Your Guide to Managing Vendors (without Headaches)
Negotiating bids, tracking down contact info, trying to remember whether or not you’ve invoiced for this month -- managing vendors may cause a lot of headaches, but it doesn’t have to. With the right combination of planning, sharing, and incorporating a few modern touches, you can make vendor management much easier, and make life much simpler for you and your tenants.
When your office floods or your air conditioning goes out unexpectedly, or when you suddenly realize you’re low on supplies, a local vendor may just save your back. On the other hand, if you work with an out-of-town vendor, chances are you’ll be waiting quite a bit longer on that solution.
Know your priorities
What are your top priorities? Safety? Quality? Cost? Decide on the factors that are most important to you (or to your tenants) and bear them in mind as you hire and manage vendors. For example, if you want vendors who are fully dependable and will do a high quality job, you may be willing to pay a little more for their services. After you hire a vendor, use your priorities to assess whether or not that vendor is working out well for you and your tenants.
One of the surest ways to simplify your life (and the lives of your tenants) is by consolidating vendor information. Make a list of your current and/or preferred vendors for future reference, and include contact information, their work history with you, and other relevant details. Rather than creating a physical document that could be lost, try organizing your list in a spreadsheet or software program. That way, you can share it with your tenants or anyone else who needs access.
Automate your billing
Technology is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? With so many options these days for invoicing, tracking expenses, and detailing bids, there’s no excuse for not updating your payment system. And when you do, you’ll find it’s much less of a hassle. With automated software, you can send and receive payments faster, with minimum effort. Plus, many online payment systems will let you do other things as well, like track expenses and compare costs.
When you find a good vendor - one who’s dependable, cost-effective, and good at what they do - you want to keep that vendor around. Plus, it’s much simpler (and easier on your budget) if you don’t have to keep hiring new vendors.
Positive, lasting vendor-relationships are built on open communication and trust. That means sharing information and priorities, being appreciative, and meeting regularly. If you know a vendor is coming to the building on a certain day, set aside some time to see them. That way, you can share any necessary information, be available for questions, and express your appreciation for their services.
Additionally, consider scheduling regular meetings with vendors, so you can discuss any issues that come up and alert them to things like building expansions or relocations. This is also a good time to find out if the vendor has any questions, and if there are any steps the two of you can take to make both your lives easier. Remember that your vendor has specialized knowledge, and sometimes that knowledge can prove very helpful for you and your tenants.
Negotiate -- but be fair
You don’t have to blindly accept a vendor’s bid. On the other hand, bear in mind that your vendor is running their own business, and that you may pay more for higher quality services. Cut costs wherever you can, but settle on a price that’s acceptable to both you and your vendors. Along with that, be respectful. Remember: vendor relationships are a two way street. When you recognize your vendor’s expert knowledge and treat him or her more like a trusted business partner, everyone wins.
Need help managing vendors?
Gilbert International has decades of experience managing property and vendors in the New York City area. Contact us today for a free consultation.