The top 20 Retail Facility Management Challenges
Updated: Mar 25, 2019
Today we take a look at 20 problems that modern-day retail facility managers are faced with. This is a job description that is always evolving and being able to meet all of your goals is becoming more and more difficult. These issues are the thoughts of current retail facility management professionals who discussed some of their problems before they partnered with Royal. Take a look and let us know what your biggest problems are by sharing them in the comment box below.
Facility Maintenance Challenges
(1) Fundamental Responsibilities
These are the more intangible daily items that need to be done regardless of other "priorities". This includes such things as:
- Operating in an ethical, moral and legal manner.
- Awareness and adherence to building codes.
- Dispatching calls and vetting vendors.
- Quality control.
- Keeping your stores clean and functional.
There are so many items that fall into this bucket that put an immediate strain on available hours to work on other items.
(2) Environmental stewardship
More and more buildings are now required to be more environmentally sustainable (acting in a way that doesn't jeopardize the environment for future generations). Programs such as LEED (created by the USGBC) now push companies to design their buildings with local and global ecosystems in mind. This is an area that is constantly changing, and keeping up with requirements is a job in itself.
(3) Aging structures/ systems
Cost again comes into play here. Is the store in question financially viable or should it be closed? When is the lease up, and would it be better to move to another location that experiences higher traffic patterns? All of these questions will be asked before the commitment to working on an existing property is made. If the HVAC system is on it's last legs, and the lease is up in 6 months, can you take the gamble and make it through with temporary repairs? What impact will this have on the store manager, associates, and customers?
(4) Wearing too many hats
More and more retail facility managers that we connect with share their frustrations with the ever increasing number of tasks they are responsible for. Merchandising, real estate, lease negotiation, and loss prevention are all jobs that are frequently passed onto the facility manager. Staying on top of all of these matters is extremely difficult to accomplish, especially within the hours of a "normal" workday.
(5) Disruption of personal time
If you are the lone person responsible for evening and weekend calls, do not expect to have an enjoyable social life. In fact, just don't expect to have a life...
Picture this: You are at your niece's wedding and your phone goes. Unfortunately the flooded store in Tampa Bay, FL, takes priority over this once in a lifetime moment with your family and loved ones. You have to leave and miss the ceremony and family celebrations.
By partnering with a facility management company like Royal, you can pass a lot of this burden onto their plate so that you can focus on what you do best.
(6) Managing vendors
These are the people who are essentially going to determine whether or not you are successful. They are in the front line and will be the people that are interacting with the store managers and associates in person. This can be a job in itself due to all of the required paperwork, insurance, tax forms, background checks, etc. You work so hard to get these guys on board, and then one of them fails to show, or doesn't perform. You are now on the hook and have to take care of the situation, will probably have extra expenses, disgruntled employees, lost revenue and yet again, even more work on your plate. Maybe it's time to start evaluating facility maintenance companies and the benefits of outsourcing your more tedious FMS tasks?
(7) Quality of service received
You need the work done quickly, so you either pay a premium or settle for poor quality of work. Each company has it's own philosophy about what matters to them and the appearance of their stores. It is typically the responsibility of the facility manager to decide which two of price, quality and speed are most important.
(8) Technology changes
Everyone went ahead and had undercarpet data supplies added into their stores. Fast forward a few years and most places have made the switch to wireless access points. The credit card companies recently decided how much fun it would be to go to the chip cards, but here we are several months later and the majority of places do not have the correct systems in place and are still swiping. #changes :(
(9) Costs/ budgets
There aren't many companies out there with open check books who do not scrutinize the budget on a regular basis. This obviously makes things even more difficult because you have to watch your spending and you want high quality work, but some thing has to give. Most frequently the time to complete a job suffers as you are not at the top of a vendors priority list so they will get to you when everyone else has been taken care of. Just keep in mind the fact that you always get what you pay for!
(10) Social aspects
24/7/365, all nighters, non-stop, emergency service shifts, graveyard shifts: These are all things that you will hear facilities managers talking about. As the main point of contact for everything facilities related, the modern day facility manager is on call round the clock. You can say goodbye to your relaxation, family time, and peaceful evenings and weekends. You will also have your day dictated to you by your store associates in the field who are in need of service.
