— By Tom Coble —
How facility managers can improve the performance of their roofs without increasing spend.
We’re at an exciting time in the national commercial roofing industry (yes, I said “exciting” and “roofing” in the same sentence) — especially as it applies to the level of service experienced by consumers. Whereas retail and restaurant facilities managers used to stay awake at night wondering how they could find a roofing partner that could give them at least an average level of service and project management across their disparate locations, they almost uniformly can now expect good to great service from almost any national player. Service excellence has almost become the bare minimum for entry into the market, and that’s a great thing for the consumer. But how does the retail and restaurant FM now build on this to improve the performance of his or her roofs without increasing spend? The answer is simple: data.
Having someone you can count on to show up in a reasonable time and perform quality work creates great peace of mind. And I’m happy to say that in looking around the industry, there are many organizations who do a really good job of it. But it’s still a reactionary gambit, and we all know that when we’re in react mode, we’re not really gaining on anything. We’re just keeping things from getting worse. And that comes at a cost.
Restaurants and stores today already make heavy use of data at the front-of-house. For example, every transaction that occurs through a restaurant’s POS system is housed, measured and analyzed so that corporate strategists can make informed decisions on delighting customers and growing business. Data mined from POS transactions can help with customer profiling, operations improvement, staffing optimization, table turnover, sales forecasting, customer lifetime value and repeat customer trends. This data is vital to the business success of each and every restaurant across a chain. So why not employ the same methods for the back-of-house or, in the case of roofing, “top-of-house.”
Having reliable data across one’s entire roof portfolio eliminates guesswork and allows for more informed decisions to be made. Without data, an FM must rely upon tacit knowledge, or anecdotal evidence — not always the most accurate method. Or they can pull work order history to see what roofs leak the most — an exercise that can also be misleading. But analyzing data specific to each roof area across an entire portfolio allows for clear-cut prioritization of which roofs need to be replaced and which don’t. With client operations input (i.e., which buildings might not have their leases renewed) an accurate ranking can be put in place that will allow for happier retail/restaurant managers, employees and customers — not to mention significantly less stressed FMs.
There is a common misconception in the facilities maintenance world that the roof that leaks the most is always the one that should be replaced first. This can be the case, but it is not always the case. By having reliable and detailed data, an FM can home in on specific roof areas. Sometimes the performance of that super-leaky roof can be greatly improved with a long term repair. Getting 5 or more quality years out of a roof by spending less than 10% of what a new roof would cost is virtually always a good move. But the only way one can make this type of decision with confidence is by relying upon robust and complete information. The data points the way.
When the data does indicate that a new roof is needed, historical data on building type, roof configuration and geographic location can allow for the optimal new roof solution, from roof type to the actual scope of work. Instead of applying a one-size-fits-all type approach, the analytics can point to the exact right application for a specific building in a specific place. Again, it removes the guesswork and allows for informed and confident decision-making. Ultimately it makes for a successful solution on a vitally important part of the building for years to come.
In addition to benefiting the multi-site FM and his or her organization, data analytics help roofing contractors — the producers — conduct their business more effectively. If contractors can more efficiently and intelligently do their jobs, and retail and restaurant chains can improve the performance of their roofs while reducing their total cost of ownership, then everyone succeeds. One could say that data provides the soil for a rich ecosystem where producers and consumers equally thrive.
Today marks an interesting point in the evolution of commercial roofing. With the service component by and large figured out industry-wide, the evident next step is to get smarter and more informed. Building, managing and analyzing data is the way to make this happen. And the beauty of data is that the more of it that is accumulated, the more reliable it is. With an ever-increasing sample size, the decisions get more and more informed. And facility managers are able work smarter and thus continually drive more value to their properties.
— Tom Coble is vice president, ecosystem, with Pegnato Roof Intelligence Network (www.pegnato.com), a digital roofing platform that connects national, multi-site companies with high-quality local contractors, utilizing data analytics to achieve the lowest total cost of ownership across clients’ roof portfolios. You may reach him at [email protected].