Mastering the Art of Facilities Maintenance

managing time and resources effectively

cutbacks

I’ve just canceled a contract with a customer that has been in cutback mode for the last two years. I won’t mention who they are, but they are a property management company that also happens to own and manage commercial real estate. The economy has forced them to have to cut back their operations.

Needless to say, my services were part of what suffered. one of their buildings was poorly constructed from the beginning and has a track record of high utility costs and poor HVAC performance. When I first took over the HVAC maintenance contract, I submitted to them a complete and rather comprehensive strategy for making repairs, upgrades and changes that would have brought the system up to spec.

My strategy called for them to spend roughly $20K over a one-year period. We planned to address everything from incomplete control systems, poor air balancing, and system programming.

Instead the customer opted to do nothing, and then spent the next two years periodically calling me “Can you just do something to get them temporarily through the season without charging too much?”

I understand the cash crunch we’ve all been in, and I understand that they didn’t have the money to make necessary repairs- but one of the things I didn’t see coming is that in the eyes of the tenants and customers, the contractor is the one responsible for their comfort (or lack thereof) and that soon the perception would be that I basically couldn’t fix their problems. Nevermind that I presented several proposals to make repairs- they just saw me in the building repeatedly with nothing changing.

So, I’m wondering how to avoid getting into this situation in the future? Ideally I would simply qualify my customers better, or include repair clauses in my contracts- but in tough times sometimes you can’t afford to be too picky.

I don’t have all the answers for this one- I’m still thinking about it. Let me know what you think.

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January 3, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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