced. The repair service likely has standard parts on hand, but if something needs to be ordered, they have established relationships with dealers and manufacturers that can expedite shipping to get you back up and running again.
2. Never skip the annual autumn check-up for the system. The HVAC service can often spot a potential problem during this inspection and deal with it before it has a chance to cause problems in the winter. You may also schedule an additional appointment for the HVAC system in the spring before the air conditioning starts to be used for cooling the work spaces in your building.
3. Plan how to keep your employees comfortable during the time when the system is down. Invest in several space heaters to store on the premises that can warm the offices and other work areas should the need arise. Make sure the heaters are compliant with OSHA regulations, and that they are UL approved for safety. You may also want to make a little reminder note for yourself that it's a welcome gesture to buy hot chocolate, coffee and lunch for the staff members who keep things rolling during the chilly times while the repairs are underway.
4. Contact your insurance broker to review what is covered under your existing policy should you experience downtime or losses due to a heating system failure. Based on your risk assessment, you may want to make adjustments to your policy to cover all the bases.
5. Finally, meet with key employees who will be responsible to carry out your contingency plan if heating system repairs are needed. They should know who to call and how to support the rest of the staff during the period while the problem is being corrected. Share sufficient information and details so that these individuals can handle all the issues even if you are absent.