How to keep contractors on their toes using continuous feedback

February 15th, 2021

As a facilities manager, you're dealing with many contractors. But how do you know they’re doing a good job?

If you google “What makes a good facilities manager”, you get plenty of answers. This is just one of them:

“A good facilities manager will put out fires on a daily basis. A great one will constantly be thinking about prevention.”

As a facilities manager, you know you can’t be in all places at once. Hence, you rely on external contractors to help you put out the fires and prevent them in the future. But how do you know they’re doing a good job? Do you perform your own inspections? Do you rely on others to give you feedback?

Using continuous feedback can help. With continuous feedback, those that use your facilities indicate how they feel in real-time, helping you to pinpoint where your efforts are needed the most - and whether or not your contractors are doing their job.

Here are two examples:

Catering Feedback

You’ve outsourced cafeteria management to an outside catering company. Especially in an office environment where everyone is busy, it is difficult to assess how well the catering company is performing. A logical approach would be to use surveys. But ask yourself: Do you really have the time to sift through the answers? And even before that, do you even know how to create an effective survey that’ll give you the answers you need?

To get the problem off your back, you hired an external consultant to administer surveys. They go around interrupting people while they eat, and take up a huge chunk of a worker’s lunch break. You’ve annoyed just about everyone, and you still have no idea if the catering company is doing a good job or not.

Well, ok, that’s not entirely true. You managed to get a few answers from those that absolutely loved the service and those that absolutely hated the service. But is that really useful?

Capturing continuous feedback is as non-disruptive as it gets. By placing a smiley terminal at the exit point of the cafeteria asking the question “How was your breakfast/lunch/dinner today”, people can indicate their satisfaction with the service in a matter of seconds. The most important thing, however, is that this feedback is in real-time, meaning that the customer hasn’t yet forgotten their experience. Thus, the data you’re gathering is a real reflection of what they experienced.

You can then check your ratio of happy vs sad faces, or use a metric such as NPS to track satisfaction. Continuous feedback gives you the hard numbers you need to objectively evaluate your catering providers.

Cleaning Management

Unless you have a thousand pairs of eyes, It’s difficult to track the real-time cleanliness in your facilities.

Continuous feedback gives you those eyes.

Let’s assume you have a smiley feedback terminal asking the question “How clean was the washroom?” If you’re getting many red faces from a single place, it’s a clear sign that immediate action is needed.

Continuous feedback gives you a long-term view as well. Analyzing your smiley ratios, you see that you’ve been getting quite a few “neutral” faces the past week. This can indicate that the bathrooms are not as clean as they should be. What’s more, it could mean that your cleaning provider is not being as thorough in their work as you hoped.

Understanding this feedback and having it available, helps you rate how well your cleaning provider is doing across your entire building network. You also get the hard numbers to make your case.

Conclusion

With the help of outside providers, you can go from putting out fires to proactively preventing them. However, how can you be sure that your contractors are worth the investment? Through continuous feedback, the very people that use your facilities can help you keep tabs on how well your contractors are doing, saving you time and money. Plus, you get the hard evidence you need to demonstrate the worth - or lack thereof - of specific contractors.

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