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Just like every other facet of the retail business, facilities management has felt the effects of the economic downturn as retailers struggle to keep their stores up to standards while at the same time keeping maintenance costs in line. Bryan Wynen, president of South Bend, Ind.-based SpringWise, formerly called Genesis Facility Management, talked with Chain Store Age senior editor Katherine Field about the state of the industry and ways to make smart facilities decisions in a tight economy.

When you look at facility management overall, what do you see as positive—and, conversely, negative—trends? 

On the positive side, we are seeing data- and fact-driven decision making. Technology improvements over the past decade allow us to capture, store and analyze information at a much more efficient rate. Although technology improvements in general have been adapted slowly industry-wide, many companies are capturing data on service ratings, equipment performance, useful life cycles, operating cost and even spending per service, location and more.

How is this beneficial? 

Once this information is captured, it can be harnessed to make educated and informed decisions, which in the end are more beneficial for companies.

What have you seen on the negative side? 

Commoditization of services. In the facility-management industry, we have witnessed a large number of decision makers purchasing services based upon price alone. When a customer does not understand the difference and value between similar competing professional services, then price becomes the only deciding factor. Whether you are talking about facility services, IT services or any other service, a critical error can be made when decisions are made on price alone.

What should customers base decisions on, besides price? 

We believe there are a number of important mind-sets that should be ingrained in every service purchaser’s subconscious: Make no compromise on quality; expect value; speed plus connectivity plus communication is an equation that has totally changed behaviors, and must be considered; and, aligning resources and opportunities will never change—rather, what should be evaluated are the company, its people and their proficiencies.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be? 

The biggest opportunity for improvement in the industry is how fragmented both the retailer and service-provider sides of the business are. Decisions are made at every level throughout the industry on the retailer side. On the vendor side, there are several different business models, some based on service (regional, full outsourcing, self-performance vs. brokerage, etc.). This makes it challenging for both retailer and service providers to gather information and make informed decisions.

How would you change that? 

One of the biggest challenges is finding the right decision makers in the facility-management industry. Conversely, most facility managers will tell you they have difficulty finding, screening and sourcing service providers. If the industry was less fragmented, we would all be able to make better business decisions and, ultimately, provide higher-quality facility-management services at a lower price to the facility manager, thus reducing the expense burden placed on the consumer.

You recently re-launched Genesis Facility Management as SpringWise. What was the purpose? 

It was a difficult decision to change the name and rebrand the company, but ultimately we felt the name SpringWise and the new brand platform better expressed our role as facilities-service providers; to be our clients’ eyes and ears and to “act fast, think faster.”

We believe that taking a proactive, on-demand approach to each and every job is the only way to ensure and protect the role of our clients’ facilities in their business.

What do you mean by “on demand” with regard to your business? 

Whether recurring/preventive maintenance or reactive repairs, we approach every job with a fresh perspective and then have the mind-set and capabilities to handle whatever situation we face.

And how exactly do you do that? 

Rather than simply processing orders, we take a holistic approach as part of the work flow, involving diagnosis, execution and follow-up. Moreover, we created a company structure specially designed to support it: flat organizational design; empowered single point of contact; “Self Performance Plus” service model, which comprises carefully selected vendor partners who enable us to bring the best combination of expertise, reach, responsiveness and cost efficiency to any given job; and, finally, technology and data-driven decisions, allowing us to capture, store, and analyze information at a much more efficient rate.

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