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The customer is always right, goes the age-old rule of business. In the case of the Howard County (Md.) Public School System, the customers might not have known just how right they were, nor how much impact their voices would have.
In 2009, the district’s maintenance department knew there were problems in some of the district’s 80 facilities containing 10 million square feet of interior space, says Herb Savje, the department’s manager. Annual stakeholder surveys confirmed the problems: Comfort issues were a leading concern among building occupants.
“We were taking a look at improvement opportunities the surveys showed us,” Savje says. “What the customers were asking for was quality work on time with great communication. They wanted us to communicate where we were on the work. The other thing we look at all the time is budgets, so we were looking to run more energy-efficient buildings and reduce overall energy costs. To do that, we knew we had to tune our equipment and systems better.”
The department spotlighted its efforts to improve performance in its entry for the FMD Achievement Awards in 2012.
Preventive Maintenance: Shifting a Department's Focus Pays Big Dividends