As procurement principles and processes become more sophisticated, so do the benefits Facility Managers seek from their service partners. While reaching more efficient pricing is often a goal of our clients, there are many ways service providers can differentiate themselves beyond simple cost reduction. This is especially true when working with Canadian clients. Many Canadian based retail companies continue to expand store counts in U.S. markets. This expansion creates new challenges for facility managers.
The differences between these two countries are many and multifaceted. They extend from cultural to operational to financial and everything in between. This variety can be the spice of life and continued prosperity for our companies if we become a trusted, long term partner with our clients.
Remember what we learned when we started doing business in Canada? The language taxes, labor costs and permit processes, design specifications, the environmental and health requirements were all different, and many varied by city and province! This is exactly what our Canadian partners experience when it comes to doing business in the U.S. We can ease their transition, save them time, and consequently, help make their store and program expansion a better experience.
• Know and understand that we represent two distinct countries and cultures and with that comes a multitude of nuances that deserve mutual respect.
• Be proficient in our understanding of the regulatory, environmental and design differences between the countries.
• Proactively share our knowledge and help guide our clients to avoid pitfalls and more easily navigate through the differences.
o Provide input during the initial and/or RFP stages. Invest the time to help clients develop standard scopes of work that match up with typical service offerings for U.S. providers. In doing so, inconsistencies can be avoided during the bidding process.
o Increase communication about building and design specification differences.
o Review differences in environmental and safety requirements and understand that in Canada these may vary Province to Province, but in the U.S. they can vary city to city, county to county, and state to state.
o Provide clear communication about work order request language versus what may represent long term fixes; make recommendations based on best practices that have proven successful in other similar situations.
o Use our financial teams to provide guidance for proper navigation of the multiple sales tax differences throughout the U.S.
o Review major labor costs variances and drivers that exist from city to city and state to state so there is a deeper understanding of pricing differences and acceptable price ranges that most appropriately match up to their scopes of work.
o Provide data about regional climate and weather conditions that affect the management of facility programs on a regional basis. The prime retail areas of the United States represent very diverse climates, conditions, and high temperature extremes that are not necessarily the norm in Canada.
• Network, Network, Network! Continually connect your clients with the U.S. based facility managers and subject matter experts best aligned to meet their needs. This can help decrease their learning curve as well as expedite the implementation of new policies and procedures to create a more efficient facilities management program.
There are a multitude of examples in how we can best support Canadian retailers and enhance their overall experience and program success in the United States. Invest the time and effort to truly be a trusted advisor within the industry.