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Four Facilities Maintenance Challenges

by | Aug 14, 2018 | Facilities Cleaning & Maintenance Tips, Hiring a Commercial Cleaning Company

Facilities maintenance managers face many challenges every day. One of those challenges comes from the fact that few people understand their job duties. 

In general, a facilities manager’s duty is to ensure the smooth daily operation of a building. Job responsibilities can vary according to the size of the building or campus and whether it is a residential or commercial property. When done correctly, the building’s occupants and visitors rarely think about the huge impact the facilities management team has on their lives. But if something breaks down, appears dirty or causes an accident, the facilities manager will certainly hear about it.

In addition to satisfying tenants, the facilities manager must also protect the building owner’s investment by operating within budget. First, regular maintenance helps prevent loss of expensive materials and equipment.  Second, thorough commercial cleaning helps reduce illness and injuries while also enhancing the building’s image. 

What do Facilities Maintenance Managers Do?

According to the International Facility Management Association, “facility managers (FMs) can have many different titles and arrive in their profession through a variety of career paths. They’re responsible for making sure systems of the built environment, or facility, work harmoniously.”

A facility manager’s role is broadly defined, including many skills and responsibilities:

  • Communication
  • Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity
  • Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability
  • Finance and Business
  • Human Factors
  • Leadership and Strategy
  • Operations and Maintenance
  • Project Management
  • Quality
  • Real Estate and Property Management
  • Technology


In a 2002 publication by the Journal of Facilities Management on Emerald Insight, facilities maintenance management challenges were summarized as:

[sic]…issues relating to the following (in diminishing order of significance): inadequate funding, emergency management and business continuity planning, statutory compliance, sustainability and environmental stewardship, keeping up with rapid changes in technology, operational efficiency, identifying and meeting stakeholder needs, maintenance and manpower.

Challenges faced by facilities managers in the Australasian universities


Ideally, facilities maintenance management would be involved in aspects of the initial planning phase of any building design, construction, revamp, or modification.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and facilities and maintenance managers often find themselves in high-demand situations with minimal infrastructure, supporting data, or appropriate budgets.

In a more realistic scenario, where facilities maintenance has become the fulcrum point in the demand for more sustainable buildings and office spaces, managers must turn to highly-specialized service providers.

These specialized partnerships allow the facilities managers to offload the need for deep expertise and time investment in multiple complex disciplines, enabling them to focus on emerging, cost-effective modernization planning and implementation.


Commitment to facilities planning, especially when sustainability is concerned, can be hard to come by.

A 2014 study, posted by the Building Efficiency Initiative, found that of those surveyed:

  • 75% believed employees should be “actively involved in making work practices more sustainable, but only;
  • 36% indicated they would favor sustainable practices that affect the way they work.”

That finding underscores the actual issue behind engagement; how to implement needed changes on a budget without disrupting the operations of those unlikely or unwilling to adopt new policies.

For More Information:

  • Employee engagement in sustainability: Where’s the ‘easy button’?
Vendor Management

In a 2010 survey of facilities maintenance managers across the U.S. by Corrigo, ‘Allocating Work to the Right Vendors’ was listed as #5 on their Top 5 Facilities Maintenance Challenges report.

One chain restaurant facilities manager was quoted as saying:

“Outsourcing work is a given – we know we’re always going to do it to some degree. It’s dealing with the changing amount of work and the churn in our pool of vendors that’s the challenge.”

Of the vendor management challenges most faced, those cited were:

  • Making vendor decisions based on accumulated performance feedback.
  • Recording and comparing information on vendor pricing, and;
  • Maintaining searchable records of vendor certifications.

For More Information:

  • Top 5 Facilities Maintenance Challenges…and a Formula for Success in Challenging Times

Generically, budgeting, whether it be time, financial, or resource, is the most cited of facilities maintenance challenges.

Business budgets, especially for large corporate-controlled spaces, are typically at the whim of investors.

The challenge here becomes the issue of investor confidence.

Where investors are not familiar with a concept, they tend to shy away from the investment, again, particularly when it comes to sustainability and energy efficiency.

In a 2014 interview with Energy Efficiency Markets, Matt Golden, a ‘senior energy finance consultant for the Environmental Defense Fund’, said,

“Right now we are serving up 31 flavors. Every energy efficiency project is something unique. However, investors only eat vanilla. It doesn’t matter if you put a bowl of chocolate ice cream in front of them. All they know is that it’s not vanilla. This forces them to treat every transaction as unique which significantly increases transaction costs on each investment.”

Why Investors Are Wary of Energy Efficiency and What Will Boost their Confidence

Green Cleaning as a Partnership Solution

A partnership with an engaged and experienced professional janitorial services provider will help reduce the time and financial impact of many challenges facing facilities managers, especially in a matured, investor-friendly environment that emphasizes the quality of worker and customer wellbeing, consumer confidence, and long-term viability/sustainability, specifically in today’s resource-challenged environment.

An ideal facilities maintenance-janitorial services provider partnership will provide substantial and favorable benefits.

  • The ability to plan and execute long-term service agreements that compliment and adhere to corporate budget requirements.
  • Flexible service schedules and offerings that meet occasional and ongoing facilities needs.
  • Highly-experienced service personnel, familiar with the high-demand requirements of cost-conscious organizations, specifically the need to adapt quickly to business-specific requirements with minimal initial training or ongoing supervision.
  • Operational knowledge to compliment staff skill or personnel gaps, especially in areas requiring forward planning and implementation towards sustainable business practices.
  • Regularly updated information regarding franchisee certification and compliance requirements.



An immediate consideration for any facilities maintenance manager seeking a value driven partnership is a business with a proven record of ‘big business smarts with a small town bedside manner’.

To function as a real asset to the organization, the provider must possess the same proven level of multi-disciplined experience as the facility manager.

Additionally, the service team will need to execute their tasks with little to (preferably) no disruption to staff.

This all needs to be established in a long-term agreement that facilitates easy customer budgeting while anticipating future growth, and accommodating per-incident requirements without a reduction in service quality or a spike in cost.

Piece of cake.

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Need more flexibility than your janitorial staff can provide? Maybe it’s time to hire an experienced commercial cleaning company to partner with the staff.

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of Minnesota can help you consider all your needs and options before you make a move. Download our free guide, “8 Steps to Hiring a Commercial Cleaning Company”