fbpx

Maintenance Contracts for the Trades

Efficiently Manage Complex Contracts at Scale

Transform your maintenance contract management with all-in-one software that gives you total control.

Create, customise, and manage every contract with confidence!

maintenance contracts guide
1

Elevating your Maintenance Contracts Management

You’re no stranger to winning contracts, but do you have all you need to manage them efficiently?

The key challenge to managing large-scale maintenance contracts for your field service business is their variety and complexity.

Compare this to residential contract management, where it’s all about learning to manage the volume of work. Commercial maintenance contracts carry more weight and have greater responsibility, risk, and liability.

With so much more at risk should your service business fail to deliver on the terms of your contracts, you need to be prepared.

After all, failure will mean suffering more than a bit of damage to your reputation or losing a single customer: failing a large-scale contract can cripple your business. As such, it’s necessary to understand how you can better large-scale maintenance agreements, understand the risks, and protect your business.

While dealing with any sort of service contract management—including B2C home service agreements—can be challenging, if you’re currently managing large-scale B2B and B2B2C contracts (or are aiming to win these contracts down the road), we’re here to help.

This guide will cover all you need to know about making your commercial contract management more efficient.

What’s in the guide?

We’ll demonstrate how automated tools can help you manage your maintenance contracts.

Additionally, we’ll explore how other software tools can help you overcome common issues and make managing contracts at a grander scale easier. We’ll focus on essential tools to support your PPM efforts and share more about SLA monitoring, too.

To top it off, we’ll showcase Commusoft’s Service Contract Management software. These have been specially designed to help field service businesses, and they’ll enable your business to carry out more efficient contract management and ensure every need is met!

Note: Navigate through this guide using the scrolling menu on the left.

Let’s explore and learn how to manage your maintenance contracts with confidence.

Improving your Maintenance Contract Management

You’re managing contracts, but are you doing it efficiently?

It’s very likely that you’re already managing a wide variety of contract types. You’re also involved in carrying out planned preventive maintenance (PPM) and committing to service level agreements (SLAs). You might even be using contract management tools to support your work.

However, if you’re reading this guide, it’s increasingly likely that your current tools simply aren’t doing enough to support you…

As you take on more responsibilities, you’ll notice that your team has to manage significantly more moving parts and complexities. If that’s the case, it means you know your business could be at risk and are seeking ways to improve your contract management.

It’s essential, then, to explore more proficient solutions and tools that you can use to help ease the pressure and cope with the challenges facing your company.

However, the challenge of managing these large-scale maintenance contracts isn’t just overseeing their many and varied moving parts; it’s also about keeping your team in control and managing them confidently.

With greater oversight of contracts, you’ll ensure that your business is:

  • Managing every contract more efficiently, without crossing wires between different systems.
  • Managing at scale whether it's hundreds or thousands of tenant properties for a single client.
  • Preventing problems with day-to-day jobs and handling maintenance, PPM, or emergency repairs.
  • Giving customers confidence in your services by meeting the expectations of your service contract.

Altogether, this means you’ll be able to fulfil your contractual obligations more effectively, keep customers happy, and manage complex contracts much more quickly.

As we’ll explain, this is simpler when using fully automation tools that streamline contract management tasks.

2

Understanding Risk and Managing Liability

With great revenue opportunities, comes great responsibility.

As mentioned, perhaps the biggest point to concern yourself with for managing large-scale maintenance contracts is risk.

Before we continue the guide, it’s important to understand more about what it means to take on this type of contract and better understand the risks.

What is risk management?

A business should only take on a contract (of any size) when they fully understand the risks involved.

After all, by taking on a contract, your business is accepting liability and is obligated to fulfil the services that are described in the contract.

The bigger the contract, the greater the risk.

Risk management, then, refers to how a business evaluates and understands the requirements and consequences that are involved should contractual obligations not be met.

By evaluating the risks (which can include financial, safety, legal, and more), a business can establish procedures that help them avoid, limit, or reduce the impact of these risks and their consequences.

For example, if a business is taking on the HVAC maintenance of an office building, the following are just a few of the risks they need to account for:

  • Safety hazards
  • Financial and operational costs
  • Maintenance tasks
  • Impact to occupants
  • Building regulations
  • Cost of not meeting SLAs and consequences of contractual failure

Details of these risks will be included in the contract, but it’s awareness of these responsibilities and the consequences involved—which range from fines to complete loss of a contract—that indicate if a business should take on the contract.

