When should you outsource your facility maintenance needs?
Updated: Mar 25, 2019
Unfortunately, when we hear the term "outsourced" many of us begin to ask ourselves worrying questions. Will I lose control? Will they be held accountable? Do they understand my needs? Where will this solution be based, in the US or overseas? What if something goes wrong? The list goes on, but you get the idea.
As with anything in life, we believe that the only way to alleviate your fears here is to be thorough in your evaluation and selection process.
Is outsourcing for you?
As with most things in life, this depends on the specific situation that we are looking at. As an example, lets look at the cleaning needs of two groups on opposite ends of the demographics spectrum.
It's probably not needed here
Firstly, we have a 22 year old male who recently graduated from college. He is working an entry level job at a financial firm and lives alone in a rented 400 square foot apartment in Queens, NY. The chances are that this gentlemen is on a strict financial budget due to student loans, entry level pay, and the cost of real estate in NYC. Given his financial predicament, minimal living space, and stage in life he probably isn't going to have to outsource his cleaning needs.
It's likely a necessity in this house
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have a young family of 5, living in a 4000 square foot home in Suburban Chicago, where all three kids are in school and mum and dad are both professionals with 6 figure incomes. Their days will be hectic, time will be limited, they have a lot of space to maintain, and they have the disposable income to hire someone to clean their home on a weekly basis.
Do you have the volume of work required to justify outsourcing?
Now, lets think about this example with two retailers. The first is an up and coming premium retailer with 12 locations, who are expected to add 15+ stores for the next 3 years. The budget is likely to be tighter, they aren't in a position to lock up their overhead with fixed costs associated with employees, and they need to be focused on their core business. For these guys, the opportunity to outsource makes a lot of sense, so long as they can find the right partner who shares common goals. Conversely, a 100+ year established retailer with 2000 locations, likely has the revenue and work volume to justify running things internally. They could outsource, but given the strength of their brand and the benefits that they will receive from bulk-buying discounts, prioritization and response times, keeping things in house makes much more sense.
Here are 6 situations where it makes sense to outsource:
1. When you don't have the budget to hire - If you have had to tighten the purse-strings and cannot afford to tie up any more overhead, the flexibility with outsourcing could be a great solution.
2. When your stores are complex - If you have a very simple store layout, with minimal trade requirements, then you can more than likely manage things internally with your team. If, on the other hand, you have a retail environment where multiple trades like structured cabling and networking come into play, partnering with specialists is your best option.
3. When you don't have the staff - There is only so much that you can do with the time that you have available, and with limited overhead, partnering with a similar minded company could be just what you need.
4. When you don't have the required talent - This ties in with the complexity of systems that we discussed in #2. If you have stores that require trade specialists and they are not at your disposal, partnering with someone will be more economical than hiring for each position.
5. When you are growing - It's likely that your team will be stretched to the max and an "all hands on deck" approach will be taken. When this happens you need to focus on the bigger items seen from the 40,000 ft view, and outsourcing the mundane tasks is a necessity if you are to scale efficiently and effectively. Focus on what you do best, and let someone else take care of the rest.
6. When you have a small portfolio - Without the volume of service requests, it rarely makes sense to bring full-time employees onto your books. If you have a smaller portfolio of properties with low call volume, find a provider who can give you the extra support that you need without unnecessarily locking up your overhead.
What are some other situations in which it makes more sense to outsource, instead of trying to manage everything internally? We would love to hear your thoughts, so please share in the comment box below.
Try us on for size
If you are evaluating whether or not outsourcing makes sense for your firm, we would love to chat. As this is typically a major change in operations for people in your shoes, we make the evaluation process as simple as possible. We offer a short term pilot program across a handful of stores so that you can experience how we operate. This gives you a chance to dip your toe in the water, and also allows you to compare vendors side by side.
We look forward to analyzing your current facility operations. By creating a more effective and efficient system, you will be able to provide the in-store experience your customers deserve!