Discover the path to managing building service contractors that makes everyone happy. 

One of the difficulties in managing building service contractors is that, in many cases, you’re attempting to manage a separate business. That business may, in turn, be working to manage subcontractors of their own. 

As a facility manager, it’s not hard to see how things can get complicated. The cleaning team, for example, may not technically be working for you. Instead, they’re a separate entity your building service contractor hired to do the work. 

Of course, there’s nuance. However, there are layers, and managing building service contractors can quickly go down a path that frustrates everyone involved. 

It doesn’t need to be that way, though. Relationships between facility managers and contractors can also be fruitful and beneficial to everyone. Here are some tips to make you and your contractors both happy. 

Keep up with your vendors, customers, staff, schedules, and checklists. Learn more today with a discovery call and find out how to make your building services efforts more efficient, cost effective, and better for everyone!

Managing Building Service Contractors

Contractor vs. employee

The first step in managing building service contractors is understanding the difference between contractors and employees. Part of that difference applies to taxes and payments. That’s only a small part, though. 

The IRS provides three categories that help delineate the difference. From their website:

  1. Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?
  2. Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)
  3. Type of relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (that is, pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

A few of the more apparent differences are that a contractor may determine how to do a particular job, which tools to use, how much to charge, how they wish to be paid, and they may advertise and promote their business. 

By contrast, an employee may be given specific instructions and directions on how to complete a job. They are paid according to the company’s protocols, and they need to abide by company standards. 

That’s not to say that you can’t make requests or come to an agreement with a contractor. In fact, part of your negotiation with them is figuring out things like payments and job expectations. With the right approach, though, this isn’t anything to worry about. 

12 Ways to successfully approach managing building service contractors

When you’re hiring and managing building service contractors for your facility, you’re starting a professional relationship. That means you want a professional organization to work with. So before you begin interviewing and requesting bids, be sure you know what to look for. 

While there are plenty of excellent building service contractors out there, one way to ensure you hire a reputable organization is to look for CIMS certification. CIMS certification is the industry standard for “best practices, processes, and procedures.” This certification covers business practices from budgeting to regulatory compliance to risk management to hiring practices. You can find a list of certified organizations here

Now that you’re off to a good start, here are some ideas for help in hiring and managing building service contractors, starting with asking the right questions. 

1. What experience do they have with facilities similar to yours? A medical facility is much different than a professional office building. 

2. What certifications does their team have? Along with CIMS certification, it’s helpful if individuals on the team have additional education and experience in any areas you might need. For example, if you have marble floors, you might look for someone with that experience or certification. 

3. Do they have high employee turnover? While it’s not unusual to have high turnover in many service industries, be wary of a company with an excessively high employee churn.

4. Do they have work samples? Photos can be a great way to get an idea of the quality of their work.

5. Do they have references? You can ask directly, and then get in touch with references, but don’t ignore things like online reviews. 

6. Do they use industry software? Especially in large buildings, or complexes, paper and pencil just don’t cut it. What kind of software do they use to manage their workflow and scheduling? 

If you’re satisfied with the answers to these questions, and you agree on a price and other working conditions, how do you go about managing building service contractors once they are on the job? 

7. Remember that it’s a relationship. At this point, you’ve hired them because you are happy with their work samples, referrals, and so on. Now you’ve entered into a relationship with another business. Keep things cordial and respectful. Remember, too, that they should do the same. 

8. Communicate clearly. The secret to any good relationship is clear communication. No matter how good your building service contractors are, they can’t read your mind. Be clear about your needs in both the contract negotiation and ongoing discussions. 

9. Say, thank you. This simple phrase does wonders when it comes to managing, well, anyone. If people know you respect them and appreciate their work, they will go out of their way to do the best job they can. 

10. Leverage technology. Software like Janitorial Manager can help make facility management a breeze. Communicate more easily, track work orders and tasks, and get real-time updates on progress. 

11. Don’t let dissatisfaction fester. You may be perfectly happy with the work your contractors are doing. Then again, you might not be. The key here is not to let dissatisfaction fester. You have a working business relationship. Approach issues with an open mind and think of solving problems as a moment for teamwork. Most issues are minor and easily corrected. 

12. Be prepared to renegotiate. As your contract term ends, you may find there’s a need to renegotiate. You may need more or less work than previously contracted. Rates can go up as supplies and wages increase. This is simply a business discussion, and an opportunity to figure out how you can continue to work together. This is also your chance to ask for any changes or alterations in the work. 

Managing building service contractors is often a matter of recognizing that the two of you are working toward a common goal. Good communication and respect go a long way in helping you reach that goal. 

Bidding, asset tracking, cleaning checklists, supply inventory, timekeeping… it’s all here. Janitorial Manager can help you organize all your building services operations. Schedule a free call with Janitorial Manager to learn more.