But your remit is growing by the day, and you’re under growing pressure to respect budget constraints. You are in no doubt about the importance of cleaning, grounds maintenance and other maintenance aspects but you’re under pressure to get it right for less.
So what do you do? You focus on price. Arguably a highly dangerous strategy. As Warren Buffet says “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
You negotiate a cheap deal or a discount that gets you a pat on the back by the people who hold the purse strings. For a few days, maybe even a few weeks, things go OK. Although you were fearful at the start, you begin to think that maybe your decision was a good one. Things continue to go OK. Then bit by bit, things start to go wrong. Cleaners, gardeners and caretakers occasionally don’t turn up. You haven’t seen a supervisor for ages, and although your calls are still being returned (for now), responses are frustratingly slow.
Your outside space is starting to look decidedly shabby. And inside, people are complaining about basic things like lack of attention to detail in the ‘not so public’ areas. Someone even had an issue recently with a wallet going missing. Maybe that had nothing to do with the new cleaners, but it’s the first time you’ve faced such a situation in over 10 years. The possibility is hard to ignore.
So what’s my message here? My message is this: can you ever be sure you’re getting the best if you’re forever chasing the cheapest? Can any cleaner, landscaper or any property maintenance company deliver truly great service if you’re paying them below the odds?
You know that your property needs looking after inside and out and your priority is to keep it looking its best. You’re under pressure to meet or exceed budget constraints.
The company that you’ve been using for years have put their prices up and you don’t want to stretch to what they’re asking for any more. You put a Request for Quote out to a range of companies and only one falls within the price range you’d hoped for. Although it goes against everything you know, you accept the quote. But you soon discover you’ve opened up a can of worms for yourself.
So what’s to be learned from this horrible experience?
1. Not all cleaning, landscaping and property maintenance companies are equal. Of course you know that, but you hadn’t thought too deeply about it until now. What you’ve now realised the hard way, is that someone who can clean isn’t necessarily qualified to be a commercial cleaner, and pushing a lawnmower does not a landscaper make. While it rarely makes sense to pay for a degree level horticulturalist to mow your lawns and gather up your fallen leaves, someone who knows what they’re doing and have been trained to do the job they’re in will make your life a whole lot easier in the long run.
2. Not all business owner’s values are equal. If you’re proud of your role and do all you can to make sure that your owners and tenants are as happy as they possibly can be, you’ve got great values. I salute you. Unfortunately, not everyone is as committed as you. When it comes to achieving what you rightly demand, it’s essential to sniff out outsourced service providers that share your values and your vision.
3. Not all cleaning and landscaping companies are ‘in it for the long run’. Fooled by thinking that commercial and residential property maintenance is an easy way to make money, providers in this market come and go. Nine times out of ten, if you choose a provider that’s been delivering through good times and bad, you won’t go wrong. They’re unlikely to ever be the cheapest, but you’ll get consistent quality and satisfaction. Their standards will be the same tomorrow as they were yesterday. They’ll be up to date with industry developments and proactive in helping lighten your daily load. At the end of the day, a best value service provider is a service provider that shares your values and are with you for the long haul. And doesn’t all that justify an extra 10% or so on the cheap deal?
So what’s the answer for a busy Property Manager like you who’s juggling like crazy and trying to keep everyone happy? Surely, like all things in life, it has to be about balance. Getting the right balance right between price and value.
Are you a Property Manager who’s facing a price dilemma right now? If so, it would be great to hear your view.