6 Ways to Cut Service Contract Costs

3) Tweak the ScheduleOne increasingly popular tactic is day cleaning, which offers green perks in addition to saving money.

“People are in the building earlier, so you don’t have to keep the lights and HVAC on as late at night, which helps save on utilities,” explains Bob Quast, vice president and member of BOMA/Chicago and vice president of Lincoln Property Company. “If the cleaning lady comes in the afternoon and a space is still occupied, one of your occupants might say ‘Things are fine today, just go on.’ Cleaning personnel often wind up with fewer tasks than originally specified, which also helps save on time and supplies.”

4) Focus on PreventionIt can be tempting to cut down on preventive services for things like pest control when you aren’t noticing the problem, Vance notes, but waiting until a larger issue arises may end up costing you more in the long run and necessitate reactionary solutions that aren’t as eco-friendly.

“Bird populations can become established quickly. If they’re not treated right away, soon the birds are nesting and raising their young on the building. The cost to cure and correct that problem is far greater than if we had been allowed to provide some preventive measures as soon as we spotted roosting,” explains Vance. “That happens with termites as well. One client, a multifamily management company, neglected to have one of their properties on a termite inspection program and it resulted in a $10 million rebuild because the termites had literally eaten the building. The cost of the prevention program would have been so much less.”

5) Partner with ProvidersEven when being budget-conscious, don’t just accept the lowest price offered without knowing what that cost entails. If any vendor’s offer looks too good to be true, it probably is, Bartell advises.

“If the scope of work is the same, but you get a bid that’s 95% or less of what you currently spend, figure out why that is. What did they miss or what did you not communicate to them?” Bartell explains. “Services like cleaning are so labor-intensive that unless someone has a particularly new technique, it’s pretty hard to have a major change. They may have that secret solution that helps them work faster and more effectively, but you need to investigate.”

If a drastically lower bid comes in for your building, ensure the provider isn’t cutting corners with important services or sacrificing green goals.

6) Look at the Long TermThough much can be gained from adjusting contracts to build in incremental daily savings, there’s a lot to be said for long-term savings as well. Quast recommends looking at perennial plants indigenous to your area the next time you need landscaping work done so you can avoid the cost of replanting annuals. Paving is another area where creative negotiation can help stretch your maintenance dollars, Quast adds.

“We look for longer-term contracts that enable paving contractors to spread out costs over a period of time,” Quast says. “Rather than having to pay a large bill out of my pocket to fix remedial things, sometimes contractors are willing to advance the money and spread out the cost in even payments to improve the parking lot. Then they can get their money back with some interest.

“It’s about how you design contracts,” adds Quast. “It’s a matter of vendors and contractors understanding the business we’re in and how we do what we do.”

Pest Control

■ Focus on high-risk areas vs. low-risk■ Cover only typical pests■ Emphasize prevention■ Use “time and material” contracts vs. fixed cost ones


■ Practice xeriscaping (using indigenous plants that require less water)■ Use perennials instead of annuals■ Water when plants need it, not on a fixed schedule that doesn’t account for rainfall


■ Implement day cleaning■ Reduce daily tasks in staff areas■ Give employees responsibility for personal spaces■ Switch to concentrated formulas with non-toxic ingredients

Janelle Penny janelle.penny@buildings.com is senior editor of BUILDINGS.

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