How to Restart Maintenance Programs to Make the Most Impact
Before a global pandemic turned the world upside down in 2020, facilities managers were program-centric. Preventative services like window washing, floor cleaning, porter, awning, high dust and power washing were on rinse and repeat.
Then came the Coronavirus, and facilities put those services on the backburner as budgets reallocated to reactive COVID-related cleaning.
As the pandemic seems to (thankfully) be winding down and customers come back into stores and restaurants, now is the ideal time to start thinking proactively about preventative maintenance programs again.
The million-dollar question is, how do FMs work preventative maintenance programs back into already-strained budgets? As dollars are being allocated away from COVID cleanings, it makes sense to have a “rainy-day fund” for those “not if but when” moments. At the same time, pre-pandemic maintenance, which before was very image driven, is now being combined with safety and, in most cases, is a requirement.
According to Holly Lane, SMI Director of Operations, it’s all about prioritizing the services that will make the biggest impact on customers. “We have to ask ourselves, what will customers expect as we move into this new normal and how do we best address those expectations?”
Will they want to feel safe in uber-sanitized facilities? Will they want to see shiny floors and pristine windows? Does every wall ding and scuff mark need to be perfectly painted over?
“In reality, customers will expect all of it,” says Michael DiTaranto, Chief Operating Officer, SMI Disaster Recovery Services™. “They want a clean, safe, well-maintained and inviting space to shop or dine in that creates a positive experience.”
The good news is, shifting back to proactive maintenance doesn’t have to be an all-in approach. With proper prioritization, FMs can find ways to make budget-friendly changes that will make a good impression and drive repeat business without breaking the bank.
EVALUATE EACH LOCATION’S NEEDS
The first order of business is to understand the individual needs of your locations. One option is to send companywide surveys to District Managers/GMs to identify their biggest pain points.
Questions could include:
- How dirty are your windows?
- When was your last high dusting, floor cleaning or outdoor power washing?
- Are there any break fix needs or cosmetic repairs that have been put off since the beginning of the pandemic?
“Getting a feel for the top priorities that need to be addressed first will help FMs determine what they’re up against and how to allocate budget to address it,” notes Holly.
PRIORITIZE WITH THE CUSTOMER IN MIND
With a better idea of overall scope, facility managers can begin the process of evaluating which pain points should be prioritized to address the top customer-facing needs and expectations.
“Dirty windows might be the most obvious need for a retailer, while in a restaurant setting, it could be the drive-thru section or the patios from all the outdoor dining,” says Michael. “It really depends of the business and location, but one thing is for sure, customers will notice.”
Arming store managers with a checklist ranked by priority will help make sure those pain points become points of pride moving forward.
BUILD A BUDGET-FRIENDLY PROGRAM
Now comes the tricky part: building a suitable preventative maintenance program that aligns with your budget, your pain points and your customers’ expectations. With pricing different in every market and geographic area, setting up crews in each market to address specific needs can be overwhelming.
That’s why consulting with a facilities maintenance company that has the reach and resources to set up unique programs for all your locations is vital to not only your budget, but your sanity.
SMI specializes and is highly experienced in working with FMs to customize maintenance programs that will provide the right services to make the most impact, while still aligning with the budget.
“It’s all about having a conversation,” says Holly. “SMI can help FMs make some preliminary decisions on where to spend your resources that will provide the best savings.”
Whether it’s an all-in or phased-in approach, the ultimate goal is to create a maintenance program that will keep your stores clean and your customers coming back.
“Just don’t let the maintenance get ahead of you,” says Michael. “Make a plan and stick with it. Even if it’s not all in, we can find ways to make every dollar impactful.”
Need some advice prioritizing services in your preventative maintenance program? SMI is here to help. Contact us or call 800-508-5884 to speak with SMI about building the right program for your budget.