By Bill Barnhart
“Value-added” is a buzzword in business, but it has different meanings depending on the company. For an oil change business, value-added might mean washing the windows or checking the air in the tires. For a record company, it might mean bonus songs on a new CD. In any case, value-added means offering the customer more goods or services at a similar or slightly higher price point.
The AffinEco companies are now examining how to make value-added a regular component of their business model after a successful pilot project with a client that was interested in more than the typical cleaning and maintenance services the company offers. The client has eight class-A+ buildings spread among three towns.
“This client–covered by confidentiality–represents an exciting opportunity because we are providing traditional janitorial services, plus kitchen services, plus repairs and maintenance,” said Senecal. “We are adding value by taking on some of the duties customers typically do themselves, like providing monthly budget tracking and variance reporting on the services we perform. Since we have the data and resources, it makes sense for us to do it.”
AffinEco had a vision and brought in Lou Gutierrez as General Manager 2 ½ years ago, at no cost to the client, to help design the model and formulate a unique response to their request for proposal (RFP). Gutierrez, working closely with Managing Partner Paul Senecal, spent the next nine months fashioning a new Quality Assurance (QA) program, which included sophisticated inspection and work scheduling components. The model combined staff resources with select sub-vendors and contractors to manage the facilities’ maintenance needs.
The client bought in and, once the contract was signed in October 2012, Gutierrez hired Chris Nelson as Ancillary Services Manager to head up a crew who would perform a myriad of specialized ancillary services, including painting; dry wall installation and repair; carpentry; millwork; electrician services; natural stone and tile maintenance; ceiling tile maintenance; and carpet cleaning and maintenance.
Later, Gutierrez hired Ken Chavez as Quality Assurance Manager to join Patrick Navas, who was already on-site managing the cleaning crew. According to Senecal, “The client has been thrilled with the quality and timeliness of the work.”
In a short period of time, AffinEco has had a significant impact handling countless in-scope tasks as well as numerous special projects, like cleaning and maintaining equipment at three fitness centers; pest control maintenance and service; exterior and interior window cleaning; locksmith services; exterior power washing; and kitchen and hospitality support. The crew has also engaged in some unique services including antique and exterior furniture restoration; installing custom bathroom fixtures; and providing 24/7 emergency and storm support. And, as the client’s needs grow, Senecal says, the contract’s scope can expand, which benefits both parties.
“Single Source” is how Gutierrez describes the services his team provides. “This is an opportunity to create a model that would appeal to virtually any client. Companies want to and should do what they do best. They can confidently leave the rest to AffinEco.”
A significant benefit of having the same company handle cleaning, maintenance and additional ancillary services is the enhanced response time. If a cleaner sees a broken door handle or stained carpet, they can initiate a quick solution. If the client has a project and needs an immediate consultation, a member of the management team can drop what they’re doing and respond.
“We had a client with specific needs, which meant we had to assemble the right team to accommodate their requirements,” said Senecal. “What’s great about this group is that they know how to identify problems, design the solutions, get the customer’s buy-in and make it happen.”
One such solution greatly improved how the building kept rock salt accessible, dry and usable during the long, stormy winter. “We came up with a creative solution by acquiring airtight, pet-food bins,” said Nelson. “Then we custom built naturally finished cedar wood bins around them. They’re very attractive, but functional as well.”
“No one is better equipped,” said Gutierrez. “We’re already there. We constantly inspect and grade the condition of the facilities using a 1 to 5 scale and execute corrective action on anything below the bar. Not only is the client assured of a prompt response to issues requiring attention, but they are also kept informed on an ongoing basis of the overall condition of all their space.”
“What I’ve seen that stands out is our ability to quarterback these type of jobs,” said Nelson. “We have many good porters, full- and part-time employees and a stable of mechanics and subcontractors. We have all the needed resources with one team spearheading the effort. And it’s all on-site.”
According to Senecal, the model is working, and AffinEco is now examining how it can provide similar value-added services to other clients who already trust the company with their cleaning.