Now is the right time to focus on supplying a high-quality offering while remaining relatively competitive, says South African Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors’ Association (Saracca) director Barney Richardson.
He highlights that it is not worth the profit, if anything, to work on projects where standards have been sidelined for cost, pointing out that Saracca members are, therefore, regularly informed on quality issues, as well as new laws and regulations governing the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry.
Currently, businesses in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) sector are subjected to cost and time pressures to ensure competitiveness, which could compromise the quality of their service, as more companies enter the market, says Saracca.
“The attraction to air-conditioning sales is the demand and the ease of installation of an air-conditioning unit which has now become an appliance in the domestic and small commercial market,” says Richardson.
Richardson says the concept of competitive pricing has evolved considerably over the years and the risk now lies in becoming too competitive, resulting in projects that offer little return and often lead to compromised installations.
He explains that such installations end up “looking shoddy” and, if the refrigeration piping is not completed in a way which follows standards and sound engineering practice, the unit could be at risk of premature failure.
“There are, however, means to eliminate pricing risk while maintaining a competitive edge, such as offering good service both at the new installation and after installation service backup,” says Richardson.
Further, Saracca VP John Parry asserts that high-quality products and effective project management play vital role for clients when selecting companies to contract.
“It seems like a crazy notion, but businesses that offer good service, reliability and value are often in high demand at significant cost. On the other hand, companies that offer cheap prices and poor-quality products suffer from short-term profit and long-term decline,” he points out.
He adds that a common mistake that clients make when selecting companies to do the installations is that they do not request a Certificate of Conformity.
“Many installers are not qualified or authorised to work on refrigeration or air-conditioning equipment. This could lead to faulty installations and damage to equipment and/or property,” Parry emphasises.
One solution that will reduce risks, Parry says, is becoming aware of regulations and remaining steadfast in offering high-quality installations, even if this is at an increased price.
He adds that clients should look for SAQCC Gas-registered authorised refrigeration gas practitioners and Saracca members when appointing a company to install refrigeration or air-conditioning systems.
“Outbidding your rival while providing a poor-quality installation is dangerous for not only your client but also your business reputation and sustainability.
Saracca believes that the focus on supplying high-quality installations is essential and that it is up to the client and consulting engineer to select HVAC companies based on the scope of work required, as opposed to only cost,” Richardson comments.
Saracca represents the HVAC industry as an association or collective body of companies, he emphasises; hence, the association exists to ensure collective quality control among HVAC companies.
He mentions that a company wishing to apply for membership needs to be a contracting or sheet metal duct manufacturing entity whose primary business is in air conditioning, ventilation and/or refrigeration.
The applicant must disclose its motivation for membership application, have been in business for at least two years and supply its latest audited annual financial statements.
Meanwhile, Parry says clients are prepared to pay more for better installations, and those that are not, need to be aware of the implications if a company is underbidding.
“It boils down to communicating with your client and ensuring that the quality of the installation is top of mind. “Saracca membership selection is based on quality, reputation and the value of the service supplied.”