How to advocate for budget for signage maintenance

by FM Media
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If signage is degraded or damaged, the perception of your brand may be severely impacted, not to mention that unmaintained signage may become a safety hazard. This is where Facilities Managers come in, holding an essential role in the signage world.

However, most Facilities Managers won’t be allocated adequate budget to maintain signage, due to maintenance often being an afterthought. These projects are usually run by other departments who do not always understand maintenance requirements and costs.

Here are a few ways Facilities Managers can make a case for more budget for signage maintenance.

Involve the correct stakeholders

By involving relevant stakeholders, Facilities Managers should be able to draw funds from multiple budgets, which means that getting funds assigned becomes easier. To do this, you should try to engage many stakeholders across departments including the brand management team and the safety manager.

Demonstrate the cost consequences of waiting

A sound business case will demonstrate the higher costs of taking a reactive approach, versus a proactive approach in relation to signage maintenance. Maintenance costs differ significantly across these two approaches.

For example, a reactive approach includes leaving signage maintenance until the last minute and responding to maintenance issues as they arise. This approach will see signs degrade at a quicker pace, and maintenance costs will accumulate and increase significantly over time. This creates risks in relation to positive brand image, as ageing, broken and damaged signs impact brand perception and sales.

In comparison, a proactive approach avoids  spiralling costs, as maintenance issues are anticipated prior to them occurring, allowing for them to be identified, addressed and fixed quickly. Through taking this approach, maintenance costs are much lower as they are incremental, and therefore, the damage does not worsen over time.

When comparing these two approaches, it is clear that taking a proactive approach in relation to the maintenance of signage will cost much less over time. Facilities Managers can use this comparison to help convince decision makers to allocate a maintenance budget upfront, rather than waiting until maintenance is needed.

Join the project team

Putting your hand up to join the project team may be easier said than done. However, if Facilities Managers can be involved in a signage project from the beginning, the process of requesting a budget for signage maintenance becomes much easier. 

Through being involved early on in the process, you can also weigh in on decisions around signage design and materials which can also help reduce maintenance costs in the long run. Facilities Managers can help the others in the team understand that by investing a little bit more on high quality signage materials upfront, the cost of maintenance in the future will be much less. Overall, Facilities Managers can help save money with their expertise and signage knowledge.

Signs are assets – treat them like one

Simply put, signs are assets and should be treated as such. When this has been made clear to decision makers, the requirement for maintenance (and an associated budget for maintenance) becomes clear. As a general rule, approximately five to ten percent of an asset’s value should be set aside annually for maintenance, according to asset management guidelines. Facilities Managers can use this percentage as both a guide and evidence to help decision makers understand how much budget should be allocated to signage maintenance, strengthening their budget allocation case.

Systemise signage maintenance

Signage maintenance should be systemised so that it’s clear exactly how the budget will be allocated. . To do this, Facilities Managers should demonstrate a clear program and strategy to maximise the longevity of signage. This will strengthen their case to allocate more budget.

A proactive signage maintenance program or strategy should include regular audits, a checklist process, processes for troubleshooting issues and robust asset management where data is captured and reported. An easy way of including these checks is to incorporate them into other regular checks which may already exist. These inclusions will ensure that signage maintenance issues do not worsen over time, reducing long-term costs significantly. For example, there will no longer be a need to pay for someone to come out and diagnose a problem each time an issue presents itself.

Predict and plan for different maintenance scenarios

Maintenance issues do not come with fixed costs, and therefore, can differ each time. Because decision makers often lack an understanding of the nuance of maintenance and its associated costs, it often results in them underestimating how much resolving an issue will actually cost. This can often leave Facilities Managers short on budget.

One way to solve this problem is to predict scenarios across all assets which will require maintenance. This can help estimate costs and show where budget deficiencies may exist. 

To do this efficiently, look at trends over time to determine how often different issues occur in different settings. From this basis, maintenance issues and costs can be predicted and planned for over the next 10+ years. Working backwards should give Facilities Managers a rough idea of an annual budget for signage maintenance. They can then use this data to help convince decision makers to allocate enough budget for signage maintenance.

Simply joining the conversation about the maintenance budget can help educate decision makers. Even if you aren’t allocated the correct budget immediately, it can kick off a process whereby everyone better understands and values maintenance, which improves the chances of being allocated funds down the track. 

Alan Hadley is the director of SignManager.

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