Sunday, July 31, 2016

Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty: Maintenance Basics

Your physical space is your public face. It is the first thing your stakeholders see when they walk in the door. You need to treat it with respect and care and pride. You need to keep it in good shape for today - and plan for tomorrow. 

Here's where to start:
  • Standard maintenance and cleaning schedule: Determine how often your space needs cleaning, based on usage, and be prepared to schedule extra cleanings after special events. And know that a good cleaning person (or company) is a must. When you find one, treat them with reasonable pay, loving care, and lots of gratitude.
  • Long-term maintenance schedule and budget: Take the time to map out a comprehensive timetable for important maintenance tasks that will need to be taken care of quarterly or yearly or in 25 years. Proactive maintenance can prevent the unexpected and save you money over time.
  • Capital reserve fund: Be strategic in building a reserve fund that will provide money for everything from replacement of computer systems (typically every three years) to a new roof (every 25 years). Establish a specific board-designated fund, and set aside a carefully calculated sum of money each month so you'll be ready when the time comes along.
Your map should designate who, what and when plus cost estimates for maintenance, repairs, and replacement. Be sure to include:
  • Exterior and landscaping: Mowing, tree pruning, weeding, major tree work, irrigation systems, roof replacement, exterior lighting, painting and repair of exterior walls
  • Interior: Window washing, floor refinishing, plumbing, carpet cleaning and replacement, painting and repair of interior walls, electrical systems, indoor lighting
  • Equipment and appliances: Appliances, water heaters, furnaces, stoves, refrigerators, computers, sound and lighting systems, audio-visual equipment
  • Health and safety: fire extinguishers, exit signs, first aid kits
And these are four important tools to keep your maintenance schedule on track:
  • Use a calendar program: Take the time to input your schedule, with email reminders, into whatever calendar program you have. This will be time-consuming the first time around, but I promise it's worth it.
  • Set up computer and paper files: Make sure all information is clearly filed and labeled. Staff changes over time, and files can get lost when you upgrade your computers; you want to be sure any newcomer can actually find this information after a transition.
  • Assess annually: Designate a committee to review and update your maintenance schedule every year.
  • Contractor list: Keep a list of all contractors and companies you use for repairs, ongoing maintenance, and annual inspections including contact person, phone numbers, and email.
It's prudent fiscal management to take care of your nonprofit home - make it an organizational priority.

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