Simplifying Work Order Completion

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By Katie Torres

You know those games where you have to guess how many marbles are in a jar and the winner gets a prize?

I have a similar game to play. Here's the question: How many steps do you think it takes to complete the average work order?

Is it five? Ten? Fifteen? Quick, think.

The actual answer is 40. Forty. It takes 40 steps, on average, to complete a work order.

If you guessed it right, I apologize but there is no prize. Just the shock of how much actually goes into work order completion.

But, it does not have to be this way.

Envoy has worked hard to bring that 40 steps down to just 6. 40 steps for one repair is entirely far too much, and we think you'd agree. 

Here's how we did it:

We built a software tool to simplify the process.

We asked the question, “What are we doing that software can do for us?” What could automation provide for us, so that we would be free to make decisions and communicate with our customers?

With the dramatic reductions in steps that we have accomplished, our individual Account Managers are able to handle hundreds of work orders a week. That's not something one person could do if it was still taking 40 steps per work order. 

We built in ETA reminders to keep work orders up to date and moving forward.

When our vendors accept a work order, they set an ETA. Our system sends out a reminder to the vendor every four hours if the ETA has not been set, or if they have missed it.

Our IVR ensures jobs are getting done on time, and helps us to make sure vendors are complying with customer processes.

We set up our processes with the focus of increasing communication with our vendors.

Every work order requires price approval which provides our team with the opportunity to discuss repairs, pricing, and catch unnecessary costs before they occur. 

We are able to discuss with our customers about what’s going on with their repairs, before the repair is actually made.

We continually work to improve our technology, and we ask for feedback from vendors and customers to see how to better serve them with our software.

By shortening the steps it takes to complete work orders, we keep costs down, reduce time spent on repairs, and increase the data we have on each repair. 

Technology improves communication and the level of service to our customers.

Learn more about it here.

Using Metrics to Achieve Your Goals

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By Katie Torres

Every company has goals, and expectations for the level of service they provide.

We meet together, plan, and work to achieve our goals. But in the middle of our long work weeks, we tend to forget to check back in and revisit our goals.

Checking back in is important, because it's how you keep track of the progress you've made. It's how you stay intentional about continued growth.

So, try meeting together often, and ask these two questions:

1. What quantifiable actions need to be completed today?

Set goals that will get you where you need to be. Put them into a checklist, and mark them off as they are accomplished. Keep count of what's been done.

For example, we have a "No Notes" list. This list is full of work orders that need to be followed up on. Our database tells us exactly how many work orders are open, along with notes that tell us what has been done on each work order. This list serves as a great tool for us to measure how much has been done, and keep track of what we need to do next.

2. Did these actions get completed?

This question is a great one to ask, because the only two answers are "yes", or, "no". It's a question that eliminates the possibility of excuses, and leads to greater accountability with your team.

After you have answered these two questions, build a report to document the information.

These reports are what will keep track of the overall performance and progress of the the team. 

They keep everything simple. When you document the progress of your team, you are freed up to keep moving forward. Everything is laid out for everyone to see, and it is clear where the areas are that need improvement.

These reports also highlight employees who are doing exceptionally well, which inspires other employees to do better and even offers a little healthy competition for the team.

When you do all of these things, it will help you to start identifying patterns and trends in your goal making process so that you can have a clearer focus on what needs to happen next.

Making Decisions for Facilities Maintenance as Your Company Expands

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By Katie Torres

My bathtub has needed repairs three times since moving into my apartment complex, less than six months ago.

The first time a repair was made, the original problem was solved but another problem started that day.

The second repair basically undid the first repair, while the other problem remained.

The third repair was the charm. Finally, my tub and shower are doing what they are supposed to.

What was the difference between the first two repairs, and the third?

The first two repairs were made by the grounds technician, who has a general knowledge of the buildings. He was able to improve the functioning of my tub a bit, but it just was not getting fixed.

The third repair was made by a certified plumber, a specialist contractor. He was needed for repairs that fell outside the grounds technician's area of expertise.

