Four Questions to Ask Your Vendor

Remember the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” It might as well be the golden rule of the facilities management industry. It is especially true when an FM selects vendors to execute a project list. The success of your own projects often depends on the people you chose to do business with. Think of how many “disaster level” situations could be avoided by making quality partnerships with vendors, the first time around. When you choose a vendor, here are four questions you need to consider BEFORE contracts are signed.

1. HOW DO YOU conduct YOUR business?

You don’t want to do business with a “my way or the highway” contractor who doesn’t buy in to your ‘secret sauce’. If you value exemplary service to your guests, your vendors should value exemplary service to you as their client. If you value integrity and order in finances, your vendor should value integrity and order in THEIR finances. If you value excellence and won’t accept cutting corners from your restaurant crews, then your vendor should exhibit the same standards from their crews. Partner with a vendor who has a proven track record of stellar customer service. Ask for references from other FM’s who have done business with that vendor. Make sure your vendor is an asset to your company in reaching your goals.

2.Do you self-perform or contract out your services?

In facilities management, the difference between brokers and self-performance matters because quality is on the line. Brokers can be frustrating to do business with because they are managing the project from a distance with a revolving crew of subcontractors. The incentive for a broker to ensure the project is completed with excellence diminishes because their name is not attached to the finished project. In contrast, a self-performing general contractor uses in house labor and project managers to execute the project. Establishing a good working relationship with vendors is important. You need to know you can trust them to give you straight answers and that they will answer your call when you have questions.

3. What is your operational capacity?  If I were to give you tons of work in other regions, could you handle it?

You might find a contractor you like…but then you discover they only service one small regional area, or that they don’t have the organizational capacity to handle the work they have been contracted to perform. This is no help to you because you’ve got facilities all over the country and deadlines to meet. A self-performing general contractor who works coast to coast with fully staffed crews can save an FM countless headache by handling an entire portfolio of projects, regardless of the location of the facilities.

4. Can you provide proof of how you pay YOUR vendors?

Paid vendors tend to be better workers than unpaid vendors. It’s common sense — but it’s crucial. A telltale sign of financial stability for a vendor is proof of payment of their subcontractors. Loyalty of subcontractors is built on stability of workload and financial integrity of the general contractors. A FM will be the ultimate benefactor of a GC who takes care of their subs — the proof is high quality work completed on time. And, you know you are working with a GC who values integrity, organization, and schedule — all vital qualities in a contractor. This principle also translates to how your GC will interact with your company when it comes to invoicing. When a contractor sends timely invoices in the correct format to the corporate office, this saves your quarterly budgets from being skewed and additional headaches from intervening to make sure your contractor gets paid.

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