What’s Your 5 Year Plan?

Plan-Strategy_000020322326SmallMost successful people have short and long term goals and plans in place. These goals may include  plans for their home or family, finances, career, health, and even spiritual goals. When you make goals, it’s a good idea to write them down and check your progress as time goes by. Break down big goals into smaller targets that will help you along the way. Like the old saying goes: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Some goals, like buying that 67 Corvette you always wanted, are personally important but not critical. Others, like losing that 20 lbs  and getting your blood pressure under control before you have the 2nd heart attack, are critical not just for your own success but also in how they affect your loved ones. Having goals and plans help you stay in control by being proactive versus reacting to crisis, emergencies and budget shortfalls due to poor planning.

Sometimes facility owners and managers lose sight of these principles when managing their building HVAC systems. The problem with living by the saying “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it” is that it usually translates into a late night emergency call or a critical breakdown on a 100 degree day costing big bucks and even bigger aggravation.

A facility owner or manager should know the age, condition and useful life expectancy of their equipment. He or she should have a goal and plan to upgrade the older equipment to new, more dependable and efficient equipment as it approaches the end of its useful life expectancy. That’s being proactive.  They should also be aware of equipment that still contains R22 which has become very costly to purchase as it is being phased out for environmental concerns. These units should certainly be targeted for replacement.

It’s sad to say but I have seen this scenario over and over again. A facility will try to keep their old equipment running for as long as possible, and only  after they have invested (sunk) a couple thousand dollars to fix an old unit they realize they’ve been throwing good money after bad and bite the bullet and buy a new unit anyway. A planned replacement schedule would have given them the option to put those repair costs to better use, replace that unit, and would also have saved the aggravation and downtime involved in trying to fix the unit.

Another thing to remember when you are trying to pitch this idea to the one who holds the “purse strings” is that HVAC equipment does not last for ever. You are going to have to replace it at some point. The new equipment will save money on energy consumption and repairs. Also there are many technologies that are integrated into the newest equipment that make monitoring and controlling your equipment much more affordable.

Sounds great! So how do I make this plan?

The average useful life of most HVAC equipment is 12 to 15 years depending on how much it is used and how well it is maintained. You can find the age of your equipment by getting the make, model and serial number. Almost all manufactures have the date the unit was manufactured coded in the serial number. If you don’t know how to read the code, we will be happy to help you.  A manageable replacement plan is 3 to 5 years depending on your budget and the number of units you need to replace.

So if you have equipment that is 10 to 12 years old now you should have a plan and a budget to replace those pieces of equipment within 5 years. Most buildings had the bulk of their equipment installed at the same time. Your plan should be to replace a percentage of the equipment each year over 5 years targeting the problem units. One thing to remember when you have a large quantity of units, and especially if you have roof top units, is that replacing multiple units at the same time allows for considerable  savings on labor and crane costs.

With a plan in place, if you come across a situation where a targeted piece of equipment needs costly repairs you will already be ahead of the game with a budget for replacement. A good HVAC company like Oliver Mechanical should be able to replace the unit in the same or less amount of time than a major repair would take. You not only were prepared to handle the situation but you handled it in a way that satisfied your long and short term goals. And that is never a bad thing to be able to include in your performance review!

Some may say a successful person by the age of 40 should have 2.5 children, almost enough 401 K saved to cover their gas and insurance when they retire, have at least 1 line of credit paid off, have a good exercise plan 3 times per week, be comfortable and growing in their faith, and spend quality time with their spouse and children. I say a successful facility owner or manager will have a proactive equipment replacement goal and plan in place to be prepared for the future!

– Bill Wilhelm, Commercial Services Account Manager

Want to learn more about how Oliver Mechanical Services can help with your 5 year plan? Give us a call today at 800-613-2665!

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