Anderson Facilities Group Blog

3 Key Areas To Improve a Commercial Building's Exterior Appearance

Richard Anderson - Saturday, March 12, 2016

With Spring just around the corner, many Property and Facilities Managers will be faced with the inevitable challenge of cleaning up the exterior of the building after a cold, salty winter. Aside from the parking lot and landscaping, two large annual budget items, there are three key areas to focus attention in order to bring your commercial building's exterior appearance back to life.

 

Concrete: After several applications of salt and dirt over the course of the winter, concrete can look worn, filthy and chalky. From sidewalks to dumpster pads to the building facade, each of these areas typically need a thorough cleaning to remove the dirt, debris and layers of salt. Chemicals, even the "safe" products, contain chlorides which are mildly acidic and can attack the bonds that hold concrete together. This increases the pore size and can allow water into the concrete and exacerbate the freeze/ thaw cycle. Hiring a qualified company to pressure clean these areas (and make repairs to damaged concrete) is important as it removes the harmful contaminants from the surface and improves the appearance.

 

Metal: Every commercial building has an assortment of metals on the exterior of the building. Whether it be the monument sign, handrails, light bollards, entrances (doors and side light window frames) or the window mullions - each anodized or painted aluminum, bronze or stainless steel finish is affected by the harsh winter. Metal gradually destructs from a chemical reaction to its environment. Anodized aluminum starts to form pitting or shows signs of degradation, bronze becomes oxidized and stainless steel begins to rust. All resulting from the chemical reaction of airborne pollutants and the application of salt products. These surfaces need attention come Spring. A qualified contractor can clean each of the metal surfaces and apply a barrier (wax) to protect the metal from further harm. In extreme cases where the metal has been damaged beyond a simple cleaning, such as the chalking of dark anodized aluminum window mullions, a quality contractor can clean and apply a clear synthetic coating to bring the mullions back to life and protect between services.

 

Glass: Window cleaning is a routine maintenance item that most every building has budgeted year after year. However, the glass panes at many buildings need more attention than this routine cleaning. Many buildings' irrigation systems repeatedly spray water onto the first floor windows leaving calcium and magnesium deposits known as lime scale. This film is difficult to remove and, left untreated, can cause irreparable harm to the glass. The longer the film sits on the surface, the more difficult it is to remove. An annual or semi-annual professional removal of this film is recommended to keep this film from causing permanent damage.

 

By focusing attention to these three key areas, a Property Manager, Facilities Manager or property owner can improve the appearance of the exterior of their commercial building which aids in both tenant relations and the ability to lease the property in a timely manner.

 

6 Pitfalls and Misconceptions in Facilities Management

Terry Anderson - Thursday, December 10, 2015

Pitfall #1: NOT Using High Quality Vendors

 

 

Do not settle for the lowest estimate or the cheapest price. The lowest estimate or the cheapest price is not usually the best option. You most certainly will always get what you pay for and when your job is to make high-level decisions, do not make the mistake of betting on the low bid. If you need help, find a consultant to assist you in finding the right vendors. Finding the vendor that can provide a fair price and a high level of service is essential. Often times, facilities professionals’ careers are made or ruined based on the vendors they choose to hire. Executives expect you to be smart with your budget dollars and get the most out of them. You CAN get the 'right' price out of your quality vendors. Remember: quality vendors = quality work = quality results.

 

Pitfall #2: Making Everyone Happy

 

As a facilities professional, you know that your job is rarely appreciated for the job that you do on a day-to-day basis. Don't expect a pat on the back every day for a job well done. Most of you will go about your daily routine without so much as a thank you. The best facilities professionals go through their careers virtually unnoticed by those that work in the building. Running a smooth operation requires an enormous amount of time, energy and support from your staff. Spend less time trying to make everyone happy and focus on performing at an excellent level every day.

