If Facilities Managers are to become ‘more visible to customers’, great stakeholder management and proactive maintenance is key

Goods on plats in a warehouse

UKDN Waterflow, the water, wastewater, drainage and infrastructure provider, believe great stakeholder management and proactive maintenance is key to a Facilities Managers success, after research published by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors suggested that Facilities Managers need to be more visible and transparent to customers and others linked to the organisation.

Improving customer perception is a vital component within an FM organisations overall performance measurement framework, and none more so when it comes to those services that directly affect customer satisfaction, such as blocked drains, toilets and non- working heating systems. With the delivery of FM services centred on people Gary Webb, from UKDN Waterflow, believes that Facilities managers need to get on the front foot.

Webb, who will be with colleagues on stand 1380 at the Facilities Show at London’s ExCel in June commented: ‘Too often feedback suggests that action is taken only after a problem arises, and is dictated by the speed of response and the scope of work required. Drain blockages, for example, are one of the most unpleasant and disruptive issues for Facilities Managers, and slow responses and poor communication in the event of a drainage issue can be a major blow to satisfaction levels.’

The need for a robust proactive maintenance plan to cope with issues is becoming increasingly important and it is vital that estate managers work with a supplier who will agree and stick to response time targets. If the emergency response plan is simply to find a local contractor on an adhoc basis, it can be a roll of the dice in terms of standard of service that will be available, the price charged for the job, and the risk of recurrence.

‘Consolidating supply chains and establishing new one-stop framework agreements for these assets, similar to those that they may have with other suppliers for others services, creates benefits through the formation of a partnership with a trusted, national supplier.’ says Webb. ‘And good framework agreement starts to drive programmes of preventative maintenance, which push down reactive emergency issues and push up customer satisfaction levels. A ‘low noise’ operation undoubtedly impacts on the formal (numerical) and informal (verbal) feedback mechanisms.’

Beyond reducing the management time shopping around and negotiating costs for services every time there is a problem with plumbing, sewers, drains or water supply, there are other compelling points to consider, as the scale of provision is often greatly enhanced with a larger provider.

Local providers will often be highly proficient at straight forward drain or toilet unblocks, and in many cases will be competitive on price. Where they lose out is often in their access to more advanced and efficient service, technology and pipe remediation techniques, such as CCTV diagnostics, real time job tracking technology and no-dig UV pipe lining, and providing a consistent high level of service out of a specified local area.

No Dig resembles keyhole surgery in that it can allow a localised repair to take place without the need for the invasive digging up of pipes and importantly surrounding areas. A high pressure jet is used to clean the drain before a CCTV camera is put down the drain to ascertain the level of damage and diagnose the most appropriate method of repair.

For Facilities Managers this is great for creating a positive response from customers, since disruption to normal day to day operations is lessened, and no-dig often reduces expensive re-instatement work. And to top it all there is carbon saving benefit to this technique – great for the Corporate Social Responsibility agenda.

FM providers are also benefitting from the investment national firms can make in IT infrastructure, which supports the customer journey and keeps them informed as to the progress and outcome of asset issues, ensuring they have the right information to support engagement and maintain visibility and transparency.

UKDN Waterflow recently worked to establish mobile app driven real time data reporting through its engineer’s mobile phones, making it easier to upload full details and photographs, to the system for reporting and invoicing purposes. Attendance time is also automatically logged and reported. An online portal allows Facilities managers to check on the status and progress of all maintenance jobs in real-time.

Ultimately it’s not just about price for Facilities managers. Visibility, transparency and customer satisfaction now run in parallel with best value. Great stakeholder management and proactive maintenance will be important in the balanced scorecard for an organisation, and partnering with a larger, national supplier will proactively help Facilities Managers manage that visibility.

UKDN Waterflow will be on stand 1380 to meet Facilities Managers at the Facilities Show in London 17-19th June 2014 at London’s ExCel.