Managing Expectations: Building Strong Relationships with Your Service Providers

By: Michael Cannistra, Director of Compliance

By definition, relationships require cooperation and collaboration from both parties involved if they’re going to work. This is true of personal relationships and business relationships alike. From collaborating with clients to partnering with external enterprises, organizations large and small benefit from forming working relationships with like-minded entities.

Whether you’re working for or with a given business partner, setting parameters at the beginning of an engagement is the key to success. But what happens if you and your business partner, provider or vendor aren’t exactly on the same page? How do you bridge the gap so that both parties benefit? What solutions—technological or otherwise—can you deploy to make your partnership a more harmonious one?

Due to the collaborative nature of the industry, facilities management (FM) programs are fueled by fruitful partnerships. To get the most out of your FM partners, focus on developing the following key areas so that everyone gets what they want.

Clarify (And Prioritize) Your Goals from the Start

Establishing service level expectations (SLAs) right out of the gate is a solid start to any provider-client relationship. SLAs are particularly valuable in the retail space and are used as a benchmark to gauge whether or not service providers are holding up their end of the bargain—if service providers are underperforming, leadership needs to know so they can reassess their network and, if necessary, make the proper data-backed adjustments to their provider base.

Create Open Channels of Communication

The only way for both service providers and the organizations they serve to remain aligned for the duration of their contract is by communicating with one another. This can be achieved through routine check-ins, or by putting a quality assurance plan in place to ensure expectations are being met on both sides.

Engaging an FM business advisor can also alleviate some of the burden of communicating with multiple service providers. This advisor can act as a buffer between retailers and providers, funneling updates to work orders and other projects through an online platform where all communication history is stored for easy access.

Leverage FM Technology to Your Advantage

Let’s face it: In today’s digital age, people rely more on electronic means of communication in favor of picking up the phone or meeting in person. As we move away from more traditional channels, FM software providers are changing the game when it comes to staying in sync with service providers and vice versa. Service providers themselves have a lot to gain from these platforms as well, and are able to focus on managing their business, executing maintenance requests and better serving their clients.

Regardless of your organization’s specific FM goals, they’ll never come to fruition if you don’t align your expectations with your service provider’s objectives. Advanced platforms will allow you to not only track assets and work orders, but the entirety of your relationship with your network of service providers.