One thing that most all building service contractors (BSCs) deal with from time to time is the introduction of a new office or building manager. After you’ve spent so much time developing a solid and comfortable relationship with the old manager, all of a sudden they’re gone and someone takes their place.
This can pose a problem. Some managers like their old service providers so much they bring them with them wherever they go. This can be especially true when it comes to cleaning because, while we can analyze and scientifically evaluate how well a service provider cleans a facility, ultimately there is a lot of subjectivity involved. If the new manager became enamored with the service provider at their former location, don’t be surprised if they now have the keys to your old account.
However, in most cases, the new manager will work with the current vendors until they have the time to evaluate their services and products. In the meantime, here are some steps you can take to smooth over the transition and retain the account.
- Meet with the new manager as soon as possible. Every manager will have likes, dislikes, preferences, and even quirks when it comes to cleaning. Find out as much about her as soon as you can and be a good listener.
- If the new manager has different goals for the appearance of the facility from the old manager, realize “different” does not mean “wrong.” View it as a new approach and recognize it is your responsibility as the contractor to adjust to it.
- Maintain a helpful attitude. Impress upon the new manager that you are available whenever needed; be encouraging, helpful, cooperative, and convey that you are looking forward to working with them.
- Discuss challenges and “issues.” Let the new manager know about cleaning challenges in the facility. At this point, you know the facility more intimately than they do. For instance, do carpets on one floor need to be cleaned more often than others? Is there a walkway that needs more attention or floor refinishing than others? You should inform the new manager about these characteristics as soon as possible.
- Discuss how you and their predecessor communicated in the past and ask if this will work with the new manager. While the old manager may have just picked up the phone and given you a call as needed, the new manager may prefer to leave a note, maintain a log, or email you requests. This means that you may need to revise your communication program for the account.
- Be sure to give the new manager some time to adjust to their new surroundings. This can take more time for some managers than others. Typically, it takes about two months before a new manager has a reasonably good idea of the cleaning needs of the facility. If it is a larger facility, it may take longer.
- Do not under any circumstances “gripe” about the new manager to anyone, especially your staff. You want your workers to have a positive, helpful attitude, and welcome the new manager. If you have “bad mouthed” the new manager, that attitude could spread to those working for you in the facility, and it could seriously damage the new relationship and the transition.
- The big test in your relationship with the new manager will occur when you have to deal with the first problem. Here’s some important insight: The new manager will be more focused on how you handle the problem than on the problem itself. They will assume you can address the problem, and most likely will do so relatively soon. But they will be looking to see if you have maintained a business-like, problem-solving approach to handling it.
What if you’ve done your best but the new relationship is just not working out? If there are indications of discrimination or some form of harassment, you should address the issue with this manager’s boss. But if you simply find you cannot work with the new manager, you have three choices:
- Grin and bear it as long as you can
- Send them your service termination notice
- Take the problem to their boss.
Here’s the problem with the last choice: More than likely it is the boss that hired or promoted them into this position. Even if you have a good working relationship with their supervisor, the odds are against you that their boss will make any changes.