6 things to consider before purchasing an SaaS platform
When it comes to the upkeep of your branded environments, you will typically be faced with 3 possible options as to how you run your maintenance operations. You can manage everything internally, you can run everything through an SaaS CMMS platform such as Service Channel, or you can partner with a project management company. If you choose to run everything internally, you will have your own platform through which you will manage your own vendors. If you partner with a project management company, they are the only people that you have to worry about managing. However, if you decide to run all of your operations through an SaaS platform, despite having an incredible database of service providers and valuable data at your fingertips, you are still the one who will be managing these vendors.
SaaS systems typically come with a huge upfront cost, ongoing monthly subscription fees, and a network of vendors that you are still responsible for managing. Before you go committing your entire budget to this option, be sure to first explore these 6 ideas.
1. Huge upfront costs which cannot be returned - A quick online search of the hundreds of SaaS platforms that are out there will quickly show you that this is a huge profit center for many CMMS/ technology companies. This fee is typically based on the number of locations, length of contract, and anticipated work volume but can be in 6 figures for those companies with large portfolios. We see this as somewhat having your cake and eating it, as the SaaS providers are charging huge fees on the front end and on and on a recurring monthly basis. We also believe that a lot of the reports and data that are provided might be catching on the eye, but are typically of little to no value.
2. High monthly subscription fees - this is again dependent upon the number of stores but you can expect to pay anywhere from $45 to $75 per store per month depending on what features you decide to use. The base price of $45 for 200 stores will set you back well over $100,000 a year and as you will see in #6, there is still a huge line item to consider.
3. Add-ons and extra fees - As with most things these days, there is the base package that comes
standard and you can then add on other features as desired. You might want to self-perform surveys of your stores, and your store associates can facilitate this through a survey app that syncs in with your SaaS housed store roster. You might want to integrate your utility bills, lease contracts, and asset information. All of this is possible, it will just cost you!
4. What features will you actually use - Along the same lines as above, you will be spoiled with options and will probably find yourself in a similar position to the proverbial kid in the candy shop. Before you initially engage with a SaaS provider, do your research, know what you want, and stay focused. If there are add-on features that intrigue you, speak to the company about the opportunity to try before you buy with a pilot program across a sampling of your locations. This will give you a chance to experience things before making a long term financial commitment to them.
5. A lack of flexibility - Once you have signed a contract with an SaaS provider, you will immediately be on the hook for the huge on-boarding fee and the monthly subscription fees will start coming thick and fast. Over the years we have found that FM professionals feel trapped and unable to make changes. They are not happy with the service that they are receiving, but they are reluctant to change due to the huge amount of money that they have already invested in the platform.
Think of it like a timeshare if you will: you pay a huge upfront fee to purchase the timeshare, and then each month you receive a bill for your share of the maintenance fees. You stop loving the resort, you never like the maintenance fees, and the whole thing becomes a drag. However, you stick with it because you have $50k of your hard earned cash invested, you don't want to admit to making a poor investment, and are reluctant to walk away from what you now view as a mistake. You keep paying the monthly fee and the problem only worsens but your pride is on the line and it's hard to admit that you made a mistake on the front end.
Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to read the contract closely and understand what would need to happen for you to get out if things start heading south.
Approximately a third of our clients are facility managers who inherited an SaaS from the previous maintenance team. We work with them during the transition period so that they are not having to pay two data management fees for the same store. We also offer a pilot program to potential clients so that they get a chance to experience what we do, why we do it, and how it can benefit their bottom line.
6. You still need to manage the vendors - This is the one aspect of SaaS platforms that causes most facility maintenance professionals the biggest headaches. They get everything in place for channeling vendors to stores, but they forget that they still need someone to mange everything. Who is tracking AND enforcing warranties? Who is holding the vendors accountable? What happens when problems arise? Who is there to coordinate with the vendor while on site? There are many benefits to SaaS platforms but the need for project management is easily the biggest frustration that we address when retail facility professionals transfer the maintenance of their stores to Royal.
The way we see this is similar to your investment and retirement portfolios. You can self-manage a portfolio of stocks through a budget friendly brokerage such as TD Ameritrade or Merrill Edge, but do you actually know what you are doing? Are you making the right decisions? Do you have the time to research equities, buy at the right time, and make decisions that won't negatively impact your tax liability? If you have the investment professionals on hand or are knowledgeable yourself, then this is a great option due to the extremely low fees. However, if you do not have the required expertise on hand, you're best bet is to meet with a financial adviser who can manage your portfolio for you.
No matter what industry you are in, the size of your facilities, and the number of properties you oversee, one thing remains constant: someone is going to have to manage your facilities. You can do this yourself or you can partner with trade experts to take advantage of their knowledge base and experience.
If you are searching for an incredible project management team to oversee the maintenance of your facilities, we would love to talk. Schedule a consultation with us today, and we will show you how by acting as an extension of your team we will be able to reduce your costs, enhance the in-store experience you provide, extend the lifetime of your assets, and provide you with 24/7/365 peace of mind that your stores are in safe hands.