The multiple repairs ended up costing a lot of time and extra expense for the apartment complex.

Does this scenario sound at all familiar?

If your company is growing and expanding, this story may be more and more common if your company is still used to taking care of repairs with in-house technicians.

The more locations a business has, the more knowledge is needed for the growing list of equipment, and the more hands are needed to get all the jobs done.

And while your technician is probably great at his/her job, the truth is that one person cannot take on all the problems, and fix them each to the highest standard.

If you find yourself able to relate to the above scenario, and are tired of spending extra money and time on repairs, it might be worthwhile to reevaluate how your company does maintenance.

Does the help of a facilities maintenance company sound like it might lessen the load a bit for your business? 

Talk it over with your facilities department. And if you're wondering what it would look like to have an FM company work with you, take a look at our site for more information.

5 Reasons Why We're Still Excited About Technology

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By Katie Torres

We've talked in previous posts about the importance of technology, and how it can help your company. 

We haven't changed our minds about that, and we believe in it so much that we want to talk about it again.

Without further ado, here are a few reasons why we think you should be as excited about technology as we are:

1. Technology shortens your to-do list.

Having the software will save you steps by keeping your information organized and available to you when you need it.

This will allow you to find what you need quicker, and make better decisions, without having to spend a lot of time searching for information.

Basically, it means less effort on your part, and more opportunity to do what you care about most.

2. Technology tells you where to focus.

When you have hundreds of work orders with hundreds of details to go with them, it can be difficult to know where to start.

But if your software is efficient in keeping track of work orders, updates, and other data, you will have a better idea of where you need to focus your attention.

When data and information is laid out for you simply, it is easier to make decisions.

3. Technology helps you communicate.

Constantly having to ask your vendors for updates is a hassle, and a non-efficient way to communicate.

But the right technology will keep track of updates for you, and save you from having to make repeated phone calls. 

It will also cut down on miscommunications when everything is documented properly.

4. Technology gives you more time.

When you have good technology, you have the ability to focus on your highest priorities without worrying about the smaller details.

You will have the time you need and want to focus on what's most important to you.

5. Finally, technology frees you to be more human.

This is what it's all about, and it's the phrase that encompasses all of these points.

When you have the time, resources, and communication you need to do your job well, you are free to interact, person-to-person.

You are freed up to serve effectively, and you can even enjoy what you're doing when you're not weighed down by the stresses that come with not having technology there to help.

Bottom line: We believe technology is important because people are important. And that's what it's really all about.

Finding a Great Facilities Manager

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By Katie Torres

Anyone would assume that to find a great facilities maintenance manager, it would be wise to find someone who has worked in facilities maintenance...right?

Well, maybe. But, not necessarily.

While having some knowledge of facilities might help, there are a few traits that are more important to look for when finding the right fm manager.

Facilities maintenance managers have to manage well.

This does not mean that they must know how to repair equipment themselves.

It just means that they understand the processes and procedures that help the job get done, and they can work to make sure it happens.

They have experience. They have skills in managing people, finances, and everything that goes along with having a well-run business.

They should not be a stranger to technology. 

Especially in today's world, technology is a must if a company wants to keep up with current trends and changes.

Technology provides organization, saves time, and prevents confusion.

These are all things that fm managers should be working to accomplish. Why not take all the help technology can offer?

Great fm managers are great researchers, and critical thinkers.

They make data-driven decisions.

They are always looking to learn more, and to make things better.

Finally, they work to maintain and improve your brand.

The right FM manager has the company's goals in mind and will work toward making those goals happen.

They are not just about fixing things. They are about making sure everything runs smoothly so that the company can be successful, and brand image can be built.

FM managers do not have to be experts about facilities maintenance.

They just have to be great managers.

Here to Serve: There's No Catch

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By Katie Torres

I was asked the other day if I would help out a girl who was selling cosmetics. She said she was working toward a goal with the company, and I could help her out by receiving a free facial.

