System maintenance can be about anything you want it to be. It could be in reference to communications (data or voice networks), electrical, mechanical, security or anything your heart or bottom line desires.

You may think that such a statement is too sweeping and general, right? Wrong.

On the contrary, if you sit back and think about it, it does make sense––mainly financial sense. More offerings mean more revenues, and that leads to happier contractors. Think of system maintenance as a natural extension of your current business. Customers need routine maintenance to protect their investments and contractors can easily incorporate this service into their existing businesses.

Think about it this way: If the electrical system that supplies the power to operate a data network or phone-communication system fails, you have no voice or data communications. You can take this reasoning and apply it to virtually any system, anywhere.

When you start thinking about the importance of interoperability of all vital and critical systems within any given facility, it starts to become apparent that maintaining all systems is equally important.

Think about how many businesses have to shut down operations temporarily, because the network goes down. This can often result in large losses in both productivity and revenue; both of which are essential operational factors.

In the world in which we live, one that operates almost exclusively on electricity (electrical systems) and the passing of information (communication systems), how can an individual, let alone an entire business, get by if any system goes down?

Routine—proactive or preventive—maintenance is a key component in keeping businesses and buildings up and running at optimum performance.

Since maintenance is a key, value-added component, there are numerous steps and programs that can be readily implemented into any contractor’s suite of offerings, so that maintenance programs become second nature.

Maintaining electrical systems has become an industry unto itself. Companies that operate only as system-maintenance providers can be viewed as competition, since most electrical contractors already have the basic knowledge and experience to supply maintenance to their customers. There are various offerings available, including franchises such as the TEGG (www.tegg.com) program that contractors can become a part of. The TEGG program allows allied contractors to use a wide variety of monitoring and scheduled maintenance methodologies and procedures that also include technician training and reporting tools.

If one chooses not to align with such a national program, other options are available. Many have chosen to create their own programs with the knowledge and expertise they have attained throughout their years in the industry. Each of the vast number of components making up an electrical system is all subject to routine maintenance.

Maintenance of communications systems takes a different twist because such systems vary extensively. Some systems rely heavily on software for operation, and contractors generally do not have full-time software troubleshooters. However, this can easily be subcontracted. Moves, adds and changes are other items that can be incorporated into comprehensive communication-systems maintenance programs.

As with any maintenance program, contractors have two choices as far as selling and marketing such services. The first option is to make maintenance contracts a separate offering, and the second is to automatically include it in all other contracts as a value-added service. Either way, explaining the benefits associated with system-maintenance programs is something that can be learned. Often, the explanation itself is rooted in common sense. Proper system maintenance helps alleviate potential problems and threats such as system downtime, interruptions and, worst of all, fire hazards (mainly in regards to electrical systems).

The system in question will dictate the logistics and extent of the maintenance offerings. The more complicated the system, the more in-depth the maintenance program should be.

Perhaps the most-prominent benefits that an electrical contractor will realize by jumping into this field of offerings are ongoing communication and contact with customers. This is important because once an installation is complete, contact is almost always lost. By offering maintenance on systems, you can stay in touch with your clients and continue to build upon the trust you have worked so hard to achieve. EC

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.