Linking Facilities to Business Success

By Dan Hounsell  

Many people have an opinion on the connection between facility conditions and an organization’s image and success. For most, their opinion rests largely on what you might call faith. They believe what they believe, but solid proof one way or the other has been hard to find.

Until now. And the news is good for those who believe in the importance of facility conditions and maintenance.

According to report released in May and sponsored by the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers (APPA), about 74 percent of students cited facilities related to their majors as extremely or very important in choosing a college.

About one-half of the more than 16,000 respondents cited other academic-oriented facilities, including the library, technology, and classrooms. Residence halls were a key part of the selection process for 42 percent of students.

The report, The Impact of Facilities on Recruitment and Retention of Students, offers more good news for maintenance.

It is true, the report’s authors write, that “nearly three out of 10 students spurned a college because it lacked a facility they thought was important,” especially buildings to support their major. But building maintenance is almost as important a factor in the decision.

“Inadequate or poorly maintained facilities, particularly dormitories, were factors almost as important as the absence of a facility,” the authors write. “Twenty-six percent of respondents rejected an institution because an important facility was inadequate, and 16.6 percent nixed a college because an important facility was poorly maintained.”

For managers in higher education, the report offers some new support for ongoing debates.

“Long-range planning for new construction and the repair and replacement of existing facilities must be a guiding principle within the context of the institution’s strategic plans and overall academic mission,” writes one of the authors.

But the report’s impact doesn’t need to end with higher education.

Managers in health care organizations, commercial office buildings, and hospitality and retail facilities also face an uphill battle in demonstrating the link between their departments’ activities and organizational success.

In any business facing heavy competition for customers, the survey offers managers the best evidence yet that investing in maintenance can pay bottom-line benefits.

Finally, the study also can serve to remind managers of an old lesson that often goes overlooked. To separate perception from reality in the debate over the role of maintenance and engineering, ask the customer.

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  posted on 7/1/2006   Article Use Policy

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