Warehousing and distribution centers should evaluate facility services.
By Eric Kirchhoefer
Meeting customer expectations safely and costeffectively is often the biggest concern in warehousing and distribution environments. To meet those objectives, you depend on your facility to run effectively and efficiently. As consumer expectations, technology and the retail landscape have changed, you probably have responded by making incremental changes to your facility services program over the years.
It’s also a good idea to examine your program holistically from time to time. Should you consider outsourcing to help you reach your goals? Or if you already outsource, how well is your current provider doing? Maybe it’s time to make a switch or integrate multiple services with one company. Here’s what to consider when you’re re-evaluating your facility services program.
If you’re not already outsourcing your facility services, there are several good reasons to consider it. The two primary factors that you should look at when making the transition to outsourcing are staffing and service quality.
When you hire in-house facility services personnel, you carry the burden of managing those employees. They don’t directly contribute to your core business functions, but they still require administrative oversight, training and management. Outsourcing relieves you of that burden, allowing you to dedicate your resources to personnel who are directly involved in your core business.
One of the reasons companies hesitate to outsource is because they see their facility services staff as a key part of their team. They fear that an outside vendor will let go of their current staff and use subcontractors or hire workers who aren’t as loyal. In both scenarios, service quality can suffer.
Those fears are rooted in some truth, but there are many facility services providers that understand the value of loyal employees. You can even find providers who will transition your current staff to their payroll so your facility is serviced by familiar faces.
When you have in-house facility services staff, it’s easier to maintain control over the quality of their work. From training to standard operating procedures, you can have full transparency into every aspect of your maintenance program.
But managing all of that takes time and energy away from your core business. Facility service providers with warehousing and distribution center experience understand your safety and consumer demand challenges. Their knowledge of best practices and quality control procedures can maintain or even improve the current level of service.
Making the decision to outsource isn’t simple. Ask yourself the following questions: Does your current facility services program meet your standards? Do you want to implement innovative methods or sustainable practices, which may require outside consultation? Is the time you spend on your facility distracting you from your core business? Can you take on a proposal process? Weigh these concerns against your business goals to find the right solution for you.
If you’re already outsourcing, maybe it’s time to make a change. Consider two primary factors: switching providers and integrating multiple services with one company.
Accepting the status quo is easy when you’re focused on the day-to-day management of your facility. Your current facility services provider may not be working as well as you’d like, but you’re concerned with other matters and let it slide. Unfortunately, you may end up having to scramble to make a change when a crisis comes along.
What is your current provider doing to ensure worker safety? Are they helping you keep up with fluctuations in demand? Does their staff integrate well with yours? If you feel like your current provider is only meeting the bare minimum of your needs, it may be time to make a switch. It’s best to make this decision before a major crisis, so you can be selective in your bidding process.
Consolidating Services with One Vendor
If you’re already outsourcing your facility services, another option to consider is consolidating multiple services with one vendor. A vendor with expertise in every component of facility services will allow you to streamline your operations. You can increase efficiencies and consolidate billing, reporting, and other administrative functions.
An integrated facility services provider can ensure all employees are trained consistently and adhering to best practices. You can also take advantage of their expertise to help you take a holistic approach to reaching your business goals. Having an integrated plan for sustainability or employee safety training, for instance, would make operating your facility much easier.
No matter what your current facility services program is, it’s important to take time to examine it and anticipate problems before they become crises. Your customers have high expectations, and they don’t always know what it takes to meet their needs behind the scenes. Relieve some of that pressure by taking a proactive approach to evaluating your facility services program.
Eric Kirchhoefer is vice president, sales & national accounts for ABM Industries. Over the course of his tenure, Kirchhoefer has helped develop and direct the company’s overall sales and marketing strategy.