By Michael Cowley
Is this the year you'll finally market your department effectively? If your response to this question is, "Why in the world would anyone want to — or for that matter, need to — sell the value of their department's performance?" then listen up.
Over the years, many organizations have asked me to help them outsource maintenance and engineering. The type of institutional or commercial facility in question does not matter. Top executives still have in the backs of their minds that outsourcing is a better way to go.
In every case, I ask them, "Why do you want to outsource maintenance?" After pulling some teeth, they answer the department costs money, and department managers can never explain the value the maintenance team brings to the organization. As top executives have said for years, "The maintenance organization is out of sight and out of mind."
Part of the problem is managers are maintenance people. You know you are good and bring value to the organization. The problem is you never communicate or advertise this value to management. You never — OK, rarely — brag, boost, or publish graphs or posters promoting your department's role in making the company more profitable.
A mechanic might brag when he works 16 hours straight fixing an HVAC unit that died on a Sunday night, and he might get praise for the accomplishment. But top executives also think, "If he had taken care of it in the first place, none of this would have happened."
If you want to save your department, its employees, and possibly your career, you have to generate support for larger investments in maintenance projects and programs. You need to learn how to communicate and market your department's value to the organization so when the CEO looks at the budget and scrolls down to the operation and maintenance line items, the reaction is, "Wow, what a great value!"