If you are trying to compete with the Big Boys, you need to be aware of how the larger commercial management firms operate. They have a sophisticated approach to decision making (it is different from an owner operator of a strip mall). You need to find out:
- At what level the enhancement jobs go out to bid
- At what level the property manager can make their own decision without it being kicked up the to VP
- How Cap Ex is handled differently from other small projects
- The fact that they have different management/restoration strategies for their different properties
Going in your favor, you should be able to compete against the Big Boys by your:
- High level of proactive communication with your clients
- Providing consistency across properties…same account manager oversight, same level of detail.
- Consistent labor pool, with less turnover, bringing a consistent level of quality
- Ease of doing business that The Big Boys are not able to give, e.g. one phone call does it all…across their many properties.
- Speed of turning around requests – if you are smaller you are also more nimble – use that to your advantage.
On the other hand, try to be proactive when you sense you will get behind schedule.
The Big Boys may be able to gear up more quickly after a late winter, for example. You need to get in front of that problem, by starting the communication earlier in the season.
Having said all that, don’t be overly concerned about bringing on new Account Manager’s to take your (the owners) place. Your larger clients will understand and even value that, if you have a back up plan with competent people on their account supporting you and them.
Are you stale? Realize that the “key” to why large clients change out contractors from time to time; it happens when you get “stale” and their property gets stale.
So let me ask you two sets of questions…
- Have you gotten stale on how you take care of your clients? Do you take them for granted? Do you take the same approach every year, just because “it’s working”? If you do, then you are in trouble though you may not even know it yet. You are about to lose work to someone else…not because they are better, but because they might be better.
- Do you have a systematic way of reinvigorating your perspective, your service and your client’s perception of the value you bring? Do you wait for your clients to make requests, or are you proactive on how you increase your value to your clients? If you do, then you are much more likely to retain your clients, earn new business and earn their referrals.
Which camp are you in?