We’ve all been there, the point in a relationship where complacency creeps in and standards start to slip.
The spark has gone and you’re now just going through the motions.
Don’t despair though because we know how to bring the passion back to your relationship and, believe it or not, they involve contractual performance audits.
Now we know that performance audits can be a stressful chore, nobody likes feeling as though there’s extra pressure to perform. But they aren’t to be feared, in fact, they are the best way of keeping your client relationships as fresh as the day you signed the contract.
So with that in mind, here’s five ways you can get more value from your performance audits:
1 Observe and recommend
Add value simply by having more stimulating conversations over and above those of set audit questions – this often has the effect of opening new contract opportunities.
As you wander around the building, as well as covering the usual question and answer scenario, find things you can advise on that isn’t in your contract. For example: can you identify security flaws in areas outside of your responsibility? Can you advise your client on how they can make the office environment more festive during Christmas? Or can you point out how garden areas could be spruced up to improve worker mood?
This doesn’t add any additional cost but makes engagements more interesting, and your professional Facilities Management opinion will carry weight so take advantage of your position.
2 Explore the SLA
Often it’s unrealistic to hit 100% clean/safe against all of your audit review points (particularly when the client includes a percentage cost of failure in their budget), so explore how you can add value when some failure is a given.
The right Facilities Management auditing software will let you track and measure performance against customers’ expectations, as set out in the SLAs, as well as allowing you to insert additional review and audit points.
These additional reviews can be used to show proactive willing to address any real concerns in service delivery, the sort of value add that endears Facilities Management providers in the hearts of their clients – a priceless commodity in building relationships and retaining contracts.
3 Never miss an opportunity
You may not realise it, but the often mundane audits that you must endure actually serve more than just one purpose.
Not only is it demonstrating how you’re meeting contractual obligations, it’s also a sales opportunity to cross and up-sell additional services. If you do recognise it, how do you ensure that it always happens? Can you systematically ensure you are aware of all the opportunities within your client and that you are having a meaningful discussion on how you might assist the client with them?
Consider this: monthly and even weekly you’ll be meeting with your key stakeholder for a significant period of time to discuss delivery and standards; it’s the perfect one-on-one opportunity to get them to open up about other challenges they may be facing (and for you to slot your delivery expertise alongside).
4 Ask the right questions/retain control
An essential part of defining the SLA is the questions set out to define delivery standards considered as part of the audit.
And what about the answers; are they appropriate for the question?
You need to spend less time defining audit questions and responses during SLA negotiations and encourage more use of your standard inspection or auditing models. If you can achieve this you will likely have more success in the long term. You will be able to control delivery against those standards as they will be common to your business. This is sometimes referred to a Standard Operating Audit (SOA).
An SOA reduces the likelihood of your client penalising you for below agreed standard service delivery. You control the risk, the measure and the exposure.
Defining an SOA is an enterprise strategy though. You need to invest time and energy outside of any contracted wins to work out what a balanced approach would look like and how you can apply it to most of your contracts.
Try not to leave anything to ambiguity. For example: when you’re considering how cleaning standards are marked, do you have versions that compensate based on things such as footfall and use?
If you have a SOA included in your service, and charge more for non-standard approaches, the less inclined the customer is to request bespoke questions. The idea is to provide off-the-shelf questions and answers you’re comfortable with, but that are also very fair for all parties. Likewise, consider charging extra for bespoke audits which take longer to set up and increase risk and costs to all parties.
5 Keep it simple
The bottom line is that your clients want to know whether you’re delivering against what you said you would, and the more complex you make the reporting, the more painful it will be for you to report against SLAs. When defining a SOA, don’t overcomplicate it so it doesn’t become a burden, keep it simple.
Construct the audit questions based on a proven template
If you have historical performance results against other contracted audit questions, you’ll be well placed to negotiate benchmarks you think are achievable – and measurable. Don’t add unknown or unrealistic activities to the SOA if you have no historical data to draw upon – data which might inform whether you can meet the objectives.
Unless the client is paying for more bespoke and complex reporting, refrain from adding it.
Use technology to help you keep track of activities
Some contracts require proof of presence for the audit process which could be contentious and difficult to prove without the ability to record activities and worker movement – Servicetrac provides irrefutable proof.
The Servicetrac app can be configured to use simple in-device technologies such as NFC, GPS tracking and image capture to prove attendance and giving assurance that requirements have been met.
Innovise specialises in creating software applications to support the facilities management and support services industry globally, helping to control workforce costs in this low margin sector.