Our growing Industrial Refrigeration Service and Maintenance technician teams, refrigeration system emergency services, and Preventative Maintenance programs are proving their value to our customers (and for PermaCold) more and more, and we expect this to continue in the years ahead. In fact, it’s safe to say that Service and Maintenance contracts are the future of the PermaCold Service Department as more and more customers see the ROI and value in extending the lifespan of their cooling systems, improving safe operation and dependability, and keeping their cold-storage and food production facilities operating more reliably.
So, I’d like to take this opportunity to share some details on what we’ve been working on and the results they’ve brought to our customers and the company. It’s thanks to the commitment and talent of our team members, and every accomplishment we’ll be talking about is due to their hard work.
New Strategies for Service & Maintenance
A whole new chapter for the department began a few years ago. The department had been performing good work for customers and doing reliable business for years, but in 2019 the Executive Team decided it might benefit from a strategic re-evaluation. Essentially, the company believed the department was sitting on untapped potential in a whole range of areas: increased value to clients, faster response and technician expertise, and more efficient performance and support.
The first step was to meet with key clients to ask them directly how they thought we were doing, especially in terms of service. How well were we communicating with them? What did they think we could improve on? Did they need services or advice that we didn’t currently provide for them?
We also evaluated how our refrigeration service technicians and parts staff operated, and most importantly how we could work better as a team. The goal was to improve their ability to perform their jobs and have the support they needed to improve customer outcomes. It quickly became clear that superior team performance was how we’d drive future success.
Teamwork Makes It Happen
No element has been more important than the strong support culture and spirit of teamwork that we’ve fostered these past few years. Having adequate techs available during the pandemic to service our clients was particularly challenging, but that also forced everyone to rely on each other even more than usual. Trust in teammates, being willing to go the extra mile to support each other, and having the confidence to problem solve on site – all of these traits wound up being reinforced by the challenges of the pandemic. The team responded in the best way possible.
Today, I believe our refrigeration field technicians are as good as any in the industry. Everyone on the service and maintenance team gets along really well and everyone helps each other and shares information. For example, our commercial food industry partner WinCo recently had their entire control system go down and we needed to be on-site for two full days around the clock to operate things manually. Everybody stepped up and was willing to be on call during off hours and give up weekend time to support the team and back each other up.
Our team approach to problem solving makes us a vital asset for customers. Not hesitating to ask the team for help or advice, feeling confident to take initiative on solving issues – it means we now can solve almost every client problem on the first call. Our refrigeration maintenance techs are improvising in the field to make existing parts last longer since replacement parts can take awhile to arrive, and are taking measures to ensure partners will avoid costly refrigeration system emergency service calls.
When those calls do come in, our team has never been more responsive (teamwork makes that happen!), and that level of service is building a sterling reputation for PermaCold. We almost always are able to respond within 24 hours but usually much sooner. And with great service comes more business, more referrals, and happier customers.
Refrigeration preventative maintenance and compressor overhaul services have become a pillar of PermaCold’s success and the most promising area for increased client service improvements and rapid growth in the next few years. PermaCold is now putting a major focus on our apprenticeship program, training new refrigeration techs in house to teach them the “PermaCold way” and build our roster for potential future staff.
The reorganization has dramatically improved our department operations, and with a service sales specialist in place we are working much more efficiently with other departments in the company to turn around quotes and improve estimating accuracy. The new department model that we strategized and built up in Portland will soon be implemented in our regional locations as well. Future plans also include creating satellite service department locations in Seattle and Pasco, then taking advantage of even more growth opportunities in Idaho and beyond.
We plan to also expand the number of Mechanical Integrity inspections we’re performing. They represent yet another major revenue opportunity, with refrigeration system MI inspections a sure-fire way to boost work and build customer reliance. Increasing customer safety, efficiency, and solving emergencies before they happen always leads to more business and customer loyalty.
I’d like to close with a sincere thank you to all the members of our PermaCold Commercial Refrigeration Service and Maintenance team. They have all done a tremendous job to get us to where we are and continue to put in the extra effort every single day. They are a key reason for our growth and success, and are helping to build an ever-stronger future for PermaCold Engineering.