 

Pitfall #3: Trying to Make the Budget Perfect

 

Keep track of your invoices on a daily or weekly basis. You must know where your budget dollars are being spent. Your direct reports will want to know that you have a handle on your budget on a regular basis. In a facility large or small - stuff happens. And it usually happens when you least expect it and costs more that you think. There will always be an emergency, a failure, a problem and you will need to plan for these contingencies. Put extra dollars in your budget for contingencies. Plan on roughly 5-10%, depending on the area of the budget. Do not make the mistake of thinking these issues won't happen to you. They will and if you don't plan for them, your budget will suffer. Some companies will not approve a budget without knowing where every dollar will be spent. Explain the contingencies. Let your company know that you are being proactive and accounting for these shortfalls so that you don't have to come to them in case of an emergency. Better to budget the money up front than have to find it later. Think of it this way: if you are always trying to make ends meet and complaining because there's not enough money in the budget - the budget was not well thought out and it creates more grief than necessary. Your company executives do not want to hear that you can't work within the budget. They want you to plan for and budget all expenses, including contingencies. This is expected of all facilities professionals.

 

Pitfall #4: Having Low Expectations of Your Staff

 

Expect excellence from your staff. Personally teach them how you want the job done. Stop expecting someone else to train them for you. If you teach them, instead of one of your staff, they will be given specific instructions and have an understanding of what is expected instead of 'this is how we have always done things here'. Expect more out of your staff and hold them to their job responsibilities. Give your staff more than they can handle each day. Push them towards excellence. Don't confuse this with overwhelming them with work. Give them what they can handle and then just a bit more. Invest in your staff and provide them with extra training. They will need training beyond what you can give them. It will be budget dollars well spent. Soon, they will learn what they are truly capable of and exceed your expectations. Leaders bring their staff to places they would not otherwise go. Keep challenging your staff with higher goals and higher expectations. If you have trained them properly and pushed them towards excellence, they will not let you down.

 

Pitfall #5: You Can Trust Everyone and Speak Freely Around the Office

 

I know many facilities executives and managers who no longer have a job because they confided in the wrong person within their company or network. Find a mentor or someone outside your company and network and talk to them about the issues that you are facing in general terms. Avoid too many specifics, such as employee names or companies. Ask yourself “Whom can I trust?” The answer may be no one. Eliminate the gossip. While gossip makes us feel as though we are bonding with others or that we can obtain information no one else has - it can be dangerous to those around you and ultimately to your career. Do not be the 'source' of the gossip. Watch what you say, who you say it to and what you do each day. You never know who is watching. You make impressions each day. Make sure they are the right impressions. Be mindful of the words you use with your staff. You do not need to be their friend, just friendly. Understand those who work for you will talk about you and some of them are part of the gossip chain. It's just a fact of life. Remember: what you say will always, in one form or another, get back to the company executives. Make it count.

 

Pitfall #6: What Other Don't Know Won't Hurt Them

 

Honesty truly is the best policy. As a facilities manager and an integral part of your company's day-to-day operations, you must carry a high level of integrity. Do not be dishonest - it will always come back to bite you. Walk the walk and talk the talk. If you don't, your employer will find someone that will. Keep this in mind: people are always watching you to see how you will handle any and all situations. When your boss calls you in to discuss something, remember they will almost always know the truth and want to hear what you have to say. So tell the truth. Those who don’t can be terminated on the spot.


Avoiding these 6 pitfalls and misconceptions will help you solidify a long-term career in facilities management.

 

(Anderson Facilities Group, in addition to facilities management consulting, offers project management, vendor/ partner strategies and facilities maintenance solutions. Visit their website at www.AndersonFacilitiesGroup.com.)


 





 

 

 

Why You Should Start Shopping For The Best Customer Service Experience and Worry Less About Quality

Richard Anderson - Friday, November 27, 2015

In short, if you choose a company that prides itself on providing world-class service each and every time they service your account, the quality of their service will take care of itself. No company that prides itself on this level of customer service would think about providing anything less than the highest level of quality service. It's a win-win.


Too often, managers are so focused on finding the most qualified company they lose sight of the companies that provide the best overall customer service experience. Many companies provide quality service but lack prompt initial contact and timely follow up. How often do you find yourself contacting the "qualified" company repeatedly, wasting time better spent on other more pressing items, just to get one small project completed? Companies that value positive customer experiences make sure they keep their customers in the loop every step of the way, including follow up once the project is complete. If you find yourself hiring a qualified company that lacks customer service and follow up, it may be time for a change.

