Managing Multiple Facilities Best Practices: A Roundtable Discussion

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on August 20, 2015

The iOffice team recently had the pleasure of attending an IFMA panel discussion on the subject of managing multiple facilities. The guest speakers garnered their multiple years of Facilities Management experience into a thought-provoking conversation, offering ideas and advice for FMs of every experience level. At the heart of it all, was technology – we wanted to share the experts’ insight into how they successfully face the ongoing challenges of managing multiple facilities.

Meet the Experts

Stuart Duke, VP Facilities with YMCA of Greater Houston- Stuart has served as the Vice President of iStock_000040476514_MediumFacilities & Properties for the YMCA of Greater Houston for the past 6 years. Prior to joining the YMCA team, he spent 11 years with Target Corporation, managing in a variety of positions. Mr. Duke oversees a team consisting of 7 directors, 2 administrative assistants, and 55 individuals, responsible for the day-to-day maintenance within the YMCA centers. Centers consist of 35 sites, spread out over 1,150 acres of land, with 1.5MM square feet of program space.

Anthony Ortery, Leader of Facilities Operations for The Texas Children’s Hospital- Anthony has spent over 20 years in the field of operations, and the last 11 years as a leader in healthcare facilities. In his current position, he helps manage Texas Children’s Hospital’s $17MM budget, and has directed the operations for the construction, maintenance, and repair of buildings in Menninger’s 120 bed campus. Ortery’s previous experience includes owning a company that supported the operations of multiple commercially owned properties, as well as a partnership with a commercial air conditioning repair company, where he worked to ensure the success of both the company and its clients.

Brandon L. Shimer, Director of Facilities and Security for Oceaneering International Inc.- Brandon joined Oceaneering International Inc. 2 years ago, where his responsibilities include directing all site planning, administration, and construction for corporate headquarters, manufacturing facilities, and all identified leased and owned properties. He oversees all new construction, remodeling, and furnishings; manages facility operations, infrastructure projects, and utilities; and supports the design, implementation and maintenance of processes and facilities support. Prior to joining the Oceaneering team, he spent 5 years with Continental/United Airlines as a manager and senior manager in the Global Real Estate department, where he managed the development and construction of airport facilities. Shimer has a background in Accounting and, in 2014, he obtained his FMP and PMP credentials, solidifying his foundation as a leader in successfully managing Oceaneering’s 120 global sites.  

The Round Table Discussion

Trust, collaboration, and technology in the workplace were the underlying themes of this discussion. In a profession where no two days are alike, and where duties span every aspect of the business, partnering with colleagues, vendors, and clients is critical to long-term success.

“List 1 headache you have with your job.”

Stuart Duke: With over 35 sites to manage, it is very difficult to standardize processes. Each building is so different; decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis.

Anthony Ortery: The age of our facilities vary greatly from building to building.  

Brandon L. Shimer: We are a global corporation – you cannot manage a facility in Malaysia the same way we manage one in Houston.

”What is your business strategy in meeting these challenges?”

Brandon L. Shimer: With multiple facilities to manage, it’s not always about adding another body to the team or spending more money, it’s about leveraging the power of technology to be more streamlined and efficient in our processes. Also, there should not be a limit on what we do to train our employees.  

Anthony Ortery: At The Texas Children’s Hospital, we started a mentor staff program to ensure our employees’ training and education needs are met. Businesses cannot afford to not train their staff.  

”How do you handle your facilities budget?”

Brandon L. Shimer: “Your battle plan is only good until the first shot is fired and the same is true for a budget.”

All panel members agreed they have approximately an 80/20 split between work handled in house vs. subcontracting to outside vendors. When hiring a vendor, they look for a person that is honest, on time, and follows through with their promises.

“What do you look for in a request for proposal (RFP)?”

The panel agreed that the lowest bidder is not always the right choice. If the vendor with the lowest price has less than stellar references, aren’t insured properly, or miss the scope of what they are looking for in a product, they are not considered a qualified bidder. The key is looking past the price and choosing the product/service with the most value for their dollar.

”How do vendors get noticed?”

The entire panel agreed that the number one priority is a solid relationship built on communication and trust. When looking to align themselves with the right vendor, they look for bidders that do something to stand out and grab their attention. Vendors must show evidence that their product/service is different than the rest, and that our FM team stands to save time, money, and resources by using it above the competition.

Stuart Duke:  “The FM profession is a 24 hour a day job – send me something personal that grabs my attention and shows why your product is special.”

Anthony Ortery:  “Be honest. Don’t send me an email saying you know me or that we already have an appointment set up when we don’t.”  

Brandon L. Shimer:  “KPIs that are customer service-oriented. We want answers to the important questions that will help us better ourselves and our service.”

  • How responsive are we?

  • How efficient are we?

  • How is our workload being distributed between techs? Is this process efficient?

The proof, is in the numbers. If you tell me you’re going to save me X dollars, provide me with facts and numbers to back it up.”

The daily routine of an FM, especially one in charge of multiple facilities, is hardly routine. The one constant being that change can occur at any moment and the job demands constant attention. And one person can’t handle all of the work required, which means a successful FM has to be backed up by a successful team. Your workforce must be properly trained and able to use the available technology, which should be a driving force for all aspects of Facilities Management. Equally, you should have a positive and open relationship, built on trust, with your technology vendor and they, too, should be viewed as part of your team. And, even if the scope of your job requirements fluctuate, you will be able to adjust and adapt with this support team in place.


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

Capterra Ratings: ★★★★★ 4.5/5