Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Cost of Poor Window Maintenance

The Cost of Poor Window Maintenance

By James Piper, P.E.

When considering the environmental impact of windows, don’t overlook the effect of maintenance. All building components require maintenance, and windows are no exception. When properly maintained, windows can be expected to maintain their solar and thermal properties throughout their 30- to 35-year service life.

But neglecting maintenance on window components will result in a shortened service life and early replacement. Failing to properly maintain exterior surfaces will allow finishes to deteriorate and caulking to fail. Failed surfaces and caulking will allow water to enter, damaging the window and surrounding components. If the situation is allowed to continue uncorrected, it can result in the formation of mold within wall cavities or on interior surfaces surrounding the window.

Even with all the recent developments in window technology, manufacturers are looking for ways to improve performance even further. Some of these are available today, while others may be available in the near future. Most offer improvement in window performance by providing a mechanism to actively manage the window’s optical and thermal properties. In facility applications, these windows offer the potential of reducing a building’s peak cooling load by 20 to 30 percent while improving occupant comfort.

One of the new technologies available today is the motorized shade. When used as part of a building’s daylighting control, the units can provide an easy way to minimize solar heat gain in rooms with southern exposures. Controls for the units can be interfaced with room lighting controls or centralized building automation systems to regulate both light levels and solar heat gain.

One of the most promising developments is the “smart window.” Smart windows use a small electrical voltage to change the light transmission properties of the glass. Depending on the technology used, the windows can vary from translucent to reflective. By connecting the windows’ control to a building automation system, the properties of the window glazing for entire areas or buildings can be regulated to minimize heat gain or to maximize the use of daylight.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Floor Maintenance: Working with Contractors

Floor Maintenance: Working with Contractors

By Stanley Quentin Hulin
April 2010

Properly specifying chemicals, equipment, tools and materials can be cost-effective strategies, but the key to a successful floor-maintenance program is the people performing the maintenance.

In cases where managers opt to outsource floor care, the real solution in reducing costs comes from selecting certified, qualified technicians who know the craft.

Unfortunately, managers too often select contractors based on the amount they charge, as opposed to the company's skill level. Managers should not have to spend time with crews explaining the tasks. Instead, they should be able to rely on the contractor to understand the job.

When managers rely on unskilled building service providers — even when providers have some rudimentary skills — managers will have to spend time telling them what to do, as well as when to do it. Ultimately, this situation leads to a floor-maintenance program that has specific requirements at designated intervals, and an inflexible schedule is rarely conducive to efficient floor care.

A rigid program can result in services performed in areas that do not need it and negligence in areas that need more attention. A knowledgeable service provider will have the ability to make the necessary adjustments to meet the manager's objectives.

Certified providers are trained to identify different floor coverings and understand the requirements for maintaining each type, including the most effective chemicals, the proper equipment for the greatest efficiency, the best tools and materials to accomplish the task, and the frequency with which to do the job.

Using certified technicians ensures the floor-maintenance program delivers tangible benefits. By maintaining the floor when it needs to be maintained and consistently keeping it in the best condition, providers can help managers and their organizations save a great deal of money by extending the periodic and restorative cycles.

Managing the cost of floor maintenance does not necessarily mean simply cutting costs in all areas. Managers can achieve substantial savings over time by implementing proven strategies in specifying chemicals and equipment.

Managers must fight against the common desire to produce short-term savings by cutting services. One proven strategy in this area is to point out the cost of restoring floors once the economic crisis passes. Of all the strategies, restorative maintenance requires the most chemicals, equipment and labor costs.

By contrast, a sound floor-maintenance program that uses superior chemicals, efficient equipment and trained labor will keep the floors looking their best while holding down costs.

Stanley Quentin Hulin is president and CEO of Future Floor Technology Inc. He has been providing services, management and sales/marketing expertise for the hard-floor maintenance profession since 1975.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Facility Maintenance Consolidation vs. In-House Management

Over the years we at GAWC, Inc. have encouraged Commercial and Retail store Corporates to "Consolidate" their window cleaning (and facility maintenance) services with us - a Nationwide Facility Maintenance company. And, equally, we've been asked the question, "Why?" and, "What are the benefits to us, the Corporate Company?" and in many cases, "What will this do to our budget?". All extremely intelligent questions. So, I thought that I'd run through a little PRO vs. CON on this subject.

