A few years ago, we published a blog piece on “Service vs. Support”, in it we outlined a scenario that played out for a client who was nearly left High and Dry by a service company simply due to the limitations of the service model. (read it here). This is a perfect example of the difference between the two models.
We close that blog asking the question, “can the two models coexist?” The simple answer is, Yes. All be it in a limited way.
The service model is all about scheduling technicians to be on site to service systems, and be paid to show up, paid by the hour, and make an up-charge on the equipment (however large or small it may be). A facility operator may pick up a thing or two by “hanging around” and watching the service technician, or they may even explain a little about what they are doing, but they don’t want to give away so much that they make themselves useless. The goal of this service call is for the technician to arrive (bill the flat rate cost), quickly ID the problem and either fix it right then and there, or, schedule a follow up once the required parts are available (and bill the time again). Nowhere in this model is the operator or facilities person meant to be educated to the point of self-sufficiency, that would detract from future service calls.
This is not to say the model doesn’t work, it absolutely does. There are however certain limitations (like technicians being totally booked up for days) and costs that cannot be avoided (like service calls fees, and hourly rates).
This is a night and day contrast to the support model.
In a support model, the facilities person is trained to perform the basic maintenance, troubleshooting and repairs that their systems require. It is only when the problem requires certified contractors (electricians & plumbers) that an outside company would be called in. The focus of the support model is to train onsite staff to be as self-sufficient as possible so that small problems do not become large ones, and shutdowns can be avoided, or at very least minimized.
Facilities utilizing a support company vs. a service company still pay a monthly (or annual) fee. This fee generally assures that when they need support, they will have it, and everything short of electrical and plumbing can be supported and taught to them. Do your homework when looking at support companies, some offer additional pricing incentives, specialized training, or other fringe benefits that you may benefit from.
When comparing the two models, ask yourself;
Do you want your facility to be self-sufficient? Or, Would you rather “call a guy” to take care of it for you, and potentially wait a few days?
Those who prefer the former should opt for the support model but not rule out a service company when appropriate. Those who prefer the latter should probably stick with service companies.