(11) Insurance requirements
Before a technician steps foot in your store you need to ask them for a COI and make sure that they have the required coverage. This can be even more difficult if the store is within a mall where different rules and regulations have to be adhered to. Extra time and money are often required to get permission to work in a mall, and you always have it in the back of your mind that if something goes wrong, you are the one of the hook for it...
(12) Real estate issues
What is the landlord responsible for, and what are you responsible for? When is the leasehold up? Who deals with the negotiations for extending the lease or relocating? These items need to be resolved ahead of time instead of after the fact when a bill for several thousand dollars needs to be paid.
(13) Social responsibility
Society is changing and what people consider to be important is constantly evolving. The much talked about group of millennials are focused on much different things to previous generations. There is now more pressure on stores to be environmentally friendly, use local hand made products that are Fair Trade certified, and be more diverse in the racial make up of their workforce. All of these matters put tremendous pressure on facilities managers who are also expected to follow suit.
One way that we have been able to meet these requirements recently was on a nationwide fixture removal across just shy of 1,100 stores. Each store had dated display cases that needed to be removed, so we communicated with the local Goodwill store in each market and arranged to drop the old units at their buildings. These can then be used as display cases, or can be sold to someone to reuse them,the materials stay out of landfill sites, and the money from the sales goes to helping people in the local community. Initiatives such as this are what today's generation are looking for, and what many of them strive to be a part of.
(14) Limited career development
In the majority of companies there is not a whole lot of movement available for facility maintenance managers. The massive companies in the world such as Walmart, Target, and Walgreen's partner with global management firms to take care of their properties externally. Smaller retail companies will have one person overseeing the entire department, Middle sized organizations (200 - 400 stores) will maybe have a vice president of real estate, store design and construction, and facilities, with 3 people overseeing each division, giving you only 1 place that you could be promoted to. The good thing here is that the average age of facility managers is fairly high at 49 years old. This means that as a lot of the old guard move into retirement there will be a lot more opportunities created for those fresh out of college who are looking to get their start. There are many industry thought leaders who are on a mission to educate up and coming FMs as well as getting the industry the respect it deserves.
(15) Rising energy costs
Despite the significant drop in oil prices in recent months, the cost of energy keeps increasing. This is expected to continue, especially as more pressure is put on organizations to reduce their emissions and use more energy that has been created from renewable resources. This is obviously going to have a huge impact on your budget, making life even more difficult.
(16) Spread too thin
So many responsibilities are put on your plate, that sooner or later something has to give. Things will inevitably fall through the cracks, and ultimately you will either be let go, or you will jump before they get the chance to push you. There is only so much that one person can do, but more often than not, it is assumed that facility managers can handle every task that no one else is prepared to own.
(17) Lack of knowledge/ skill
Due to the high demands and struggles associated with being a facility manager, many people are afraid to step into the position. The role needs to be filled and many organizations will find someone that has the required traits but skilled in different areas and have them run things on a temporary basis. One example of this was witnessed with one of our partners where a merchandiser was responsible for facility solutions. Round pegs and square holes... There is then the rapidly evolving and multi-faceted industry which is far too complex for just one person to fully understand at the required level.
(18) Unable to make decisions
Too many layers to go through with people micromanaging you, as well as you feeling handcuffed due to your inability to make decisions. As we have mentioned previously, repair and maintenance is often just seen as a cost center and a necessary evil, and securing funding can be extremely challenging.
(19) Extra responsibilities
We have worked with several companies who have lumped in some of their visual merchandising and construction responsibilities to their facilities manager in an attempt to minimize overhead. We all know how this one ends...
(20) Different agendas
As the facilities manager you are going to have several agendas to juggle which is not going to help your stress levels. The CFO will be looking for the cheapest option, the director of store design will be looking for the highest quality work, the visual merchandising manager will just want their product to be displayed in an engaging and spend provoking manner. Good luck trying to keep everyone happy...
We can help
All of these ideas need to be considered if you are going to take a position as a facilities manager. These are obviously extreme cases, but all are issues that we have heard from current people in this field. If you are having difficulties staying on top of things, please connect with us so that we can discuss potential facility maintenance services that will make your life easier, save you time and money, and improve the look of your stores. This way all of the agendas mentioned in #20 can be met!