Professionalism in Facilities Services

Insight into a key factor in how executives evaluate FMs and contractors

The quality of facilities operations and maintenance services is often the primary criterion by which customers judge the entire facilities management department. Providing those services is an essential responsibility for both facilities personnel and key contractors. While the facilities manager can measure the performance of operations and maintenance services, corporate executives may gauge your success by the customers’ perception of those services as they make downsizing and outsourcing decisions that impact the performance of the property as an asset.

Facilities management employees and contractors in their role as service providers can enhance the customers’ perception of facilities services personnel through use of the following:

  • proper identification
  • emergency and routine response standards
  • appropriate demeanor and conduct
  • ethical standards
  • proper attire

Proper Identification

All personnel should wear some form of identification, such as a nametag or photo identification card, particularly if the customer places special emphasis on security. Proper identification contributes to customers’ confidence and comfort level with the service delivery staff. Very affordable software programs, along with high tech color printers and laminating machines, make producing security badges easy. Within minutes, full color badges, complete with text and bar code information, can be fabricated and presented to the service provider.

Emergency and Routine Response Standards

Job descriptions and/or contract specifications should clearly define emergency operations. Emergency operations plans may require overtime; mandatory participation on emergency response teams such as incipient firefighting; and, in certain instances, special OSHA-defined fire brigades or spill response teams, and bomb threat search team participation.

Expected response times should also be defined in addition to the process used within the facilities management department to refer problems to the next higher level when immediate resolution is not possible. Job descriptions must emphasize linkage between the worker’s service ethic when dealing with the customer and the worker’s salary, benefits, and compensation arrangements.

Appropriate Demeanor and Conduct

More than any other function, service providers interact with all levels of management and workers, and on a recurring basis. If ever there was a function that can positively reinforce or negatively taint corporate opinion about the facilities management group, service providers, or facilities workers, are it.

Facilities workers should be aware of acceptable responses to customer complaints or problems. Facilities managers should provide written guidelines for dealing with upset or angry customers. Because facilities management departments often outsource operations and maintenance services, customers often cannot distinguish contractors from facilities personnel. Every contract involving on-site contractors should contain provisions regarding customer service. Moreover, the contractor’s employees must understand that their customers include both the facilities management department customers and the department itself.

Ethical Standards

All operations related personnel, whether in-house or outsourced, must understand the ethical standards expected of them. If not described elsewhere, such as in human resources policy manuals, a code of ethics and conduct should be included in the job description. Compliance with the ethical code should be reviewed annually by the individuals as part of their appraisal process and updated to reflect new circumstances that develop. Included should be the policy on substance abuse, sexual harassment, dishonesty, relationships with contractors and suppliers, and the acceptance of gifts and gratuities. If union represented personnel are employed at the site, the contract should address issues of customer service ethics.

Proper Attire

The professional image of workers who deliver services is important. Grooming and dress code policies should be defined in writing and explained to personnel when they are hired. Standards for seasonal uniforms, if worn, should also be specified in the policies and procedure manual. Typically, staffs that perform the following non-management functions should wear uniforms.

  • mechanical maintenance/engineering personnel
  • security guards
  • day porters or maids
  • janitorial personnel
  • voice and data service providers
  • moving and furniture vendors

The dress code policy should also set standards for other non-management personnel such as clerks, receptionists, and administrative assistants. Management personnel should wear business attire. In some instances, business casual attire is acceptable for these positions. However, the standards should define precisely what encompasses business casual and when it is appropriate to wear.

Studies have consistently demonstrated that customers judge workers by the way they present themselves. Through professionalism, you can help ensure a positive perception for your facilities services team.

More information on this topic is available from the BOMI International course Fundamentals of Facilities Management, part of the FMA® designation program. More information regarding this course and BOMI International’s education programs is available by calling 800-235-2664. Visit BOMI International’s website, www.bomi.org.