The Number One Cause of Overspending in Facility Maintenance

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By Katie Torres

If you were to name your single greatest obstacle with running your facilities maintenance program, what would it be?

We're willing to bet that overspending would be near the top of your list, and one of the areas you are most interested in making a change.

The first step in making that change is to find out where the overspending is happening, so you can stop the problem before it occurs.

Overspending happens for many different reasons, but the number one cause of this is due to unnecessary work orders.

And unnecessary work orders happen when there is a lack of asset tracking and detailed work order history on the equipment at your locations. 

Having the right management software can fix this.

Without a work order history and asset tracking, you are making uninformed decisions for your equipment and facilities, and you're spending money on unnecessary repairs.

But with a great software program, you have the ability to keep track of important data like repairs and spending, and to communicate quickly and effectively so no detail is missed.

You will have a complete history of repairs on your equipment, which means you are not guessing about when the last repair was made or when the next one needs to happen. So, you won't be spending extra on repairs before it's time.

You also know exactly what equipment you have, along with information on warranties and parts. So you won't be spending money on new equipment before your warranty is up, and you'll know exactly what you need when repairs are necessary.

If you're currently looking for great management software, you can find out more here

When you have the time, communication, and information you need to make decisions for your FM department, you will make a huge cut in overspending.

How Thinking for the Future Will Save Your FM Department Now (and Later)

By Katie Torres

Some things are inevitable.

You know...Life, death, and taxes...and maintenance costs.

There is an increase in maintenance costs due to the decrease in skilled trade laborers entering the workforce, and this increase does not appear to be stopping any time soon.

Just like anything in life that is inevitable, there is nothing we can do to prevent these costs from rising. 

The companies who go out of business due to these rising costs will be the ones who are blindsided because they were not maintaining for the future, but chose to stay reactive.

The solution...

The solution lies in maintaining for the future.

Specifically, cutting the unnecessary maintenance costs now will provide a way to be prepared for rising costs in the future.

Cutting unnecessary maintenance costs happens when you:

  • Have up-to-date, accurate information.
  • Have a complete repair history, and the data to know when repairs need to occur next.
  • Negotiate well.
  • Find vendors who are looking out for your best interests.

There is a lot of talk about reducing maintenance costs. Rather than looking only to talk vendors down and save money on individual work orders, the focus needs to be on eliminating, all together, unnecessary work orders.

Our equipment and facilities need to be maintained in such a way that they will last long into the future, avoiding the need for extra repairs.

And most importantly, we need to realize that though the rising maintenance costs are inevitable, we have the ability to do something about it now.

Though the rising maintenance costs are inevitable, we have the ability to do something about it now.

Communication, Follow Through, and Cost Management

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By Katie Torres

I can't lie for very long.

The title of this post is slightly misleading. What's written here is not necessarily going to be about communication, follow through, or cost management.

It is going to be about the mindset that you, as a facilities manager, need to have, if you want these three things to really make a lasting impact on your company.

You see, communication, follow through, and cost management are great.

In fact, they are necessary and we spend a lot of time and resources to make sure these things happen.

What's most important...

But what is most important is having a mindset that thinks and plans for the future.

Right now, there is a huge problem hanging over the facilities maintenance industry: the sharp decline in skilled trade workers entering the workforce.

There are currently plumbers who are making $100,000 a year because the demand is so high, and the supply is falling.

For facilities managers, this means a much more difficult time finding the vendors needed to make repairs for our businesses, and this problem will only increase as demand continues to grow for skilled trade workers.

The end goal ultimately has to be an FM program that maintains for the future.

Facilities managers can no longer afford to be reactive.

The rates for skilled trade workers are increasing, and it doesn't appear that's going to change any time soon.

So reacting to every breakdown rather than preventing unnecessary work orders to begin with is going to end up costing a fortune now, and cause even bigger problems later.

The focus now needs to be on processes and procedures.

It needs to be on gathering the right data, and learning what to do with that data to make more informed decisions regarding equipment and facilities.

It needs to be on working with people who can negotiate on your behalf, and equip you with the information you need so that you can keep kicking butt with your FM program.

Communication, follow through, and cost management are, in fact, a part of well thought-out processes.

They are great goals for the present.

