How a seemingly small issue with an entry or exit way can open the door to a big problem.
By Beth Krantz
It’s the call no retailer wants to receive: It’s after midnight and the manager on duty can’t lock the front gate. There’s a problem with the track, and after 30 minutes of trying every possible tactic to close it, she is exhausted and wants to go home. You’re not getting out of bed, so as a great 1980s movie asked, “Who ya gonna call?”
From motor malfunctions on rolling doors to problems stemming from a break-in, entryway emergencies are an all-too-common issue for retailers. Beyond the headaches and safety issues created from an entryway malfunction, doorway emergencies can also have a negative impact on your bottom line if not resolved immediately. How much in daily revenue would you lose if you couldn’t open your front door for business?
To help mitigate entryway and exit issues, many retailers partner with a company to repair all of the doors in their facility. Whether it’s conducting preventative maintenance, repairing an issue with an electric motor or replacing a door after a break-in, many service providers offer a variety of services. Yet, as with most types of businesses, not all service repair companies are created equal.
So how do you sift through the hype and identify a solutions provider who will help make sure your entry/exits are always ready for business? By understanding common entryway problems and knowing what to ask potential vendors, you can find the right partner for your operation.
Common Entry/Exit Emergencies
Maintenance Issues. While it seems like a no-brainer, the type of door repair emergencies you experience will greatly vary with the type of doorways present. For example, if you have a hollow metal door, you might have issues with the door hinges. Mall-based retailers might have an upward rolling security gate with an electric motor that fails.
Ultimately, most types of doorways will experience some type of maintenance issue throughout their lifetime, so retailers will want to work with a provider who possesses a thorough understanding of repairing the types of doors present in your business. The partner should also have easy access to the parts available at either a local inventory location or through established distribution channels so they can immediately resolve the issue.
Break-ins. Beyond normal entryway system malfunctions, break-ins can also cause issues for retailers. For example, jewelers, electronics, wireless or other retailers with high-end merchandise may find themselves the target of repeated break-ins.
Whether you need to completely replace a glass door or repair a broken lock, partner with a vendor who has the training and expertise to properly diagnose and resolve the issue the first time. This will eliminate the need for multiple service calls, which lowers overall costs and keeps businesses open. It can also be helpful to work with someone who has a proven track record of quick response and has quick access to replacement parts to limit downtime.
Compliance. Code compliance is another issue that retailers may face when it comes to entry/exit issues. For example, most local fire codes require that any doorway marked as an emergency exit door should only require a single touch point. That means that the doors can’t have any additional locks on them and must allow for easy evacuation during an emergency. In addition to fire codes, a property management firm or other local jurisdictions may have specific code requirements.
To make sure replacement doors meet local codes, you’ll want to work with a provider who has a good understanding of regulations.
Questions to Ask a Provider
If you haven’t already encountered one or more of these common door repair issues, there’s a good chance you will. Whether you have one store or 500 locations spread across the country, finding a qualified vendor who can fix your entryway systems quickly and correctly will not only improve employee morale and building security — it will impact your bottom line.
To find the right partner for your business, ask the following questions when identifying potential providers:
What is your geographic footprint? Do you have branches across the country, or do you work primarily through contractors? If contractor-based, how is the work and performance of each contractor monitored?
An ideal provider will offer a national footprint so you can trust that the same quality service is provided whether service is needed in Boston or Tupelo, Mississippi.
What is your system for diagnosing repair issues? Many door repair companies will take a repair request and dispatch a person to fix the issue — without understanding the exact problem. This can result in a technician having to make multiple trips, increasing the cost of the repair.
Look for a partner who gathers as much information as possible about the issue up front so that they can match the right technician to the job. This also helps ensure the technician has the right tools and equipment available so it’s repaired correctly the first time. Another way to get an approximate gauge of repair time is to ask about the provider’s one-call resolution percentage as well as their agreed upon response time. The lower their one-call resolution percentage, the higher the cost resolution will be, regardless of your negotiated cost per visit.
What is your service provider’s trade knowledge? A service provider who is also a manufacturer provides a deep heritage and may have enhanced technical knowledge and a deeper parts inventory supply chain.
Each repair job is different, so a good partner will have trade experts on staff. Each partner should have extensive product knowledge of all major manufacturers so they can quickly repair issues with common scenarios. If your vendor contracts out repairs, you will also want to find out if they have processes in place to grade these vendors and reward those who provide exceptional service.
What is your approach to customer communication? How do customers stay apprised of the job status?
No retailer has the time to ask about the status of a job — and they shouldn’t have to. Work with a partner who takes customer communication seriously and is in constant contact with you about the status of a repair. The repair technician should provide an ongoing account of what they do and don’t know. If there are any delays in the repair process, that person should call you with updates on expected delivery and completion dates.
How do you source product? Do you keep local inventory available or do you work with manufacturers and distributors to source parts — or both?
A good door repair provider will maintain critical parts at strategic locations throughout the country so inventory is always available for common repairs. If you have custom door systems requiring specialized parts, the provider should also work with you to stock these items and ensure availability. This can help expedite repair times and reduce downtime. They should also have a trusted network of relationships so products can be sourced quickly when they are not immediately on hand.
An Open Door
Ultimately, communication is key in any good partnership. If you have an existing vendor in place who isn’t regularly communicating with you, maybe it’s time to look for a new one. If you’re looking for entryway repair partners, you need to be clear about your expectations and needs. What types of repair needs are most common? Are stores in certain parts of the country more prone to a particular issue than others? By setting clear expectations and thoroughly vetting the vendor at the outset of the relationship, you can make sure your doors are always open for business.
— Beth Krantz is a new business development manager for Cintas Managed Solutions. She has more than 20 years of experience. For more information on Cintas Managed Solutions, visit www.cintas.com/managedsolutions.