The dilemma of the ‘one stop shop’
More and more we are seeing that equipment suppliers are offering building and design services to compliment the sale of their products, making them a ‘one stop shop’. Though this presents the client with an easier and sometimes more financially comfortable way of completing their project, it isn’t always the best option. On the other side of the fence, an equipment supplier offering these services may also find that if not performed properly in all areas it can cause them problems. One way of making it safer is to seek the assistance of an independent third party who can oversee the project and avoid the traps that can occur on both sides of the arrangement.
Usually the case is that dentists choose to go with the equipment supplier and their ‘one stop shop’ service because not only is it simpler, they have also formed a bond with them. The dentist may have been using them for some years and feels familiar with them because they have received a good service in the past. Although there are a number of success stories from people who have used this service, not all projects will end as favourably. To look at it bluntly, the aim of equipment suppliers is to gain the custom of a potential client, by including the other services they stand a better chance of sealing the deal. The problem with using this service is that there are a number of pitfalls that can be fallen in to.
Firstly, the services the equipment supplier provides may not be coming from the company directly; they will subcontract to other companies of their choosing. The experience and knowledge of this company can be a cause for concern and the client should make the effort to investigate who the company are and make sure that they are completely happy with using them. It is important to understand that in the event of something going wrong the client will not be able to go to the equipment supplier for support because they may well be dealing with a separate company.
Another aspect that needs to be made sure of is that you have got planning permission and building regulation approval before any work begins on the project. Unless there is someone checking, you will not know whether the subcontractor has done the work or not. By having a third party monitor this you can be sure that no work will begin before it is safe to do so.
It should go without saying that staying in control of finances is vital, but some clients can become confused because they are not organised. There are several financial categories that must be carefully watched over. The first concerns planning and building regulations, the cost of this applies to the applications and inspections associated with getting approval; this will be paid directly by the client.
The next set of fees concern construction and this will usually be paid through an existing financial arrangement with a bank. Finally, there is covering the cost of the equipment, this will often be paid on finance. Making sure that you have control of these payments is of paramount importance. The equipment supplier may speak directly with your financial supplier, but the client must seek to stay in control of this. Sometime the terms and conditions can request that the deposit is followed by 90% of the payment a certain amount of days prior to installation. The client must make sure that this 90% refers to only the equipment and not the entire project; this has happened before and will happen again. To stop this from happening you should enlist the assistance of someone who can certificate building payments to your bank or building society.
Enlisting a third part will not just benefit the client, it will also help to protect the equipment supplier. If the client isn’t happy with every aspect of the project (and this could be something that a building subcontractor has done) they may withhold an equipment payment because they are under the impression that they are only dealing with one company. If the equipment supplier handles everything under their own name, the client has the legal right to withhold payment. Therefore, it is advisable to offer the client separate companies for each aspect of the project. If offering separate companies, the best way to go about this is to have an experienced project manager oversee the activities of all companies. Companies such as Roger Gullidge Design will be able assist with this, as well as managing some of the other legal aspects of the project. One such area regards protocol should disputes occur further down the line. The advice of an experienced and knowledgeable third party will mean that informed decisions will be made and offer the best protection should and discrepancies occur.
The bottom line is that success (for both sides) when using a ‘one stop shop’ service relies on certification, separation and having someone who can organise the entire project. There are a number of pitfalls that can appear during a project and the assistance of an independent third party can plug these holes.
Roger Gullidge Design is a specialist design and project management consultancy specialising in the dental sector. Call 01278 784442 for more details or visit: www.rogergullidgedesign.com