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Member Tips on Working With Vendors

Member Tips on Working With Vendors

We were recently chatting with Members about working with vendors. Respect, communication and relationship-building were a common theme. Also important are vetting your vendors and follow-through. Here are some of the top tips:

 

Estate Manager| Private Residence in Los Angeles, CA

Respectful communication is key. I have seen vendors walk away from very lucrative opportunities because they didn’t feel they were treated professionally.

If your employer hasn’t made a decision or is going to use a different vendor, don’t avoid the conversation. A quick e-mail or call, even to say that there is no new news, goes a long way in keeping up the relationship.

Stay positive and don’t be a “no” person. Yes, we all know things could fall apart at any moment, but where there’s a will, there’s a way and negativity will not get you anywhere. Creative problem solving is one of the things that will make you indispensable, so if one way doesn’t work, don’t get stuck. Move on to plan B. Or C or D until you get it done.

Don’t underestimate the power of a sincere thank you.

 

Owner | Fractional Estate Management Company

Always treat people with respect regardless of hierarchy. It’s very easy for a trades person to become “busy” when you desperately need resolution for your principals. Firm but kind & understanding is our motto.

 

Estate Manager | Private Estate in Sonoma, CA

I try to meet my venders face to face as much as possible and I’m extra nice when we finally meet. When calling, I always have a “smiling voice”. They will not forget you and will be there when you need them. Keep in good contact so that when you call for last-minute, they know who you are.

Examples of situations where having a friendly relationship with our vendors was invaluable:
Recently, our paving contractor had a cancelation and he had to sell his asphalt ASAP.  I got our road done for $2 a sqft as opposed to $4.50, and 2 months ahead of our scheduled install.

Last December our General Contractor brought his excavator during the rain to unclog the culvert under the bridge. It was a major clog and a major storm that almost took the bridge. No one else would have come in those conditions.

Two years ago during a party, the Valet broke a water pipe. One of our trusted contractors was at the party and fixed rolled up his sleeves to fix the pipe right away.

Another tip is to ask a lot of questions during a meeting with a contractor so you can better understand the solution and use the proper vocabulary the next time you interview another contractor for the same job. The more you know, the less they can misguide you.

 

House Manager | Private Residence in Dallas, TX

Before selecting a vendor make sure to do a thorough background check. Start by checking their online presence. Check platforms like Google Reviews, Yelp, or industry-specific review sites for feedback from previous customers. Read a mix of positive and negative reviews to get a balanced perspective. Also, look for “Fly By Night Company Names” or newly-formed LLCs. Some vendors open under a certain name and if the company goes under or he/she is sued they will change their names to continue doing business.

Interview the Service Provider. Set up a meeting or consultation with the vendor. This is an opportunity to ask questions, discuss your needs, and gauge their professionalism and communication skills. Inquire about their experience, qualifications, and relevant certifications. Ask for examples of similar projects or clients they’ve worked with in the past. Don’t hesitate to ask the service provider for references from past clients. Contact these references and inquire about their experiences with the provider.

You should also check for licenses, insurance, and permits, depending on your location and the nature of the work.

 

Facilities Manager | Private Estate in Palm Beach, FL

Get it in writing. Request a detailed proposal or contract that outlines the scope of work, pricing, timelines, and any guarantees or warranties they offer. Employ a clear ‘change order’ system if / when the scope of work changes. Every dollar above a signed contract requires a new signed contract or addendum (the change order) in order to be paid. We use this in construction always, but it’s just as relevant to a landscape crew or a exterminator. You don’t want any surprises, financial or otherwise.

 

House Manager | Private Residence in Palm Springs, CA

Supervise your vendors. My former employer always said that vendors will ‘Do what you INSPECT, not what you EXPECT’, and in many ways that’s true. It’s common that you will walk through the work in detail with the owner or manager when he’s trying to get the contract, then you will never see them again. A totally new guy will show up to do the work. Walk through it again and watch them carefully. At the end of the day, their work is a reflection of your service.

I’d like to add that there’s great value in referring a good vendor. I’ve had vendors come back to me and say “Hey, I got a job for $XYZ because of your referral, let me know if I can do anything for you”. They want to continue great service because they can see how it affects their business beyond your job.

 

*Cover photo is of  Pacific Coast Plumbing in Santa Monica Ca. They are one of my favorite vendors of all time. Response time is amazing, staff and crew are extremely respectful of the property and residents, and the work is perfect. 

Have something to add to the conversation? Drop us a line or leave a comment.

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