9 Frequently Overlooked aspects of Facility Management
Updated: Mar 25, 2019
Facility Management is a top 3 expense for many companies
The modern day facility maintenance manager is tasked with an incredible number of responsibilities. Despite the cost to maintain a company's stores being one of its top three expenses, this is an area of the business that is frequently ignored and not given the attention that it deserves.
An ever-changing retail environment
With the ongoing "Retail Apocalypse" and a market that continues to become increasingly competitive, things have never been more challenging for retailers. The appearance of online stores, with minimal overhead and in some cases no onsite staff, has made things especially challenging for traditional brick and mortar retailers from an expense perspective. They are also faced with decreased foot traffic in malls, changing shopping habits, and consumers looking to support unique brands with positive social impacts (think Tom's and Warby Parker).
Is this too much for one person to handle?
Despite all of these challenges, there are retailers out there who continue to grow their physical presence, and pulling the strings behind the scenes is a dedicated facilities professional who is responsible for much more than most people could ever imagine. We are now going to examine 9 aspects of a modern day facility manager's tasks that you might not have considered.
9 challenges faced by Facility Management professionals
1. Interdepartmental Collaboration - The modern day facility manager is frequently the glue that holds everything together. They are required to coordinate the needs of all stakeholders from legal and real estate, to loss prevention and merchandising. Each department has their own needs, and speaks their own unique language. Facility professionals are tasked with collecting all of the required information from the various departments and implementing an inclusive plan that addresses all requirements. They are the glue that holds such projects together, but this can be extremely challenging due to personnel being spread out and each one is essentially only interested in how the project will impact their own work.
2. 24/7/365 availability - Real estate doesn't sleep. Whether it's a store manager having lock issues at the end of the day, or the mall security notifying you of a burst pipe at 2 am, facility managers are constantly on edge wondering about what might be their next challenge. The probability of failure can be significantly reduced through a structured preventative maintenance program, but it cannot be eliminated. Unless you have a partner available at your fingertips, you will be the one person responsible for handling every call that comes your way. This can be overwhelming when some FMs are solely responsible for upwards of 150 store locations!
3. Frequent staff turnover and training - Getting your operations and procedures in place is very time-consuming on the front end but saves an incredible amount of time in the long run. The challenge for facility professionals is that there is frequent turnover of store employees, and this creates the need for ongoing training and support. Add to this the changing world that we live in, and there are always modifications and updates that need to be conveyed to your colleagues in the field.
4. Aging assets - Many retail stores, whether they be in a traditional mall, a strip center, or an outdoor shopping center are full of assets that are always heading in the wrong direction. They are aging, and with that comes increased energy costs, increased maintenance and repair costs, and a greater likelihood of complete failure.
5. Doing more with less - Facility professionals are challenged to adhere to local codes, operate sustainable facilities, minimize store downtime, and increase the average lifetime of units while their budget and available resources continue to shrink.
6. The retail apocalypse - The shift to an omnichannel approach to retail, and an ever increasing percentage of shopping being completed online means that even more attention needs to be paid to traditional brick and mortar locations. A fully functioning store is no longer good enough. It now needs to provide a premium in-store experience to customers and employees, it needs to be efficient to minimize energy consumption, and it needs to continually be updated to stay fresh from the perspective of the consumer. Again, the facility manager is the one ultimately responsible for making all of this happen.
7. A lack of accountability - there are so many people involved in the upkeep of a modern day facility, that it is very simple for things to fall through the cracks. Numerous vendors, an ever-changing workforce, and geographically dispersed stores mean that staying on top of things is more challenging than ever before. Due to the many players involved it is critical to have structure and systems in place so that people are held accountable. If not, all of the issues that arise will be falling back on-you guessed it-the facility manager.
8. Billing requirements - A facility professional's work isn't complete just because the heating system is back up and running. They are now responsible for billing the vendor, gathering warranty information, and sharing all of the necessary information with the accounting team. This is again a discipline that is outside of the traditional facility manager's mindset.
9. Health - Due to the ever increasing list of responsibilities it is easy to see why there is high turnover in the industry. Facility managers frequently suffer from stress and exhaustion due to the huge list of items that they are responsible for, as well as the personal and family time that is disrupted or lost due to maintenance requirements. Many FMs spend their time in Quadrant 1 of Covey's Time Management Matrix, and consequently are always playing catch up and never manage to get on top of things.
Are you a facility professional who is currently experiencing some of the challenges described above? What are some solutions that you have found to help you overcome these? What are some problems that you are faced with that were not discussed above? We would love to hear your thoughts, so please share in the comments section below.
If you would like to take back your personal time, run your facilities more efficiently, and have peace of mind that your stores are being maintained correctly, we would love to schedule a call to discuss this with you. A simple 15 minute conversation would allow you to hear that other people in your position are also experiencing these challenges and there is a solution that will help you get back on top of things.