6,551 square miles
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Servicing facility needs for more than 20 departments is no small task – just ask Mike Turner, division director, facilities management, public works department, Washoe County, Reno, NV. It requires strong communication between the FM team and the wide variety of customers it serves. If there’s one area in which the Washoe County facilities management team excels, it’s outreach. The team’s customer-service guide is just one small example of how it keeps its customers informed. “[It] tells our customers how to use us, what services we provide, how to contact us, and how we do business,” explains Turner.
Achieving a strong reputation among – and healthy relationship with – customers requires proactively addressing problems, instigating regular communication, and promoting FM initiatives. While facilities management may be what you do, conscientious relationship management will help you do it even better.
Four years ago, the creation of facility task forces also helped manage expectations and increase communication between the FM team and representatives from some of the county’s largest departments. When one of the biggest customers – the sheriff’s complex – expressed dissatisfaction with the level of service it was getting from Turner’s team, Turner swiftly gathered an internal group of representatives to meet monthly. “We’ve got a 1,500-bed prison; it’s a 24-hour operation, and we have a lot of pressure from that group to perform,” he says. While he admits that skeptics were hesitant to believe that the task force would improve the relationship, what resulted has laid their doubts to rest. “It was tremendously successful for our staff and our customers,” explains Turner. What began as an informal list of complaints has now evolved to a formal agenda of status updates.
The success of this task force led to the development of others; now, members of the FM team meet monthly with representatives from the county’s courts, as well as the social services and parks departments. “These are big departments. We don’t [conduct formal meetings] with every little department, because we have more one-on-one interaction with a lot of them,” he says.
To further increase visibility, Turner contributes an article each month to the county newsletter, often providing tips and advice on energy conservation. To get more help from customers on meeting energy-management goals, Turner’s team communicates consumption data to building occupants in particular facilities. These monthly energy scorecards provide a short commentary and show a year-to-year comparison of electricity use in a facility. “We’re trying to engage the users in our various buildings to be more involved with us in energy conservation, because there’s a big behavioral component to it,” says Turner. While this is a relatively new initiative, the hope is that building occupants will begin to realize the impact of turning off lights and computers, and setpoints for temperature control.