But the end goal ultimately has to be an FM program that maintains for the future.

Persuasion Will Meet Your Maintenance Needs

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By Katie Torres

When our CEO, Scott Reyes, began training on persuasion a few weeks ago, I took note.

And naturally, I used this newfound information to persuade him on something I've been needing.

Naturally. 

Luckily for me, he was amused, and he granted my request.

This information is also available to you, and will help you to persuade your audience (whether that be vendors or those on your team) to accomplish the goal that you have in mind.

The first step is this: Know what you want, and know what you're going to ask before you ask it.

This requires specificity. 

If you're an FM manager who needs someone on site that day because a storm caused significant flooding, you're going to want to make sure it gets done, and that it gets done quickly.

Ask yourself what you need, and do so in specific terms.

What exactly needs to be fixed? What parts are necessary? Exactly how many hours do you want for your timeframe in which your vendor arrives on site?

Then, you need to think: what do they want?

If a vendor is tight on time or resources, or has other reasons why they might be unable to meet your request, keeping their goals in mind will be the way to a deal that works for you both.

What motivates them? Surely, they want to be helpful. Remind them of the times they've been helpful in the past and how that benefited everyone involved, and show your appreciation for them stepping it up again.

Talk about the good name they build for themselves by showing up and getting the tough tasks done.

And even, of course, reminding them of how much money they can be making on the job doesn't hurt either.

Know your tools.

If there is going to be bad weather that might prevent a vendor from getting there, make sure you know that and have a plan you can propose to get around that. 

If material has not been ordered, find out exactly when it will be. In some cases, you may even want to order the parts yourself to get the job moving forward.

Ask for tracking information on the shipment of parts. This way, you're all in the loop, and everyone knows what is expected and when. 

Then, ask. And ask for more than what you actually need.

If it's noon, and you need someone by 8 pm that evening, ask the vendor to be there within two hours.

Sometimes, there will be pushback. A vendor might have another job, or they might have another reason for not being able to get there.

Stay agreeable, and empathize with any issues they might have. And go back to what motivates them to respond in a way that will persuade them to do what you're asking.

Have a backup plan.

Sometimes, what you're specifically asking just won't be possible. You'll need a backup plan. Maybe a compromise to the original plan, or another plan all together.

What will you do if you don't get what you want? How long will you work at the original plan before deciding to move on to plan B?

Go over the plan.

Once you've come to an agreement, recap everything. 

Make sure everyone has what they need to get the job done, and go over what you agreed upon. Then decide when to follow up.

Follow up.

Stay in communication from that point on. Make sure you know when decisions are made, and when the job gets accomplished. Talk about any obstacles that come up before they happen and cause trouble.

 

 

3 Reasons Your Work Orders Are Not Getting Completed

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By Katie Torres

When my brother's upstairs neighbor flooded his apartment a few months ago, the water damage was so extensive that it left a gaping hole in the ceiling of their bathroom.

It stayed this way for over a month.

I can't speak to why this was the case in this particular situation, but I can speak to the frustration of having damages sit for long periods of time, without being repaired.

And if you've ever worked in facilities maintenance, you can probably relate, too.

Here are three reasons why your work orders might be piling up, and some ways to prevent it from happening:

1. Vendor compliance (or a lack thereof)

Late repairs, further damage, incorrect parts...all of these things and more are affected when there is not a formal and well-defined policy used with every vendor who you work with. 

It is important to either develop this policy with your facilities maintenance department, or make sure you are working with an FM company who can enforce vendor compliance for you.

Ensuring vendor compliance will save you time, money, and resources.

2. Prioritization of funds

It's understandable: seeing a large chunk of your funds going toward repairs is frustrating, and it likely makes you less excited about investing into your FM department. 

Fixing this problem begins with understanding where your funds are going in the first place, and why they are going toward these priorities. 

If you're overspending on repairs due to issues in vendor compliance, poor asset tracking, or other poorly managed areas, you'll need to revisit the subject as a team and decide whether or not it's worth it to invest differently into your FM department.

This may look like redefining your policies and procedures, investing in software to help with asset tracking and planning, or even hiring on some outside help to manage all of these areas for you.

3. Lack of skill to complete the work

Companies who are self-performing in their FM departments probably feel the pain from this one the most, especially if the company has more than one or two locations.

