Where Most Maintenance Efforts Start and Why They Don’t Scale

When you open your first location, maintenance isn’t on the radar. Your facility is new. Your equipment is new. And there is just one location to keep track up.

Then, something breaks, and you are forced to think about maintenance for the first time. No big deal. You just call a local repair company. The problem is fixed. You move on, forgetting about maintenance until the next time something breaks.

Fast forward five years…

You have ten locations, and seven of your locations are out of the warranty periods with your general contractors and equipment manufactures. It seems those same stores have  an average of six maintenance issues per month while the other three locations have an average of three per month. That’s fifty one repairs to manage every single month across multiple locations, multiple trades, and on top of everything your operations team is already doing. Maintenance has become something you think about all the time.

This is a common story, and most multi-location chains take the very similar next steps. They either hire an in-house maintenance technician, or they let their location managers hire their own contractors. Neither solution creates an effective maintenance program, and neither solution scales. 

Chains that hire in-house maintenance technicians do so because their locations are close together. They find someone with general knowledge in several trades with the plan they can fix all of the "basic stuff." But since this individual has general knowledge about what is being done, repairs are performed at a lower quality than what a specialist would perform.  Specialist contractors are still hired for repairs that fall outside the in-house technicians area of expertise. As the company grows, a growing amount of repairs are performed with specialist contractors because there are too many to do themselves.

Chains that allow their managers to hire local contractors for repairs do so because often times, the manager’s compensation is tied to the P&L for the location. They expect the manager will make the right decisions since it affects them personally.  More often, however, repairs are neglected or partial repairs are requested in an effort to save money. This short term approach creates long term problems since problems are pushed down the road. Equipment and facility life cycle decreases.

The best solution to the maintenance problem is to assign responsibility to an operations team member before you actually you need a maintenance program.  You will save money in the long run and you will build maintenance consciousness into your company culture.

This post is part of a series dedicated to helping you lay the groundwork for your maintenance program. It doesn’t matter if you are reacting from a point of pain or if you are realizing you need to put a program in place before the pain comes. The strategies in this blog series will help you. 

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