10 Tips for Your Elevator Maintenance Contract

10 Tips for Elevator Maintenance Contracts

A simple Elevator Maintenance Contract Guide to read before you sign.  Know the critical items and calculate elevator maintenance cost.

It’s that time again: your elevator maintenance contract is expiring, and you need to renegotiate. The document is long and complicated—how do you know what’s most important? 

How do you know which companies can maintain your elevators? 

If you’re not happy with your current service and want to ensure your elevator gets the preventative maintenance it needs, you’ll have to go through your elevator maintenance contract with a fine-tooth comb.

This article will help with that.  Let’s dig down into the nitty-gritty details of your elevator maintenance contract and extract the critical items which you should consider.

We’ve compiled the top 10 considerations for anyone that’s about to sign a new contract. 

​Let’s get started.

Free Elevator Maintenance Cost Calculator:
Click here to quickly estimate the total cost for elevator service in your building. 

1. Elevator Maintenance Contract Termination Language 

Before a new contract starts, you should always consider how it will end.  This is why we’re starting here.

Current Contract – Renewal:
If you want to negotiate a new agreement, you should first check the termination language on your existing contract, more specifically you should check when, or if, it renews.  

Did your contract already renew?

Many contracts require written termination notice three months before the end date.  Otherwise, it may automatically renew for another term. Double check your current contract termination language. 

New Contract –  Renewal:
As you consider a new contract, you should still review the termination language.  It would help if you considered removing any contract language which will automatically renew the term.  

Some states have no regulations for auto-renewing contracts, which could lock you into another five-year term without your knowing.  

Consider signing for just the original term, then make sure the contract is written to renew month to month after the initial term expires.

Non- Performance Termination Language:
When entering a long-term agreement, it’s difficult to predict what will happen a few years from today.  Whatever happens, you’ll always be concerned with a companies ability to keep ongoing reliability and code compliance.  

What if they can’t keep your elevator in service?  

What if they fail to keep the elevator code complaint? 

Assuming it could happen (and it can), you should consider adding language which would allow for early termination based on your provider’s failure to perform. 

Elevator Service Contract

2. How to Avoid Poor Elevator  Maintenance

Most buildings only notice lack of maintenance after the elevator fails, or after an inspector issues a citation.  

If elevators are critical for your building, then you should consider tracking additional metrics.  This way you can identify a lack of maintenance before a failure or inspection citation. 

What additional metrics should you track? 

Minimum Maintenance Hours:
Dedicated elevator maintenance time in your building is essential for reliability.  You and your neighbors are competing for your elevator mechanic’s time. A neighbor with a problematic elevator will decrease dedicated maintenance time in your building.  This problem is then multiplied by the number of elevators on a mechanic’s route. 

How do you make sure mechanics give your building the maintenance time it needs? 

Signing an elevator contract with minimum maintenance hours will make sure you’re getting the required time when you need it most.  

The total minimum hours for elevator service will depend on the unit type, usage, and age.   You can contact us to figure out how much maintenance your unit would need. Then consider adding the minimum number of hours to your contract.

Performance Metrics:
Most buildings sign elevator service contracts written by the elevator maintenance provider. 

Do you think a contract written by your provider will lean in-favor of… your provider? 

Yes. 

As just one example, they’re going to limit the performance metrics and requirements spelled out in the contract.  The only listed metric will be a safety test, which is essential, but what about the performance and reliability of the elevator itself?  

What about a unit that’s out of service for weeks?

What about repeat issues that never get fixed and cause all kinds of grief for a building? 

In addition, when you use the boilerplate contract created by the elevator maintenance company, it won’t capture the specific needs of your building.  An office building, condo, or hospital won’t all have the same passenger traffic, tenant demands, or building needs.  Shouldn’t each building type have a different scope listed in the contract?

Make sure you understand the metrics which are most important to your building, tenants, and passengers – consider elevator performance metrics.  Then add those metrics to your maintenance contract.  This will ensure a level of ongoing reliability. 

Minimum Tasks:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) have several requirements in place that ensure elevators and escalators are safe and secure for use.

This includes all parts of the elevator’s operation from travel, speed, emergency equipment, telephone communication and doors.

Essentially, any aspects of the elevator that affect the safety and convenience of the riders in your building must be regularly checked.

