The facilities maintenance services world, especially with luxury retailers where the in-store experience is crucial, is becoming more sophisticated. Many facility managers, buyers, and procurement officers have had such bad experiences when always selecting the lowest priced bidder, that they are now making it more challenging for someone to win their work. Extra criteria are involved in the evaluation process, trial periods are put into place, facility maintenance companies are pitted against each other, and a more thorough conversation with multiple references have all become much more common.
Selecting a provider based on cost alone will often lead to many change orders the need to hire a new company to clean up the mess that was created. When you are selecting a maintenance provider, here are some things you should consider:
1. You don't marry someone after only seeing their online dating profile, so why would you select a provider after all you have seen is their bid? Things aren't always what they first appear to be, and just as there are people who look nothing like their profile photo, there are also firms whose work quality doesn't match up with their RFP response. Clarify their RFP responses and minimize the gray areas where they could mislead you.
2. After you have met someone who you think you would have a connection with, the next step is typically to go on a date. Why then, don't you have your chosen provider(s) perform a pilot program to demonstrate their true capabilities? Give them a cross section of your stores and see if they can walk the walk. Iron out issues before you start a full blown relationship, or decide to move in a different direction if they can't deliver. It's much easier to do this across 10 stores, instead of 1000 stores, and it provides you, the buyer, with more leverage during contract negotiations.
3. Speak to references and ask the difficult questions - What made you select them in the first place? What improvements have you seen from them over the past 12 months? What happens when things don't go so well? How is their communication? How many callbacks do you receive with their work? What separates them from the rest of the pack?
4. Look to meet the provider(s) in person, and look to connect with the person that you will actually be working with on a daily basis. The business development manager will be the one who initiates the conversation, but the director of the facilities team will be the daily point of contact so speak to them and get a feel for how working with them will be. You don't choose a Dr. by speaking to the receptionist, you do it by meeting with the Dr.! Apply the same principle here, and you should be in a good spot.
What are some other ways in which you diligently and effectively vet your vendors? What have you tried that hasn't worked? At Royal we create long term reationships as demonstrated by our 24 years with Hallmark Cards. All of these partnerships are built on trust, and this begins with the very first interaction between the two companies. We have no interest in misleading and churning clients, so we take the high road and do things the right way. If you are unhappy with your current provider, or are just interested in exploring what else is out there, we would love to chat with you. Please reach out through firstname.lastname@example.org or 913-717-3188, and we look forward to supporting you with your facility maintenance needs.