I was immediately suspicious about what "the catch" was.

You know, what it is that she really wanted from this transaction. Surely, she was not just handing out something for free.

I was expecting what usually happens, to happen again. There had to be a catch, and there was just no way she was giving me the whole story about that that catch was.

But every now and then, there is no catch. 

You come across someone who is genuinely wanting to serve.

They serve in such a way that surprises you.

You expect that they will be just like any other company you've encountered that was looking to make a profit from your inexperience.

But instead, they exceed your expectations and give you even more than you had asked for. 

They tell the truth, and do not look for ways to make more money.

When you ask questions, they are upfront with you and tell you exactly how it is.

They don't leave you wondering if there is something they are not saying. It's all out there, and it is not hard to tell that you are being well taken care of.

They take responsibility for their mistakes, and work to make it better.

If there is a problem or a misunderstanding, they do not place the blame on you or anyone else.

They are quick to make things right, and they do not stop working until the job is done.

Have you encountered a company like this? One that makes you want to come back, and tell everyone about them, because their service is just that great?

We'd love to hear about it. Tell us what about them caught your attention, and how they served you well.

 

Facilities Maintenance - Why it Matters, Despite the Cost

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By Katie Torres

A couple years back, I was driving back home from college on holiday break, and I stopped off at a gas station to fill up before continuing on the long drive back.

There was a car in the lot with the hood popped, with three or four other college-age kids, and just as many looks on their faces that told me they didn't know how they were going to get home.

I'm no pro with cars, but I had just replaced my own master cylinder using Youtube and was not short of any confidence that I could save the day for the unfortunate bunch.

I walked over and offered some assistance, and they gladly accepted. I figured I should check the oil first. It was a good guess, and the right one.

There wasn't a drop of oil on that dipstick. None. Completely dry.

On this day, I was not going to be a hero. Their engine was toast, and there wasn't anything I could do about that, except explain the importance of checking oil in hopes that they wouldn't end up with another ruined car in the future.

Checking their oil and getting oil changes on time would have prevented them from having to spend thousands on a new engine (or, more likely, a new vehicle).

It is the same with facilities maintenance.

When a company is diligent in setting up a proactive maintenance program, they save themselves time and money down the road.

When they operate only with reactive maintenance, they are reacting to problems that cost them far more than they would have had to spend on prevention and planning.

Oil changes can be pricey. Engines are WAY pricier.

It is an investment to make sure facilities maintenance department is prioritized.

It's a burden to have to spend a fortune when something breaks unexpectedly. 

Help yourself out today and start thinking about what it would look like for your company to further invest in your facilities maintenance department.

3 Ways To Know if an FM Company is Right for You

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Running a business is no simple task.

There are multiple details that go into the development and upkeep of a company, and the care of facilities and equipment is no exception.

You may be wondering if the use of a FM company would be beneficial to you and your company. If so, this post is meant to help you decide who to go with.

These are a few qualities to look for when deciding which FM company you want to team with.

1. A Good FM company helps to remove obstacles in planning and reaching goals. 

A great FM company will do this by paying attention to what your needs are as a customer.

They will ask you what your frustrations are, and how they can help you get what you need.

For example, if you're struggling with the cost of hiring a vendor to repair your equipment, the right team will offer assistance in finding ways to minimize that cost for you.

The right FM company will not only help to repair your equipment - they will help you remove the obstacles that are in the way of you getting what you need.

2. Good FM companies provide the data and resources needed to keep your equipment and facilities maintained.

They keep track of current trends in the industry, and are ready to share information so you can stay informed in your decisions.

Information about repairs and equipment is recorded, and feedback is given based on the data collected. This helps companies to make better decisions down the line, and prevents the stress that comes with not knowing what move to make next.

Feel free to ask about their software, since this plays a large part in how FM companies keep track of data and share information.

3. Having help from an FM company can prevent equipment failures and reduce the stress for your business.

If you have just one location, you might be able to get away with making repairs with a self-performing FM program.

