By Benjamin A. Comm, CPM®
There are a lot of moving parts to our job as a property manager that must go right in order for them to be successful. We have to hire the best people to operate our buildings, keep tenants happy, maintain demanding ownership requirements, meet financial deadlines, and manage the unforeseen. Likewise, the importance of maintaining proper professional relationships with building vendors cannot be underestimated.
Vendors are an important part of our success as building managers. They provide an expertise in a particular field and extra man-power when needed, many on a 24/7 basis, and we hope they share our passion for delivering consistent and reliable services to our owners and tenants, but how can we be sure? Here are my four tips for proper vendor management:
- Lead them in the right direction. In some cases, you may have to guide your vendor to share in your commitment to the property, client, and tenants. You want to make sure they are competent at their trade and have the thoughtfulness, attitude, and mindsight to share in our commitment.
- Respect is earned both ways. For managers to treat a vendor as a second class citizen is both unnecessary and disrespectful. If a vendor has made a mistake or not followed up as requested, then it is your responsibility to take constructive action. Maintaining a healthy balance in your relationship with a vendor is imperative—not too friendly, and not too demanding.
- Gaining valuable experience. You can learn from your vendors as many of the technicians that visit your building are experts in their field. This is an area where your relationship and mutual respect can go a long way. Know when they are visiting for service work, plan your day accordingly, and spend some time with them. Ask questions and challenge them if you have thoughts on the work.
- Know when to make a change. If you the vendor is routinely late for service appointments, appears to be unaware of basic safety requirements or local regulations, never seems to have the right tools or supplies on their truck, or provides you with frequent invoice inaccuracies, it may be time for a re-bid.
At the end of the day, vendors are our partners in building management. An open line of communication, a respectful attitude, and an inquisitive mind will make all the difference in vendor management.
Ben joined Cushman and Wakefield in January 2009. He is responsible for ensuring that the firm’s best practices are implemented and overseeing consistent delivery of property management services. Ben also manages the profit and loss for the firm’s +45 million SF Mid-Atlantic portfolio, which includes office, industrial and retail properties. He brings more than 30 years of experience in real estate management.