As mentioned, this should only be done if they’re sure they can fulfil the requirements and account for the liability that comes with it, too.

Different Types of Contract & Risk

We briefly touched on the types of contracts your service business may already be managing. Once again, these are:

  • B2C – Residential / Service Contract Agreement
  • B2B – Commercial Contract
  • B2B2C – Commercial Estate/Property Management

While they have some details in common, B2B and B2B2C maintenance contracts are the most lucrative but also the most difficult to manage due to their complexities and risks.

We’ll briefly touch on all three types of contracts, but for the rest of this guide, we’ll focus on B2B and B2B2C contracts. If you’d like to know more about B2C contract management, explore our Complete Guide to Home Service Plans:

B2C Contracts

Business to Customer (B2C). An excellent example of a B2C contract is a care plan covering a homeowner’s heating system, like their boiler and radiators. A plumbing business may take on a contract, agreeing to maintain and repair these assets.

They’re lower revenue contacts with low risk.

As such, if your trade business fails to restore and maintain the boiler, there’s minimal risk to your business. Customers may be disappointed, but your business is unlikely to run into significant pressures, and solutions (like replacing a boiler) will be much easier to implement.

B2B Contracts

Business to Business (B2B). As mentioned, a B2B contract carries more responsibility and risk, with increased financial reward.

Consider the following: you have an agreement to maintain the HVAC system of a factory. Should their air-conditioning system fail, the building will become too hot for their employees to work in, and your client will have to cease production of goods and send their staff home.

The risk to your trade business, if it fails to fix or maintain these assets, may cost your client an entire day’s production (or worse) and cost them tens of thousands.

Within the B2B contract, it may stipulate that there are fines for failing to meet specific requirements. This may also apply to missing an SLA (more on that later).

In the worst-case scenario, the factory could sue your business for breach of contract. In this scenario, not only are you likely to lose a lucrative contract, but it would lead to a significant loss of revenue. As noted, the risk to your business is high, but there’s higher revenue.

New call-to-action

B2B2C Contracts

Business to Business to Customer (B2B2C). Similar to the above is B2B2C, which can overlap with residential B2C contracts but includes working with estate agents and their many residents.

The risk here, just as with B2B maintenance contracts, is high (as is revenue) but with even more complexity, especially in cases where you may cover thousands of properties and tenants across multiple areas.

These contracts may contain additional legal protections and even more significant risks to manage. Breaching the terms of these contracts can be very damaging, and the risk, again, is very high for your business.

3

Understanding all the moving parts of a commercial contract

What should you include in a commercial maintenance contract?

Let’s break down and define what’s included in a commercial maintenance contract.

We’ll also include a short summary about what each point means within the contract:

Job description and scope of the work

The job description will detail the types of service covered in the contract. You may also include exclusions in the contract to ensure it’s clear what your business is and isn’t responsible for, as specific maintenance could fall to another party. The job description will have details about preventive maintenance, emergency repairs, reactive maintenance work, and call-out frequency and stipulate details about asset monitoring.

Property type and information

This will define the property/properties being serviced and specific locations. Addresses will be listed to ensure that all parties know exactly where the jobs will occur and where you’re responsible for monitoring. This section may also highlight permits, how to access the property, and safety protocols to follow.

Keep in mind that it’s helpful to define the number of properties under contract and the size of the customer base.

Points of Contact and Communication

Contracts should define critical points of communication. This may define who to contact and how to communicate with all the parties involved (text messages, calls, emails).
Assets
Similar to the property, a complete list of the assets you’re contractually obligated to care for will be listed here. This will make clear what your business is responsible for, as per the terms of the contract. It may also include details about warranties of said assets and, similarly guarantees on the workmanship carried out.

Labor and materials Truck icon

The terms and conditions of the cost of materials and staff labor may be listed here. This is useful, for instance, in defining if the cost of materials is included in the cover or expensed at an additional cost. The details of this will be made clear in the contract

Billable rates & rules

Define the costs associated with the contract. This will usually cover maintenance fees and the overall cost of the contract. Rules may also be included to highlight additional costs, such as additional service work. A particular challenge of commercial contracts will be managing different billable rates and terms across a variety of contracts: there’s no one-size-fits-all fee.

Contract length/type

This will specify how long the contract will run. It may also define a break clause, giving your business and/or the customer room to terminate the contract under certain circumstances. Equally, it may include information about renewing the contract and the steps required.

