How to make change happen when you’re too busy.

You are the lucky person put in charge of facilities maintenance management for your company. You could never have imagined the amount of chaos surrounding keeping things working at all of your locations, but now your here. Also, that phone doesn’t stop ringing.


You know there is a better to handle of all this. There has to be. Otherwise, it’s going to become unmanageable. However, where do you start making things better when you are already too busy.

The bad news is, it’s going to take much work. The good news is there is a process you can follow, and the work is worth it. There is a way to make maintenance less chaotic. The secret is making things better happens when you carve out a small amount of time each day to work on the most important thing you can improve. Let’s get started.

Step 1: What do you want?

So many people never make improvements because they don’t know what they want. They show up, react, go home, react, go to bed, wake up, and do it all again. Reacting to urgent issues, others demands, and everything else that comes across your plate is no way to live. So stop.

You have to know what you want, or you will waste your time doing what everyone else wants. It is worth spending time deciding on the outcome you want. This idea is called intentionality, and it’s a game changer.

The first thing you need to do is get up early before the rest of your company even wakes up. Keep your phone somewhere else. Grab a pen and a paper. Spend time dreaming about what your job would look like without the chaos. Visualize it. Feel it. Internalize it. This ideal version of your job…this is what is at stake. None of this will become a reality if you don’t take action. This vision is what you are working to achieve.

Next, spend time outlining your ideal process. What happens when something breaks? What happens next? Next? Next? Keep going until you have something laid out, something specific, that can easily is easily explained to and understood by your team. You probably won’t get this done in one session. That’s ok. Repeat it tomorrow. You are going to be using this time before your company wakes up to your advantage in the future. Go ahead and get used to waking up early. It’s worth it.

Step 2: Decide what’s important.

You are going to only work on the next most important part of your new process. It’s only through focus that you are going to improve. So let’s be clear. Just work on one thing at a time until you complete it. This suggestion sounds crazy. Maybe it is, but if you don’t follow this advice, don’t bother getting started because you are likely to fail. Working on multiple parts of a project at the same time divides your attention. You won’t work through the difficult parts, and as a result, you won’t complete anything.

So how do you decide? The best way I have found to make this decision is to follow this question that I learned from the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling.

All else remaining the same, what is the one thing that, if improved, would provide the most significant benefit. The answer to this question is what you focus on until you complete it.

Step 3: Break down the project into tasks and track progress.

Chances are, the area you pick will have the scope of a project. You are going to need to break it down into tasks and track your progress. The easiest way to do this is to pick a date you plan to complete the project.

Let’s say you pick creating a sign-off form for vendors as your most important project and you are giving yourself three weeks to get this done. The ideal endpoint is completing the sign-off form and training every vendor to use it? The steps involved in this project might include:

  1. Decide on what needs to be on the sign-off form.

  2. Sketch the layout of the form.

  3. Create the form using a word processor or spreadsheet.

  4. Create guidelines and consequences for vendors.

  5. Train vendors on form, guidelines, and consequences.

  6. Monitor compliance and issues.

  7. Make adjustments.

Grab a piece of paper and draw a bar across the top. Since there are seven steps, divide the bar into seven sections. List out the steps below the bar. In each of the seven sections, write the corresponding number. Below each separator, write the date the task is due. Make sure you look through the list and schedule anything that requires collaboration with other people as soon as possible. In this case, it’s the training. Go ahead and get that on the books. Now, get to work, and fill in each section as you complete your tasks.

 
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Step 4: Complete and repeat.

Once you complete your project, repeat the process. Once you get in the habit of continually working on one area of improvement, you will find yourself with more time and less stress. Also, since you already have facilities maintenance on your plate, you’re probably going to earn yourself yet another area of responsibility.

Facilities Maintenance and Building Your Brand

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By Katie Torres

Facilities maintenance is not just a fixing-what's-broken tool; it is also a branding tool.

A great facilities maintenance program can help to give you the time, organization, and resources you need to meet your goals and create a strong brand image.

Software and Technology

Having effective software and technology saves you time because you don't have to worry about lack of communication and organization.

You need a centralized location for work orders, a system of communication with vendors, and a way to get the important data that will help you make informed decisions for your equipment and repairs.

Having these things saves you time, and you can take that time and use it for planning and further developing your brand.

