When a new management company took over the controls of a mini high-rise condominium building in Chicago, one of the first things the new manager did was review the current agreements the building had with its different vendors. What they discovered was the following:
Because of this, the new management company believed its first obligation to the condominium board was to review all the current contracts and then create RFPs (requests for proposals) for each service. The RFPs were not necessarily going to be used to look for new service providers, at least initially, but so that the building had a solid understanding of what services were to be provided by the different service providers.
This can actually be a very complicated process. Very often, if managers are lucky enough to have an older RFPs on file, they can use that as a starting point. However, even these may prove to be only of moderate help. As most managers know, buildings and building operations change over time which means the needs of the facility can change as well.
It’s at this point that many management companies decide the best thing to do is call in a building consultant to help them build a “working” RFP. A working RFP refers to an RFP designed to not only meet the facilities needs today but also to lend itself to revisions and adjustments as needs, issues, and challenges change in the future.
Because RFPs are all different and designed for different types of service, the best way to describe how to put together a working RFP is to use an example and one service common to virtually all facilities is cleaning. Whether a building has in-house cleaning professionals handling maintenance work or outsources janitorial duties, it is important that they have a RFP on file. The RFP will have listed all the cleaning related services needed for the building, which are referred to as the scope of work (SOW). The SOW can be used and referenced no matter who is performing the custodial work.
To develop the most useful SOW for a condo building, the consultant will likely perform many of the following:
This last item is very important. Very often it is recommended to conduct a cleaning audit when developing a SOW. The cleaning audit may uncover cleaning issues that are a bigger concern to building tenants than the management company may realize. Tenants may feel, for instance, hallway carpets are not vacuumed frequently enough or, just the opposite, that hallways are vacuumed too often. Because vacuuming is such a time consuming – which translates into costly – cleaning task, this can have a big impact on how much time and resources should be applied to this task.
As you can see, putting together the SOW for the RFP can involve a number of steps, making it a time-consuming process. Very often, a qualified consultant can help streamline the process so that it is less cumbersome and moves along much faster. However, the SOW must be thorough in order to ensure the RFP created is workable and will grow if and when the needs of the building change.
Once the SOW is completed and an RFP has been created, there is one more thing that is recommended, and it goes by the acronym is RFI – request for information. If the cleaning work is to be outsourced, managers must determine what types of cleaning companies they are looking to hire. For instance, is the contractor experienced in cleaning apartment buildings? Do they know how to implement a green cleaning strategy? The RFI is designed to answer these questions so that managers can meet with only those contractors that can handle their buildings cleaning needs.