For facility managers, deciding which practices and services are worth the cost can be a complex question. Just 20 years ago, most FMs had clear ideas of how to budget to maintain each asset. Now, with different solutions like air purification systems and disinfection options coming to the forefront, it’s harder to keep up.
If you misuse your budget or don’t budget for maintaining certain assets, for example, assets that are supposed to last for seven years might wear out around the three-year mark instead, and you’ll have to find the budget space for expensive replacements.
Overspending can also lead to the destruction of assets. For instance, it’s possible to put too many maintenance resources – or the wrong types of resources – toward an asset. This issue is coming to light now with the pandemic. Many vendors have used products that sanitize but cause the early wearing of assets. That’s why it’s best to seek out the manufacturer’s recommendations involving certified dealers and servicing guidelines.
How can you find the happy balance between staying within budget and extending the life of your assets? Try these tips to help you navigate your toughest money decisions:
Become a Member of Local FM Groups
Many communities have at least one local FM group where you can gain a wide range of budgeting experiences and insights. A smart starting point is the International Facility Management Association. Based in Houston, IFMA has chapters in plenty of large cities. You can expect to meet monthly or quarterly with your FM peers and possibly vendor partners, which will help you learn about different trades and even contractors.
Another well-respected resource is the Building Owners and Managers Association. Though not explicitly for facility managers, BOMA is a wonderful organization to join because it will allow you to rub shoulders with building owners and managers. They’ll give you the lowdown on maintenance from their perspective and may even talk about how they divvy up building budgets. Regardless of what’s being discussed, you’ll get valuable insights into the field of property ownership and management.
Pay Attention to the Details of Your RFPs
Do you send out requests for proposals? Stay in control of your vendor relationships by strictly defining the parameters contained in those RFPs. Otherwise, you risk partnering with a contractor that’ll cut corners to your detriment. Instead of giving your carpets a healthy deep restoration clean, for example, they may use caustic products or less effective cleaning practices. Though your space may look scrubbed clean initially, the damage will accumulate. Lots of beautiful carpets have ended up in the landfill far too soon because of poor-quality services that sound good on paper.
Consequently, take time to outline your RFP and cover the bases. Talk about your preferred cleaning processes and frequencies, and ask for a bid based on those details. Don’t stop there, either. Define what you want your vendors to avoid doing, such as using certain chemicals or processes that could void a manufacturer’s warranty (check the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance practices) or cause collateral damage to other assets in your space. That way, you’ll know that you’re getting value out of any budgeted dollars when you accept a vendor’s bid.
Review Existing Contracts To Ensure You’re Not Duplicating Services
Could you be paying for services that you should already be getting? It’s actually a common mistake. If some of your spaces are handled by a property manager, does your agreement specify what services are provided by your property management company? For instance, some property managers may actually include an annual carpet cleaning in your lease agreement, but if you’re unaware of this benefit, you may not be taking advantage of it.
In addition to thoroughly reviewing your property management contracts, evaluate your current vendor contracts before committing to doing anything in-house. Maybe your janitorial vendor added floor care services to their agreement, for example, but you don’t like the processes and chemicals they use. You may be able to renegotiate the contract, pay the vendor less, and allocate those funds to a professional floor care company with more effective processes.
Be Mindful of Both Capital Expenditures and Ongoing Maintenance Costs
Capital expenses are a company’s large, long-term purchases, such as buildings or vehicles. Operational expenditures, on the other hand, are day-to-day costs, such as rent or utilities. It’s important to remember that some capital expenditures also require an operational budget to ensure the investment remains valuable. This is especially true when it comes to facility maintenance. For example, one of the biggest capital expenditures that many FMs make is the purchasing of brand-new carpet. However, carpet isn’t just a capital expenditure; it belongs on the operating budget, too. Otherwise, you won’t have money earmarked to keep it looking brand new as long as possible.
Whenever you or your team invests in something that goes under the “capital expenditure” line item, put dollars aside for the asset’s ongoing maintenance costs. You’ll be glad you had the foresight to budget for maintenance, especially when your asset looks terrific for the long haul.
It can be difficult to know how and where to allocate your maintenance funds. But by actively networking and learning, assessing your current services, and keeping an eye toward the future, you’ll be able to keep a clean facility well within your budget.
Brian Miller is a business support specialist at milliCare Floor & Textile Care. In his role, he supports the company’s franchises and helps them improve their efficiency and productivity as they provide essential services to commercial facilities within their local markets.
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