Maintenance for Small Business

There is a lot of information out there for growing a Maintenance organization and improving systems.  Maintenance has become an ever-expanding field of science and engineering.  And that makes sense.  We are dealing with equipment here, and equipment (even though we often personify it) is predictable.  Those “mood swings” that the air compressor goes through are symptoms of a problem that we haven’t been able to figure out, yet.

So what happens if you are a small company and you don’t know how to build your Maintenance organization, let alone grow it with your business?  The problem with all of the information out there is that it assumes you have a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) and many times that is not available for a smaller organization that is simply worried about the cash flow needed to make it to next month.

Well, good news.  The simple fact is that if you do some relatively easy things you can help to improve that cash flow by reducing unnecessary maintenance expenses and increasing equipment availability (the ultimate goal of a Maintenance program).

1)     Make Lists – A CMMS is a fancy spreadsheet with reminders.  Excel and Outlook can be combined to do almost the same thing.  Start by making lists of your equipment and what you do on a regular basis.  This will get you started.

2)     Call your OEM – The Original Equipment Manufacturer can give you the recommendations for the work needed on your equipment.  It may not be exactly right for your application or use, but it gets you started.

3)     Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Start off with the big items; the items that make your business money.  What is unique to your operation?  What can I not live without?  What has big costs and expensive downtime?  These are leading questions to get you to start focusing on the right things.

4)     Hire the Talent – People are what run a Maintenance program.  Yes, systems are important, but people make it happen.  A knowledgeable mechanic is more valuable than any software system.  If you can’t hire people directly, look for contractors that can support you.

5)     Build Relationships – Part of any good program is good leadership.  Make sure that you can count on your people and that they can count on you.  Also work on building relationships with local suppliers and contractors that can support your business.

6)     Get Ready to Grow – Always think of expansion and bolting-on whenever you build a system.  Your Maintenance program is no different.  You will need to make sure that what you are working with will be able to support your growth.