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The benefits of buying direct from the manufacturer

Most facility management companies grow organically from small local cleaning companies. As they acquire larger and more lucrative contracts and keep these contracts for longer they slowly but surely, depending on the commitment and professionalism shown to the client, are asked to tender within the client’s business for more and more services.

It normally goes a bit like this, client asks if the cleaning company, I’ll call them ‘Floppy Mop Ltd’ can clean some internal windows which are not on the present contract, Floppy Mop says ‘of course we can’ and do such a good job that when the window cleaning contract (inside and out) comes up for renewal they are asked to tender and because they have a good reputation with the client and they can price the new contract competitively as they have staff on-site already that can clean the internal glass they win the new tender. Then they get offered the high level contract, security contract and external clean contract and so it goes on and they grow larger and need more supplies and a bigger office. This means they need more office staff specialising in HR, procurement, vehicle management and all the other departments needed to run a growing FM company now called ‘Floppy FM.’

So how does this equate to ‘buying direct from the manufacturer?’ Well over the last ten years, there has been a rise of the ‘one-stop shop’ for general sales to FM companies where they can go and order almost anything including cleaning equipment. This does mean however that FM companies do not always get the best prices but they can just order and re-order weekly/monthly and the goods get delivered without the need for the procurement department to worry about sourcing individual companies for 1,000 and 1 products. This isn’t the procurement department being lazy it’s just that ‘one-stop shops’ always offer the best price they can and are very convenient however once an FM company reaches a certain size and has multiple machine requirements (for instance) and finds a make and model that fits in with their customer base they continue to buy from the same companies because they have a relationship, but they may not be getting the best service or the best price.

Using our own business as an example, buying direct from Duplex means that the machines are always available from stock and the sales team know the machine range inside out because they only deal with our own equipment. The service team have the massive advantage of only servicing their own company’s machines and so have a full stock of spares and consumables in their vans to give a 99% first fix on site meaning no need to wait for spares to be ordered and another visit to fix the machine. Manufacturer’s engineers can also give expert user training during service visits as again they know the machines inside out.

I’m not saying the direct approach works for every FM Company but in certain circumstances it works very well and ensures not only the best price but also the specialist advice, training and after-sales service so vital to ensuring that contracts are won and retained in the competitive world of facilities management.

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