If you’ve ever shopped around before making a major purchase or decision, you know how important it is to do your research. As consumers, we do this all the time—by reading customer reviews and testimonials, watching demos, going on test drives and comparing product costs and capabilities against a host of competitors.
Things are no different for business leaders in the B2B world. Choosing a partner, whether it’s a vendor or service provider, is a big decision with far-reaching implications that could make or break your chances of success. Take facilities management, for example: As a function that touches many other aspects of business, from the customer experience to profit and operating costs, FM is a bigger piece of the financial pie than many C-level leaders realize. But for companies with dispersed operations—retailers, manufacturers and distributors—FM often represents 10 to 25 percent of total indirect spending.
Bringing a facilities partner in to help manage this increasingly complex operational challenge is often necessary—and just as often complicated. Before you sign on the dotted line, how can you be sure you’re partnering with the right people? By reflecting on these key questions, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what to look for and what you should avoid.
How deep is their industry knowledge?
Plenty of solutions providers bill themselves as facilities experts, but it pays to dig a little deeper into their level of expertise. Is facilities management a core competency, or merely a small part of a much bigger machine? If you’re a large retailer, seek a provider whose executive team is staffed with retail veterans and who understand the business from the inside out. Settling for a provider with limited knowledge in your specific industry will ultimately hold you back from reaching your company’s goals, as they will not understand the nuances of your business nor be able to leverage them.
Does size really matter?
As we’ve previously established, bigger isn’t always better when it comes to finding the right fit for your brand. For instance, as corporate behemoths in the commercial real estate space continue to merge and acquire satellite businesses, they add adjacent services such as FM to their offering. As a result, the FM function is often lost in the mix, and clients experience poor service delivery, inflated costs and an overall lack of accountability—not to mention the added headache of dealing with layers of bureaucratic red tape.
Are there any “hidden costs”?
One of the chief reasons organizations seek assistance in the first place is to reduce operating costs, but they often wind up increasing costs as a result of working with certain providers. Some companies add an extra fee for the use of their technology, while others’ services are more expensive simply because they must cover their own outsized operating expenses—a cost that is almost always passed on to the customer.
Business leaders need to feel confident in their decision when it comes time to integrate their facilities services and invest in an IFM partner. By seeking a provider who has deep industry expertise, a manageable business model and transparent pricing and processes, you can find the right match for your organization.