• Building Management

One strategy which will make your day better in operations management

Operations Strategy for Commercial Buildings

Engaging vendors, suppliers and contractors which communicate status information with you, Operations Strategyas the facility manager, even when there is bad news, keeps you, the facility manager, “in the loop”. These contractors are more useful in managing a commercial building than a contractor which might be delivering a superior product or service. They deliver an operations strategy which can better prepare you to ensure a desired outcome is achieved.
In turn, when the contractor is providing good communications, then the facility manager’s capacity to communicate conditions or issues to asset managers and owners in a timely and concise manner means less stress and an overall better outcome. The asset manager can act and so can you, as the facility manager.
The “why” the effective communication to management is obvious to most, but, getting your contractors to even answer the phone can, at times, be like dragging a ball and a chain…..up a hill……..a very muddy hill. By engaging Contractors whom communicate regularly is a simple operations strategy, and a strategy which can have defining benefits for building performance.
Poor communications also makes the facility manager look bad, I don’t mean in regards to performance, but short on knowledge on the status of a situation, making a reactive management process inevitable instead of avoidable.

The contractor will be losing money

The contractor is also losing money, not just in the potential of losing the client, but in the potential of the additional cash flow which would be created from reporting issues effectively. The quicker an issue is reported, the quicker the facility manager can issue an order, the quicker the work gets done and so forth. Why doesn’t it happen like this?
Many of the larger contractors will leave “the low hanging fruit”; at times the field workers will be keener to go home at three o’clock than worry about where the next project might be coming from for their employer. Contractors may become complacent and only reach out to the FM when it’s a bigger job, looking for the bigger dollar amount, yet, any business owner will tell you, there is often more profit in the smaller and faster jobs, especially with an existing client where the sales routine has been completed.

Not all Contractors are the same, yet, are in the same industry

It’s easy to taint the vendors and contractors with the same brush, but every so often there appears a gem on the horizon, whom are not only price effective, but communicative and perform a reasonable job.
One might argue that the situation depends on the technicians which are hired, but is it hiring, training, or the culture of the business. It’s a combination of all three. Keeping in mind the best technicians will often gravitate toward the companies with the better culture, before they follow the dollar.

How do we overcome the complacent contractor.

Looking for the “whip and chair” approach might be effective with contractors, but only for a short period and it can be quite exhausting. Project manager with Schematics drawingsWe found, by engaging the smaller companies, say 3 to 15 service technicians, depending on the discipline, we achieved the better communications, especially in the written format, and received a prompt service. The hierarchy, in these smaller businesses, is typically horizontal; there is the owner, then the team. The owners of these business are keen to grow, they are hungry for work, they are hungry for good payers, and metropolitan locations.

The strategy

Contractors we use need to be have values which are aligned with our own, such as integrity, honesty, commitment and skill, but we need something more. We have literally been “Schooled” by contractors in vetting contractors! We know we need to establish the contractor’s “hunger”, if we have a hungry crew/owner we usually have compliance, communications and a reasonable outcome for price. Ensuring a contractor is keen, supports performance, in delivering communications commitment and integrity.

Thank you for reading
Nigel Wraight
Forte Asset Services

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