Fun fact: Retail has changed dramatically—but you probably already knew that. Over the past several years, we’ve watched companies undergo significant structural and technological changes to survive the increasingly competitive consumer landscape. From revamping retail outlets to investing in an online presence, three things have given retailers the leverage they need to transform: having a successful brand image, a controlled budget and an engaged—not overworked—workforce governed by a strong facilities management (FM) foundation.
While many companies structure their FM framework around technology, some organizations are thriving more than others because they work with a consultative integrated facilities management (IFM) partner. Here’s how an IFM partner can help you control costs and better manage your facilities.
Tip #1: Put yourself to the test—a reality test
Sometimes, how you look at the problem is the problem. So your first step is to take a step back. What is the current situation? In all areas of your FM platform, what’s working? What’s not working? If you’re not sure where to begin, implementing FM technology is a great step toward elevating your labor force—but without a strategic advisor, you’re not getting the full perspective and insight you need. With an IFM partner, there is an entire team to decipher all things data and analytics. On the surface, it might appear that IFM partners just assist with HVAC and plumbing needs, but in reality, they have the reporting and analytics to help you save on costs.
There’s nothing worse than running, or in this case analyzing, in circles. Sometimes, the best thing is a fresh perspective. An IFM platform provides you access to financial information you would otherwise miss—or misinterpret. And, having a financial consultant allows you to not only see into your own business-wide expenditures, but also gives you a viewpoint of someone working with peers in similar industries—like sharing how your work orders and first trip completion rates compare against retailers with similar store footprints. Our clients have access to a team with both deep experience in the industry and an unwavering commitment to digging into the details. Running a report is one thing, but having a team to help you understand it is another.
Tip #2: Use technology like a tool, not like a work order platform you pay to use
The greatest challenge in life is thinking outside of the box, but it can also be the most rewarding. So when it comes to budget goals—everyone’s favorite of course—try implementing a top-down approach. Start with a high-level view of your budget, dig into which FM categories you may be overspending in and look at the average spend for a cost area can help you focus on areas ripe for saving.
Accomplishing these financial goals is a simple yet nuanced process. It might entail reviewing service schedules and comparing them to your store locations, but don’t forget that each store has different foot traffic and some locations will require different schedules than others. It may also entail reviewing the first trip completion rate to avoid any maintenance delays.
Tip #3: Trust your FM partner
Managing your labor force and your budget requires shifting from tactical to strategic. Historically, facilities management hasn’t been viewed as a technologically advanced field; however, that is no longer the case. As the type and volume of consumer spend increases with online sales, it is more critical now than ever before to have an immaculate store experience—and you won’t be able to maintain that experience without a solid FM foundation and a knowledgeable FM partner.
Tip #4: Don’t wait
When it comes to evaluating your facilities management options, the biggest risk is not taking one at all. Having more control over your budget doesn’t necessarily mean a better outcome. For the best financial and workforce success, it is critical to stop looking at overall spend and instead look at specific categories and make small adjustments. These “one-degree shifts,” like a quarterly focus on a specific category, allow for continuous improvement.
This idea has always been critical, but it’s now even more important in the wake of the pandemic.
Retailers must understand where they can defer costs and re-allocate funds accordingly.
Retailers that work with an IFM partner can leverage technology and expertise to be more strategic and work on specific projects geared toward elevating their brand and customer experience. Instead of getting caught up in low-level tasks, focus on more important pieces of your labor force and budget puzzle by using data to support your targeted direction.