IN VENDOR MANAGEMENT, A PROPERTY MANAGER MUST
TASK MANAGEMENT The prevailing tools used by prop-
erty management firms with vendors are email, phone
calls and spreadsheets. All of these require direct, non-lin-
ear, and incomplete messaging which leads to multiple follow-ups
from both the property manager and the vendor. Larger build-
ings or companies might be using web-based platforms for ser-
vice contracts to track, pay and communicate online. This is es-
pecially useful if the property manager or service provider is on
vacation and a substitute has to fill in.
FILE SHARING. If a property manager calls a vendor
to say, “I need to have my roof or parking lot fixed,”
the vendor’s first question is, “What is the current condition?” The maintenance records are probably filed somewhere.
But if you think of going to a new doctor or dentist, the first
thing they ask for is all medical records to be transferred over.
If there was a “record holding device” for all property records
that could easily be shared with a property vendor, the price of
bidding and servicing the property would likely decrease, not
to mention ease the transfer to a new managing agent when an
account turns over.
CONTRACT TOOLS. Many property management companies use standard contracts for all vendors. But others
sign vendor contracts. In these situations, efficiency can
be gained by adding standard contract language and insurance
requirements to all bids to meet compliance. In addition, once
a contractor is awarded a bid, W- 9 forms and certificates of insurance are typically required. Again, pulling these together is a
manually intensive administrative task handled through email,
and therefore buried in other communications and tracked on
spreadsheets that can benefit from automated contract tools.
GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM (GIS)
MAPPING The power of a good map goes a long way.
Cities and counties are starting to use GIS tools, but
property managers continue to meet vendors at the property to
determine what work should be done and confirm that it has
been. GEO-tagged pictures for work requests or evidence of
completion could save both parties drive time for meetings as
well as provide a permanent time-stamped record of the work
VENDOR AVAILABILITY AND MATCHING. Some
THE VENDOR PERSPECTIVE
property management firms might have preferred ven-
dor lists, but often individual managers have control over
the vendors they use for their properties, and they use vendors
they know. Only jobs over a certain dollar amount or a service
needed every few years might be bid out. In the end, much is
left to the manager’s discretion, with bidding often regarded as a
nuisance and records stored in electronic or paper files. What if
there was a “Kayak” or “Uber” type service that quickly and eas-
ily could provide real time quotes for the best price from different
providers for each job?
Tony Swendsrud, vice president and CFO of Minutebids.com,
an online marketplace where property managers can locate service providers, stated that challenges in vendors’ industries are
pushing them to adopt technology as well. Their available workforce is also decreasing, and contractors are looking for better,
faster information on both the bidding of a project and its execution. Minutebids.com customers realize that collaborating with
their contractors and providing detailed information actually
strengthens their relationships. The use of integrated
technology can improve the communication
process, improve efficiency and, optimally,
take cost out of the entire supply chain.
MAKE TECHNOLOGY WORK FOR YOU—
AND YOUR VENDORS
What is your organization doing to empower your employees
with automation and mobile access going forward so they can
better handle their responsibilities—and their business relationships? The importance of relationships in real estate cannot be
taken away, and face-to-face interaction will always be important.
Still, technology can go far toward facilitating vendor management or fostering vendor collaboration.
Kelly Jameson, RPA, MBA, is assistant professor of real estate and
finance at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn.
NO ENTERPRISE IS AN ISLAND;
each one exists as part of an expansive
eco-system of customers, competitors and