How Proactive Facilities Managers Spend Their Time

You probably hear this idea all of the time. The modern facilities manager needs to shift from being reactive to being proactive. But what does it look like to be proactive? In this article we are going to cover ways to make the transition.

The modern facilities management professional has to perform their job like they are an integral part of both customer and employee experience when it comes the facility and its assets. This is a different mindset than the traditional belief that FM professionals are responsible for managing repairs. This elevated level of thinking will lead effective modern FM’s to work on core issues that cause poor customer and employee experiences.

Create processes and standards for their department.

This is the most important job a FM leader has. They must create a set of systems and processes for their team and the stores they serve to follow. This includes

  • a workflow for repairs from start to finish
  • clearly defined expectations for what data needs to be collected through the process
  • service level standards for the maintenance team and their contractors
  • facilitiy condition standards for their company along with a reporting process for subpar conditions
  • a budget review process
  • a goal setting and review process
  • a one-on-one meeting process with direct reports

The modern FM will work with operations to create better processes.

Nearly all unnecessary maintenance costs stem from operational inefficiencies. It’s the FM’s responsibility to notice these unnecessary maintenance costs and repeatedly ask themselves why they are happening until they come up with a root cause of the problem.

Next, they must create two to three solutions and bring them to operations to work on a plan to implement the best solution.

Notice that the FM should not stop at discovering the problem. They must also design solutions.

Finally, the FM should track performance of the solution and work with the operations team to hold them accountable for executing the new plan. If adjustments need to be made, they should work with the operations team to make those adjustments.

Establish a proactive maintenance program.

The modern facilities manager should have a plan in place for proactive maintenance. There are parts on equipment that wear out over time as well as routing maintenance recommendations by equipment manufacturers. The FM should understand these requirements and create a budget and execution plan for keeping expensive equipment running well through making repairs before they are needed.

Repairs cost more money and time when they are a result of a breakdown than they do when you make them proactively. When the HVAC system goes out, it costs sales, does brand damage, and negatively affects employee moral. When you change out a condensing unit over night because your data shows the life of the unit is ten years and you are at nine-and-a-half years, you get to avoid the negative consequences of it breaking down.

The modern FM will look for ways to keep their facilities and equipment operational and avoid costly breakdowns.

Identify trouble areas and create solutions.

The modern facilities manager connects dots and sees trends. They arm themselves with data to identify trouble areas. This data may show them they have a greater amount of plumbing issues in a particular store than any other store. Or perhaps a particular brand of equipment performs well in one region, but performs poorly in another.

If the pipes are freezing in some midwest stores, introducing a program to install heat-tape or heaters in all of those stores could save multiple locations from major damage.

A proactive approach to facilities management will lead the FM to identify these trouble areas early in the process and create solutions to solve them before they become major problems.

Build relationships with vendors.

This is a very important area. The best facilities maintenance programs will be the ones who work for with best maintenance contractors. As the the skilled tradesperson gap grows over the next decade, it will be increasingly important for facilities managers to to position themselves as a great company to work for.

To do this, they have great relationships with their contractors. This involves holding regular meetings with their contractors to understand their businesses, challenges, and invite feedback on how to strengthen the partnership between their companies.

They also need to be proactive and have these relationships in place before they need them to make a repair. They must avoid hiring a contractor on the fly because they were not prepared ahead of time.

Work with purchasing

FM’s have a unique perspective which they should leverage to help the purchasing department make better purchasing decisions. Because they are responsible for fixing things, they get to see what holds up to wear and tear, and what doesn’t.

Accordingly, they should use the data they gather to work with the purchasing department as well as store planning to help them avoid choosing materials and equipment that are prone to premature failure and instead select items that hold up longer.

Work with marketing

This is last because it is the most important. Modern FM’s should meet with and work with their marketing leaders to understand how they want their customers to experience their stores. Once they have have a solid understanding of this, they need to create solutions to help them create this experience through the facilities maintenance department’s tools and resources.

The modern facilities managment professional should not settle for simply fixing what is broken. They must work to be an integral member of the operations and marketing team by working with a proactive mindset and becoming indispensable to the whole organization.