Evaluating exterior maintenance services through an ESM company can reduce your bottom line

Evaluating exterior maintenance services through an ESM company can reduce your bottom line

The Evaluation Process
Exterior services management (ESM) is just like any other integral part of your bottom line. In other words, for your company to become more efficient and increase quality, you must have an evaluation process in place that corrects and justifies the overall budget. Most aspects of retail and corporate business are managed “by the numbers”; why should your exterior maintenance be any different?

Whether you are the director of facilities with total responsibility, or a regional facilities manager with 60 to 70 sites, you’ve experienced the task of attempting to evaluate your contractors and services provided. When it comes to the “bottom line,” you are the ones held accountable for the quality assurance and costing related to exterior maintenance on your company’s properties. An ESM company can help you perform better by reducing the confusion/clutter that results from the challenges of budget preparation, verification of proper insurance coverage, performing exterior asset inventories, and helps to ensure consistent standard site specifications and multiple inventories.

The Test Market
Dealing with national retail corporations and their contractors for the last 25 years has allowed me to completely understand and feel the pains you have within the ESM environment. Most companies are reluctant to put too much trust and responsibility with any one given vendor. A facility manager’s first impression on allowing an ESM company to handle all their sites is a little overwhelming at first. Understandably, this is their responsibility, and their decision is a very important one. An ESM company provides many advantages by relieving your company of exterior maintenance so their attention can be devoted to the actual structure that generates revenues. To assure managers that the ESM platform is a very safe and reliable model, I have often suggested a “test market” of certain regions within the company’s portfolio, which allows the managers to experience the benefits with the ESM system. This test market also proves the strength of the ESM system to upper management with a direct effect on consistency and quality assurance.

Passing The ESM Test
One of the most difficult challenges when dealing with a national company is preparing the regional managers for the assessment of local contractors. Unfortunately, this is an integral part of the initial ESM evaluation process and it is usually a bit of a hurdle for the local and regional managers. However, a strong ESM company will have knowledgeable quality assurance managers (QAMs) covering different regions of the United States. These QAMs will meet with your contractors on a local and individual level and discuss “front line” tactics for quality assurance, site specifications, exterior asset inventories, good business practices and various other duties that all contractor partners should master. The largest concern comes not from the regional managers, but from local managers and their relationships with existing contractors. Obviously, some of these relationships have been in place for years, even decades; it is sometimes difficult for a regional manager to explain to site managers why their contractor of 10 years isn’t up to par with the rest of the industry. On a positive note, a successful contractor can often be retained and contracted through the ESM company, in turn making the transition more seamless. Passing the ESM test and moving onto a contractor/partner relationship with the ESM increases their work as the ESM company expands site coverage. The whole process can be a win-win scenario when everyone is focused on the real objective… saving the company time and money.

Geographic Costing
Make sure your ESM company has demonstrated the expertise required to accomplish this concept. Customers should benefit from quick competitive costing as opposed to traditional bids, which will reduce overall spending on all exterior grounds and parking lot services. I have spent years researching weather patterns, population density, transportation statistics and other ESM data to formulate efficient costing zones. An ESM company should know the various markets and manage the best price for you. There must be a strong business partnership for the customer to relinquish the multiple bid concepts used for years and embrace the expertise of the ESM professionals.

Ready To Evaluate Your Exterior Maintenance?
Most companies have varying lease and ownership situations throughout their property portfolios. As a result, the first important step in lowering your bottom line and maximizing your exterior store management is to prepare a clean list of the locations you’re responsible for as a tenant. A professional ESM company will need clear direction from you as they do a physical inventory of your property’s exteriors where you are responsible for maintenance. Do you have current exterior service specifications? If so, the ESM will be able to utilize these in accessing the current condition of your locations vs. your expectations. If no specifications exist, then your ESM will work with you to develop a standard that meets all your needs. Once the physical inventories are completed, the ESM should present a comprehensive proposal to you. Before accepting a proposal for any of your locations, make sure the ESM offers these minimal points of value:

  • One contract
  • One invoice
  • One call center
  • One insurance certificate
  • One emergency contact number
  • One online store watcher program
  • One online database
  • One relationship per region
  • One quality assurance program

If your retail stores or facilities are experiencing quality assurance issues, too many liability cases or simply have trouble completing landscaping specifications for national formats, you might want to consider calling a national ESM company who will be glad to discuss a management program that could improve your current landscaping and customer appeal, reduce your overall expenses, eliminate the worries of liability and provide fluid service to the exterior.