Prevention is always better than cure
With the importance of quality hydration long acknowledged and accepted, most facility managers already understand the advantages of having instant filtered drinking water systems installed in their premises.
What they may not be so aware of, however, is that, as with any piece of equipment or technology, regular service and filter cartridge replacements are required to ensure that the system is always working at optimal levels, providing quality water and faultless ongoing performance.
It makes sense. Facility managers expect their appliances to work and work without fail. They don’t need the distraction or inconvenience of appliance failure. In some industries, of course, this actually can be more than an inconvenience. In the healthcare industry, for example, a working instant filtered water system can be critical for the delivery of services.
This is where a sensible scheduled maintenance plan comes into play. Rather than ad hoc reactive maintenance, a scheduled plan means that servicing and filter replacement take place automatically, removing the need for yet another commitment to factor into a busy week. It’s one less task facility managers have to focus on – which is always welcome.
There are facility and property managers who will struggle off the bat to understand why regular maintenance is so important. After all, they don’t have to have such plans in place for their regular taps. But filtered units are a very different proposition to regular taps. They are far more complex pieces of equipment, with both electronic and functional components. Rather than comparing them to general plumbing, a better comparison would be to the office photocopier, which needs regular maintenance and the replacement of consumables, such as a toner, or a premium coffee machine.
If you buy such a piece of equipment you follow a detailed list of instructions on cleaning and descaling, so that you can continue to enjoy great coffee. Or think of it like this: would you buy an expensive car and not get it regularly serviced?
Any good service provider will offer several layers of service, so that facility managers
are able to pick the plan that works best for their needs. The biggest misconception with scheduled maintenance plans is that they will cost more money. But sensibly priced plans will generally offer significant discounts on ad hoc repairs or standard servicing rates.
The most simple and basic plan could be solely the regular postal delivery of replacement cartridges, which can then be installed at the customer’s own discretion. This plan has several advantages including reduced labour costs (as the filter replacement is carried out by the customer themselves), free postage and a fast turnaround, with the periodic supply of filters meaning that the replacement is ready to be used as soon as it is needed. This also means less downtime for the system.
A conscientious provider will also always have a customer care team on hand to offer full technical support and advice whenever it may be needed.
Facility managers looking for the next level of service could sign up for a plan where a trained service technician replaces the filter cartridge, performs a health check on the unit and makes minor adjustments. The ultimate level of service is comprehensive maintenance, where the provider commits to performing preventative maintenance and servicing, and performs ad hoc repairs if required. If you find a provider that is also able to service other filtered water manufacturers’ products, they become a ‘one- stop shop’, saving facility managers time and offering genuine convenience.
An oft-voiced objection to scheduled maintenance plans is that facility and property managers don’t like to be locked into contracts, especially when they don’t know how frequently the unit will need servicing. But reputable providers of service maintenance schedules will offer contracts that can be amended to suit your requirements.
Facility managers may also believe that they are quite capable of carrying out any maintenance work themselves. This may be true, but when the facility manager’s time and labour costs are factored in, plus the costs of having solenoids changed as an ad hoc service, this becomes less attractive and, possibly, a more expensive option.
Above all, a scheduled maintenance plan is an advantage come budget time, as a single scheduled annual payment means less paperwork, less time spent and, above all, no unforeseen payments throwing budget projections into disarray later in the year.
Janine Wiedermann heads up the After Sales division at Billi. She was previously a strategy consultant and head of Trust and Safety, Account Management and Customer Service at eBay Australia.
This article also appears in the February/March issue of Facility Management magazine.