Another of the most important things to consider when appointing your fire safety consultants is the requirement for consistency of provision across the portfolio.
You may have to manage a vast portfolio, across a far and wide geographical range. You may cover one area but have many buildings or actually epitomise the John O’Groats to Lands’ End scenario. However, many properties you manage and regardless of how vast or concentrated that portfolio is you are going to need consistency across it.
When we talk about consistency, we are talking about the flow of the report and the language used within it. The requirements listed and the legislative standards referenced. The nightmare scenario is you have a building where the assessor has identified that a certain extinguisher is missing but another building in the same portfolio but in a different part of the country is visited and the assessor who visited there is saying the very same extinguisher is not required and obsolete.
You are left thinking “Which is it?”
Ideally you would have one assessor, visiting all properties and writing up the same findings, referencing the same standards. This may very well be possible in a small geographical location with assessments spread out over a longer period of time i.e. 12 months. However, you may have that portfolio spread over all four countries making up the United Kingdom and a requirement to get them completed in less than three months. Unless your one assessor has a private jet and access to a chauffeur and willing to work 7 days a week 16 hours a day then that will not be possible.
Consistency is a key differentiator when dealing with large property portfolios and there are a number of ways that you can ensure that it is possible.
We discuss Quality Control in another chapter, so without repeating ourselves this is a sure way to ensure consistency. You may have many assessors visiting your premises and writing reports but ensure that you have one Quality Validator that oversees the entire account. This will ensure that ultimately one pair of eyes is viewing all your properties. A great validator will feedback findings and ensure the guys in the field are on point and singing from the same hymn sheet.
Another way is the ongoing CPD that is offered within your partner’s organisation. A team led by a single Head of Fire Safety will be getting regular personal development and the entire team will have a forum for advice and questions, even when out in the field.
Finally, a sharp Operations Team behind the assessors will ensure that they are scheduling and allocating work to the least number of assessors as possible regardless of geographical coverage. We are all creatures of habit and assessors are no different. When they know a customer and are able to spend several weeks moving from site to site within the portfolio it builds momentum and is far easier than moving from customer to customer. Great assessors are able to adapt easily, but it’s still great having consistency from their point of view also.
Ask you partner for a breakdown of the project and how they intend to schedule and allocate the work.
Are the assessors travelling for hours or staying out of area?
How will your partner ensure consistency and ask for examples.