Service contractors can be a vital resource to anyone charged with building management. They can provide flexible labor to supplement in-house staff during peak work periods and often offer a higher level of expertise in areas where in-house staff may have limited knowledge.
Once you have identified the annual maintenance tasks required for your facility and what your in-house capabilities are, you may consider hiring a maintenance contractor to fulfill some, or all, of your building requirements. Make sure your contractor fully understands your expectations and focuses on the following:
Safety, Security, and Regulatory Compliance
All safety programs should be designed to comply with OSHA required procedures (arc flash, confined space, fall protection, lockout-tagout, MSDS, etc.).
All work should be clearly documented. If you use computerized maintenance management software, you should require that service reports be completed on system-generated work orders to expedite data entry.
Cost and Schedule Control
You should clearly define labor and material charges before entering into a contract and include a clear process for identifying, approving and managing any work outside the contract terms. It is also a good idea to negotiate hourly rates for after-hours work, if necessary. The contractor should coordinate tasks requiring equipment shutdowns with your occupants and in-house staff in advance to minimize operational disruption.
Contractors should adhere to a regular service schedule as stated in your contract and notify you in advance of a pending service visit and again prior to leaving. In turn, you should notify your contractor of any deficiencies in equipment before they start work. Your contractor should be proactive in engaging you to discuss options for repair or replacement of defective equipment.
Following these guidelines can help you avoid pitfalls that can add risk and costs to your maintenance contract. Most importantly, ensuring continuous, two-way communication between you and your contractor will help you maximize the benefits of your relationship and your contract.