Life Cycle of Equipment

Having the software and technology mentioned above will help you extend the life cycle of your equipment.

Complete records of repair histories will show you when repairs are due next in order to keep your equipment well maintainted.

If your equipment is lasting as long as possible, it goes without saying that your company will be more efficient.

A company that is running smoothly, without the stress of constant repairs, is a company that is serving its customers well. This improves your brand image.

Cost Savings

Having well maintained equipment and facilities will also lead to a decrease in overall cost when you are not stuck paying for unnecessary expenses.

This means more funds are available to go toward your marketing and content department, which is an essential piece of building your brand image.

And, of course, your customers will see a building that looks great and will receive good service when your equipment and facilities are properly maintained. Who doesn't appreciate a building that is well taken care of?

So, if you're wondering if investing in your FM department is worth it, wonder no more.

It seems clear to us that having a well developed FM program leads to meeting goals and an overall improvement of brand image.

Learning Adds Value to Your FM Department

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By Katie Torres

There are two songs that I vividly remember singing in choir class as a third grader; one was Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again". The other was a song called, "Knowledge is Power".

Though I've searched and searched Google, I can't find the exact origins of this second song. But, its meaning has stuck with me since I heard it as a kid.

Keep learning. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to accomplish.

This is the chorus of the song:

"Knowledge is power. I know what I know.
The more you learn, the farther you'll go.
When you get an education you'll be taking a stand.
Because knowledge is power. Grab it while you can. Yo!"

(Yeah, the "yo!" was my favorite part too, not gonna lie.)

Our third grade choir teacher was instilling a lesson in us that would be important for the rest of our lives: 

Keep learning. The more you know, the more you'll be able to accomplish.

This is true in every area of life, including your FM department.

How it applies...

Your FM department is completely dependent on how much information you have to make the best decisions possible.

You need to know about current trends within facilities maintenance, how a changing economy and workforce will affect your FM department's effectiveness, how to save money by making data-driven decisions, etc.

So before you ever even manage your first work order, you should make it a priority to learn.

Reach out to other leaders in the industry. Follow the influencers on social media. Look for the people who are where you want to be, and ask them how they did it.

Facilities maintenance is about much more than fixing what's broken.

It is the foundation that you will build your brand upon.

Actively pursuing and applying knowledge will continue to add value to your FM department, and to your company as a whole.

3 Qualities of an Effective Facilities Maintenance Department

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By Katie Torres

Facilities maintenance is the backbone of a well run business, but many companies do not give their FM program the kind of attention it deserves.

This is, in part, is because it is seen as an extra expense and added work.

But effective FM programs are worth investing in because they add value to your company. They do so in three major ways:

1. Effective FM programs improve your brand image.

Facilities maintenance matters to your brand; it directly affects the way your customers see you.

Dinner at a nice restaurant suddenly becomes less pleasant if you use the bathroom and it looks like this:

Your customers are looking for an experience, so make it a good one for them. Facilities maintenance gives you the ability to do that.

2. Effective FM programs extend the life cycle of equipment.

Your equipment lasts longer when you have the processes in place to make informed decisions on repairs.

You will have repair histories that tell you when your equipment was last serviced so you can determine when to service it next. 

Just like servicing an engine by changing the oil, making decisions based on repair history helps you to get the most life out of your equipment.

3. Effective FM programs minimize unnecessary spending.

Asset tracking/ management, complete repair histories, along with intentional processes all help to cut unnecessary spending.

Since you are extending the life cycle of your equipment, this also means you are eliminating the need to replace equipment before it is necessary. 

Less repairs and fewer replacements mean you are saving money (and a lot of it).

So, don't look at investing in your FM program as an extra expense.

Look at it as the only way in which you will truly be able to save time and money down the road.

Why Your Brand Depends on Facilities Maintenance

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By Katie Torres

My favorite restaurant is a small, quiet place in our downtown area.

The art on the walls is all very vintage and the pieces hang on a saffron-yellow wall, with deep red accents. The brick floor is unique and charming.

The lighting is warm in the evenings, with an abundance of natural light coming through the large windows during the day.

The food is good....it's not necessarily anything I couldn't get anywhere else but I choose to come here because I love how it feels in this particular restaurant.

There are tens of other restaurants I could choose from for a date night, but even the higher-end restaurants would not sway me from choosing this one.

Consumer behavior is driven by experience...