Invoicing Schedule, i.e., Yearly/Monthly

Alongside the payment details, this will also define how often a client is billed for your services (payment terms). Smaller businesses or residential customers may prefer monthly contracts, but larger businesses may pay quarterly or yearly fees all at once.

discover invoicing software with Commusoft

Payment/invoicing mechanism

This will cover the method by which a service is paid. Are you charging upfront, quarterly, or yearly? This should be defined in the contract so it’s clear to your accounting team and the customer. You may also define how a payment is delivered/received. You could set up a monthly recurring payments, too.

Renewal of contract

The contract should define the renewal terms in addition to invoicing and payments. Contracts can run annually, every two years, or more. Depending on the type of service you provide, it is advisable to keep agreements flexible.

Signing long-term contracts would only be advantageous if you have a strong partnership and confidence in maintaining assets long-term (something made easier by a long-term risk assessment).

Service level agreements

The SLAs listed in the contract will define the targets you must achieve from time-sensitive responses to emergencies, repair completion times, guarantees, and communication between the service provider and customer. These are just a few examples of SLAs that could exist in your contract.

PPM and Task Building

This will explain the steps followed on the job. For example, if you were a plumbing contractor, it would mention checking details such as water pressure, pipe health, drain flushing, and safety valves. You’d expect to see a complete breakdown of all the agreed-upon checks required.

PPM Schedule

This will detail the frequency of the visits to the site. It may also include details relating to additional call-out requests and checks. As mentioned in Billing Rates/Rules, such checks may come at an added cost. Managing the schedules of these check-ups can be a big challenge, mainly when maintenance can take days to carry out.

There will also be time-sensitive requirements to ensure that assets are maintained and legally compliant.

Reporting

For large-scale contracts, you’ll need to give feedback and communicate on the maintenance you carry out, as well as share other details of your service. This portion of the contract will make that clear.


While these same information points will appear in almost every contract, the exact details will always differ from contract to contract.

This makes commercial maintenance contracts much more complicated to manage without the right tools. The number of assets drastically increases, SLAs become varied and bespoke from client to client (as do the consequences for missing them), and risk overall becomes greater, too.

In this case, for commercial contracts, there’s no one-size-fits-all contract that’s easy to understand; instead, you need a single, powerful tool that makes managing a wide variety of contracts easy.

Let’s explore more about what it means to manage maintenance contracts more efficiently

4

How to Manage Maintenance Contracts More Efficiently

Let’s see how to improve your commercial contract management.

Much of this relies on being organized from an administrative perspective.

After all, this is where most of the contract management burden lies, and when managed well, it’s here that you can significantly mitigate the risk of something going wrong on a job, payment, or communication.

With a series of well-organized processes, arranging and delivering your service will be more straightforward. This will relieve stress for staff and ensure they aren’t getting lost in the details of every contract. Instead, they can organize them with confidence and your team can execute the service contract without issue.

Let’s look at how your team can manage maintenance contracts more effectively.

Exploring Automation and Contract Management

The goal when managing commercial maintenance contracts is to work smarter, not harder. These days, there are many ways to maximize efficiency within your service business.

Keep in mind that a lot of these resources apply to your business at scale, not just for contract management!

An all-in-one management system can be a huge game changer for your service business, and you’ll be seeking full automation. This means controlling everything from invoicing, to job management, reporting, and more.

Relying on Automation

One of the best ways to manage large-scale contracts is to rely on software that saves time everywhere, not just on niche tasks.

With automated tools helping you take care of the admin tasks mentioned above, you can rely on your management system to pull data instantly so it’s ready for your team. This way, no matter their situation, they have all the information they need when they need it.

Accessibility is paramount to productivity, so a single customer view makes the management experience even better.

Let’s explore a few specific automation tools in more detail, as these will be especially helpful when it comes to contract management:

Payment Integration

Quickly charge landlords for monthly recurring payments, establish rules for additional charges, payment terms, and costs for repairs and emergency work or discounts. When payment data, such as labor and parts rates, are included in your system, you can rely on the relevant data being pulled into contracts automatically. This saves time finding and entering data, streamlining data entry for your admin staff

PPM Scheduling

This allows maintenance plans to be scheduled in detail, with jobs automatically raised weekly, monthly, or quarterly, so there is no doubt about what needs to happen and when.

