Maintaining a Good Image
Facilities management is gaining status as a key component of a retailer’s overall brand strategy. Providing clean and comfortable stores on a consistent basis translates to increased revenue and improved shareholder value. Michael Hyman, senior VP, sales and marketing, IPT, which specializes in facilities maintenance management for multi-site clients with geographically dispersed locations, spoke with
Do retailers give facilities maintenance the respect it deserves?
Retailers have begun to give facilities maintenance the respect it deserves. The evidence of this can be seen in the quality of people retail organizations are hiring and developing to manage this important area of their business—both internally and through outsourced partners. Many retailers are looking at facilities management as a competitive advantage in delivering a consistent store experience for customers.
Do most chains outsource facilities management?
Most chains outsource components of their facilities-management program, and many have implemented more comprehensive outsource programs.
What are the main benefits [for retailers] with regard to outsourcing maintenance vs. an in-house program? Is there any downside?
The main benefits can include improved consistency in service quality, reduced service and asset life-cycle costs, and elimination of overhead and administrative costs. Other important advantages include increased scalability, greater visibility into budget/cost performance, enhanced buying power, and access to new and improved technology without the expense.
Like any business decision, there is always downside risk. Selecting the right partner along with careful integration with store operations minimizes the potential of an outsourced maintenance program not meeting customer expectations.
What are some common mistakes retailers make when it comes to maintaining their facilities?
Eliminating any scheduled or preventive maintenance within their stores is a common mistake. This approach ultimately costs the company more dollars over the life cycle of the store. By not implementing a companywide program, retail companies cannot leverage their overall purchasing power and it creates an inconsistent store look and feel.
What are the most common errors retailers make with regard to outsourcing?
Not including store operations or key stakeholders during evaluation of out-source solutions or not effectively communicating facilities-program strategy at the local and district level. Operational alignment and communication is critical for the program’s success.
Other common mistakes include choosing a provider solely based on price vs. best value, and deploying a program as a competing interest with an in-house solution. An outsource company/solution should be considered an extension of a retail organization, not a competing outside interest.
What is IPT’s approach to facilities-management outsourcing?
IPT’s approach is collaborative and has been designed to meet the specific needs of national retail companies. We seek partnerships with our clients to drive out facilities-management costs and to create value from continuous process improvement. Our program takes away the daily tactical headaches of managing maintenance for stores and enables our retail business partners to become more strategically aligned with store operations in pursuit of customer brand loyalty.
Does technology figure into your solutions?
Yes, technology plays a big part within our solutions. IPT manages 20,000 retail locations today that represent more than 1.5 million business transactions on an annual basis. The ability to source quality vendors, manage service requests, audit and process invoices, and report performance on all transactions is not cost-effective or scalable without the use of technology. Our ongoing investment in technology enables us to continually improve our service-delivery process and create more value for customers.
One of the biggest challenges for chain retailers with regard to facilities management is managing and keeping up with repair requests. How can you help?
IPT manages the delivery of maintenance services for thousands of retail locations everyday. Through our 24/7/365 service-support center, we deliver timely resolution of most maintenance requests. Also, our geographically dispersed density of client store locations and related repair request volumes enable us to develop a quality service network throughout North America that helps us execute consistently with repair requests.
What other type of services does IPT provide?
A natural extension of our facilities-maintenance management program is the ability to manage small, medium and large facility projects for customers.