The reason I love this restaurant above all the rest is because of the experience it provides every time I visit. This is the same for every other consumer as well.

Previous generations placed more of a value on the product itself.

Millennials and those coming behind are looking for experience.

Facilities maintenance is more of a branding tool than it is a fix-what’s-broken tool.

People want to go have dinner with a group of friends where they can snap a photo for Instagram to capture the memory.

They want to shop at stores that have great lighting and a good use of space.

You don't have to spend a very long time on Instagram to see that people gravitate toward the places that will match their personal preference of expression.

What facilities maintenance has to do with it...

Believe it or not, your FM department does much more than fix what's broken.

Facilities maintenance directly affects your brand and the way your customers see you. 

When you think of fashion, your first thought is probably the clothes we wear, right?

The fact is, fashion includes every aspect of how we choose to portray ourselves; where we eat and what we look like in photos is a part of our expression of fashion.

This means that even the restaurants we choose to eat at will have to prioritize a part of their maintenance funds to go toward upkeep and refreshes.

The buildings will have to draw customers...Facilities maintenance is more of a branding tool than it is a fix-what's-broken tool. 

It is what you use to make sure your buildings are clean, up-to-date, and overall a place where people would want to spend their time.

So when you are tempted to think of facilities maintenance as an extra expense, remember that it actually the best investment you can make into your company, and to your brand.

Purchasing Maintenance Management Software: What You Need to Know First

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By Katie Torres 

Envoy offers really great maintenance management software. 

But we don't want you to buy it...at least not until you have first gotten a few things squared away.

A lot of FM managers know they need software and better processes, but don't always know exactly what they need to get the most out of their investment.

So, before you buy software, these are the things you need to know:

You need to know...

Your Intention

What do you want to accomplish with the software? Every decision you make and project you take on must have a purpose. Effective maintenance departments:

  • Protect the brand
  • Extend the life cycle of equipment
  • Eliminate unnecessary maintenance costs

Workflow and Roles

If you haven't already answered these questions, you'll need to know:

  • Who reports work orders
  • Who oversees work order management
  • Who approves pricing
  • Who audits and approves invoices
  • Who is ultimately responsible for the whole process

Vendors
Who is getting the work? You should have 2 vendors per location, and per major trade. These trades include: 

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • HVAC
  • Refrigeration
  • Kitchen Equipment
  • Handyman

Service Levels and Expectations for Vendors

This means having processes in place to help with vendor compliance, and having documentation such as:

  • Sign offs
  • Photos
  • Documents

Not Required, but Helpful

These are the things that will help you once you decide to purchase your maintenance management software. Having these things will help you get the most out of your software, saving you time and money.

  • A list of your assets and equipment by location
  • A list of all of your locations
  • A list of every user who will use the software and their role

If you need help...

We've got you covered.

Even if you decide not to purchase software, just having these things in place will cause your FM department to grow.

Talk to us for free so you can get these things taken care of before deciding to spend money on maintenance management software.

Let's Talk About the "Why" in Facilities Maintenance

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Katie Torres

What do you think of when you hear the words, "facilities maintenance"?

If you would have asked me this just a few years ago, I wouldn't have had much of an answer for you.

I might have thought you were talking about people like janitors or plumbers, or things like fixing broken equipment...but that's about all I would have said.

Not many people go into facilities maintenance because it's their dream. Most people just stumble into it and keep doing it when they're good at it or it provides an income.

I stumbled into it.

And I'm so happy that I did.

Every day, I work with the belief that facilities maintenance is not just about fixing things; it's about helping people.

I'm so passionate about that truth that I share facts about facilities maintenance on my personal Facebook page because I care so much about getting people to see how important it really is.

Facilities maintenance is not just about fixing things; it’s about helping people.

Every work order and 3 am phone call from a customer in need is an opportunity to make life better for someone else. 

Because every time equipment goes down, it's not always just an inconvenience.

Many times it's the difference between making a living that day or not. 

It's the difference between going home to spend time with family, or staying late to deal with the breakdowns.

It's having a company that's doing well, or having one that's struggling.

Facilities maintenance can make or break these things....

So, why facilities maintenance?

Because it helps people.

That's really it.

Facilities maintenance is about helping other people to be successful and make a living.

It's giving them the time they need and want for the things they care about most.

It's adding value to companies so that they grow and thrive.

