Why cheap isn’t always best, particularly in service industries (Part 2)

Part 2 – The case for doing it right first time

In part one, we looked at the duty of care and due diligence obligations procurement departments in companies have towards their employees in relation to temporary accommodation for workers living abroad during the course of their work.

We made the overarching statement that cheap isn’t always best, and for something like accommodation, this is almost invariably the case. Non owner-managers, (that is, agents), will often attempt to maximise their commission, and if this means blurring the line between budget and cheap, so be it!

Now we are not for one moment accusing them of blatant dishonesty! Or even necessarily being rather economical with the truth. It is the nature of the agent beast that they seek to earn as much as they can in fees, in the same way any fee-based professional will attempt to do in the cut-throat world of business!

Taking, as one example, the actual cleaning “service” offer included with a serviced apartment. To some, in particular the renter, a professional clean could be genuinely thought to be adequate where one lady (or gent) comes in once a week to spend three hours vacuuming and casually dusting.

To others, the interpretation of a professional clean might expect three people coming into the apartment to spend three hours topping and bottoming, to include, for example pulling the sofa out from the wall before vacuuming, dissembling the cooker hob and scrubbing out the shower.

It’s the dividing gulf between owner-manager knowledge and agent knowledge in the temporary rental market that can be extremely demarcating.

The difference is that responsible serviced apartment owner-managers are there providing a single point of contact and responsibility at the end of the phone – or face-to-face in the management office suite. Should something go wrong, they take direct responsibility for fixing it, rather than in the case of an agent who has to chase the actual owner in order to make often the smallest of decisions.

In a nutshell, serviced apartment owner-managers have more to lose because they know they are at the sharp end, and should a problem occur, they have a direct responsibility to attend to it. So naturally, they are prepared, in the first instance, to stand by the quality of the properties they rent out. Similarly, they are prepared to stand by the impression given by their marketing material – the euphemistic “doing what it says on the tin”!

If they say it’s a fully-fitted kitchen, it will be. The washing machine won’t be located in the basement and shared by three other apartments. If broadband is included, it will be, and not as an optional monthly extra that has to be activated after a three-day wait following the renter’s arrival.

So the message is abundantly clear. By paying that little bit more in order to rent an apartment from professional, established owner-managers, the assurance of receiving what is offered in the marketing material will be there.

In what has become a rule of thumb amongst London serviced apartment providers, developments and properties are chosen on the basis of both location and convenience, with the renter very firmly in mind. The operational infrastructure is altogether more robust and client service levels tend to be higher.

This all results in a more visible and genuine support and guest care centring very much on people ahead of profit. This has been evidenced by procurement divisions in companies that remain loyal to one apartment rental company when they discover for themselves exactly how high the level of service on offer actually is.

And as mentioned previously, it is very much up to company procurement departments to ensure they choose apartment rental companies that provide what they say they are going to provide for clients. This is an altogether far better policy, rather than by “winging” it in the cause of hurrying along the rental completion in tandem with an agent keen to complete the sale and receive their commission.

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