Small Markets & Big Maintenance Challenges
As has often been the case, dialogue with both new and existing customers identifies their maintenance challenges and points us in the direction of resolving them. We are always working to improve upon results related to standard FM impediments, such as work order volume execution, controlling project costs, or sourcing specialty trades. However, when you add tertiary markets to the mix, it presents a whole new set of obstacles to overcome and a different way of doing business.
Our years of experience in serving clients who operate in smaller markets have shown us that thoughtful planning and preparation are required to achieve sustainable success. These areas often translate into fewer resources, including skilled labor, specialized equipment, and the availability of maintenance services. Finding reliable vendors or contractors is much more difficult and typically results in reduced options. This can lead to higher costs for commercial maintenance, as there are fewer contractors to choose from, and service providers may have less incentive to offer aggressive pricing. It is also common to see an upfront deposit request for both services and materials.
In addition to the potential lack of available labor, there are many other conditions to be prepared for. It is likely that there will be fewer nearby sources for materials leading to extended repair completion timelines. Thankfully online ordering helps minimize this concern, but shipping still takes longer than making a trip to a local supply house. Other issues that can arise related to aged, less maintained commercial buildings and older infrastructure compared to what you’re accustomed to in larger urban areas. Maintaining and repairing these buildings and improvements in such environments can involve more innovative solutions.
To address these challenges, we cannot emphasize the need to build strong relationships with local vendors enough. Business practices that may be uncommon or unnecessary in major metropolitan markets will need to be adjusted to establish a comfortable starting point for a long-standing, mutually beneficial partnership. Understanding the reality of longer travel times, an increase in requests for information, and the more immediate need to pay upon completion (or even having a credit card on file) will help all parties involved to achieve success. If you can revise your FM program to adjust and accept these changes, you’re on your way. If not, you may want to source an aggregator who focuses on serving these areas. Even a big, national brand can find itself feeling like a small fish when needing service in these less populated areas.