One of the fun parts of our job is that we have to “think outside the box”on a regular basis. We often run into issues in which we are ignorant and have to source a vendor that will not try to take advantage of us or the street address.
The keywords in this process are going to be “due diligence”. Managing vendors is a time-consuming process. Much more than most Principals realize. The more efficient we can make the process, the more time we will have to tackle the million other tasks that come up on a daily basis. For our personal homes, it’s easy to google, call and schedule a vendor within minutes. But when it comes to our Principals, the process needs to be much more thorough, after all, we are giving this person access to sensitive areas and need to know that we can leave them alone for a few minutes if something needs our attention……..because that never happens right?
So, how do you find a good vendor? Follow the below advice and do your due diligence and you can avoid 80% of the negative situations that could occur.
Ask for references
Make sure they are from the last couple of years. If too long of a time has passed, they may be giving you feedback on staff that is no longer with the company.
Contact the manufacturer
Most manufacturers have a list of authorized service companies.
Ask a colleague
Few better resources than a fellow professional telling you that they have the perfect company to take care of the obstacle you are facing.
Ask your Builder
If your home is a recent build, contact the builder’s office. If this is the case, check your warranty information. If you are within your builder’s warranty period, repairs should be at no cost.
Ask your Interior Designer
Same as above, if the home was recently redesigned, ask your designer who they use to service their products or items they sell or recommend.
Ask other vendors
Other vendors on the property may know someone that they have worked with on previous jobs.
Ask your fellow staff members
You never know when one of your staff has a great resource up their sleeve. I once found a great color guy that fixed a chip in a wall and the floor quickly and indistinguishably simply by asking a Housekeeper.
Once you have found the vendor you still need to ensure they are not overcharging you and have all the proper paperwork to be on the property.
- Get a copy of their insurance with your principals listed as a certificate holder. Make sure this comes directly from their insurance carrier, not their own office. Insurance can be purchased and then canceled once a certificate has been issued. You don’t know how old that certificate is from their office and if it’s been altered. If you do have one that comes from their office, contact the carrier to ensure the coverage is still active and that your Principals are listed as certificate holders.
- Check their professional licenses with the state. Make sure you are getting a licensed professional, not one of their employees that are using their bosses’ license number.
- Check the cost of the parts with a quick internet search. Or reach out to a whole-seller and get a price on the part.
A few final tips for you:
- For larger projects never pay 100% upfront, I like a 50/25/25 system. 50% upfront for parts and supplies, followed by 25% three-quarters of the way through and the last 25% upon satisfactory completion of the job.
- Make sure that the company you are hiring can meet your accounting standards. Do they insist on payment in full at the end of the service call? That may not work if your Principal only pays invoices by check. Make sure they can accept a net30.
- I ask my regular service vendors (HVAC, Plumbing, Electric, Smart Home, etc.) to give me three techs that can work in the house. I meet with each one (preferably together) and show them where their areas of work are, where they can access electric, which restroom to use and fill them in on the household policies. The standard is set, if they violate the rules, they will not be allowed to return. If the vendors send me a tech I do not know, they are turned away at the gate.