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Large Projects In The Cleaning World are Different – Critical to put the contractor through a selection framework

It can be a tough process for a Strata to undertake a large cleaning project. Their requirements often involve significant complexity, much of which may not be apparent to the residents when they first set out.

When the strata receives quotes back, they are confused when contractor submit prices and scopes that are wildly different. Moreover selecting the lowest cost often leads to an unsatisfactory outcome, as key facets of the job are unaddressed. This can lead to essential work being uncompleted or a second vendor being called in to complete the job.

How to avoid this situation? First is to grapple with number of essential questions.

  1. Why? Is the project required? what needs to be done?
  2. Clearly defining Specifications – Scope Of Work are not clearly defined
  3. What approach to cleaning? What are the industry standards for
  4. Vetting Contractors – are they reputable? Do they have the capacity and technical ability?
  5. What is the proposed workflow? How disruptive will it be for the location’s residents.
  6. What is the deficiency plan?
  7. Is there a clear point of contact and management structure for both the location and vendor.
  8. Is there a clear communication pathway and approach for providing project update.

When sourcing a contractor for a large cleaning project best results are achieved when you consider above and not simply engage the lowest bidder.

Planning Ahead: A Proactive Approach to Services

January means last year is behind us. It was a great year. I’m sure you, like me, had some great highlight moments, some personal triumphs – and sometimes when planning and preparing a bit better could have saved a lot of time, phone calls, and headaches.

This year my new year’s resolution is different. I’m not punishing myself on a treadmill (any more than usual), or swearing off my favorite treats. Instead I’m giving myself a gift this year; I’m making my life easier. I’m taking a slow day in January to plan ahead and prepare for the things that are coming up.

For some things it is pretty simple – make a list of to do items so far in advance that the things on that list can be picked off one at a time without needing to rush around last minute. I can budget for them, plan on where to get them, and do so at a leisurely pace, rather than my usual trying to cram them all in at crunch time.

And speaking of crunch time, I’m also going to plan my fitness routine for the first time in my life. Otherwise, I’m too sporadic and don’t get the results I hope to achieve.

About 80%, that’s how much I think this will really happen, if I’m going to be honest with myself. I’ll make some lofty goals and get about 80% there. Which will still be 80% further ahead than I would be otherwise?

Why not do the same with your stratas?

For the past few years, a small number of property managers have planned ahead and requested quotes for ALL services, for ALL of their properties before spring. In that way, they always have the desired number of quotes with competitive pricing well in advance of the meetings when they’re due. There is no last minute stress.

Programs – another way to save hassle and save money. A few property managers have found it very beneficial to have all the services approved, pre-booked and scheduled in advance. They know what is going to happen when, and we show up, provide the required service with lots of advance notice, and everyone is happy.

This approach may not work for you. It may not work for all of your stratas – I’m not a property manager and therefore don’t personally know the demands of the job first hand. However, if this approach could save you time, last minute stress, phone calls, prepping notices last minute, or looking for those quotes you requested the day before a meeting, perhaps it is worth considering.

Is this approach feasible for the industry?

If you think it could help, send us your list of properties to quote on. Talk to us about building maintenance packages, and how they can save money and time. If not, perhaps leave a comment to help us learn why this doesn’t work for you, or how we can help make your life easier.

Leave a comment. And thanks for taking the time to read e-tips.

Really? They Don’t Believe in Programs?

A Message From David Benoit

In my 12+ years of working with property managers and building owners I have found the most effective property managers have their properties on some form of plan or program.  As you know there can be quite a turnover of property managers in the industry; they can get overwhelmed by having to respond to  buildings’ needs.

Looking back from this point the managers that are still in the industry are generally proactive in their approach.  This is a “Win-Win” for all parties involved.  The buildings get attention, the property manager can spend their time leading the buildings and the contractor will provide more competitive pricing.

Over the years the 1 most common objection I hear from property managers is, “the strata doesn’t believe in programs.”  My response to this is, “really?”  They don’t believe in cleaning their carpets, gutters, windows etc?  That tells me that the strata members would prefer to own in a building where they can’t see out their windows, where their gutters overflow and their carpets are disgusting and wearing out.

I think the truth is the strata’s haven’t thought it through and the property manager didn’t spend the time needed communicating to them the benefits of an overall plan. You can have 3 to 4 different contractors, but the key here is one calendar of when items will occur and by whom.

On a side note, the most successful property managers I know have only 2 trades they work with in each category.  This helps them stay on top of things and these contractors will do their absolute best to ensure that their customer’s buildings are taken care of with the fear of losing all of the work at that property manager’s buildings. Well run strata’s don’t use the council president’s nephew to clean the carpets.

I have never understood why buildings need to gather quotes every year for services that are generally done every year.  Does the strata think the pricing is going to come down?  If they did their due diligence in the initial process then why would that change?  Of course, if a contractor did not perform according to expectations or agreement, that’s a different story.  The truth is that most contractors will not raise prices on a yearly basis if the work is committed to and ongoing.  At ServiceMaster Clean Residential, we have carpet maintenance programs that are 10 years old and the pricing is still the same.  However when asked to quote on a yearly basis pricing generally trends upward. If we have a relationship with a building and our crews are familiar with the project we are grateful for the work and don’t see the need to raise pricing.

So in summary if you want to have a less stressful longer career make a plan for your buildings maintenance, my recommendation based on over a decade of experience and relationships with hundreds of property managers: only deal with a few trades and take the time to educate your stratas and building owners on the benefits for everyone of being proactive, having a plan, and maintaining your strata buildings.

Thanks for your time and consideration,

David Benoit

Features of ServiceMaster Building Maintenance Programs

Not CONTRACTS we keep our customers based on our performance not a signature

Can consist of a variety of our services carpet cleaning, windows, gutters, dryer vents etc…..

Our Carpet maintenance programs will ensure your carpet WARRANTY is valid

Your buildings will be taken care of by a company that has specialized in building cleaning services for over 20 years.

Awnings – Architecture Changes Bring Challenges

Inward slanting awnings – this is a newer feature being found in Vancouver over the last couple of years.  I’ve heard (though I may be wrong) that this is due to a change in Vancouver building law which no longer allows rain to run off of a building awning and onto city sidewalk.  Instead, the rainwater is directed downward to a gutter running the length of the awning where it meets the building.  It then flows through a downspout into the city sewer system.

We had a question from a couple of property managers concerning this type of glass canopy that appeared to be leaking.  If there are drips coming from the bottom sides of such a structure.  If the gutter at the base of these awnings is not regularly cleaned, they may become clogged with leaves, debris, and garbage thrown from above or blown off balconies by the wind.   Cleaning these gutters should get rid of any leaks you may be having.