Everyone wants to see the friendly elevator guy with the big smile and the big handshake. After a merry greeting and traditional backslapping, he disappears down the hall and goes to work. Thirty minutes later, you hear the familiar sound of the tool belt jangling toward you and you know you are about to get a full report. But, after 40 minutes of discussing the weather, family, friends, fishing, the best BBQ in town, the nuances of abstract animation in the film noir era, oh and the elevator, he leaves. Both of you are the wiser for solving the world’s problems, but are you lighter in the pocketbook for the casual conversation.
This may be happening more than you think. How often do you actually look at the contract or repair bill and compare it to actual time spent on the elevator itself? Or do you know exactly what the contractual terms of your agreement are? Some may be billed a flat fee for certain maintenance regardless of time spent, but others may be paying for every five-minute increment. The terms are very important to know.
Each and every person who hires an elevator contractor understands that they will pay for time to repair and maintain elevators. No shock there. This normally comes in the form of a flat monthly fee with some exceptions for work outside of the scope of the contract. Others choose more comprehensive contracts that cover nearly all costs other than vandalism, intentional destruction or “Acts of God.” Also, hourly rates can vary widely depending on the geographic location and availability of technicians. Shopping the hourly rate may be a great place to start when looking at cutting the expense of maintenance, but actual time on the job may be hiding a bigger problem. Time actually spent on the job may not be matching what you are paying for.
Here are some things to be aware of that can increase costs.
- Forgotten tools – Have you had to pay for trips back to the shop or to the hardware store? Do you know if you have?
- Chitchat time – Are you forking over fees to find out what the weather is like in Bemidji or how the Bears did?
- Extra assistance – The elevator guys shows up with a team. Not sure if it is training or “bring your extended family to work day,” but you need to find out.
- The magic act – The incredible disappearing elevator mechanic. First you see him and then you don’t. Where was he for the past two hours? You checked the machine room and elevator and no one was to be found. Did he dematerialize into another dimension only to reappear suddenly just in time to go home?
- Lunch break, coffee break, smoke break – It is hard to swallow paying for all three of these in an hours time but it can happen.
- Whoops – The elevator professional drops his pliers from the top of the car and they end up in the pit. Oh well, one more unneeded trip to the dungeon.
These are just a few things that you maybe paying for that you are not even aware of. But, there are somethings you can do to alleviate the problem.
- Know your contract. If you are paying a monthly fee that is all inclusive and the elevator tech is a chatty Cathy and you like the banter..who cares. Enjoy the conversation. On the other hand, if you are being charged for every second that ticks off the clock, it’s time to reassess.
- Insist on a sign in and sign out every time they come and go. This will accomplish a couple of things. First, it will help alleviate the disappearing act. It will keep you informed on progress, it will make the technician more responsible and you will have a chance to find out what is going on with the elevator.
- Always check the maintenance log! It is your right and if “routine maintenance” is all that is written and it took two hours, there is a problem. Also insist that a log is kept in the machine room. This should be added to your elevator plan.
- Open a dialog with the technician. When he seems to be working a long time, safely track him down and ask what is going on. Remember, this is your building and you are granting him and his company the privilege of working on it.
- Open a dialog with the dispatcher or supervisor. Do this before problems start if they ever do. You should be on a first name basis with the person that tracks the time and services of the technician. This may also get some of your basic questions answered for free.
Remember the vast majority of elevator technicians are hard-working, want to fix problems right and have integrity when it comes to the people they service. However, that does not mean that you shouldn’t check their work and build into your routine a time to do some follow up and re-reading of the contract.