 

Here are 3 key factors to look for when hiring a company based on their level of customer service:

 

1. Does the company put expectations in writing? Always look for a company that will detail what you can expect when you hire them. Companies that are vague or do not provide details are typically unprepared to handle your business.

 

2. What is the company's response time? Companies all too often take their customers for granted and expect that since they provide quality service the customer will overlook their lack of attention to details such as prompt initial contact or timely follow up. Remember, a company that excels at the details will most likely excel in all areas of their business.

 

3. Is the company you hired a partner in your business or a company for hire? If the company you hire only responds when you call them, they are not doing enough to earn your business. 

 

They take your business for granted. A company that excels at the details and contacts you without being prompted is always looking for ways to take projects off your plate and increase their value to your company. These companies are partners in your business. What could you do with the time saved by not having to follow up and chase a company for updates? Didn't you hire them to reduce your stress level and ease your work load? If they don't value your business, it's time for a change.

 

Finding a company that takes care of the details, keeps you informed at every turn and provides a quality service is invaluable to any manager. Look for these companies and hire them repeatedly.

 

Anderson Facilities Group offers facilities management consulting and facilities maintenance to both the residential and commercial markets. For more information, visit their website at www.AndersonFacilitiesGroup.com.

Keeping Up The Facade

Richard Anderson - Thursday, November 26, 2015

When discussing the cleaning of a building's facade with a potential client, I often hear the objection "Ownership won't spend money on the cleaning of the building. 

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  • We know it is dirty and needs attention, but they won't spend money on anything that does not directly effect the common areas leading to their tenants' space." I then remind the potential client the exterior of the building is the first impression their tenant has of the space they are leasing. Furthermore, every building is a permanent billboard constantly selling their leasable space. The appearance of the building is the second most important investment for any owner, just behind their HVAC system (a tenant's comfort is priority #1).
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When a potential tenant visits a building, the first impression is the building's exterior. Is the building clean? Is the facade covered in dirt and mildew? Do the windows appear streaky and dirty? Do the first floor windows have calcium buildup from the sprinklers? Is the monument sign clean and in good condition? Are the sidewalks leading to the entrances clean and free of dirt and gum? Is the parking garage (where applicable) clean or covered in dirt and pollutants. So often, the building's appearance takes a back seat to the interior surfaces.
 
Maintaining a clean exterior appearance is easier than you would think. With regular maintenance and cleaning, the building's facade and surrounding exterior surfaces can look their best at all times.

 

  • Here are some important factors to remember when maintaining the exterior surfaces of a commercial building:
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  2.  - Aluminum mullions (window frames) should be cleaned and protected against potential pitting due to atmospheric contaminants to ensure longevity.
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  •  - Stone surfaces should be cleaned using appropriate chemicals (when applicable) and a water-based surface treatment applied to allow for breathability, allow for ease of routine cleaning and protect from harmful pollutants.
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  •  - Glass should be free of streaking caused by repeated runoff of hard water which carries calcium and other harmful minerals. These minerals will eat away at the surface of the glass and gradually cause the glass to appear "etched". Make sure to hire an experienced professional to remove the "etching" from the glass. There is a cost associated with this process, however, it is far less than replacing the affected windows.
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  •  - Metal surfaces of entrances should be cleaned and protected (paint or clear lacquer) against potential pitting due to atmospheric contaminants and regular wear and tear from constant use.
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By addressing each of these items above, you will provide each of your current and potential tenants with a building they can be proud to call their professional home.

 

Anderson Facilities Group provides facilities maintenance services such as (but not limited to) window cleaning, carpet cleaning, pressure cleaning, floor care, plumbing, electrical, architectural restoration and facade cleaning. For more information contact AFG at Solutions@AndersonFacilitiesGroup.com.

 


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Anderson Facilities Group

126 E. Wing St

Suite 203

Arlington Heights, IL 60004

 

Phone: (847) 224-5681

Email: Solutions@AndersonFacilitiesGroup.com

 

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