Surviving the Battle of Outsourcing
Unlike many of my colleagues, I didn’t surrender to the so-called enemy of outsourcing. As many of you know, I’ve been working in the exterior services management (ESM) industry for more than 25 years. Even though outsourcing or one-sourcing was born in the early 1990s, the concept is still in its infancy stage and has just recently been embraced by retail America. In this month’s article, we will discuss the current situation analysis for retail facility managers and ways to make the transition of outsourcing as smooth as possible. There are tactics to prepare your exterior maintenance for victory and, even better, ways to ensure the future of your position with corporate management. ESM and outsourcing are no longer viewed as the enemy; senior management is constantly seeking savings per site and easier, faster and better ways of maintaining their ESM with built-in value.
Most retail facility managers I’ve worked with were reluctant to engage in deep conversation about their current workload in fear of a proposal getting back to senior management confirming quality assurance and workload issues. Let’s face it, whether you have been with a company for 5 years or 20 years, nobody wants to have his or her entire department outsourced. However, after reviewing a simple situation analysis of the facility manager’s current exterior maintenance issues, having his or her exterior services managed by one point of contact didn’t seem like such a bad idea after all. In fact, most regional facility managers become more involved in the new ESM platform and become the liaison between their corporate office and the ESM. Many of these facility managers I’ve worked with over the years have become good friends and are extremely knowledgeable and valuable people to their organizations, savings hundreds and thousands of dollars each year.
Planning Your Enterprise
In order to fully explain the philosophy behind outsourcing and ESM, I would like to refer back to the dot-com era and a brand referred to as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). This was a hot application and it quickly began to annihilate in-house accounting departments worldwide. Operations began to run in real-time environments and the unemployment rate skyrocketed in industries ranging from distribution to hospitality. ERP quickly became a dirty word to accounting departments across corporate America. One thing they forgot along the road to real-time accounting and operations was the fact that all services require people to manage the work. Unlike the ERP era, the ESM era relies and depends on the retention of large teams of knowledgeable people with expertise in:
- Green care
- Snow removal
- Ice control
- Parking lot repair
- Irrigation service
- Planting bed maintenance
- Landscape construction
- New construction inspection
- Exterior asset inventories
- Herbicide applications
- Parking lot sweeping
The big question for regional and national facility managers is: will my company keep exterior maintenance in-house or will it outsource the entire department? There are many factors that you need to consider when answering this question. As I mentioned earlier, the first thing an ESM company will do is analyze your current operation with regards to all of your exterior services and contractors. The best thing you can do is already have our own analysis done.
I would say that with all the proposals I have done to date, we have been able to provide an exterior maintenance analysis to senior management that showed a way to improve quality assurance and reduce costs dramatically about 90% of the time. Odds are, whether it’s an ESM company or some other type of outsourcing firm, you need to be prepared and ready to work as the liaison between your company and the ESM.
Make A List and Check It Twice
At this point in the game, you have two options: go on with your business like everything is fine and assume you don’t need to do anything; or do your homework and account for your department to the point where you have everything justified. Start by quantifying your entire budget; review your current exterior maintenance agreements for landscaping, snow removal, parking lot maintenance and other high-end necessities. Review all your invoices, create a clean list for your facilities and make sure you have a tight grasp on your asset inventories. It most cases, after you do this, you will soon see why senior management is accepting proposals for outsourcing ESM duties. Having these elements in place could help ensure your position in the future as the liaison between corporate and the ESM company.
As a retail facility manager, odds are you and your team have hundreds, if not thousands, of contract partners servicing your stores and/or facilities. The ESM management-based brand protects and retains an average of 60 to 75% of current local contractors. So, a national management replacement program will not hurt the friendship and trust of a valued contractor – as long as they are up to par with industry standards.
ESM companies also avoid the old-fashioned bid program by offering the first geographic costing grid for the continental United States. All retail and facility management can benefit from this formula that reduces overall spending on all exterior landscaping services. The ESM companies having spent years researching weather patterns, population density, transportation statistics and other environmental data to formulate efficient costing zones in nine U.S. regions for literally thousands of landscape contractors.
Ready To Evaluate Your Exterior Maintenance?
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. A management program could improve your current landscaping and customer appeal, reduce your overall expenses, eliminate the worries of liability and provide fluid service to the exterior of all your facilities and stores.