You have a big project coming up. You can’t do it by yourself and you need specialized help. Time to start interviewing potential vendors!
This process can be time consuming, disappointing and confusing. It can also be intellectually stimulating, an opportunity to meet new people, and a chance to strengthen your decision making skills!
A few basics can get you started to handle the vendor process.
Clearly define your desired outcome. If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t be able to ask a vendor to help you get there. What end result are you looking for? Is it something you need to do right away? Conversely, if you need to do a project and don’t know what the outcome will be, change this bullet to “Clearly define the problem to be solved…the task to be completed…the job that needs doing.”
Create a list of candidates. These are best if they are referrals or someone you have met. Of course online resources can help fill the list. Read about the company online before you add them to your list to see if they really have the capability. Your time is precious – so don’t add them until you are sure you’ll get the results you need.
Excel to the rescue. As far as determining if the vendor company has the knowledge, experience and people-power to get the job done, develop an Excel spreadsheet or any other way to compare. Create horizontal listings for the vendor name, and vertical columns for the pros, cons, price, features, time to complete, whatever elements you are comparing. If you have several vendors to interview, this will save you from getting them mixed up as you go. It should also help you weed out the ones that won’t fill the bill.
Schedule with regularity. Set aside an hour a day or every other day and try to fill the appointments in a consistent time of your day. If you can do a virtual appointment, that is effective as well. At least if you map out the time and schedule it, you’ll get it done, instead of having your project loom over you due to lack of time to take the first step.
Look for someone you can trust. Yes! We all want the job done! But in addition to that, it would be great to be able to leave the keys of your house or office to the vendor and not have to worry about a thing!
We asked Linda Schwartz, Regional Property Manager of Brenner, to shed some more light on how to choose a great vendor. Linda oversees the hiring of landscaping contractors, plumbers, construction contractors and more to keep Brenner-managed properties in tip-top shape. She gave us a list of attributes she looks for in a vendor:
Great communication – it’s essential. Say no more!
Quick response – to calls and emails. You want someone that gets the job done right and quickly.
Understands the situation – use the mirror technique – have them tell you back what it is you are trying to achieve.
Can offer less expensive fixes to solve problems – and can prove why it will work.
Has good insurance – always, always check this!
Is pleasant to work with – someone you don’t mind calling because of their can-do attitude
Has great references. Yes – check them, and ask tough questions.
One more idea for finding a great vendor. Consider a trial run. Is there a segment of the project you can let them work on? Is there a three-week trial that they can get started on without too much paperwork? It doesn’t hurt to ask, and this will give you an idea if they can do the job and just as important, if you can work with them.
Lastly, treat all of your vendors with respect and appreciation for the knowledge and skill that they bring. After all, they are part of the valuable team that helps you reach your goal so that you look amazing in front of your property owners.
--The Brenner Blog Team