BOSS Facility Services doesn't self-perform; we serve our clients by enlisting the help of numerous vendors across the country.

It can be a challenge to find vendors who you're comfortable with, those who you know will represent your company well to your customers.

When it came time for us to identify HVAC companies we wanted as service provider partners, I was able to make use of my many years of involvement in the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). I served for many years as a member of the board of directors at the local, regional and national levels, and as ACCA national chairman in 1999.

Initially, when we looked to expand into non-HVAC services that our clients desired, we would contact one of our trusted HVAC partners and ask for a recommendation in their area. That led to us creating a database of electrical contractors, and we did that with virtually all the trades.

Today we have a database of probably 4,500 vendors in different trades across the country, and we receive calls regularly from contractors who wish to do business with us. So, we created a qualification process. We have a roughly 30-page document that we send to potential partners, so they can tell us about who they are, the markets they serve, their labor rates, their insurance, and so on. We review all this information, and if they're approved, we give them a project or two, and monitor them to see how well they do.

These calls are not “all-or-nothing” opportunities. We might review a vendor's work and say, “Overall it was good, but you didn't handle this one thing the way we would have liked. Is there a way we can improve on that?”

We also travel often to visit our vendors. We get to know them and build relationships. We build our vendor network in four steps: qualification, opportunity, follow-up, and relationship.

We answer to our multi-location clients. They're our customers. But when it comes to these vendors, BOSS Facility Services is their customer. They have to impress us. If their professionalism and communication isn't there with us — their customer — it's unlikely that it's there when they're taking care of our customer.

Set your standards high.