Here are a couple of methods you can use to ensure your projects are noticed and not neglected, by vendors who know and serve our industry as finding vendors should not feel like a game.
By Scot Aubrey
Recently as my granddaughters are getting older, we’ve started playing a favorite childhood game of hide and seek. Either I am really good at hiding or their 4- and 2-year-old minds aren’t the best at seeking, but I find myself having to give them clues to my hiding spots.
It usually starts with a small whistle or something and then as they get closer, I’ll even whisper their names so I can be found. Then I have to react with great enthusiasm once I’ve been discovered, only to reset the game and do it all over again.
As a housing provider, I feel like this same type of game takes place whenever I have a service need at a property, only this time it is the vendor for a particular service who seems to be hiding and I’m trying desperately to find them. Unfortunately for me, they aren’t always wanting to be found and aren’t really giving me any clues to their whereabouts.
One of the challenges that we as small to midsize housing providers face on a regular basis is finding vendors that will work on our projects. In a world where private equity seems to be gobbling up small businesses with regularity, we are often forced to use large vendors who treat us more like a number and less like a customer they are trying to acquire.
In an economy and workforce where these things are so challenging, here are a couple of methods you can use to ensure your projects are noticed and not neglected, by finding vendors who know and serve our industry.
JOIN A LOCAL ASSOCIATION
For most of us, there are associations in and around our local areas that are dedicated to promoting and supporting people just like you.
These associations share market updates and best practices to help everyone from the newest landlord to the seasoned veteran. One other great thing about associations is that they almost always have a supportive group of local vendors that belong to their association, vendors who can repair just about anything that can go wrong on your property.
By being part of an association, they are already showing their commitment to our industry and using them when things break at your property can be a reward for their loyalty to housing providers. These smaller vendors provide the same quality of work for a better price since they are not trying to satisfy the shareholders involved with private equity.
ASK YOUR FELLOW HOUSING PROVIDERS
One of the best parts of being an investor and housing provider is the great community that exists among us.
If you are new to the business or new to an area, find a local person who is in the same situation and start asking questions. Who do you use for (fill in the blank)? Why do you use them? How much on average do they charge for this type of service? How are they when interacting with tenants? You’ll quickly find the vendors that you want to seek and also those you may want to hide from.
USE A VENDOR MANAGEMENT SERVICE
We’ve all seen or heard the ads for vendor management services; they seem to be on most channels of communication multiple times a day. When looking for vendors this way, be cautious.
Always read the reviews and when necessary, call the vendor and ask about specific reviews that you may have seen. Ask questions about both professional and criminal background qualifications that they use when hiring employees to represent them. Incorporating the first two principals, ask if they are part of any local associations or if they provide service to other housing providers in the area.
In short, exercise your due diligence in procuring the right vendors for you and your jobs, not just ones that pay the price for national or local advertising. As a company, we have developed a service called VendorVIP that is focused on identifying the right contractors and then connecting them with housing providers.
No more closing your eyes and counting to ten; when it comes to managing your property, leave the games to others and get serious about finding the best vendors available. By using the resources available to you in your local community, you can more easily find the vendors that will most benefit your investment and your bottom line.
About the author:
Scot Aubrey is Vice-President of Rent Perfect, a private investigator, and fellow landlord who manages short-term rentals. Subscribe to the weekly Rent Perfect Podcast (available on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts) to stay up to date on the latest industry news and for expert tips on how to manage your properties. To learn about VendorVIP, visit web.vendorvip.com/vvweb/