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Common Challenges of Maintaining a Commercial Facility

Maintaining a commercial property, whether it’s an office space or a retail store, can present many challenges. Considerations must be made in four primary areas: janitorial maintenance, engineering services, parking management and energy efficiency.

Try these solutions when tackling common challenges in those areas:

Janitorial Maintenance
Challenge: It’s difficult to find — and retain — people who take ownership and pride in janitorial service because it can be considered lower-level work.
Solution: “Instill a sense of worth regarding how important and vital the job actually is for the company,” says Bill Gross, senior director of building services at Luxottica Retail in Mason, Ohio. “Just doing the job as expected is worthy of praise when it's a hard job offering little esteem. Find ways to promote individuals and their ideas by giving them responsibilities they can be comfortable with and grow into.”

Challenge: Large facilities require a multiperson cleaning crew to attack many different areas — bathrooms, kitchens, offices, laboratories, etc. — making cross-contamination, spreading germs from one location to another, likely. This could result in high absenteeism due to illness, as well as “sick building syndrome” (SBS), where a large percentage of employees are out with flu-like symptoms.
Solution: Risk can be reduced with a simple color-coding system, such as using white mops and rags in the washrooms and blue ones in the kitchen, says Tony Rankin, facility administrator at Children's Memorial Research Center in Chicago.

Challenge: There are many nooks and crannies in every facility, making it easy to neglect certain areas.
Solution: A routine maintenance schedule is essential. “It’s important to mark what needs cleaning daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annually and annually,” Rankin says. “For example, cleaning the washrooms and kitchens and taking out the trash needs to be done every day. But wiping down desks and chairs can be a monthly task.”

Engineering Services
Challenge: Engineering repairs can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars.
Solution: Preventive maintenance is key to ensuring building mechanicals (HVAC systems, chillers, fan motors and variable air volume boxes, etc.) don’t break down unexpectedly, Rankin says. Create a preventive maintenance schedule to make sure everything runs smoothly. If properly inspected and lubricated, most equipment should last 25 to 35 years, he says.

Parking Management
Challenge: A growing company — or even a snowstorm — quickly reduces the amount of available parking space.
Solution: “Find a church, ballpark or other neighbor that is willing to partner with you when your parking demand is in excess of your supply,” Gross says. “During working hours when you need the parking, their lots are likely empty.” In exchange, you can offer to make a donation or provide a service they need.

Challenge: In a parking garage, speeding cars and dark corners make tenants uneasy.
Solution: Stress the importance of maintaining proper speeds by posting speed limit signs throughout the garage, Rankin says. To help tenants feel secure, install security cameras and emergency phones, keep lights on at all times and, if you can afford it, hire a security guard.

Energy Efficiency
Challenge: With so many tenants to manage, it’s difficult to make energy efficiency a priority.
Solution: Watch out for energy eaters, Gross says. Try having your cleaning crew come in during the day when less artificial light is needed, and consider using occupancy sensors to ensure lights aren’t being used unless someone is in a room. In addition, you can investigate whether electronic equipment throughout the building offers an “energy savings” option.

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