Your elevator maintenance contract should cover preventative service on all of these pieces. Basic services on your elevator, as stated in your service contract, should include:

  •  Inspection and Safety Testing:  ​Inspections are according to the local law.  This could include semi-annual, annual, and five-year testing of the elevator or escalator.  Monthly fire service operation tests may also be required. Check to make sure the local requirements are included.    If you’re in New York City, you should consider elevator door lock monitoring code
  • Lubrication: Smooth elevator operation requires smooth gliding for guides, rails, suspension, and safety machines.
  • Performance Testing: Regular mechanical testing of the elevator control system, acceleration and deceleration system, and all safety features.
  • Reviewing: Elevator’s mechanical condition, making any replacements of gears, brakes, bearings, or ropes. 
Elevator Maintenance Checklist PDF

3. Elevator Maintenance Checklists and Records

Understanding your elevator maintenance providers ongoing plan and written record of work they complete will help ensure reliability. 

Performance History:
Tracking elevator service history is critical to understanding what level of service you’re getting.  It’s vital to pinpointing issues and problems to find the correct solutions. It also helps you track which solutions are working and who solved the problems.  

Make sure that part of your contract includes a system to monitor elevator performance and maintenance history

Wondering how your elevator stacks up to other buildings throughout the USA?  Let us review your elevator performance history here. 

Checklist:
It’s important to understand the minimum code requirements.   If you’re looking for more detail,  check with the National Elevator Industry, Inc.  (NEII) – a trade association of the building transportation industry which is dedicated to elevator safety, code, and regulation. 

​They provide a great elevator maintenance checklist PDF which details each task and corresponding paragraph in the elevator code.   

4. Elevator Maintenance Contract Types

Your contract may explicitly state the type of service you have. If it does not, you can take a look at the preventative services provided to get a better idea.

If you have concerns that your elevator isn’t being serviced with the types of upkeep you’d like on a regular basis, it may be time to reconsider your contract type.

Common elevator maintenance contract types include:

  • Full Maintenance Contracts: In this type of elevator service contract, the service provider takes full liability and responsibility for the elevator. This protects you from lawsuits and damages should the elevator break or if an accident occurs.  It’s important to consider the components which are included and excluded from the contract. 
  • Parts, Oil, and Grease: With this elevator service contract, the service provider primarily includes all of the services that will NOT be covered in the agreement. Oftentimes, this type of contract doesn’t cover controllers, elevator machines, generators, cables, and other pieces of equipment. This means that anytime your elevator needs service, you will have to ask if what you need is covered. POG contracts, while cheaper, usually don’t cover the preventative maintenance your elevator truly needs.
  • Examination and Lubrication: This basic elevator contract includes inspecting and lubricating your elevator’s moving parts. While this does ensure smooth operation of your elevator, if something goes wrong and repairs are needed, they will be billed at an additional charge not covered by your monthly payment. This can add up to larger overall payments to the company, even for newer elevators when owners believe that “nothing should go wrong”.
  • Survey and Report: This type of elevator service contract only covers regular inspections of the elevator. These could be quarterly, semi-annually, or annually depending on the nature of the contract. This covers you for OSHA-required inspection purposes, but again, if the elevator requires repairs, those will not be covered. They will be billed at an additional cost to you. 
Elevator Service Contract

5. Emergency Callback Service

The maintenance portion of the contract is essential, but you still need to consider callback coverage.  There are different options for hours of coverage. It would help if you decided which works best for you.

Elevator Phone
You’ll need to make sure 24/7 coverage is included.  This is one of the most common items on an inspection violation.   There are cellular elevator phones and consolidated phone services which can save you hundreds per month.  Make sure you consider options for each. 

6. Contract Exclusions

Every elevator maintenance contract will have exclusions.  Make sure the excluded components are clearly outlined.  Excluded items will lead to unexpected elevator invoices. 

If a component is excluded, it’s important to understand the expected cost and risk for future failure

If your elevator maintenance company writes the contract, you might want to take extra caution to the items that are excluded.  Some components on elevators can cost half as much as a brand new elevator for the materials and labor to replace or repair. 

