Managing repairs by outside contractors is an inevitable, crucial part of restaurant operations. If a sink, oven, or refrigerator breaks, not only do restaurants stand to lose product; they also stand to lose business for the duration of the outage and beyond. Yet choosing a plumber, electrician, or other vendor, as well as overseeing the work they do has often been a headache for operators and their facilities management team leaders.
One of the biggest challenges, says Jordan Stankowski, vice president of marketplace supply for ServiceChannel, is that many brands’ procurement teams only account for a vendor’s labor rate. However, labor rates don’t reflect the quality of their repairs, nor other hidden costs.
“Many providers have learned they can charge lower labor rates to get more contracts but then markup the cost of materials or spend more time on a job to offset that discounted rate,” Stankowski says. “Our advice to restaurants is that your best path toward driving down costs isn’t negotiating a lower labor rate; it’s hiring a higher quality provider with transparent processes and no hidden surcharges.”
But restaurants have traditionally found it difficult to determine and track which contractors carry out the best work, in the shortest time frame, with the lowest final costs. Now, however, ServiceChannel’s platform can help restaurants simplify the vendor management process to save time and money. With more than 70,000 vendors nationwide on the platform, ServiceChannel serves not only as a repository of contractors, but it also benchmarks vendors based on the value they bring and how quickly they respond to and complete jobs. This allows restaurant leaders to source the best providers for their needs, as well as to manage work orders throughout an organization.
“Our platform is built for folks who want a better understanding of facilities management,” Stankowski says. “Through our portfolio of options, we can deliver 25 percent or more in cost savings through our vendor marketplace, as well as streamline the management and invoicing of vendors, depending on which processes a restaurant is using to manage them.”
The business impacts of ServiceChannel are far-reaching. Just ask Aaron Langguth, facility manager for Gibsons Restaurant Group—which operates 11 restaurants in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Orlando. His company began using ServiceChannel in January 2020 mostly as a way to track work orders internally and communicate with his eight facilities staff members who work in different locations.
“We had little consistency across the organization in how and when work orders were reported,” Langguth explains. “Some employees left post-its on the door, while others called. Meanwhile, it was difficult to follow up and ensure work was done.”
Langguth asked the restaurant group to rollout ServiceChannel at each restaurant, because it allows staff members in any location to submit work orders for any issues they encounter. Then, Langguth can assign tasks to his team members or find outside contractors to complete the job and track the progress of the project all within the platform.
In the first year alone, Langguth says his team completed more than 4,000 work orders through ServiceChannel, which he says would have been an unmanageable number of service requests for a person to manually track. Today, while most of Gibsons Restaurant Group’s repairs are completed internally, Langguth says the platform’s vendor search feature has been crucial to hiring the right contractors for each job.
“Having a ServiceChannel performance record for a potential new vendor is a huge help,” Langguth says. “It reduces the amount of time I spend vetting vendors, and I can see they’ve done hundreds of work orders in the past six months in my industry. This means I don’t have to explain to them how ServiceChannel works, and I know they’re comfortable working in a restaurant setting.”
Meanwhile, Langguth notes that ServiceChannel’s records help him confirm that work was completed properly and on budget without requiring site visits, which he says has been an asset during travel restrictions and quarantines.
Additionally, ServiceChannel’s records have given Langguth insights into repair trends, so he could improve his team’s response proactively. For example, Langguth says he was able to track repairs by weather conditions and realized that subfreezing temperatures caused more plumbing-related repairs. By tracking weather patterns, he was able to minimize downtime by ordering parts he knew his team would need in advance, as well as scheduling employees with superior plumbing skills when the weather changed.
“Not only has ServiceChannel allowed us to reduce our reliance on vendors, but we’ve been able to build stronger relationships with the core vendors we do use than we were ever able to manage before,” Langguth says. “This platform has kept our restaurants up and running during a difficult year, and we couldn’t have made it through without ServiceChannel.”
To learn more about how this platform can help your brand streamline facilities management, visit the ServiceChannel website.
By Peggy Carouthers