Tips for Dealing with Facility Budget Cuts

A facility manager dealing with facility budget cuts

Written By: Betty White

There are times when you have to make do with a budget cut and keep the facility running. In fact, budget cuts are the first line of defense when budget makers face problems. Hence, managing tight budgets is inevitable at some point in your career as a facility manager. It is useful to keep in mind a few strategies for dealing with facility budget cuts if this situation ever comes your way.

A facility manager plays an essential role in keeping the facility running and maintaining employee morale. The facility’s condition can significantly influence the facility’s productivity, presentability, and reputation. In line with this, facility managers benefit from knowing how to navigate a budget cut creatively and responsibly.

Prepare for the Budget Cut in Advance

Developing a management strategy well ahead of time can help you manage the facility in case of facility budget cuts. In fact, not having a streamlined version of the maintenance program prepared could result in significant financial losses. In order words, the “reactive”, on-the-fly restructuring of your operations might slow down their implementation.

You may need to organize emergency repairs or rent cleaning equipment unexpectedly. This could cost you more than you can afford, especially if it happens during a budget cut. Consider that some more significant problems such as heating functionality or power outages may even put the facility to a complete standstill. In this sense, the facility you manage could lose so much more money than it would save with the budget cut.

A person taking a screwdriver out of a toolbox

Replacing the HVAC filter, for example, is much more costly than paying for its maintenance and cleaning. Particularly during the holiday season when contractors and handymen charge extra for their services. Sometimes it might even happen that you cannot find or afford to find someone who will fix the problem. Therefore…

Problem Prevention in the Facility is Key

It makes sense to anticipate potential problems and mend them even before they occur. An experienced facility manager will know that preventative fixes and replacements are the most efficient way to pull through a budget cut. In that sense, you should invest in preventative maintenance, even if you are facing budget restrictions.

Have All the Numbers Ready to Dial

Establish which services you can call if something unplanned happens. Even if the facility never experienced issues related to, for example, air ventilation, who’s to say they won’t occur during a budget cut? Your job as a facility manager is to have all the necessary phone numbers so that you can contact the services you might need in the future.

And not only that. It is necessary to establish a workable relationship with the service providers even before you may need their help. The company may have to move to another facility, either permanently or temporarily. You should be able to contact a moving company that will ensure all adequate packing of expensive items for a reasonable price you have settled on before the actual move. Since the facility’s operation will depend on the availability of the furnishings and equipment, you have to find inexpensive ways to keep them protected. However, for this to work, you need to devise a workable maintenance strategy that will account for planned, corrective, and emergency facility maintenance projects.

A facility manager talking on the phone
You need to have a list of trustworthy service providers to keep the facility running during a budget cut.

Try to See the Budget Cut as an Opportunity to Improve

Budget managers are no strangers to proposing drastic financing changes pointed at facility management. One course of action you can undertake is to observe a budget cut as a challenge that will make you more resourceful rather than as an insurmountable obstacle. How, you may ask? Well, these kinds of circumstances usually drive us to get out of our comfort zone. Hence, you will have to think of ways to ration the finances and supplies that you have at the moment.

In other words, you will have to make a judgment call and decide what is necessary and what you can do without. Furthermore, it may instigate you to make your decisions more quickly and critically. For instance, you may ask more probing questions when hiring a commercial cleaning company. Or you might figure out a way to schedule cleaning and maintenance of the facility much more efficiently.

In sum, it is not that desperate times call for desperate measures in the world of facility management. It would be much more accurate to say that desperate times call for flexibility and innovation.

Streamline the Maintenance Program for the Budget Cut Regularly

Make sure you make a tenable maintenance program at the start of every fiscal year. You can use software to document and schedule preventative measures, orders, invoices and incurred costs. Having a clear overview of the history of facility maintenance and the current budget allows greater command over spending.

A facility manager calculating and writing down facility budget cuts
Making an overview of facility management spending will help you deal with facility budget cuts.

Keeping everything organized and transparent in this way will also be favorable for establishing a good relationship with the CEOs or CFOs of the facility. A detailed digital report of quarterly or yearly maintenance costs and an anticipatory maintenance program for the following year will give the management a heads up on when they can allow themselves a budget cut. Hence, this kind of foresight will make dealing with facility budget cuts much easier.