Stored Parts on Site:
Leaving an elevator out of service while waiting on parts, over a weekend, is not a huge deal for an office building.  But what about a condo with only one elevator? 

It would help if you considered the components of each piece of equipment that fail the most.  Make sure those items are stocked on site as part of the elevator service and repair agreement. 

7. Negotiate Your Elevator Service Contract For A Better Price

Look out for opportunities, big and small, to save money and continue receiving the service you need. If you sign on for long-term service (5 years or longer), your elevator contract price could be cut by 5% or 10%. If you own multiple elevators, you may be able to negotiate a “bulk” price. 

Some other areas to look for reduced cost are:

Annual Price Adjustment
If you’re on a multi-year contract, your service provider may have a language that allows for gradual price adjustments year-over-year.

You can negotiate this by asking for a ceiling on adjustments not to exceed a percentage you’re comfortable with (you may also try for no adjustments at all).

Control Trouble Call Costs
When things go wrong, it’s not the time for your elevator service provider to cash in. Rather than allowing for expensive overtime costs, negotiate your hourly rate for service calls.

Even if you select 24/7 service coverage, you will inevitably receive a bill.  Some elevator service failures may be outside of your contract. 

What are those hourly rates?

Make sure your contract specifies the out of contract billable hours.  

Elevator Monitoring and Internet Connectivity
Connect your elevator to the internet to get full elevator capabilities.  You’re buying a sophisticated and expensive piece of equipment.  Sometimes for just a small fee, you can upgrade the unit to diagnose problems before they happen which would pay off over time.  

Elevator Maintenance Contract Template

8. Elevator Maintenance Contract Template and Review Service

Each building and elevator system is different.  Instead of a blanket contract created by your elevator maintenance provider, your elevators need a service agreement tailored to your building. 

​Get started with our free elevator maintenance contract builder which will be customized to the demands of your building and the condition of your elevators.  Do you already have an elevator service agreement? Would you like us to review? That’s a free service we offer.  You can upload your contract to our review service system.  Get started now for free. 

9. Can Other Companies Maintain My Elevator?

As you consider elevator service in your building, you’ll likely wonder if another company can take over.  You may ask how well a company, who didn’t manufacture the elevator, can keep the equipment running. Or maybe you’ll ask how another company can locate repair and replacement parts.     

Those are all important questions. 

Let’s consider a few things:

Companies that Don’t Manufacture Elevators
There are thousands of independent elevator service companies in the USA and Canada.  These independent companies don’t manufacture elevators. They wouldn’t be in business if they couldn’t maintain different types of elevator equipment by different kinds of manufacturers.   

Manufacturers that Maintain Competitor Equipment
If not an independent elevator company, the major companies also maintain equipment by other manufacturers.  These companies have multi-million dollar research and development budgets to reverse engineer the equipment manufactured by the competition. 

Elevator Repair and Replacement Parts
If an elevator company didn’t manufacture the equipment, how do they get parts?

All of the major elevator manufacturing companies have dedicated sister companies to sell the components they manufactured, to their competitors, who now maintain the equipment.  These businesses are multi-million dollar business on their own.

Have a look for yourself:

Need to buy a replacement part on an Otis elevator?  Unitec is a dedicated company, owned by Otis, whose primary business is supplying competitors with Otis manufactured parts. 

All elevator manufacturers offer the same service; Vertical Express for ThyssenKrupp manufactured parts, Kone Sparesfor Kone,  and Adams Elevator for Schindler to name a few. 

In short, it’s possible to locate replacement parts for equipment manufactured by different elevator companies. 

Non-Proprietary Equipment Elevator Types 
There are many types of elevators which are widely known to be maintainable by all elevator companies.  There are also dedicated manufacturers that only build non-proprietary equipment.

Elevator Maintenance Cost

10. Elevator Maintenance Cost

Elevator service costs are a significant portion of your building operating budget.   Making sure you’re getting a fair market price is important.   Our free elevator maintenance cost calculator will help you determine the price you should be paying.  

Conclusion

​Is your elevator contract serving you? Does the service meet your current needs? Are there opportunities to save money?  These are all things to consider when reevaluating your contract. 

If you have further questions, the ElevatorLab team is happy to answer them.

​We help elevator owners make the best decisions for their businesses to keep their tenants happy and safe.

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