PPM includes tasks for every job description in the contract as well.

This way, you can automatically create jobs and assignments for your engineers and always take the correct action as defined by the contract terms.

SLA Monitoring

Easily track various metrics and priorities, ranking them from urgent, important, medium, to less critical tasks. With automation, your team can easily track SLAs and promptly respond to breaches.

Swift reactions will improve your SLA attainment rate and boost company revenue.

Using software, staff will see when an SLA starts as soon as a job is created. They’ll also be alerted automatically if an SLA is soon breached and enjoy greater transparency and accountability.

360’ timeline view:

Get a 360 degree timeline view with a single customer view that presents all history, details, assets, of a customer. This way, teams can use software to respond rapidly and in real-time. Such a display will improve all aspects of customer service and service delivery for payments, scheduling, customer communication, and more.


Contract management needn’t be complicated. It’s why it’s important to use a tool that is well structured and easy to use. Something that’s all-in-one.

We’ll explain more about how Commusoft fits this description below, but for now, know that it’s important for you to use a tool that makes use of contract templates, let you customise your contracts, and also which helps you get the details you need, when you need them.

This way, your team can always understand the details, cope with contracts at scale, and not worry about the administrative burden that comes with it.

Benefits of Efficient Contract Management

What benefits does all this improved organisation get your field service business? In short:

  1. Increased scalability and volume of work
  2. Streamlined communication and record-keeping
  3. Enhanced scheduling and dispatching
  4. Automated reminders and reports
  5. Improved data analysis and decision-making
  6. Revenue Security (for bigger contracts)
  7. Connected functionality (thanks to an all-in-one, out of the box solution).

Let’s explore each of these in a bit more detail, thinking about the core challenge and then benefits of using software to improve efficiency:

Increased Scalability and Volume of Work

Challenge: Juggling complex contracts and clients within that contract, all with varying terms and requirements, can lead to confusion, missed deadlines, and potentially costly mistakes.

Benefit: Streamline workflows and manage customized contracts by centralizing information and automating tasks, thanks to a software system holding all the data in one place, wherever your team works.

Streamlined Communication and Record-Keeping

Challenge: You’re well beyond using paper to keep track of records and already used to sending digital reminders, but without automation, delays and mistakes can still crop up all too easily.

Benefit: Streamline communication with your clients and make it easy for them to access their data via a customer portal. The software also makes it easy for your staff to access, update, and keep data history to send communications full of the correct data in moments easily.

Enhanced Scheduling and Dispatching

Challenge: Tracking schedules with an ineffective system can lead to inefficient resource allocation and missed services. Delays can be costly and hurt your team’s productivity.

Benefit: By using software to create jobs to fit specific timeframes, you can optimize the schedule for every technician based on their availability, location, and even skillsets. With an automated system, you’re far more likely to get your staff to an appointment on time and meet your contracted requirements.

Automated Reminders and Reports

Challenge: Reliance on manual reminders to try and keep your team aware of preventive maintenance or upcoming contract renewals can lead to missed deadlines and revenue loss. They’re unreliable.

Benefit: Automated reminders can be set up to prompt your team and customers at different intervals when a job needs to be booked. This way, it’s no longer only one person who can keep current. Still, everyone is involved and on the same page regarding upcoming service needs and contract renewals, which is excellent for saving time, keeping customers happy, and securing recurring revenue.

Improved Data Analysis and Decision-Making

Challenge: Without easily accessible data, tracking your responsibilities can be challenging, especially if you’re juggling SLAs and reacting to emergency appointments. It’s also challenging to know how well you’re fulfilling (or failing) the terms of your contract.

Benefit: Using software will provide insightful data to analyze and report on. You can identify trends and better understand areas for improvement, too. It’s only through well-organized data that you can hope to optimize your service delivery and make decisions that improve your service and customer experience of that service.

Revenue Security

Challenge: Complex high-value contracts with various requirements, SLAs, contacts, and billing structures can be a nightmare to maintain or require excessive manpower, which can be costly, slow, and prone to errors.

Benefit: Create flexible billing that’s easy to calculate and automate through your system. Bill on agreed-upon rates to eliminate guesswork and benefit from lightning-fast calculations. Your job management system can monitor and maintain this, safeguarding your revenue.

Connected Functionality (All-in-one, Out-of-the-Box Solution)

Challenge: It’s always going to be much more difficult to do a job well if you’re using a variety of software solutions for different aspects of contract management, i.e., job assignment, finance, parts, and communication. This is time-consuming and inefficient to maintain.

