May You Live in Interesting Times – CAP’s response to COVID and ever-changing economic pressures
Whether you believe this is an ancient Chinese proverb or as some report, a phrase coined by politician Frederic R. Coudert in 1939, the message is clear. Times have changed, providing people and businesses alike with unforeseen challenges. It is how we respond that makes the difference.
We went to the front lines to speak with a few of Commercial Asset Preservation’s supervisors of Commercial Services for their reflections on just how interesting the past two years have been from their perspective. Brittany Jacobs and Maureen Fitisemanu are two of CAP’s supervisory staff that have worked to overcome the challenges of our times.
“CAP has adjusted and pushed forward through the trials and tribulations in the new ‘normal’ we all live in. Times have changed and CAP has adjusted accordingly to continue to serve our clients and provide the best service possible,” comments Brittany Jacobs.
What has CAP done to overcome labor, material, and technology hurdles?
In 2022, CAP continues to serve its clients and provide the best service possible. Here are a few of the many challenges since COVID first appeared and how we responded:
- Many property owners and operators have experienced an exodus of available contractors. CAP was not immune, seeing contractors shrink their coverage area due to a lack of manpower, illness, and even retirements. By means of an example, regional plumbing companies who had 4-5 licensed plumbers on staff pre-COVID, all of the sudden had 1-2 licensed plumbers available in 2021-22 as staff members were concerned for their health or chose not to return because they received more money from unemployment. Fortunately, CAP was able to maintain coverage, primarily through the deep network it developed over the past decade coupled with a stellar reputation for consistent payment, honesty, and technological efficiency. The overwhelming majority of independent contractors in CAP’s network are still in business as they regrouped, rehired people, and pushed forward.
- Internally, CAP has brought on more vendor management staff to help locate additional coverage and expand its independent vendor base. As work volume increases from our clients, CAP’s independent contractor pool is constantly broadening.
- Another challenge across all supply chains has been the rise in fuel, material, and labor costs; CAP has maintained an open line of communication with its clients notifying these business partners where a cost increase may be needed to handle a project or to travel to a more distant area. As always, communication is a key factor for CAP in providing its clients with updates. In the early months of COVID when in-person meetings were a challenge, a CAP customer commented as follows in a situation where a contractor had to provide access for a property showing, “I wanted to thank you for always coming through for us. Today was no exception and appreciate the team approach that you always employ to solve problems and get the job done.”
What has separated CAP from the competition during COVID and beyond?
“Speaking personally from my own experience in the industry and from conversations that I’ve had with clients and vendors; the biggest things that set CAP apart from other facilities maintenance companies (during COVID and outside of COVID times) are communication and honesty,” states Ms. Jacobs.
“More times than I can count, clients praise the level of communication we have when providing them updates during the life of a service, even if they aren’t favorable updates.” The culture that Marc Insul, President and COO of CAP, instills has been the backbone of our company. CAP makes a point to express the use of NTE (Not To Exceed) amounts to its clients to get services done in one site visit. With independent contractors, CAP is honest and clear when it comes to payment terms. One of the ways we have maintained status as the nation’s commercial service provider status is by doing everything possible to ensure there is never a skip in the beat when it comes to remitting payment for completed services. A Ft. Worth based contractor commented, “please let your people know that y’all are the best in the industry. We work with over 20 management companies and there are at least another 20 more that we will not work with you guys are the absolute best. I want to give you those kudos so that y’all feel a little more pumped, it’s hard times right now.”
CAP’s predictions for 2023
Fortunately, it seems as though CAP employees, clients, and vendors alike have been moving forward, rebuilding, and continuing to get comfortable in the ‘new normal’. What we are hearing when speaking with our network of independent contractors and clients is that most people are eager to keep moving forward and collaborate to get things taken care of in the best possible way. Collectively, our network of independent contractors is committed to constantly improving their turn times and increasing their staff to handle increased service opportunities sent their way. While early 2023 may see a slowdown as clients/vendors come off their holiday schedules and increased illness from a potential winter-related COVID spike, as we emerge from the holiday months, the service count should pick up, and vendors would have had time to rehire more staff, allowing CAP to handle the surge.
“A few contractors I spoke with have committed to a better time in 2023. More work is coming through, from CAP and other resources and people are rebuilding,” says Maureen Fitisemanu. “The contractors that I speak with have told me (that) receiving services from CAP has made them stay on with what they do as they do not have that level of cooperation with other (service) companies they work with. Comments such as these make me proud of CAP and I feel it is the empathy, honesty, experienced people, and support these contractors get when they receive assignments from CAP that makes all the difference.”
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