Your maintenance team may have some great skills and abilities to make repairs, but chances are, their skills are limited to certain areas of expertise. Or maybe, their knowledge is more general, so they are not really specialized in any one skill.

Either way, this means that you have less skill to cover a growing range of problems that your own team may not be able to cover without some outside help.

This is the point when it becomes helpful to have an FM company on your side, who can find the specialized help you need to make repairs of any kind, to the highest standard.

No matter the reason for the growing number of work orders, there are solutions to help you get the repairs made on time, and in a cost-effective manner.

Choosing the Right Vendor for Your Maintenance Needs

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By Katie Torres

Whether you're looking for vendors yourself, or trusting someone else to find them for you, you want to know that your vendors are going to do the job well.

You're probably looking for someone who is trustworthy, and someone who you can build relationship with to call on in the future, should the need arise.

Here are a few things to look for when looking for those kinds of vendors:

Vendors who communicate well are vendors who serve well.

Managing of vendors can be time consuming. Excellent communication changes this.

If you're not receiving adequate updates on work orders, or you're feeling left out of the loop on decisions or changes to plans, you're likely going to end up spending more, and losing time.

But even if communication is not a strong suit for your favorite vendor, there is still a way to improve this. A good management software will improve the communication between you and your vendors to lessen the possibility of mistakes and misunderstandings.

It's best to find vendors who are hyperlocal.

Hyperlocal vendors are great for a couple reasons:

One, it takes them less time to get to your site, therefore saving on travel expenses for you, and also improving chances of getting there quickly in the event of an emergency.

Two, hyperlocal vendors are likely known and used by other businesses around you. They may have relationships built with others, and have been proven already to be trustworthy and dependable. And if they are close, you can count on calling on them in the future.

Find vendors who share your values.

Are you sure your vendors have your best interest in mind? 

A sure way to tell is by paying attention to the values that they hold. 

If you value timely repairs, are they intentional about getting jobs done in a timely manner? If you value communication, are they communicating well? If you value a positive attitude, how are they responding to the problem?

If a vendor values what you value, they will work according to those values. And that makes for a job well done, according to standards you both share.

The Value of Facilities Maintenance

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By Katie Torres

In a culture that is increasingly less excited about jobs which revolve around skilled trades and handiwork, it has become common for facilities maintenance to be treated as less important, less worth the investment, and more, well...boring.

But maybe facilities maintenance only seems boring because we have lost sight of why it's so important.

Facilities maintenance is critical to the survival of literally everything we do. 

Everything.

Public transportation, your favorite restaurants, hospitals, theme parks...NONE of it would exist without the people who care enough to maintain it all.

And that's really what it comes down to: People. 

Everything that we've created, we've created with the intention of serving people and making life better.

We value experience.

And the people who are passionate about facilities maintenance (huh-hum...us), also happen to be passionate about creating an experience for people that will make their lives better.

So, let's reword this:

In a culture that is increasingly passionate about living out great experiences, it has become all the more important for facilities maintenance to be valued as the very foundation on which these experiences are created.

After all, behind every great experience is a group of people who were passionate about making it happen.

Facilities maintenance is where it's at. It's time to start getting more excited about that. 

How to Know When Your Maintenance Management Program is Working

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By Katie Torres

Equipment breaks. You call in the work order, get it taken care of, and then move on.

Then it breaks again. This time, it's not just one thing that's broken; it's three pieces of equipment from separate locations. So you spend most of your day putting out fires and getting contractors in to fix the equipment.

Eventually, you begin to realize that you're spending more time (and money) reacting to situations with broken equipment, than you are actually doing your job.

Whatever you're doing now isn't working. So, what will?

There are three characteristics of a maintenance management program that are sure ways to tell if the program is making progress. They are as follows:

An effective MM program will extend the life cycle of your facilities and equipment.

Rather than only reacting to what's already broken, the processes in place will ensure that facilities and equipment are being maintained regularly, with specific plans and follow-through.

If you have a car, you know that you must change the oil every 3,000 miles (or every three months, whichever comes first). Failing to do this can lead to serious engine injury...even engine death. 

The same principle is true with your facilities and equipment: Plans and processes for regular maintenance leads to the extended life of your facilities and equipment.

