5 Must-ask question before selecting a property maintenance company

Selecting a property maintenance company can be a big decision and a sizable investment if you have multiple locations to care for. For many companies, having an inviting or even magnetic curb appeal will make a huge difference between attracting tenants and customers or alienating them. The right property maintenance company will have the expertise to bring out the best in your buildings by making windows shine, creating crisp finishes on lawns, trees and shrubbery and keeping high traffic areas clear. However, putting your reputation in the hands of another company can be anxiety-inducing, to say the least. There is no question that finding an experienced partner is the most reasonable course of action. Especially since professional property maintenance requires commercial grade equipment, knowledge and specialized management to meet the standards of the corporate world – not to mention the modern consumer.To make sure you select the right maintenance partner for your business here are a few questions to ask during your research as you are reviewing property maintenance proposals for your commercial buildings:

You would be amazed by how many hiring executives overlook this vital piece of criteria in interviews and RFPs. Moreover, smaller businesses or residential property owners may not know to ask a company for proof of insurance if they have never outsourced maintenance before.

There are two main types of insurance a property maintenance company must possess to be considered a good candidate. They are:

  • Liability Insurance: This will insure the assets of the business or homeowner in case of any damage caused during servicing. If, for example, a piece of equipment accidentally swings into a parked car and scratches it, or damages any other area of the commercial property it will be covered. The absence of this insurance will result in damages becoming the property owner’s expense.

  • WSIB Insurance: WSIB stands for Workplace Safety & Insurance Board. It used to be called the Workers Compensation Board. This insurance should be in place to cover the actual workers in the case of an accident. Without it, property owners will be considered liable. This is especially relevant for homeowners.

Full coverage should encompass protective liability insurance for hazards, premise operations, products, completion, operation, protection and personal injury, as well as public liability.

Checking online reviews is a good way to get a general sense of a maintenance company’s reputation, but it certainly should not be the only method you consider when it comes to looking into their work history. Online reviews are great for a snapshot of what it may be like to work with them but to get a more detailed picture of what the business partnership will be like we recommend calling a few of their current or past clients as references.  To hire the best property maintenance firm, you should determine the reliability of your chosen company prior to working with them.

  1. Were they on time and on budget?

Make sure to work with experienced property maintenance project managers who know the capabilities and limits of their resources well to give you accurate estimates. The more properties you are responsible for and the larger they are in size, the more opportunity there is for jobs to be misquoted. Avoid getting surprised by hidden fees and additional charges. References should be able to provide you with a good insight into how well your candidate did keeping up with timelines, scope and expenses.

  1. Were they professional?

When evaluating candidates, inquire as to whether or not they have an organised process of conducting inspections and services. Do they use modern means of communication and technology to systematise their work? Tech savvy companies can usually provide far more efficient services as compared to a mismanaged enterprise. Not only that but you will have more transparency into project progress and upcoming milestones which can alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress. Also, the notion of “tech-savvy” should not just be limited to the spectrum of communications and project management. When it comes to property maintenance professional conduct and transparency is only part of it. Choosing a company with commercial grade, modern property maintenance equipment should also be a consideration for safety, quality and efficiency.

  1. Did they fly under the radar or disrupt daily activity?

This particular quality in a partner is difficult to judge without asking. A reference will be able to tell you about the experience of having the property management company on-site, and exactly how smoothly things went.

  1. Can the company perform the work during off-peak hours?

Working  with a 24/7 maintenance provider will not always be a priority but there are times when having that flexibility will come in handy. For example, it’s always good to know if you will be able to have commercial holiday decorations installed overnight as opposed to disrupting flow throughout your lobby with gigantic ladders and floating tinsel at prime time. Likewise, if there is a snowstorm in the middle of the night, it will be a priority to have parking lots cleared for the morning work crowd. Timeliness may be a service feature that is advertised on their site, but at times of need they may be unresponsive. It’s good to get third-party insight if you can.

Here are a few additional points of comparison to consider:

Service selection: What is the spectrum of services they offer? Are they strictly high-rise window cleaning experts or do they offer landscaping as well? Do they provide any maintenance services for the inside of buildings like floor cleaning and more? Working with a single property management company that does it all is usually far more efficient than dealing with a variety of smaller, specialized vendors. With a full scale commercial property management company you can manage the entire operation with one easy to reach point of contact in the form of a project manager, giving you the time to focus on more niche operational objectives related to your business.

Price: No good company will want to do the work if the budget is way too low. Selecting a property management partner based on price alone is a huge risk. There is nothing worse than having your maintenance team fail in your hour of need. When comparing companies, if you can find a great deal then that is what it’s all about – but consider what that deal is. Price deals always look the most attractive from a distance, but when you start to get into the details of the agreement it’s possible you may be subject to hidden fees, restricted services, limited hours of operation and other unwanted surprises. As you are comparing vendors make sure to review line items and restrictions as they relate to the proposal, ask references about convenience factors and above all – the quality of work.

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