Feature Article - October 2005
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One Stone at a Time

Tips for building your proactive maintenance plan

By Kelli Anderson

Good accounting

A second key step toward proactive practices is finding out what money actually needs to be spent to complete a maintenance task to the acceptable standard. To this end, workload cost tracking needs to be developed. This is an essential maintenance tool no manager's toolbox should be without. Workload cost tracking helps managers understand what costs are needed for efficient, effective maintenance as well as foresee what will be needed for that inevitable financial "rainy day" such as major equipment repairs or replacement.

By tracking the costs of maintenance in man (people) hours, equipment use and expendable supplies, a manager can begin to develop a site-specific maintenance plan and begin the transformation to a more proactive mentality.

"The maintenance plan serves as a backbone for successful and accountable park maintenance operations," Payne says.

Not only does understanding management costs enable a manager to stop operating crisis-to-crisis, but having clearly understood costs on paper will persuade those in the financial driver's seat to invest beyond just bricks and mortar to park operations as well. Being able to plan for pool painting or floor resurfacing or parking-lot repairs can be part of a long-term vision rather than a scramble for funding when cracks, dull finishes or potholes become a common complaint from patrons.

Better yet, become part of the planning process for future projects with the architects and equipment vendors so that you can determine the life cycle of a product or learn what inspection/maintenance needs will be required.

Setting goals

Another foundational step toward a proactive mindset is setting goals around which all other standards and checklists should revolve. Having goals will help you prioritize and then phase in those most important maintenance practices as you are able to afford them. For most facilities, safety is probably the number-one goal, but there are certainly others that follow a close second that help define the facility's direction.

For the highly-rated Odetah Campground in Bozrah, Conn., lauded by such reviewers as Wheelers, Woodall's and Frommer's, its popularity has been maintained in its 80-year-history thanks to its dogged adherence to a single mantra.

"We have a goal to never have a campsite looked camped on," says David Plotkin, maintenance manager. "Attention to detail is what we most stress—cleanliness is what campers notice and it's what keeps them coming back."

That never-been-camped-on goal translates into standards of cleanliness and appearance that keep trash where it belongs, grass cut, weeds banished and flowers always watered. Staffers will not hesitate to pick up a piece of trash whether it's part of their twice-daily litter check or not.