Food & Beverage Manufacturers: When Did You Last Re-Evaluate Your Facility Services Program?

No matter what your current facility services program is, it’s always a good time to take a look at your facility maintenance program to anticipate problems before they become crises.

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Meeting productions goals is likely your biggest concern, but in order to do that, you need to focus on keeping your facility running effectively and efficiently. As technology, regulations and consumer tastes have changed, you may have responded by making incremental changes to the way you maintain your facilities over the years.

But now is a good time to look at your program holistically. Is it time to consider outsourcing to help you reach your goals? Or, if you already outsource, is it time to think about switching providers or integrating your facility services with one company? Here’s what to consider when you're re-evaluating your facility services program.

What to Consider If You’re Thinking About Outsourcing

If you’re not already working with an outsourced vendor to maintain your facilities, there are several good reasons to consider it. Staffing and service quality are two primary factors to consider when transitioning to outsourcing.

Staffing

When your sanitors, technicians and other maintenance personnel are hired in-house, that places the burden of managing those employees on you. Retaining in-house employees is expensive, and your facility services staff is no exception. While they play an integral role in keeping your facility running well, they don’t directly contribute to your core business functions. However, they still require administrative oversight, as well as training and management.

Some businesses are hesitant to outsource because they see their facility services staff as a key part of the team. They worry that an outside vendor will let go of their current staff and hire less experienced workers for lower pay or subcontract the work out to companies that don’t meet their standards. That results in higher turnover, which negatively impacts service quality and a sense of familiarity among the people working in your facility.

While those fears are rooted in some truth — some facility services companies are more likely to use subcontractors or compensate their workers poorly — there are many providers who understand the value of high quality staff. The key is to find a provider that shares your commitment to having content, long-term employees. In fact, many providers will work to transition your personnel to their payroll, so your facility is serviced by familiar faces.

Service Quality

Every facility has its own unique challenges. In food processing facilities, those challenges can be more acute due to regulatory pressure and consumer demands. Having in-house staff allows you to have a sense of control over the quality of work they do. You can screen, train and supervise them according to your own requirements. Your standard operating procedures can be tailored to your facility, and you have full transparency into every aspect of your maintenance program.

However, keeping up with all of those aspects takes time and energy away from your core business goals. Facility maintenance providers with experience in food processing environments understand the regulatory, safety and other challenges you face. They can bring best practices and quality control procedures that maintain or even improve the current level of service.

Choosing to outsource isn’t a simple decision. Is your facility currently being serviced at the levels that you require? Are you trying to implement innovative ideas or sustainable practices, both of which could be bolstered by outside consultation? Do you believe that the time and resources you spend on facility maintenance could be better used elsewhere? Do you have time for a proposal process? Weigh these concerns against your business goals to find the right solution for you.

Making a Change With Your Current Outsourced Provider

If you’re already outsourcing, is it time to make a change? There are two things to consider in this regard: switching providers and integrating multiple services with one company.

Switching Providers

When you’re caught up in the day-to-day management of your facility, it’s easy to accept the status quo. Maybe your current facility services provider isn’t working as well as you’d like, but you’re concerned with other matters and let it slide. The pitfall of this thinking is that you may have to scramble to change providers when a crisis comes along.

How is your current provider doing when it comes to inspections? Are they helping you meet your business goals, like sustainability? How are their workers integrating with yours? Do they employ standard operating procedures that enhance service quality and allow you to keep costs under control? If you feel like your current provider is only meeting the bare minimum of your needs, it may be time to look for a different vendor.

With the Food Safety Modernization Act in effect, your sanitation program is more important than ever. You need a provider that is not only well-versed in the new requirements, but one that can act as a consultant when you need it.

Consolidating Services With One Vendor

Another consideration for companies that already outsource is consolidation of services. When you outsource multiple services — sanitation, HVAC, electrical and lighting, etc. — from different vendors, you have to manage relationships with multiple providers. You have to juggle numerous bills and points of contact, and keep them all on the same page when production fluctuates or you plan to alter your operations. There is a better way to handle this situation — outsource all of your facility services with one vendor.

A vendor with expertise in every facet of facility management will allow you to streamline your facility services program. And if they offer you one point of contact, you’ll spend more time on meeting production demands. Integrating your facility services with one provider allows you to increase efficiencies and consolidate billing, reporting and other administrative functions. The provider can perform consistent training and establish best practices across the board. They can also help you take a holistic approach to reaching your business goals. Imagine how beneficial it would be to have an integrated plan for improving sustainability or employee safety training.

No matter what your current facility services program is, it’s always a good time to take a look at your facility maintenance program to anticipate problems before they become crises. Your customers, regulators and other stakeholders expect high-quality products, and they don’t always know what it takes to meet their needs behind the scenes. Take some of the pressure off by re-evaluating your facility services program from time to time.

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