Why Have a Maintenance Contract?
01 May 2020
"Why do we need a maintenance contract? Our system is brand new!!"
This is one we hear quite a lot, and in all fairness, if you have just spent multiple thousands of pounds on a brand-new system, we get the suspicion over the extra cost of an annual contract and the fact a warranty is in place. But a common oversight is that the warranty is from the manufacturer and the term ‘only covers back to base’ is commonly used. This generally means that if there is an equipment failure during the warranty period, the installer will go to site, remove the faulty equipment and send it back to the manufacturer to be assessed. It is then up to the manufacturer to advise if the damage falls within the warranty terms, this, through experience, can be a draining process proving the equipment should be replaced under warranty and it has been known to take weeks for a replacement to be shipped out.
There is also another side to this, and that is response times of the installer during a warranty period. Generally, there is no service level agreement with the installer during the warranty period. So, if a maintenance contract has not been taken out, that usually means that if there has been a major failure within this period there is not set response time for the installer to attend to the fault. This can of course cause big problems for a client who is looking for attendance asap to repair the issue but may find themselves behind in a queue where companies have to attend the call outs where a maintenance contract, and a service level agreement is in place we other clients beforehand. We have seen this and have had reports of this before, thankfully it has not happened to us, but this can leave a client in a critical situation if it was to happen and no contract is in place.
Lets look at one scenario with which a client of our back in the early days of our now long-standing relationship and at the time, they were not looking to take a maintenance agreement out….
A fairly sizeable CCTV installation was completed by us at a prestigious property in the West End of London. It was commissioned, all training was carried out and the client was more than happy with there new upgraded system. About 3 months after the installation was completed, a member of their security team called in to our office to report that the CCTV system had gone down. At the time we did not have remote access so, due to the urgency of the situation, our office assigned an engineer and we attended the same day.
After carrying out the diagnostics, running tests and attempting repairs it was clear that there was a major failure with the server and that parts would need replacing. A relatively simple fix? Yes, but we had to remove the server and send back to the manufacturer for them to assess the fault before replacing or repairing under warranty. This basically left the client with no server and in turn, no CCTV coverage. We were however able to assist by setting the CCTV up on a spare server they had on site with demo software as thankfully the backups we setup for them were up to date. The server was repaired, but not under warranty as the manufacturer found negligence (coffee spill) to have caused the fault. They repaired at a cost and returned the server to site for us to re-instate. Even though the client had to pay for the repairs, the situation could have been much worse and even more costly if it were not for the old spare server they had on site.
The point to this scenario is that you cannot solely rely on the manufacturers warranty to get you out of a fix if something goes wrong, it doesn’t happen often to the degree explained, but when it does it can be disastrous and affect business continuity.
Every company has their own approach to maintenance contracts and our is trying to explain the benefits of having a maintenance from the get-go that safeguards the client and their assets right from the completion of the installation. If the client in this scenario would of had a maintenance contract in place following installation completion then we would of attended their premises within the agreed SLA, diagnosed the fault, had one of our spares stock servers to site the same day and had the CCTV up and working without the uncertainty that nearly came out of the original engineer visit. We would have dealt with the faulty server and returned it once repaired. Just imagine if they did not have that spare server for us to utilise as an interim?
Our maintenance contracts are always tailored to each client. We have found a one size fits all approach simply doesn’t work. Each client has different risks, different needs and a different approach to how they view security within there businesses. As a security company you have to adapt to the client and their needs. The moment you say ‘that might not be possible’ or ‘we only offer the following terms within our contracts’ forget your chances of gaining the trust and business of that client. We view a maintenance contract as a long term, personal business relationship which we like to be in for the long haul, service is key and is the most important thing you can offer a client, they need to know they can call on you and be confident they can speak to a familiar voice and see familiar faces that understand their requirements and also that you can deliver when called upon, not just be a contract number asked for when they phone up with a request.
In summary, we feel that maintenance contracts are very important and should be once of the first things considered when budgeting. They give piece of mind that a client’s business and its assets are safe guarded and piece of mind that when called upon they will respond within the contracted time. Also, knowing that the system is being maintained and regular maintenance visits are carried out ensuring the system is working optimally. Most of all, trust is a big factor for any client, having confidence that they can lean on a security company that they know will deliver is a big factor in why long-standing relationships last, and this is something at A Plus Security we never lose focus of.