Making Maintenance Work
|Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.|
|By: Donna May|
|Posted on: 07/02/2007|
In spring time, birds are singing, wasps are buzzing, and both are building nests wherever they can find an appealing nook or cranny. In summer, scorpions and snakes have awakened, ants and bugs are prolific, and grass is fighting its way through the asphalt. In fall, leaves descend gracefully into gutters, and trash dances on the wind into fence lines. In winter, walkways freeze over, shards of ice cling dangerously to dripping eaves, and tree limbs snap under wind and snow.
Each season brings to the maintenance table an endless rotation of little things that, left unattended, can lead to serious problems. On the other hand, if taken care of, they can promote an economically profitable facility.
Schedules Are Supreme
The best tool for effective maintenance is scheduling. Every facility is different, and every geographic location has unique needs. Creating a viable maintenance program is a step-by-step process that builds the things that need to be addressed—routinely, seasonally and functionally—into a system that protects your investment.
Weed killer only costs a few dollars, but asphalt patching can cost hundreds or thousands. The deciding factor in whether serious repairs need to be made is often maintenance. Assembling a program that’s right for your location takes a little time. But once put together, it’s a blueprint that can be followed through employee changes and adjusted to new circumstances with little effort.
Step 1: Start With a List
Which aspects of your facility could require attention? Start with the items suggested below and add or subtract whatever is necessary to reflect the unique characteristics of your site, for example, special accommodations for wine storage or boats and RVs.
Step 2: Evaluate Your List
Next you need to determine the specific maintenance issues involved for individual items on the list. For example:
Step 3: Create an Action Plan
Determine how often each item has to be checked or serviced to address the maintenance issues you have identified. For example, under “Amenities,” the scent dispenser probably has an established life for each canister of fragrance. If the can lasts approximately 30 days, then it would be scheduled for replacement once a month.
Grouping related maintenance items increases efficiency. For example, intercoms could easily be tested daily during the lock check. Convex mirrors can be scheduled for cleaning with hallway walls.
Some maintenance is outsourced, such as landscaping and pest control. The individual in charge of maintenance should be responsible for ensuring the terms of the various service contracts are being met in accordance with your maintenance standards. If a task falls outside a contract (the landscape contract may exclude tree trimming, for instance), it should be scheduled separately.
Logic and manufacturers’ instructions are the best guidelines to follow in establishing inspection or service frequency. Vendors and service providers are generally very helpful in answering questions regarding maintenance. In addition, several good articles have been written on proper maintenance procedures and how often individual items should be inspected. Some can be found on the ISS website at www.insideselfstorage.com. You can search for topics by keyword using the search box in the upper-right corner of each web page; or click on the “Facility Maintenance” category on the left-hand menu.
Step 4: Establish a Schedule
Once you have determined how often each item should be checked and what services should be performed, it’s time to establish a schedule to incorporate the complete maintenance program into the workflow of the facility. The format the schedule takes depends on your facility, staff and maintenance budget. A combination of calendars, checklists and maintenance procedures can be used to cover just about everything.
Calendars are great for long-term scheduling, but can be too cluttered and less effective for daily and weekly routines. Any task with a frequency of more than once per month or an irregular schedule is most easily handled on a computerized version.
Here are some things to include in your maintenance calendar:
Checklistsare best for items that occur monthly or weekly. These might include:
Maintenance proceduresfor daily or other repetitive items are the most efficient. Just as you have forms and procedures for renting units, you should also have a written protocol for routine tasks such as office maintenance and unit cleanup after tenant moveout.
The key to successful maintenance is diligence, achieved through accountability. Schedules in the form of calendars, checklists and procedures encompass seasonal requirements, functional necessities and routine tasks. By defining what needs to be done and when, these tools incorporate maintenance into the normal work flow. They are the essentials that comprise an effective maintenance program.
Donna May is president of Cross Metal Buildings, part of The Parham Group, where she has focused on self-storage for 11 years. Ms. May is the past president of Joshua Management and a real estate broker. She has a bachelor’s degree in business and has been a partner in 11 startup self-storage projects. For information, call 210.477.1260; email firstname.lastname@example.org; visit. www.crossmetalbuildings.com.