Save time, reduce costs and lower your facility maintenance stress
Updated: May 16, 2019
Retail facility professionals are tasked with doing more with less, are often held accountable by multiple departments, and are often required to be the glue that holds everything together for brick and mortar retailers.
Managing complex mechanical systems, and providing the premium in-store experience that your customers demand is a challenging and expensive venture. Many retail facility professionals unfortunately take the 'ostrich in the sand' approach as they can easily become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of work, constant questions, the immediate need to put out fires, cell phone and email notifications, and a loss of personal time.
This is a finite process and sooner or later something is going to give. To reduce the chance of health issues, overspending on repairs, store downtime, and a weakening of your brand, here are 18 simple ways that you can manage your facilities more effectively and efficiently.
1. Implement a thorough preventative maintenance program
Prevention is better than cure. A little spent now is a lot saved in the future. Many people don't take into consideration the huge issues that stem from unit failure such as store downtime, lost customers, lost revenue, staff turnover, brand damage, and replacement costs. Don't be short sighted when creating your maintenance strategy.
2. Organize your data
You can't manage what you don't measure. Measure, track, collect, analyze, trend, review, and benchmark. These things can be time-consuming if you don't have the correct systems in place, but by setting clear expectations and demanding deliverables you will be able to gather the information that you need to make intelligent decisions. It's crucial to have all of your data in one consolidated platform so that true comparisons can be made.
3. Hold people accountable
As a facility manager you will be required to, you guessed it, manage! Spend time on the front end getting your systems and personnel in place. Once you have the necessary infrastructure set clear expectations, define what success looks like, and hold people to it. This applies to internal staff and external vendors. If you don't hold them accountable you will end up wasting money on repairing mistakes, or will end up wasting your time trying to correct problems created by others.
4. Enforce warranties
By not enforcing warranties, you are just throwing money away. The biggest challenge in this area is the recording or tracking of the warranty so that they know where it is should something happen. Create a system for storing all of your warranties, demand them from your vendors, and when things fail be sure to check your warranty coverage before throwing thousands of dollars down the drain.
5. Set out clear expectations
One of the areas in which we see money throw away is when there is confusion over what the expected results look like. Ambiguous service agreements, a lack of management, ignoring data, and not defining success on the front end lead to huge problems later on. Address these items on the front end and prevent them from occurring. It requires a little more work now, but your future life will be much less stressful.
6. Communicate regularly
As a facility manager you have a huge number of responsibilities on your shoulders, and frequent communication with all stakeholders is imperative. Each department from IT and real estate, to operations and merchandising have a stake in your stores, and you need to keep all parties fully aware of the current state of affairs. You will be tasked with speaking the language of all of these groups, which can be extremely challenging, but can be made simpler by partnering with a provider of integrated facility solutions. These companies have a broad knowledge base of trade experts who will be able to convey the required message to all personnel.
7. Spend your time in Quadrant 2 of Covey's matrix
In Quadrant 2 you are working on items that are important but not urgent. The idea here is that you get ahead of the problem before it becomes urgent.
8. Find a partner to handle after-hours calls for you
There is an extremely high turnover rate within the facility management world. When questioned about this the most common cause is the fact that these people are required to be online 24/7/365. You know what I'm talking about. Those clogged toilet calls at 6am on Black Friday, or those 10pm lock issues that need your immediate attention. These items mean that you are always on, and this is not good for your health. Find an alternative solution for your after-hours calls. This could be partnering with an external management company, hiring one, potentially even two new team members to share the workload, or have another team be responsible for this. We often see after-hours issues handled by the IT help-desk. The negative aspect of this is that it is nearly always just going to be a band-aid solution, as these guys do not typically have a great understanding of the traditional trades. Whatever you choose to do, you and your family will be forever thankful that you did!
9. Track and manage your assets
75% of retailers that we speak to have no idea about what they actually have in their stores! Can you imagine having 200+ stores, each with a minimum of two RTUs, and having no idea about the size, make, model, age, service history, warranty details or life expectancy? There are many people out there in this position through no fault of their own. Often they inherited the portfolio with no information and immediately set about putting out fires and trying to get on top of things. The challenge is that when you spend all of your time on urgent matters, you miss the chance to work on long term strategies that will reduce your urgent matters in the future. Hit the pause button and perform site surveys portfolio-wide to gather information about what assets you have and their current condition. A huge benefit of this is that once you have the information, it's much easier to maintain, and this allows you to make more intelligent, knowledge-based decisions. Break things down into bite-sized pieces and start performing surveys at the district or regional level. Fine-tune your systems and continue gathering information until you have everything from your entire roster. It is going to take time and money to perform this, but I GUARANTEE it will save you hours of time, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and your sanity in the long-run!