Facilities maintenance is about being irrationally helpful.

Reactive Maintenance: Is There A Better Way?

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By Katie Torres

The number one cause of over-spending in facilities maintenance is due to unnecessary work orders. 

Unnecessary work orders are directly caused by an overuse of reactive maintenance.

While reactive maintenance is effective in getting repairs made as they happen, it has a few downfalls that are only getting steeper as repair costs continue to rise.

Even smaller companies with few locations and few monthly repairs will begin to see (if they haven't already) the rising costs due to the decline in skilled trade workers.

This means it is all the more important to prevent these unnecessary repairs from ever happening in the first place.

“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.”

 

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

Constant reactive maintenance does not do this.

And while many of us have heard that preventative maintenance is the way to go, facilities managers still have questions about what steps to take first, and what exactly is necessary to create an effective FM department.

So rather than just list the ways in which preventative maintenance can be achieved, let's also discuss why these things are necessary and how they are beneficial to your company's needs.

People to help...

Communication is the most important aspect to preventative maintenance.

You need to communicate with your team and vendors. You need to communicate details about work orders, data, information on repair history, etc.

Great communication starts with people who know what is needed and can send the message clearly to get the job done.

The right people will help you to find the resources you need to make your FM department better.

Processes for decision making...

Your processes are what will determine the future of your maintenance company. 

This is where you begin to move from reactive maintenance to preventative maintenance.

The processes are what will save you the most time and money when done correctly.

Know where the problems are and who will be in charge of solving them. Know who reports work orders, who approves them, who manages pricing, who your vendors are, etc.

If you're simply dealing with work orders as they come without running them through already-planned-out processes, you are wasting time and losing money.

Don't do more work than is necessary.

Technology that informs and frees you up...

You've heard that you need to have maintenance management software...but, why?

How do you apply this software to your processes, and how does it meet the needs of your company?

Technology is what informs your processes and gives your people the time and resources necessary to complete the work.

Great software shows you the data and information you need to prevent unnecessary repairs. It helps you complete the necessary work orders to the highest standard.

Asset tracking and management, as well as repair history and data, give you the ability to make repairs while cutting back on unnecessary costs.

Basically, technology connects you to people who can provide you with the information you need to save time and money.

Why it matters...

At the end of the day, you want to make decisions that will help your company grow and help your FM department stay effective, while being cost-efficient. 

If you are thinking about investing in maintenance software or improving your current processes but are unsure about how it applies to your FM department, ask us! 

We'd love to help you find the best solutions for your FM department. Schedule a free demo for more help.

Whether or not you're looking for software right now, the best thing you can do for your FM department is to stay informed and know what your options are so you are not left to only react to problems.

Maintenance Management: Be Both Demanding and Kind

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By Katie Torres

You've probably been here: maintenance management can be a struggle. 

The balance in getting vendors to do what we need them to do while still maintaining a positive attitude is not always as easy as we'd like it to be.

When our maintenance department just isn't getting it right, the natural thing to do is to demand better.

Being demanding is a good thing. It causes change and pushes people to grow. But it has to be leveled with kindness.

We're (only) demanding because...

We worry about how we're going to get all the work done well and on time.

We stress about the constant repairs and the money that's being spent unnecessarily.

We wish we had more time to get the important things done but we're too busy chasing fires to get to what we care about most.

So sometimes, we get the demanding part down...but not necessarily the kind part.

“It is possible to be both demanding and kind. My best mentors/leaders have employed both of these characteristics at the same time.”

~ Scott Reyes, CEO at EnvoyFM

It is easier to demand that things get done in the way we want them to when we are stressing over the fact that they're not being done.

And remember...being demanding is not a bad thing.

But what happens when we're also kind?

When we look at the problems within our maintenance departments as opportunities to serve, grow, and help people, we can be kind.

We can start looking at the people on the other side of the work orders as people who we can help.

Managing vendors can go from being a point of frustration to an opportunity to build relationship and make things better.

Instead of saying to a vendor, "get here in four hours or we'll find someone else", we say, "hey man, I need you here in four hours...how can we make that happen?"

When we are both demanding and kind, the work gets done. And the people we work with are happier as a result.

Being demanding and kind causes our FM departments to grow and provides us with the opportunity to keep serving others.

It makes things better. It's what we like to call being irrationally helpful.