There is no place in today’s hyper-competitive retail marketplace for a poorly maintained store — providing a clean, comfortable and safe shopping environment is a priority for chains across the board. As retailers increasingly focus on their core competencies, they are letting experts take care of functions and services that fall outside those areas, including facilities maintenance. Chain Store Age spoke with Veterans Worldwide Maintenance’s Michael Rose about what retailers should look for when contracting out facilities services.
What are some of the most common mistakes retailers make when it comes to store maintenance?
One of the most common mistakes retailers make is buying from the low bidder. They don’t realize that by paying a few dollars more, they can get a better quality job and they get it done right the first time.
This proactive approach of choosing a reputable and experienced service provider allows the facility director to focus on other tasks without having to invest more time into following up on each service call.
Is there one particular area of maintenance that is especially challenging or problematic for stores?
HVAC is a very high-demand service. If the heating or cooling doesn’t work, it is less likely that a consumer will stay in a store. Shoppers don’t want to be in an uncomfortable environment, which is why many facilities like to maintain a consistent, comfortable temperature year-round.
Has technology impacted any aspect of commercial maintenance?
Most definitely, and in a number of ways. Here’s a brief review:
• Smartphones make technicians smarter when they are on the go.
• Job-site images are easily shared.
• Work orders can now be digitally signed in the field.
• GPS has helped better route technicians and save time/money.
• Information is delivered in a fraction of the time as manual systems.
• Processes are now better automated through technology with smart-routing techniques.
What are the advantages of contracting out basic janitorial services rather than keeping them in-house?
By contracting out the services, the retailer benefits from janitorial personnel with specialized knowledge of cleaning products and how the products react with different surfaces and materials. The personnel are also familiar with the environmental impact of such products.
What do retailers need to keep in mind when it comes to contracting out maintenance services?
Retailers are becoming more and more aware that they get what they pay for. You should make sure the providers you are partnering with are competent and able to handle the issues that arise. There are times when that level of service increases costs, which is why it is important to be ready. Rollout meetings are a common practice here at Veterans Worldwide Maintenance so we are prepared and accustomed to the specific needs of our clients. This proactive approach helps get all parties involved on the same page.
What scope of services does Veterans offer chain retailers?
We offer a wide range of services, including
• Back flow (domestic);
• Cleaning/janitorial services;
• Handyman services/general repair;
• Painting (interior/exterior);
• Pest control;
• Plumbing; and
• Snow removal/relocation.
Can you help with ADA compliance?
Yes. We have helped many clients become ADA compliant, and we include ADA compliance recommendations on all proposals where applicable.
What type of systems do you have in place for reporting and billing?
We use fully customized, homegrown field service software that handles all of our customer information, accounts receivable, dispatching and knowledge base. We utilize bundled reports as well as extensive custom Crystal Reports, which is a business intelligence application by SAP AG. It is used to design and generate reports from a wide range of data sources.
We also have a robust report scheduler that runs around the clock 24/7, distributing information as needed to key team members, partners and associates.
With spring on the horizon, is there anything special retailers need to do to get ready from a facilities point of view?
HVAC units should have spring PM performed to make sure the units are ready and functioning to full capacity. All levels of refrigerant and voltages on major components should be checked and the filters should be changed. This will reduce the chance of equipment failure during the hot summer months.