Benefit: An all-in-one solution simplifies operations and brings everything together under one roof. This way, all data is aligned and easily accessible, and makes every customer and colleague interaction more straightforward and more efficient.

5

Understanding Planned Preventive Maintenance and Maintenance Contracts

It is critical to nail a planned maintenance schedule when it comes to commercial contracts

Planned Preventive Maintenance (PPM)

Planned Preventive Maintenance (PPM) is a proactive approach to caring for your customer’s assets or property. By scheduling PPM, you can increase the longevity of a customer’s asset, reduce the risk of breakage, improve safety standards, and more.

For example: it is used to carry out quarterly and yearly checks of an office block’s fire safety equipment. This would include checking that all alarms are in working order and that fire extinguishers and suppression systems are up to date. Routine maintenance will guarantee the building’s safety and cover your business for liability.

Most customers prefer planned maintenance, as this strategy saves them time and money in the long run. Customers also benefit from extended asset life and workplace safety. Using software to manage PPM will allow your business to secure regular job bookings with service reminders, provide unparalleled service, and make bigger profits.

Commusoft service contract management software

Use PPM to build productive workflows so you can operate smoothly every day. Impress your customers thanks to a single customer view that helps you access information and respond immediately. Altogether, boost revenue thanks to tools that make it easy to get paid, order parts only when you need them, and secure jobs with ease.

Rio Pools have used the contracts functionality in Commusoft to schedule in our regular maintenance visits for both our commercial and domestic customers.

This has really helped us ensure all required maintenance visits on our customers' swimming pools, spas, and the associated equipment are carried out and that nothing gets missed.

The contracts function allows us to plan the various different visits required in a certain time frame, our customers' contract periods tend to be 6 months to 1 year.

Ian Mills Service Team Lead, Rio Pools Construction Limited
6

Understanding Service Level Agreements and Maintenance Contracts

It’s important to spend just a bit of time thinking about the importance of SLAs

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) define the expectations of the service you provide to your customers. They signify your promise to meet set standards. For most field service companies, SLAs are often time-sensitive.

For example: “A technician will arrive within 30 minutes of an emergency appointment being requested”, or “A maintenance job, once started, will be completed within 2 hours”. Failure to meet an SLA can have consequences, such as a fine or termination of the contract.

The service-level agreements your team sets can be better managed with the right software. With service-level agreement software like Commusoft, you can follow color-coded SLA countdown timers that automatically track SLAs.

Meet commercial SLAs every time

This system ensures everyone involved with the job is aware of contact terms and when they’re due to be breached.

Further, an organized system can help your team determine where you excel, highlight opportunities for improvement, and consider updating terms in the future.

Additionally, a service-level agreement workflow will help your team build a workflow for responding when contracted agreements are breached. This level of monitoring enables managers to contact customers straightaway, explain why the agreement was breached, and offer discounts if necessary.

While a breached agreement brings consequences, monitoring software can vastly improve your team’s response times and customer service and so increase the chances of avoiding an issue and proving your commitment to your customers.

Phil Mulvenna details how Commusoft aids in this process:

SLAs are really important for our business; they help us track the service we offer. If the SLA isn’t met, I will get a notification, or my manager will get a notification, and we can look at why that happened, and be on top of the situation before it escalates.

Phil Mulvenna Premier Heating Solutions

Service level agreements

7

Commusoft and Commercial Maintenance Contracts

We’ve simplified service contract management

We’ve simplified service contract management so you can build detailed contracts that suit your business using Commusoft.

You decide which metrics are measured by each contract, but rest easy knowing you can manage them all, no matter what they are, using our tools.

You can edit the contract details on a customer-by-customer basis for different contract terms. This way, everyone is happy.

We’ve simplified contract management so that your needs are always met, meaning you can always meet your customers’ needs in turn. That includes helping you:

  • Manage complex planned preventive maintenance schedules
  • Ensuring you never miss an SLA thanks to warnings and notifications
  • Make use of Customisable Contract templates ft. SLAs, PPM
  • Handle contract operations alongside job management tools
  • Incorporate existing maintenance schedules into your PPM

Commusoft service contract management software

Learn more about Commusoft and how you can manage contracts to meet your needs.

Learn more about Commusoft and how you can manage contracts to meet your needs.

Learn more