Add Consulting to Your Project Management
BY Jon Young
Property and facility/site managers are faced with the dilemma of trying to evaluate pavements themselves or hiring a consultant when it comes to caring for their asphalt parking lots. Have you considered acting as a consultant or advisor as part of your customer service offerings on commercial and private jobs?
Not all property managers are familiar with their counties’ rules, regulations and standards for pavements, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, construction permits required for different processes, etc. Fewer know the wide variety of paving and pavement maintenance options available from our industry. As a member of the asphalt industry, you must be more than one of the bidders for a project. Oftentimes, you also function as the consultant to the customer.
Here’s the given: A property manager needs to maintain or improve his parking lots for the comfort and use of his tenants. His board of directors requires bids from at least three contractors, but those contractors bid on the job without any plans or specifications.
This process typically results in the bidders having different interpretations of the scope of work. The submitted bids end up having very different quantities and costs, making it difficult for a manager to determine which bid will give the desired results.
As part of your services, you can manage a property’s project in these ways:
- Visit the property and evaluate the existing pavement deficiencies to determine the appropriate repair.
- Determine if the pavement needs to have a surface treatment applied or the lot repaved.
- Help the manager to prepare a clearly defined scope of work that balances the options for improvements within the available funding.
- Discuss construction phasing of the project to minimize the effect on the occupants of the facility. You may wish to provide a copy of the work schedule to help with phasing.
- Inform the manager of the required permits, and provide help and guidance for obtaining them.
- If you are functioning as a consultant only, you may be able to review the bids for compliance to the plans and specifications. Become familiar with the liabilities you take on when acting as a consultant and purchase the appropriate insurance to protect your business.
- Stay in communication with the property manager or owner during the construction to see that the work is in general conformance with the plans and specifications, and to the manager’s expectations.
These steps require work and communication. Your estimator, salesperson and project superintendent will work together and will be key to your success. Remember that property managers often have responsibility for multiple properties, whereas site managers tend to one property. If you build a good working relationship with a property management firm and the managers within the firm, you will reap the benefits in the long run. Your knowledge, skill, customer service, assistance with permits, and willingness to make the project go smoothly may be what tips the scale in your favor even if your bid is a couple hundred dollars higher than a competitor’s.
Property managers who are unfamiliar with the requirements of the design and construction process, will consider hiring a consultant for help. A member of the Hawaii Asphalt Paving Industry (HAPI) shared his view on this with me:
“The property management company should hire a consultant familiar with pavement maintenance and let that person be responsible for upkeep of paved areas for each individual property….That person should also be responsible for creating a budget for future pavement maintenance requirements for each property because it always seems that the owners don’t realize the cost involved for proper maintenance.”
Remember that different management companies will work differently, requiring different levels of responsibility from their property and site managers, thus of any consultant they may hire. As a member of the asphalt industry, you are in the position to be an expert resource for them, and to provide the professional services they need.
Jon Young is the executive director of HAPI.
His previous work experience includes being a senior project manager at Belt Collins Hawaii, an engineering design consulting firm, and a site design and construction manager at Gentry Homes Ltd., a major land development company in Hawaii.