More Than Glorified Janitors – Selling the Value of the Facility Team

glorified janitorPlease do not take offense by the title of this article; I am not saying anything negative about janitors.  In fact, my intent is for us, as facility professionals, to realize the value of every team member in the facility department – from custodial and landscaping to journeymen and management – and market that value to our internal and external clients and management.  Because, we know that our team is far more than glorified janitors.

Recognize the Value of Facilities

Before we sell the value of the facility team, we must first see it ourselves.  As discussed in The Rule of 100/10/1, facility professionals are responsible for the second largest asset and expense for most organizations.  Additionally, and more importantly, facilities has a direct impact on an organization’s largest asset and expense – its people – and ultimately, the bottom line.

For those of us that have been in the industry awhile, we have thankfully seen it mature and progress, as shown by the increasing number of facility management degreed programs & upper management positions and the growing value of FM credentials and certifications – which will be discussed further in an upcoming FM360 article.  (Sign-up for the FM360 Newsletter to receive the article.)  But there is still more that we should all do to better the industry and, in turn, benefit our fellow facility brethren (and sisters).

In the interest of brevity for this article, I recommend that you peruse the below articles to further recognize the value that you and your facility team provide to your respective organizations.

Additionally, you may want to consider signing up for FM360’s FM101 webinar series.

Once we realize the value of the facility team and the respective members, the next step is to market that value; which includes making sure that the facility team understands that value and their role in the success of the department and organization – they have to see it and believe it.

Market the Value of Facilities

How many of you have a marketing plan for your facility department?  Yes, “a marketing plan”.  I’m sure not many of us come from a marketing background, but, if we and our industry are going to be successful, then one of our primary functions has to be selling the value of the facility program and our team.  We must become marketing specialist – amongst the many other hats that adorn our heads.  However, this hat will return valuable dividends to your department and your organization.

If you are going to be successful in selling the value of your team and gaining the necessary resources & support, then you need to start with a plan.  Some questions to ask include, “Who are the various stakeholders?”, “How are those stakeholders engaged?”, and “What marketing tools are available to you?”  Below are some steps that will answer these questions and help you develop a marketing plan.

  • Identify stakeholders – Stakeholders include department managers, upper management, building occupants, site visitors, contractors, customers, etc.  Make sure you understand the function and importance that each of them play in the overall scheme of the organization – get to know their business drivers and obstacles.
  • Determine the gap – I am a big advocate for surveys; we need to know what matters to our stakeholders and what their perception is of the building, their workspace, and facility services.  (Click here for examples of such surveys.)  Follow-up with more surveys once the plan is in place and being executed to gauge progress towards goals.
  • Identify touch points – When, where, and how do we engage with each of the various stakeholders.  Examples include responding to service requests, the facility call center, computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) interface, “Hey You” work orders, projects/MACs, and simply by being out and about.  Each one of these provides an opportunity for the facility team to sell the value of their service.
  • Equip the team – Based on the survey results and touch points, you should be able to quickly identify some gaps and how best to bridge them by providing coaching and training to the facilities team.  Some examples include:
    • Soft Skills Training – The value of “soft skills” (interpersonal skills) cannot be overstated; they are critical to the success of your department.  This will require delicate coaching and guidance as this is quite often the biggest obstacle to overcome.  However, through your leadership and understanding of each of the team members, you can hopefully navigate these waters.  You may want to keep your eyes open for FM360’s Leadership Webinar Series as it addresses this and related issues.
    • Elevator Speech – Leveraging the department’s vision/mission statements, put together some consistent messaging, such as an “elevator speech” – basically, a 20-second sound byte that conveys the value and importance of what facilities does for the organization.   The trick here is to make sure it is a soft sale and not too canned – add some variety; allow folks to tailor it to focus on how what they do brings value to the organization.
  • Lead by example – Manage stakeholder relationships, including their expectations and perceptions, by MBWA (managing by walking around).  You have to be out there in the workplace talking with folks, following-up on past service requests or issues, soliciting their input, and simply showing you care about their business and their team.  I have seen much success by facility managers that perform this key function well.
  • Sell the Facilities Department – Aside from the face-to-face interactions in the workplace, which can be few and far between with today’s global workforce (see The 411 on Tele-Working for tips on engaging remote workers), you need to identify and leverage other medium that market the facilities team.  Some examples include:
    • Social Media – Now I’m not asking you to tweet or post the latest on Pinterest or Facebook; however, we would be foolish to ignore the fact that most organizations use some form of social media to communicate to and connect with the workforce, especially as the Gen-Yers increase their presence in the marketplace.  This medium provides a great opportunity for you to highlight achievements, successes, team members, and the department’s value-added services to stakeholders.  At the minimum, take advantage of the facility department’s intranet site to market these points; then figure out how to drive folks to the site.  For example, posting the cafeteria’s weekly menu, weather updates, means to submit service requests, and/or office MAC (move/add/change) forms; anything and everything to drive them to your site.
    • OldSchool – Not all folks use social media, thus the “old school” approach of a poster board or corkboard is something to consider as well.  Put it in a conspicuous place that receives a lot of traffic, such as the hallway(s) to the cafeteria/break room or restrooms.  As mentioned above, highlight goals, successes, achievements – such as, a team member earning their BOC (Building Operator Certification), FMP (Facility Management Professional), CFM (Certified Facility Manager), or some other credential that shows that they are far more than a glorified janitor.  (See FM360 Training for more information on these credentials.)
    • Presentations – Look for opportunities in your various presentations, budget meetings, and business case pitches, especially to upper management and the C-suite, to not simply present facts & figures but to promote the value of facility services and their impact on worker productivity, employee & customer satisfaction, risk management, and the bottom line (The Rule of 100/10/1).

Even though the facility industry has made significant progress in the past decade, we must all still do our part in identifying, communicating, and marketing the value of the Facilities Department and each and every one of its team members.  Through our collective efforts, we will continue to see our industry advance and hopefully move closer to “Facilitopia”.

For more educational articles and facility management related training & resources, visit FM360consulting.com and sign-up for FM360’s newsletter.  Watch the related FREE webinar to learn more about how to sell & market the facility team.

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