Mastering the Art of Facilities Maintenance

managing time and resources effectively

The Importance of “Jobbing”

If you work in a facility full-time as a maintenance technician, you know what it is like to walk up three flights of stairs, or across a campus, and realize that the pipe wrench, screwdriver, cordless drill, etc. is laying back on the desk in the maintenance office where you left it.

HVAC, Mechanical, and Plumbing contractors can multiply the impact of a forgotten item tenfold when the office is across town from the shop during rush hour.

Regardless of how far the office is from the work being done, some serious time, effort and cost can be saved by taking a few minuted to go through a checklist and make sure you have everything you need to do a job.

First ask: What is the task? Whether you’re hanging a new picture in the office lobby, or installing a new water heater- there is still a list of items you will need to do the work.  Taking time to think about what you are going to be doing and what you will need to bring with you to do the job can can be the difference between finishing the job and feeling good about the accomplishment and not getting the job done and feeling like you didn’t accomplish anything.

Next ask: What are the tools I am going to need? Run through the inventory. Hammer, Drill, screwdriver, specialty tool, or tools that need to be signed out from the office, or rented. If you’ve ever assembled a piece of furniture, or a bookshelf- you’ll remember that the first thing in the instructions are the tools you’ll need.

Finally, when you arrive at the work site, go through your material and tool inventory one more time, and take the time to lay them out within reach of the work. Bring along a small mat, towel, or dropcloth so you aren’t laying your tools and material on the customer’s hardwood/ ceramic/ tile floor.

It is inevitable that you will run into situations where you need a different screw size, or pipe fitting, or piece of material than what you planned- but having a plan and an inventory for the project will still keep the material or tool trips to a minimum. Following these thought processes, and taking a few moments to think about the task, the tools, and the materials necessary to do a job beforehand will save you time and effort, and help you create a successful, polished, completed project every time.


August 4, 2010 Posted by | facilities maintenance, organization, tools | Leave a comment

Managing work orders and work flow

Managing workflow, documenting work, and providing for compliance with record keeping can be a tough tract to manage when spring and summer work picks up. Maintenance technicians can be overwhelmed and can handle as many as 60-70 work orders in a single day. How do you manage all of these work orders?

My thoughts go back to property managers scribbling addresses on a post-it note, or concierge desk attendants handing “while you were out” notes to maintenance technicians. The tech then proceeds to put the note in their shirt-pocket and then realizes days later that they forgot the call…

The best way to handle a work-order system with maintenance techs is to provide a written work order.  A written work order program can also include the following:

  1. maintenance request forms
  2. door hangers
  3. work orders
  4. make-ready boards

Tenants and customers can fill out a form to make a maintenance request (they can be placed in the lobby, at a concierge desk, or at the property manager’s office) and then the actual work order can be assigned to the maintenance tech. The tech should always leave behind a document that tells a tenant or owner that a tech was in their unit, and door hangers can be used to notify pending work, that a tech is currently in the unit, or that a tech visited earlier.

Finally, in managing workflow, tracking and make-ready boards can be used for punch-out tracking ,special products and for assigning tasks with multiple technicians and vendors.

John Tindale and Maintenance Mastery were not compensated for mentioning Great American Property Management Products.

April 1, 2010 Posted by | buildouts & remodeling, facilities maintenance, organization, safety, tools | , , , | 3 Comments

Starting the New Year Correctly at Your Facility

After the holiday trimmings are all packed away, and you’ve completed those end of year tasks like budgeting, forecasting, or just surviving the holidays, the New Year is a chance to start out fresh. You’ve got that new desk calendar from your favorite vendor, or that shiny new pocket calendar is riding in your back pocket waiting for some new tasks and appointments.The problem is, after a few weeks, those tasks on your office white board never change, and you get caught up in the usual rush to respond to emergency and “immediate need” ticket work, while longer-term projects collect dust. Here’s a few tips to keep the momentum going.

1.Learn to get in the habit of carrying something to jot notes, and when someone asks you to do something, pull out your notebook, daytimer, (whatever works best- I like the moleskine) and tell them you’re busy right now but you’ll get back to them in a couple days. This will help you start managing your time better, and keep you from having 6-7 open/incomplete tasks on an ongoing basis. The real trick here is to check your lists- and follow up on promises in a reasonable time.

2. Leave notes and communicate updates. When you complete a task that someone has asked you to complete, leave a sticky note, or a post-it for them to let them know you followed through. When you aren’t finished doing something, but you’ve done something to move a project along (like calling a vendor for a delivery update) A quick note to tell someone that you changed a light,made a phone call, or painted a door frame will go a long way to remind people that you’ve actually done what you’ve been asked to do.

3. There’s no shame in admitting you can’t complete something once you find out it is bigger than you thought. An example might be where you decided to tackle a door refinishing project, thinking that you’d have time to refinish doors in your facility. You’ve done 2 of them, and they look good, but it took you 4 weeks to complete the two that you’ve done, and you have 30 more. If you approach your property manager and let them know that the project is taking longer than you thought, and give them the option of deciding what to do next, they might; authorize overtime to complete it after hours, allow you to solicit bids from a pro, or you might find out that it is not a high priority, and they don’t mind waiting.

Finally, if you are not giving your property manager,  board, or supervisor a regular report (at least monthly) of your activities you should get in the habit right away. Your monthly report can include things such as; Completed Tasks, Work waiting approval, Open work orders, Parts on Order, etc. Just because you know that something is in process, doesn’t mean that everyone else does, and it is your job to tell them.

December 27, 2008 Posted by | organization | , , , , , | Leave a comment