Cool Customers

Ford & Doonan Air Conditioning Systems

Who doesn’t love to step inside an air conditioned space during a hot Australian summer? Over the years, climate control has become a part of our lives as to be comfortable is well worth the expense. Air conditioning units keep every modern building, plane, train and automobile comfortable, and Ford & Doonan has been designing and installing air conditioning systems for the past twenty-eight years.

Ford & Doonan was founded by Andrew Ford and Kyle Doonan, who had worked previously as a two man contracting team. At the time they decided to form the company, air conditioning wasn’t as common as it has since become and the designs not nearly as sophisticated. The two recognised the need for a retail outlet offering air conditioning products and installation – and business quickly boomed. “They started with one store in West Perth and slowly expanded, winning several business awards along the way,” explains Cameron Yates, Director and owner of the Mandurah branch of the company.

Ford & Doonan was one of the first air conditioning companies in Western Australia to achieve such success with three company stores and, beginning about twelve years ago, the start of its franchise stores.

“That first franchise store was my store down here in Mandurah, Australia. It was run for two years by its previous owner, and then I bought it ten years ago,” says Cameron. “Since then, several other franchise stores have been opened in other locations; there are now eight stores.”

Cameron Yates decided to buy his branch because he was intrigued by the excellent business model, and all of the systems were in place for an optimal operation. “I saw a lot of potential for growth,” he says. “The company was very well established and marketed.” When compared to other companies in the same sector of the market, the parent company profile is much larger, making for instant brand awareness among clients.

Ford & Doonan handles predominantly residential contracts, delivering air conditioning system design, service, installation and maintenance. The company also does a lot of commercial work and, despite the tough economical times that have been affecting the construction sector, is looking to do more in the coming months. Recently, in its new commercial division, the company started taking on projects for schools and other commercial fitouts.

“We can handle anything from a single room right through to a large scale commercial project,” explains Cameron. “After we install a system, we can handle people’s preventative and breakdown maintenance.” Before any system is turned on, it is always inspected to ensure that everything has been done as well as it can be.

Most homeowners in Western Australia are now installing central (ducted) air conditioning. Consumers are also becoming more discerning about what control options are installed in their homes. Some prefer to have a unit operate as efficient as possible while others want controls with timers that can turn the system off while occupants are at work and back on ten minutes before they enter the door. Still others prefer a control unit that allows them to operate the system via a smartphone application. In years past, controls had the ability to turn off the air flow to areas of the house not being used, but with modern Wi-Fi technology, the sky is the limit. “Today’s Facebook generation wants to be able to control everything from their smartphones,” says Cameron. “We like to allow them to do that.”

Whatever the customer wants installed to control their system, Ford & Doonan can definitely provide. For installation work, the company uses a mixture of experienced tradesmen; some are directly employed by the company and others are subcontractors. All have had criminal record checks and all have to comply with the company’s quality assurance procedures both during and after an installation. This also makes certain that all installations are standardised simplifying future maintenance work.

“We generally have no problem with paying better wages or paying for more training so that we can have better customer service. This is one of the ways that we can guarantee better service.” Customer service is one aspect that the company prides itself on.

Unlike companies that mainly focus on installation, Ford & Doonan has strong after-hours service and scheduled maintenance packages. This is how the team can ensure that no customer will be inconvenienced. If there is a problem, all a customer should have to do is pick up the phone and call the same company that installed the system.

Most people can’t live comfortably without their air conditioning units, especially with the rising temperatures being felt across the country. When something goes wrong, especially on a day where it seems like the siding is going to melt off of the house, a repair team can be dispatched at a moment’s notice to make sure that a unit isn’t down for long.

Because each branch of Ford & Doonan is independently owned, any one customer could very well deal directly with the owner of the franchise. “We are owner operated; that’s what really makes us better,” says Cameron. It is the best of both worlds, really; the brand and buying power of WA’s largest air conditioning company, and the owner / operator service and care levels.

At Cameron’s branch, most of the employees in the customer service department are former tradies with many years of experience. The company prides itself that even customers who know little about air conditioning can get exactly what they need and that every system can be customized to suit the customer’s specific needs. The system can be planned via a home appointment or at the company’s fully operational showroom.

“We’re not just a warehouse,” says Cameron. “We have fully working machines on display; my showroom has glass ceilings installed in the front showroom so that people can come in and take a look at the full runnings of the system so that they aren’t just speculating on what’s going to go on their roof.”

Unlike many air conditioning system installers, Ford & Doonan has begun creating computer generated designs for every installation it does. Most companies only give a general idea of what will be installed but, with Ford & Doonan, every detail can be seen prior to installation and there are no surprises when it comes to the layout and design of a system.

“As far as being unique,” shares Cameron, “the truth is: I think we do very similar things to all of the competitors on the market. I think we just do our work to a higher standard. I mean let’s face it; air conditioning isn’t the sexiest commodity in the world. We just do it better.”

Please visit Ford & Doonan’s Website for more information.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

January 18, 2021, 10:02 PM AEDT