Commercial Property Maintenance Emphasizes Dependability, Pride and Communication
CPM's founder, Windell Brent, started into this field because of a property manager friend's lament that he couldn't "locate a company to provide maintenance that will show up two times in a row or call me back."
by Ranger Kidwell-RossCPM has a total of 11 sweepers. They mostly operate TYMCO 210s, along with a Silent Knight, for parking area sweeping. The company also has a TYMCO 600 for heavier sweeping work, and the others are smaller broom machines like Power Boss units. They also have a variety of other rolling stock.
It was in 1988 that a friend's chance comment started Windell Brent into the property maintenance and sweeping field. Perhaps precisely because of the company's beginning -- when a friend couldn't find someone in the area to provide dependable work -- CPM has become known throughout its market area for dependability and the pride its employees take in their work product.
"I'd like to think we've raised the bar in our area as to how this type of business is operated. I try to put myself into my customer's shoes," said Brent. "We emphasize having a very high level of communication. Of course we do our best to do a good job with customers to let them know when we'll be there and then actually show up when we say. Plus, we usually follow up with them to let them know we're done. I'd rather they take a look right after we're finished rather than days later."
CPM has a variety of powerful references on its website, so clearly they have accomplished the company goal of separating themselves from the competition. The company clearly has a number of faithful customers, which is important as a way to not allow sweeping services be seen as a commodity that can be contracted out to anyone with the same results.
Each month CPM management goes through its roster of customers, especially those with a monthly, quarterly or other non-daily sweep, and sends out a confirmation of what the sweeping days will be for the upcoming month. This is done via either fax or email, at the customer's preference. That system, says Brent, saves time for both CPM and its customers in the long run.
"Because of our strong notification system, we can do our job with fewer administrative staff. There are a lot of things you're subject to when you do the majority of your work at night. You can spend a lot of time explaining things on the phone with your customer if they're not kept 'in the loop.' We emphasize keeping our customers up-to-date with the services we are providing to them.
"I think many who get into this business find they have grown to where they can no longer do everything. They have to either quit doing their own sweeping or hire administrative help. Newcomers to the industry who have grown will find themselves with the dilemma of where to add new people and who those people should be. My recommendation is to grow slowly and make sure you can hold onto your existing customers rather than grow too quickly and start losing your customer base."
The current job market in our area has allowed us to keep many of our employees, but it's always a challenge to find the right individuals to add to the company team. At tradeshows, the main complaint by the other contractors is keeping good people. We do our best to select the right employees and then train them well and keep them with us. The challenge is to find people who will take care of your customers and your equipment. "
In addition to sweeping, CPM offers several other services including pressure washing, large item removal and day portering. However, Brent has made the decision not to branch out into too many areas.
"It's a fine line between doing what's best for you and your customer and overextending yourself. Sometimes, I've found, we can find a contractor that can do the job better and for less cost. In those situations, those aren't areas where we do the work. I want to remain very good at all the services we provide."
From listening to the professional approach Brent has developed for Commercial Property Maintenance through his over 20 years in business, it's easy to see why the company's customers are loyal. "A lot of companies in our industry and others are gone because they haven't shown consistency," said Brent.
"To be around for over twenty years you can't be consistent and professional and then suddenly quit paying attention to the business. You can't ignore your customer, and need to stay in touch with them in one tactful way or another.
"I encourage every contractor to develop the consistency in their business that allows their customers to remain completely comfortable with them. The sweeping business does have its challenges, of course, and nothing ever stays the same. Our job is to anticipate any changes, stay ahead of the curve and to always bring the best information and services to our customers."
Hear for yourself what Windell Brent has to say in our 25-minute audio interview with him. The audio includes details on what you've read, plus much more.
Note: The audio interview with Brent will play without downloading any files onto your computer. If you hear the interview at 'chipmunk speed,' you will need to download the latest version of Adobe's free Flash player.
If you have questions or comments about this interview, please, let us know and we can add it in as an addendum to this article.
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