Running a remote company.

by Scott Reyes, CEO & Co-Founder

We decided to move our company to a 100% remote-work company last April. Overall, it's a good move. My employees enjoy the flexibility, and the freedom to live wherever they want in the country. The downsides have been mostly because of leadership failures on my part, and not a problem with remote-work itself. I want to share what I have learned, and what I must do better going forward.

Re-engineering culture.

Switching to remote-work changed our culture. We lost the serendipity of being in the same place, where attitude, emotion, and camaraderie are created and shared naturally. With remote-work, we enjoy the freedom from interruption, but with the change, we relied too heavily on written communication. You have probably received an email or a text message and mistook the connotation or implication of the sender. The conflict that would not have come up with office-work can occur in remote-work.

Simply put, empathy is more difficult without being able to see co-workers' faces and hear their voices.

Moving forward, we have to be better with two things. First, we need to be clear about our values, our vision, and our mission. I must champion it and repeat it daily. Second, we must have regular video meetings or at least pick up the phone to communicate with each other once per day at a minimum. These practices will be a foundation to our culture and relationships in a more natural way and eliminate negative assumptions that can creep in with silence from leadership and written communication.

Employee traits.

Not everyone worked out. This loss was a sad and painful component to this transition. Some people require being around others. Some were not results driven and struggled to develop processes when there was not one created for them. We have always hired good people, and I will be clear: no one took advantage of remote-work to be lazy. I believe our team worked harder for the reason that when someone can't see you working, you work harder to prove you are not slacking.

Moving forward, we will look for results-oriented people who desire to be given a goal, some direction and be left to figure out the rest of the details.

More work gets done.

Everyone in the company agrees. I believe there are two reasons for this. One, when people can't see you working, you do more to make sure they know you are working. Two, there are fewer interruptions.

Advice for making the transition.

Creep towards the end goal.

Start with one day a work of remote work. Make it mandatory, and make everyone do it. You will quickly discover the systems and processes you need to make it work. Add days until you are 100% remote.

Shoot for an end date that is months before your lease expires. This strategy will give you time to get it right before you have to get it right.

Avoid us and them culture.

If you don't go 100% remote, you must build all of your systems and processes as if you are 100% remote. You want to avoid an office vs. remote, us vs. them culture. Don't hold meetings without including your remote employees. Don't communicate updates to office employees and then email your remote employees the same update. Keep it consistent and avoid losing team cohesion.

If you want to check out a great book on building a remote-work company, checkout "Virtual Culture" by Bryan Miles.

Consolidation and the FM Industry

by Scott Reyes, CEO & Co-Founder

I am amazed by all of the acquisitions happening in the facilities maintenance space right now. As an entrepreneur, I am happy for the founders of these companies. I know first hand how challenging it is to build something from nothing but an idea, hard work, and a limited amount of capital. It's grueling work, especially emotionally, and to see these folks receive a reward for their efforts gets me excited. They deserve it.

However, as a longstanding member of the facilities maintenance industry, I am concerned. There is a relationship component makes it a great industry. So many of these newly acquired companies leveraged relationships and customers service to succeed. Their early opportunities were based more on the trust their relationships afforded than the business model. It was people trusting people.

So what happens when new owners take over. Giant real estate companies, private equity funds, outsiders with dollar signs in their eyes now have to justify their five to ten times revenue valuations.

I believe we are entering into an era of "profit maximization" for these companies. It's a patter I have seen in other industries, and now it's playing out in facilities maintenance.

Companies are now having their leadership changed to deliver shareholder and owner value over customer value.

Salespeople how built their careers on providing extraordinary value and service are being asked to sell price increases with less value attached to their offers.

Customer support people are having their hands tied and are being incentivized to protect company interests (translated: money).

With this consolidation comes an opportunity for founder-led organizations to fill the void in our market, which is what we aim to do at Envoy with our maintenance management software.

The offer is simple. We provide simple yet powerful maintenance management software, at half the cost of our competitors, with founder-led customer support, and we don't charge fees to our customer's vendors.

I am looking for two things.

First, I am looking for salespeople who want to provide their customers with value instead of selling price increases.

Second, I am looking for customers who don't want to get trapped in the profit maximization cycle.

If you are one of these people, please message send me a message on the form below.

If you know one of these people, please share this with them.

Happy 2019!

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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.