Facility services is far more than a one-person job. And when it comes to maintaining and optimizing a facility’s critical mechanical systems, it pays to align with the right professionals.
What defines the “right professional”? One facility team’s answers will vary depending on their objectives, but there are a few key considerations to guide your search.
Look for a partner, not a product
There is a tendency to view the selection of facility service professionals as a “purchasing” decision instead of a “hiring” decision. Approaching facility services from an employer-contracted employee perspective, however, establishes a more meaningful, measurable, and ultimately more valuable partnership from the start.
“If I could offer one piece of advice for facility managers, it would be to hire facility service professionals the same way they would hire any other employee,” suggests Paul O’Connor, National Director of Services Sales with Black & McDonald, a leading provider of facility services. “You want someone who is going to effectively communicate on their work and progress on meeting their and your measures of success and to contribute valuable analysis to you and your organization’s decision-making.”
“If you treat hiring a facility service professional like you’re ordering a box of pencils, you’re going to miss out on finding the right partner,” he adds.
Take the long view
Like any other significant hire, there is a benefit to working with a facility service team that can deliver tangible, long-term value to your operations. Doing so means setting key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics that can be used to gauge the long-term impacts of their work.
Similarly, O’Connor adds, there are advantages to aligning with facility service professionals who understand the value of collecting and synthesizing building data that can be used to design long-term strategies and drive sustainable outcomes: “You can get someone with a license to come in and perform some tasks for you, like changing a filter or fixing a boiler component, but there’s a massive amount of building information that can be gathered during that exercise which can help facility managers with important decision making. “
Therefore, he adds, it’s important to seek facility service teams that can capture that information at the source and help property owners and managers apply it to good use: “When we demonstrate to our clients that we’re using this data effectively, identifying alternative actions with alternative returns, it demonstrates that we’re actively contributing to their business, not just an expense.”
Who will help you grow?
A good partnership in facility services is one that contributes to the facility’s success. That may seem like common sense, but it is easier said than done. When looking for a partner to care for your vital mechanical systems, look for those who understand what you’re priorities are and can work towards them collaboratively and adaptively.
“Everyone should have metrics when it comes to a partnership with professionals like us. At the end of the day, we are hired to improve or optimize the cost of operating our client’s facility. Measurements like; reduced downtime, repair, energy and administration, extended capital life, and increased productivity. We need to demonstrate return, and that it is financially measurable,” says O’Connor.
It bears repeating that strong communication is the foundation of any good relationship. When considering your options for facility service professionals, consider who is willing and able to stay in contact throughout their work to ensure your KPIs are being hit, your goals are being met, and that any surprises are dealt with at the source.
“It all goes back to viewing facility service professionals like you would your employees, not a product you would purchase,” insists O’Connor. “At the end of the day, you want someone who will report to you and provide some measurable demonstration of their production, so that you know they’re doing the job you want them to do and you don’t have to micromanage them. When providers attempt to meet the goal of a purchasing exercise, they will feel driven to minimize the delivery.”
It’s an old saying, but it’s true…
What are the deliverables? How is the work managed and reported on? How can we measure the outcomes and not just the input?
Ultimately, the adage is true: you really do get what you pay for. If the lowest price is your priority, you will get labour and materials; however, you may be missing out on deliverables that save you money and contribute to your need to make good decisions and avoid major disruption and cost. Interview your potential hires and ensure they make a financial case for their hire rather than just how little they are willing to be paid for their work.