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August 21, 2013 -
Today's tip from Building Operating Management: Facility managers can justify funding by building relationships with senior executives.
Long before you even consider putting pen to paper on a formal proposal for a facility project, there are several steps to be taken that can help stack the deck in favor of getting the money you need. Basically, success or failure comes down to credibility. Stormy Friday, president of The Friday Group, gives a succinct summary of what needs to be done to begin earning that credibility: "Be out and about. Build relationships. Be visible. Build bridges. Know who the upper managers rely on and trust, and go to them first. Campaign. Get friendly with their administrative assistants — they'll be the ones who get you on the calendar."
At first blush, that may sound overwhelming, but if you really think about it, those are all strategies that should be standard operating procedure for facility managers, regardless of whether or not they're about to ask for money.
Friday says she thinks the key to stacking the deck in favor of a "yes" is simply having a personal relationship beyond presenter/listener. "I really believe in the 'accidental bump-ins,'" she says. "Have a sense of when executives will be in the elevator, and literally have your one-minute elevator speech ready."
The "accidental bump-in" is a good time just to plumb their top managers' opinions, says Cooke. In other words, you shouldn't even mention you're about to propose something formally. "Talk to them just to get their opinion without any pressure," he says. "Ask them, 'Hey, what do you think about renewable energy?' Find out what they're passionate about. Try to understand them. Find out what makes them tick."
Friday suggests finding out if senior executives have their own role models or organization they've modeled parts of the company after. And then research what those other organizations are doing and how you can incorporate some of those strategies into your own plans.