In our monthly “Meet the Manager” blog series, we shine a spotlight on different facility managers across the southeast— from Tim Friedenberger of Bridgestone Arena to Debra Howell of JLL to Dan Walther of Elavon.
As part of that series, we do a Q&A with each manager. And one of the questions we always ask is: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
The responses we get to this question are always interesting and insightful. They also tap into the common challenges of facility management across the country.
Based on what we’ve heard from both our interview series and from two decades of working with FMs to provide carpet maintenance solutions, here are four of the biggest challenges facing facility managers.
Top Challenges (and Solutions) of Modern Facility Management
Today’s facility managers face many challenging problems—but what are the most pressing ones? And what can you do to solve these problems?
Challenge #1: Increasing Energy Efficiency & Reducing Waste
According to the EPA, the combined annual energy costs for U.S. commercial buildings and industrial facilities is $400 billion. 30% of that energy is used inefficiently or unnecessarily.
With energy costs skyrocketing and increased attention paid to the carbon footprint of facilities, more businesses are looking to save money and become more environmentally friendly. The job of achieving these goals often falls into the hands of FMs.
The report, Facility Managers: Putting Energy & Sustainability Practices to Work, reveals some of the key ways FMs are working to become energy efficient and reduce waste. They include:
- Using data from tracking and monitoring technology to uncover (and correct) inefficiencies
- Moving to LED lighting (which can reduce energy consumption by 25-35% with a payback in 2-3 years)
- Integrating distributed energy resources (DER), which are smaller power sources that can be aggregated to provide power necessary to meet demand
Challenge #2: Improving Security & Emergency Preparedness
Building security and emergency planning mean different things today than they did a couple of decades ago.
When it comes to emergencies, it’s no longer about just being prepared for events like fires and tornados. You also have to be prepared for events like active shooter situations. Ensuring cybersecurity is also a task more frequently assigned, at least in part, to facility managers.
David Blake of AlliedBarton Security Services in Nashville, Tennessee, provides these emergency preparedness tips:
- Use technology to increase response time
- Plan for how to respond in active shooter scenarios
- Educate and inform the people in your facility
To strengthen your facility’s cybersecurity, consider these tips:
- Protect your building management system
- Create a strict password/ID policy
- Monitor and protect easy access points
Challenge #3: Controlling Costs & Dealing with Budget Constraints
While working within budget limitations has always been a challenge, today’s facility managers are increasingly being pressured to do more with less.
Whether its budget cuts, cost reduction efforts, managing more outsourced vendors, or an increase in overall responsibilities, maintaining and improving a building is incredibly difficult with more work to do and less money to do it.
Taking a strategic approach is the best way to manage your budget instead of letting your budget manage you. Here are a few key ways to do that:
- Consider all types of costs—fixed, variable, direct, indirect, and lifecycle when preparing budget estimates.
- Select the best teams to carry out your projects. Sometimes skimping to save money will end up costing you more in the end.
- To help cut costs in your facility, don’t forget about the little things. Small actions like turning off lights and electronics at night or checking windows for leaks can really add up.
Challenge #4: Maintaining Aging Facilities & Equipment
The older your facility gets, the more problems are likely to arise. And all of those problems cost money to fix (see #3 above).
For most FMs, time is the greatest challenge to overcome. What was once a new and highly efficient building can provide a whole new set of challenges a decade later when problems start occurring, equipment breaks down, and replacements are needed.
Preventative maintenance is one of the best ways to help maximize the life of your building’s assets. For example, a carpet preventative maintenance program can extend the life of your commercial carpet by years and save you thousands of dollars.
But with all things, replacements will eventually need to be made. That’s why it’s best to:
- Keep close track of the maintenance work across your facility to identify problem areas
- Start planning and budgeting to replace significant items each year (to prevent everything from breaking down at once)
- Make sure you preserve a piece of your budget for emergency replacements and repairs as assets move into the at-risk phase
Rise to Today’s Facility Management Challenges with Planning and Preparation
Facility managers are problem solvers. By looking ahead and being prepared for these common bumps in the road, you will put yourself in the best position to keep your facility on track and running smoothly.