But the more your company expands, the more difficult and complicated this becomes. It pays to have a good FM company to work with, who will provide some organization to the process. 

The fewer breakdowns in equipment and facilities, the less stress and confusion for you and your employees.

5 Steps to Creating an Effective Operating System

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By Katie Torres

So, you've detected the obstacles that your business needs to remove.

But, how do you decide which problems to focus on first? The obstacles appear to be overwhelming, and picking a starting point might seem to be no easy task.

But with the proper operating system in place, you can make your way through the problems to find the solutions you need. 

This is how we do it at Envoy:

1. We work from a list of what’s working, what’s broken, and what’s missing or confusing, to help us decide which problem areas to focus on.

Our team meets together and comes up with a list for each of these key areas.

Once we have everything written down, each team member picks their top ten problems, and orders them from the most important problem down to the least important. 

From those top ten problems, we discuss each member's top five in the group. We then vote from there to pick just three problems to focus on. We call these problems “ROCKS”.

2. Once we have our three “ROCKS”, we assign responsibility to the problems to make sure they are addressed.

We discuss the problems. We offer our members a chance to volunteer and take ownership for each problem.

When it comes to assigning responsibility, it helps to keep in mind that the individual assigned to work on the problem should have a role that is in line with their goal. So, if the problem lies within sales, someone from your sales team would do well to take on the task.

3. Once responsibility is assigned, we create a deadline.

This helps to ensure progress and it creates accountability.

Creating accountability can also be done by setting clear expectations and clear consequences.

4. Each team member is given a KRA. 

Each team member has a KRA, or a Key Results Area. This includes who they report to, how much they make, their job description, and their rocks area. The member’s job description is what determines their salary. Bonuses are given when they effectively achieve their ROCKS related goals.

5. We meet together to follow up.

After KRA’s are determined, there is a weekly update meeting.

In this meeting, we discuss what each team member has completed and what each is committed to accomplish within the next week.

Team members then put their ideas into action, and solutions are achieved.

3 Ways to Remove the Obstacles Your Company is Facing

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By Katie Torres

Have you ever seen one of those military movies, where the soldiers are in training and going through a ridiculously difficult obstacle course?

We're talking mud, sweat, and tears. Well...they might not be crying, but I definitely would be.

Running your company may not be as physically daunting as the task of one of these obstacle courses, but it does come with some obstacles of its own that need to be overcome. 

Here are three ways you can take down those obstacles like a pro, and avoid the muddy mess:

1. Don't be afraid of looking for the areas where your company can improve.

Your employees are on the frontline every day, working to find the solutions your company and customers need. They usually have a good idea about what the problem areas are, and about what they need to start tackling the issues.

Ask your employees what they need from you in order to complete their jobs effectively.

As our own CEO likes to ask, “What do you need from me that is keeping you from being able to perform at a higher level?”

And then, work to provide the resources they need.

2. Be intentional about hiring the right people, who will ask the right questions.

When you focus on asking the right questions in your hiring process, you will be more apt to find the right people.

Focus on hiring people who fit well with the culture of your company, and who hold close to the company's core values.

People who share your values will be far more likely to have the focus you need them to have when it comes to asking for what they need to do their jobs better.

You will be able to trust that they are working toward the same common goals, and will therefore have confidence in providing them with what they are asking for.

3. Listen to what your customers want, and exceed their expectations.

When your customers come to you with requests or complaints, the best thing you can possibly do is provide them with an answer, and wow them with your helpfulness.

You can never give too much time or ask too many questions to make sure that your customers are served well. 

When you are irrationally helpful in serving your customers and meeting their needs, you will smooth over any current problems, and prevent future obstacles from arising. 

Happy customers = a happy and successful company.

Removing the obstacles from your work does not have to be overly complicated or difficult. There is work to be done in getting there, but the vision and process can be fairly straight-forward.

Take some time today to talk with your team, and start looking for areas where you can work to improve.