In the Trenches, Continued: Sourcing in the Wild Outdoors
by Jennifer Ulrich, Sr Project Manager
In this continuing series, Jennifer shares her experiences in the trenches of executing strategic sourcing projects, to give you practical insights into best practices.
As the weather turns warm again we look to our dried up, brown lawns and ponder: Is there a better way? Just as you would at your home, you can hire a professional landscaper to work their magic making the office’s grass a little greener and the flowers that much brighter, and you don’t have to pay top dollar. Like other administrative costs, facilities management costs should be reviewed carefully to ensure you are getting the most value for your budget. This article will provide a few tips on what to consider when sourcing a landscape supplier at the office this spring.
The first and most important step in sourcing your landscaping services is to perform a needs assessment. What services are you currently sourcing today or in need of? Developing an ideal scope of work is important before soliciting proposals from potential suppliers. Include year round services such as fertilization, winter services such as snow removal and salt distribution, leaf removal, and so on. Leveraging the services throughout the seasons will be important to partnering with the right provider.
Your final scope of work should include, but not be limited to, the following:
- Detailed description of expected services including specified location on site. Description of services should be as detailed as possible to ensure that your supplier understands what you expect of them for each service.
- Frequency of services
- Seasonal services
- List of what supplier is expected to supply, e.g. mulch, ice removal products, flowers, etc. versus what you are willing to purchase and provide to them. Keep in mind that when, purchasing ancillary items like this from your provider, it will include a markup, though it may be worth it to alleviate the added headache of purchasing and storing them yourself.
- Clear guidelines on serviceable square footage including parking areas, grass cutting and other areas pertinent to your office
Other considerations include periods of time that services can be performed within; what pesticides and chemicals can and cannot be used; and the establishment of expected service levels and penalties for non-performance, if desired. In order to ensure performance levels are met, a clear channel of communication should be outlined including a chain of command for reporting issues and work requests. If there are multiple facilities or locations, the scope of work and service level expectations should be standardized as much as possible. Besides the scope of work, an estimated budget for the services should be established. Determine what you are paying today for services and what you would like to pay including any reductions where possible.
Selecting potential suppliers is the next step once all scope of work information has been agreed upon. Some factors to consider when selecting potential suppliers may include:
- How long they have been in business and what is their specialty?
- What is their proximity to your facility(ies) and hours of operation?
- Who are some of their other customers? What does that work look like?
- How do they manage their accounts?
- Information about their staff including qualifications and professionalism
- What licensing and insurance do they have?
- Can they adhere to the full scope of work, including other seasonal work? What other services can they perform?
- What guarantees do they offer?
All of this information can be collected through conversations and reference checks or through a formal Request for Proposal process.
When evaluating the supply base try to include different types of suppliers from local suppliers to larger facilities management companies. Also, take into consideration whether or not a broader facilities management program might be a possibility as part of this process or in the future. You may be able to leverage additional services such as janitorial or security to reduce the total program cost.
After vetting the supply base and selecting a few potential suppliers, you can solicit quotes by providing them with the scope of work and arranging site visits. Site visits are essential in most facilities management projects to ensure that suppliers quote as accurately as possible. They are able to assess the current state of the property, perform any measurement verifications needed, as well as ask any questions to clarify the scope of work.
Once finalists have been selected based on their overall fit and pricing proposals, costs should be refined with each bidder to ensure that their quotes are competitive. Compare them with contracts currently in place to ensure that you are receiving the same or better service. Final selection should be made on your comfort with their ability to provide the scope of work at the level of quality you anticipate within the budget you have set forth. When sourcing any category of spend you should select suppliers that you can build a relationship with that will provide value year after year.
For additional information or help sourcing your landscaping services, feel free to contact Source One.