The relationship between the property manager and facilities manager/service provider is one of the most crucial ones in this industry. The synergy is as crucial as the foundation of a building. However, this relationship, like any other, has a honeymoon period, and then the pet peeves arrive, and at times there is a break up as well. But one cannot do without the other.
In a recent webinar with speakers Garry Murray, CEO & Founder, Property Centro; Bader Yusuf Salmeen, Facilities Management Director, United Facilities Management Company (Kuwait) and Sameer Kulkarni, Executive Director - Community Management, AMAALA (KSA) one touched upon many factors including the approach one should take to make this relationship work and also how it is viewed in other parts of the region as well.
The pandemic has changed many things including this relationship. Both parties have certainly seen many ups & downs, most importantly; they have had a chance to understand each other’s roles. While most Property Managers understood the fact that service providers were ‘being squeezed’ to provide quality services while cutting a deep hole in their pockets, the later did get an insight into the two-hatted roles that the property manager has to don to ensure stability in an asset.
The perception of this relationship is rather universal across the region. Miscommunication and lack of transparency between the two parties often lead to them falling apart. However, all is not failed, as the experts in the webinar do suggest that there is a way to survive this and that is only via communication.
A real winning strategy that makes this relationship work is Communication and Garry emphasized that through constant communication one can keep the supply the chain active. And what the pandemic has done now is to force people to communicate to get things done. Time and again, Garry has advocated the fact that both parties must collaborate and be transparent with each other to make this relationship work.
The big challenge especially during the ongoing pandemic has been to listen to their end-users, who are suffering from the impact of COVID-19, and to truly provide quality service. As a company, United Facilities Management, in Kuwait, provides both these services at their assets. And they were able to approach their end-users, be it the property developers; or the occupants and give them the help they needed to bounce back from the lockdown impact. This in return allows you to re-establish the trust with all the parties involved.
The discussion also touched upon the impact the Law no. 6 has had on this relationship. Sameer says that the law has been welcomed by everyone as it brings in uniformity and transparency, but the timing is what has made it very challenging, as people are now tapping into their reserves to live up to the expectations of the law.
However, Sameer says that it is now the responsibility of the Home Owners to ensure the continuity and help others to follow the law. And the authorities are there to support.
A key point that was raised was the financial factor that has impacted this relationship. Money has also been a major challenge, especially with delayed payments and collection of service charges. And this is causing a trickle effect on the entire supply chain. The experts, however, suggested that the only way to address these challenges is to address the issues immediately and tackle unresolved issues with the authorities.
Experts did point out that with regular reviews, meetings, benchmarking, and performance checks on service providers can help. Open conversations between both parties about what is working, what isn't working, what could be better, etc. can lead to higher levels of performance to the end-user.
With pressing times, survival is the name of the game. The experts felt that one should work towards reducing the impact on the supply chain. And this can help in curbing some of the other operational challenges like providing sufficient manpower and moving around in the lockdown. Training to a large extent helps in bridging this gap as well. Both parties need to understand each other's roles and it is constant education and training that one can see gradual change come about.
No doubt, there is no fool-proof plan that fits all. Everything boils down to the individual parties involved who need to make an effort and look at the bigger picture to make the relationship work.