The right program will cultivate your brand image.

We've written before about how an effective maintenance program builds brand image. You can read about that here, and here.

The way your facility is presented to your customers directly affects the image of your brand. No one wants to use a restroom that is filthy, with leaking pipes or backed up drains.

When your maintenance management program is geared toward the continual upkeep of your facilities and equipment, it shows. And your customers notice, too.

Great maintenance management programs reduce the amount of unnecessary repairs.

You may be tired of spending all your time and money on making repairs. We get it - we'd be upset about that too.

That's why it's important to have a program that provides you with the people, processes, and technology you need to make sure your time and money is being well spent. 

You'll have people to help you get the job done, processes to prioritize and complete work orders efficiently, and technology that provides all the data and organization you need to make informed decisions about your facilities and equipment.

So if you're fed up with chasing fires and digging through a mountain of work orders, try taking a different approach.

Find the program for you that will offer these three characteristics, and see if it doesn't make your job a little (or a lot) easier.

The Decline in Skilled Trade Workers: Filling in the Gap

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By Katie Torres

One of the more discouraging trends in facilities maintenance has been the decrease in skilled trade workers.

This decline has been caused by many factors. And along with this trend come some obstacles for FM managers:

  • With fewer vendors to choose from, it is difficult to find the right one for the job.
  • The decrease in workers creates a higher demand, which in turn has also raised costs of repairs.
  • A lack of interest in skilled trades also results in sub-par repairs.

These obstacles often create a speed-bump for FM departments trying to complete repairs. They add to the pressure to get repairs done in a timely manner, and to the highest standard.

One of the best things an FM department can do is hire on the help of an FM company. 

This may seem at first like an extra expense to your business, until you consider that:

1. FM companies are used to finding the vendors who are otherwise difficult to find. 

This is what FM companies do. They know where to find vendors, how much is usually charged, and the quality of work that each vendor usually provides. They have relationships built with vendors, making it easier for them to find the right guy to do the job so you don't have to.

2. A great FM company will know how to negotiate costs, and save you hundreds.

If you've ever been told that a floor grate will cost nearly $500 to repair, when you know that the floor grate itself costs less than $200, you know the frustration of being asked to shell out more money than is necessary. You also know how frustrating it can be to try to talk down vendors on the cost. An FM company with the skills to negotiate will save you the hassle, and the money.

3. The right FM company will be passionate about helping your business.

Working with vendors who do not truly care about the quality of care that goes into your repairs is disheartening. It may not even be that they have a bad work ethic. It could be due to lack of training, experience, or even just a bad day. An FM company who cares will hold vendors to a high standard, and therefore will provide your business with great service.

The lack of skilled workers has been a huge problem for facilities maintenance, and it will take time to shift the trends in a more positive direction.

This is why there are FM companies who are working hard to fill the gap so that FM departments can remain effective, and confident in the level of service they are receiving from their vendors.

Cut the Distractions

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By Katie Torres

Whether your company has one location or 100, you know that facilities maintenance can become time consuming, very quickly.

If you have fewer locations, it's probably a bit easier to manage the to-do lists. But as those lists begin to grow and your company begins to expand, it is easy to find that those once normal to-do lists are now becoming distractions.

You may be wishing you had more time for things like training team members, or developing sales. Right?

The problem is, the idea of investing into your FM department also seems like a burden. An extra expense. On more thing you have to do.

The truth is, your FM department cannot function without your investment. And if your FM department can't function, neither can your company.

This is where the help of an FM company comes in.

A good FM company will cut the distractions for you in 3 key areas:

1. They will provide you with the people you need to help get the job done.

This means less responsibility on your shoulders, and more freedom to focus on the other important aspects of your business.

2. They will use processes that move the work along faster.

If your FM department has ever been overwhelmed with work orders, you know how important it is to have an organized process for dealing with them. A good FM company does this.

3. They will have the technology to provide you with the data and organization you need.

Part of having great processes is having the right tools to carry them out. Technology helps with this. Specifically, the right management software will provide you with the data you need to make the best decisions, and the ability to communicate well.

Does your FM department have these three things? Or is it still an uphill battle trying to cut the distractions? Click here for more information on how an FM company like this can help you.