10. Never stop learning
The retail facility world is constantly changing. With an ever increasing influence from technology solutions such as EMS, BAS, IoT and any other three letter acronyms, you need to be on your toes. Subscribe to industry newsletters, read association magazines from organizations such as IFMA, PRSM, and BOMA, and speak to your fellow facility professionals.
11. Attend at least 2 trade-shows per year
These are a great opportunity for you to chat with fellow facility professionals, see the latest and greatest technologies, take classes on industry updates, and make connections with people who can help solve the challenges that you are faced with. Our three favorite events to attend are PRSM (both the national conference and their mid-year edition), SPECS, and the NFMT. All three are insightful, well-attended by retailers and suppliers, and provide a great opportunity to not get left behind!
12. Openly communicate with fellow facility professionals Don't be afraid to chat with members of your local IFMA chapter, join industry message boards, or become a member of LinkedIn groups. The chances are that someone else out there has experienced, or is currently experiencing, the same problem and will be able to expedite the solution process for you.
13. Make knowledge-based decisions
Guessing what the issue is and throwing money at it until you find a solution is a surefire way to burn through your budget in record time. By tracking all of your service history and asset information you will be able to see trends, identify problem areas, and make intelligent decisions based on data as opposed to just luck!
14. Don't waste money on unnecessary trips
Many facility professionals demand the quickest response times to service requests. Even though it is great that a vendor is onsite within an hour of the request being submitted, is it necessary? Were they able to solve the problem in the one trip? Was a trip even necessary? You just paid $350 for an HVAC technician to make an emergency trip to reset the breaker! Simple solutions are often available if you approach each service request logically. Try to trouble-shoot prior to dispatching a vendor, you will be blown away by the money that you can save. The most common problem that we see here is a store where the heating or cooling system isn't working because someone has been pushing buttons that they shouldn't be on the thermostat. Address these matters with a "measure twice, cut once" or "ready-aim-fire" approach, instead of "ready, fire, aim". You will immediately see huge reductions in your FMS spend.
15. Get to the root of the problem
Band-aiding things can be necessary in certain circumstances, but for the most part this is just a waste of money. A permanent solution is required at some point, so get to the cause of the problem as soon as possible to avoid wasting your R&M budget.
16. Keep supplies on hand at the store
Having to overnight light-bulbs to a store is expensive, inefficient, time-consuming, and means that you are going to have time where your store is not lit correctly. A much more efficient solution is to keep inventory on hand at each store so that it is immediately available when needed. In some cases your store associate can change the bulb which will save you a service trip. If the lighting fixture is higher up or more challenging to get to, you will still have the required bulb onsite when the vendor arrives. This means you can knock the job out in one trip, again saving you 50% versus the alternative.
17. Systemize your operations
Be sure that all of your procedures are well-documented, as efficient as possible, and easy to replicate. Take the time today to create the protocol and systems for placing a service request, and free up your future time that would normally be spent addressing individual challenges. Make sure all of your team know exactly what they should do to place a service request, and have them do this by themselves. You do not need to be directly involved with every request. Instead put an NTE (typically between $500 and $1000) in place, and require a formal bid that needs your approval after that. You can review work status updates through your portal, or via reports that are sent your way. Just be sure to focus on the higher level items, instead of constantly putting out fires. Get the right systems in place, and get yourself out of the minutiae. Your time and skills are being wasted there!
18. Ask your vendors for an early-pay discount
Most vendors will be happy to provide you with a 1-2% discount if you pay early. Typically the money is available so take advantage of this simple way to reduce your R&M spend. It will also keep your vendor on their toes as they know you are a reliable customer and one that they need to take special care of. A 1% reduction on an annual facility spend of $2,000,000 is $20,000! Easy money that can be put to great use in other areas of your stores.
How many of the above suggestions are you currently doing? How many could you quickly implement that would save you hours of time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long-run? What are some other ways in which you are saving time, money, and unnecessary stress? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
If you would like to implement some of these strategies, but just don't know where to begin, we would love to help.
Contact us today to set up a complimentary consultation and we will provide you with a simple 10 step process to immediately improve your efficiency and effectiveness. We know that managing a portfolio of properties can be extremely challenging, we understand the pressure that you are under, and we want to help you in the same way that we have helped other multi-site retailers since 1993.
There is another way, and it is much simpler than you think. Schedule a consultation today, and start regaining control of your time. We look forward to speaking with you!