How to Find the Right Mobile Vendor for Your Facility: BOMA 2019

06/24/2019 | By Valerie Dennis Craven

Mobile vendor services at facilities have increased substantially over the past few years. A younger workforce is seeking amenities to take care of errands while at work, as opposed to during the weekend. The challenge is how to keep this amenity safe and organized for everyone involved—while keeping the vendors and property and facility managers happy.

Becky Hanner, principal at Hanner Commercial Asset Services, moderated a discussion at the BOMA 2019 International Conference & Expo during the “Mobile Vendor Traffic Cop” session about how to address issues related to this.

Mobile Vendors Session at BOMA
(Photo: Education Session: Mobile Vendor Traffic Cop; Speakers: L-R: Joe Markling, Eric Garrison, Brent David Krebs, Rebecca Hanner (in yellow). Credit: Valerie Dennis Craven)

“Companies are really vying for the best employees,” Hanner notes. “Human resources has gotten involved with site selection to help find the best amenities they can, and mobile amenities are a part of that.”

Although food trucks are very popular, other types of amenities are being requested and offered, including:

  • Mobile produce farm
  • Blood donation
  • Mammography
  • Nail salon
  • Shoe repair
  • Technology repair
  • Mobile golf club repair
  • Bike repair
  • Pet grooming
  • Vet service
  • Car wash
  • Car dent repair
  • Gas delivery
  • Oil and lube

Mobile Vendor Challenges

Panelist Joe Markling, managing director and head of real estate operations at USAA Real Estate, doesn’t see mobile vendors as a revenue source, or nominal revenue at best.

“It’s a lot of time and energy for something that happens for an hour a few times a week,” he notes. “What it will hopefully translate to is higher tenant occupancy and retention.”

Mobile vendors are about having tenant amenities that are right for your building and occupants. Know who is coming onto your property and what they are doing.

Markling cautions building owners and property managers to plan and prepare for these amenities. Food trucks carry diesel and hot oil, for example, so liability is a concern. Or he’s heard of fuel trucks, with flammable fuel, come into a parking garage without permission to fill up cars.

Giving vendors accurate expectations is important, as they need to make the service worth their time financially—both in how much they make in sales and, for food trucks, how much food they bring and prepare.

“It needs to be a mutual relationship between the building owner/property owner and mobile vendor,” says Brent David Kreb, food truck owner and operator. It helps by going to the same place consistently and knowing what to expect, he says.

BUILDINGS Podcast

Tenant Amenities are Trending at Industry Trade Shows

Christoph Trappe and Janelle Penny discuss the tenant amenities they’ve seen at industry trade shows. They provide examples of what an amenity could include, explain some things you will want to consider beforehand, and how to get them started in your facility. Listen here or read the transcript.

Find the Right Mobile Vendors

To overcome issues, Markling and Eric Garrison, co-founder of mobile vendor tech company MOBLZ, encourage owners and managers to:

  • Vet the trucks
  • Provide a designated spot
  • Get a contract
  • Ask for proof of insurance
  • Provide seating and trash receptacles    

Think of the extras that will attract and retain quality vendors. If you can offer electrical hookups for the trucks, that’s “fantastic,” says Brent David Kreb, food truck owner and operator. That way, vendors don’t need to load a generator with gas or worry that something might happen to the generator during food service.

[Related: How to Manage Food Trucks Outside Your Building]

Garrison’s company works with property managers to find the right mobile vendors for their facilities. They then connect with building tenants to provide communication services as a direct line of communication about what’s happening on the property that day, both with mobile vendors and other alerts, like weather or safety notices.

A system like that can also take the logistics and organization out of managing mobile vendor tenant amenities on site, including making sure there are different vendors at once or if someone backs out, finding a replacement.

Look Out for Your Property and People

Mobile vendors are about having tenant amenities that are right for your building and occupants. Know who is coming onto your property and what they are doing.

“At the end of the day, you don’t want anything to happen to the property or the people,” Kreb says.

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