4 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Maintenance Budget

June 03, 2016  •  Daniel Perez

When organizations discuss their finances, the maintenance budget is often one of the last items on the to-do list. Facility maintenance is often seen as a cost, rather than a money and time-saving opportunity. With no wiggle room in the maintenance budget, it can be difficult to improve the efficiency of managing your facilities, but it isn't impossible. 
In this blog post, we'll share four tips for making the most of your facility maintenance budget.

1) Track inventory

Accurately tracking inventory and spare parts can save you from spending money on supplies you may already have on hand and avoid having an unnecessary inventory surplus. Let's look at the story of Tom and John as examples of how better inventory tracking can prevent unnecessary headaches and expenses.

Tom and John

Tom and John share the responsibility of re-stocking the spare parts crib for their manufacturing company. One Friday afternoon, it was Tom’s turn to go to the hardware store and he did so without checking the stock in the parts crib. He thinks, "I'm pretty sure I know what we need," and leaves for the store. Upon his return, Tom discovers that he not only exceeded the inventory budget, but he now has a lot more belts and fuses than he needs, he forgot to buy filters, and his manager isn’t thrilled with his decisions.

A few days later, it was John's turn to re-stock the parts crib. Before John left for the hardware store, he took an inventory of the supplies on hand, determined what was needed, and noted how much money was available in the inventory budget. When John returns from the store his manager is pleased to see that he got all of the supplies they needed, and nothing they didn’t need, while staying within budget.

 Some take-aways

  • If you haven't already, implement a process to improve your inventory tracking.
  • Because you're spending less money on surplus inventory, that money can be re-allocated to other aspects of the maintenance budget.
  • In the long run, inventory tracking can end up saving hundreds to thousands of dollars, which can be grounds for arguing for a larger maintenance budget.

Pro Tip: Consider finding a CMMS that enables you to store inventory information and costs, keep track of the quantity of inventory items on hand, receive alerts when inventory items need to be re-stocked, and generate scannable QR codes to attach to inventory items to update quantities in the field in real-time.

2) Keep accurate maintenance records

Keeping accurate records of maintenance activities can provide valuable insight into your operations and help you allocate your budget where you need it the most.

Best practices

  • Keep track of how your maintenance staff is spending their time and identify inefficient processes that are a waste of time and money (e.g., Can they receive work orders electronically on the go or do they waste time driving from one location to another to get updates in person?).
  • Identify the types of work orders that are most prevalent and costly for your organization to inform budget decisions. If a significant amount of your time and money is spent on HVAC related work orders, you could petition for the allocation of budget dollars to replace inefficient HVAC equipment.
  • Keep a close eye on time spent on cosmetic facility improvements rather than preventative maintenance and critical repairs that impact your bottom line.

3) Prioritize preventative maintenance

Imagine that you just bought a brand new vehicle. Not only is it the car of your dreams, but it’s the most efficient one on the market. Suddenly, life gets busy and your budget gets tight, so despite your good intentions, performing proper maintenance on your car falls through the cracks. Fast forward a few years and you find yourself spending more money for fuel and repairs than you ever imagined.

Often times, when a maintenance budget is very small or cut significantly, preventative maintenance is one of the first things on the chopping block. Reactive maintenance becomes the dominant practice, but an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality can end up costing more in the long run. 33% to 50% of maintenance expenditures can be saved by establishing and executing a preventive maintenance program.

Benefits of preventative maintenance

  • Extends lifespan of equipment
  • Reduces utility costs due to equipment operating more efficiently
  • Reduces equipment downtime by 40-60% in the first two years of performing regular preventative maintenance

Pro Tip: Consider using a CMMS to schedule preventative maintenance tasks for specific assets, assign those tasks complete with step-by-step instructions to your technicians, and issue reminder notifications to your staff or vendors to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. The ability to track labor hours, costs, and maintenance history per asset is an added bonus!

4) Plead your case

Even if you already practice the three strategies above, sometimes they still aren't enough. Sometimes you just need a bigger budget.

Don't jump the gun

Some people try to skip straight to the "Plead your case" strategy when faced with budget constraints, only to have their budget requests denied because they haven’t backed up their case with data and statistics, or proven how they’ve tried to save money by tracking inventory and performing preventative maintenance.

So what can you do?

  • Make your case for a larger budget, and be specific with your goals.
  • Be prepared to back up your case with data and statistics that support your argument for a larger budget.
  • If you're still denied, keep your chin up. Budgets evolve over time, and if you're persistent you may succeed with increasing your maintenance budget in the future.

FMX can help

FMX enables facilities managers to more efficiently and effectively track work orders, schedule resources, and plan maintenance. Our cloud-based software features a calendar view that anyone can use to submit, track, and manage requests, events, and assets.  Facilities owners and managers gain visibility into activities and costs, while building staff and tenants get updated status information on their facilities requests.

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