RFP: The Magic of Quoting Unseen Properties

RFP: The Magic of Quoting Unseen Properties

Many companies are like magicians when quoting their Exterior Services Management® (ESM) costs. ZAP! BAM! BOOM! POOF! Magically a quote appears quicker than the eye can see! How do they do it? They make zero investment in your RFP process as they call a local vendor and ask for a quote! Should your RFP requireadditional information, they ask the vendor for this also. The question that needs to be raised is: How accurate can any of this be?

Facility management companies must have a strong infrastructure to operate effectively in the ESM business. Anyone can give quotes, but to get the service you need and expect, you want an ESM professional to conduct an on-site visit to accurately assess your property’s needs to ensure a reliable quote. A valuable, complete property assessment should be included in this exterior asset inventory.

An exterior maintenance plan must meet the needs of the property, company brand, local municipality, and be inviting to your customers. This can only be accomplished by developing an ESM plan that guarantees safe ingress and egress for the employees and customers, maintains an exterior environment that supports increased customer counts and ensures that certain risk management and liability coverage is in place. How can any company deliver this without ever seeing your property?

Guarantee that you receive a reliable proposal from a reputable ESM company by ensuring they utilize a process that includes the following actions:

  • They ask you for a clean list of properties where the CAM falls under your responsibility.
  • They inquire and request site plans. These will be sent with the ESM company’s field personnel who performs the asset inventory to ensure the proposal’s accuracy. Is your responsibility the curb in, tract, or entire CAM that includes other businesses?
  • If you have not provided site-specific information, they inquire as to your written scope of work, frequency and specifications. If you do not have these guidelines established, they quickly offer their assistance in writing this outline for you.
  • The ESM company develops a detailed list of questions that are focused on your business, to gain a better perspective on your “pain”, expectations, and ESM needs.
  • Our world has changed and strangers walking your properties with cameras are frowned upon. A professional ESM company will request an authorization letter prior to setting foot on your property to conduct the exterior asset inventory, which should include digital pictures of your site. This letter is presented to the on site management.
  • When the asset inventories are complete the ESM company will have accurate data to prepare a reliable budget to meet your needs. Beyond just a price, they will have valuable insight as to your exterior conditions and needs for future budgeting.
  • When delivering your RFP the professional ESM company will also provide a Site Condition Report, noting everything from exterior paint conditions to pot holes in your parking lots. This information will be supported with dozens of digital pictures.

After careful completion of these phases, the ESM provider will submit a final proposal that is based on the specifications, specific asset inventories, and property needs. This proposal may include different pricing alternatives dependant on those property specific needs, which may include lawn mowing and edging, fertilizer and weed control, irrigation system maintenance, planting bed care, snow removal and ice control, parking lot maintenance and striping, and storm damage control.

As you and the ESM company enter the finalization stage, it is the ESM company’s responsibility to provide customer-focused support and ESM recommendations that are in the customer’s best interests. This may include adding, deleting or changing services that you initially included in the work scope and specification outline. Other considerations are timing of services.

For example, it may be beneficial to request specific services by submitting a work-order when the service is needed, rather than including the service in the contract. Ultimately, this saves the customer the cost of unneeded services. This is applicable to landscape maintenance needs on areas such as out parcels, retention areas, or other areas that would need limited frequency of service. Tree trimming, crown reduction, or thinning to increase property and signage visibility is another example.

Depending on your price analysis, several actions may result. You may accept the proposed ESM plan and the ESM company can proceed with service agreement. On the other hand, you and the ESM company can reassess a variety of areas, such as the scope of work, specifications, frequency, or period of time the property requires service, and adjust the number of scheduled service visits. The more information and communication that occurs ensures the business relationship will be successful. As the saying goes, “There is no dumb question!” The ESM company is not an expert in your industry’s operations, nor are you expected to be an expert in theirs. This is why you partner with a professional ESM company.

By expecting exterior asset inventories, property assessment reports, and recommended short and long term property needs in the RFP process, you gain a better understanding of your properties and the ESM company learns valuable information about your company.

Suddenly the magic is gone and old fashioned due diligence makes a whole lot of sense, and good business!