First off, let's examine a company who has multiple retail store locations, lets call them "ABC Company". We can assume that ABC Company has anywhere from 30 to 1,000+ locations.

Now, "ABC Company" at 30 retail stores may or may not have a dedicated "Facilities Maintenance Manager". Let's first assume they don't. My question is, "Who's managing the maintenance needs of these retail stores?" The answer most likely is, someone who has a different job title, i.e. an administrative assistant, an accountant or a marketing manager. Now, how much time are they spending on maintenance issues, cross-checking and hiring/firing & managing vendors & contractors... Probably enough time to take away from more important duties - like the ones they were originally hired to perform. In this scenario, having a maintenance management company help with these typical duties would be beneficial. Saved Time = Saved Money.

Let's now assume they DO have a dedicated Facilities Maintenance Manager. This person usually manages the entire maintenance needs for all of their retail stores. These needs vary from HVAC, Security, Janitorial, Safety, Flooring, Lighting, Electrical, etc. And, even though floor maintenance and window cleaning are important to the stores themselves - this usually isn't of "High Priority" for the Facilities Maintenance Manager.

Let's examine what is involved, on a daily basis, for managing just the routine, preventative maintenance window cleaning. You must find technicians; verify they are licensed & insured; obtain their pricing; set them up in your accounts payable system; obtain their tax-id information; send them a work order; & then manage their work. Once you have been invoiced for the work - your AP must produce a check. If you dig a little deeper you realize that you must accomplish this task for EVERY store, every month. So, if you have 30 stores - you now have roughly 30 technicians for which your AP will have to cut checks... More stores = more time spent on monitoring and more $$ spent on sending checks.

By consolidating your services to a Nationwide Facilities Maintenance company, you are allowing the management & day-to-day operations to be shielded by them. In our case, WE verify all technicians, WE hold the $2,000,000 Umbrella Insurance, WE monitor the services, and WE hire/fire when needed.

Now you may be asking yourself, "Won't this cost me more $$ on top of paying for the services rendered, like a management fee?" And, my answer is "No." by allowing GAWC to consolidate your stores we are able to provide our list of technicians with multiple stores. Our long-standing relationship with our vendors (15 years+) also gives us leverage when consolidating your services. We are able to provide you with services to your stores at a low monthly fee inclusive of services, tax & management.

Another question you may have is, "Won't this give me less job security". Again, my answer is, "No". By consolidating such services as: window cleaning, power-washing, sign cleaning & floor maintenance, you give yourself more time to monitor your other (slightly more important) items.

Consolidation Cons:... More time to work on other issues... You may actually make it home in time for dinner...

Consolidation Pros: One management company to work with - regardless of # of retail stores; One Invoice to pay each month (outlined with each location, date of service & service amount); Online Account Management; Lower service prices; Money & Time Saved; Insured & Licensed technicians; Umbrella Liability of $2,000,000; Professional Management of all technicians; Current & up-to-date practices - including Green/Bio-Friendly procedures.

Questions to ask when hiring a Nationwide Facility Maintenance Company:

1. Are all of your technicians Licensed & Insured?
2. Do you promote the use of "Green Technologies & Procedures"?
3. Do you have references?
4. Have you ever lost a client because of lack of OR poor service?
5. How many years experience does your company have?
6. How many reliable technicians do you have?
7. What services are you able to provide?
8. How can I be assured that all of our stores will be managed appropriately?

9. How do you manage quality assurance?
10. Do you have a toll-free "after-hours/emergency" or "customer comment" line?
11. What is your service coverage?

12. Do you offer online account management?
13. How do you send/create your invoice?
14. What payment methods do you offer? Do you take PCards?
15. What associations, if any, do you belong to?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Budget Campaign 2010!

Late last year we at GAWC came up with an idea - let's save our clients & prospects time & $$ by rolling out a 2010 "Budget Campaign". And that's all it took, one small idea. Finally, a campaign that's going to save you money, instead of costing you an arm & a leg.

Our goal is to help interested Retail & Commercial companies save time & money with their nationwide or regional Facility Maintenance Needs. We will handle all of the paperwork, work orders, hiring/firing & monitoring of technicians & then we will supply YOU, our client, with ONE invoice.

We've started to roll out our platform, but with any winning campaign, we are in it for the long-haul and want to make sure that we cover all of our interests with gusto! So, are you ready to hit the trail with us?!

Jaclyn Frenzel
VP Business Development & Operations
(925) 459-5536