Preventive Maintenance Plans Save Money in Long Run

Preventive maintenance plans can help you stay ahead of facility and equipment care and correction, and can save you money in the long run.

Every fitness facility operator has daily, weekly and monthly expenses that have to be paid. Some of these expenses are fixed, such as rent or franchising fees, while other expenses are more variable, such as payroll, advertising, maintenance and repair. While there are many ways to control both fixed and variable expenses, the more variable repair and maintenance expenses are not as easy to control. These expenses include repairs and replacement to your building and equipment. And, the best way to control them is by developing a PMT plan, or Preventive Maintenance Task plan. A PMT is a scheduled plan of detailed cleaning and maintenance, which can increase the longevity of your equipment, and decrease the cost of your repairs.

Inspect and make a list

The first step in developing a PMT plan is to inspect your building and equipment. You will become more familiar with your building and your business during these observations. You should focus on items that you have made repairs to or replaced in the last six months to a year. This could include any replacement belts or greasing of gears in equipment.

Items on your inspection should be developed into a list with two separate columns. These would include maintenance that your employees can perform themselves, and maintenance that you would need an outside company to perform. This, of course, depends on how much technical knowledge is needed, and/or the size of the project. Never allow your staff members to perform any repairs that they are not qualified to do. Doing so could cause a dangerous situation or void a warranty.

Staff responsibilities

The employee column should include a list of basic maintenance tasks. These tasks should then be placed on a daily, weekly and monthly cleaning and maintenance docket. When the dockets are written, the tasks should then be given to the maintenance crew and set on a schedule. The tasks that could be included in these dockets are as follows:

Equipment benches. Check all upholstery for tears, and check all bolts and screws to make sure they are tight. All benches should maintain stability when being used. Sanitize bench upholstery.

Mats. Make sure they are cleaned and sanitized. Check for tears, rips and damage.

Dumbbells and barbells. Make sure all plate welds hold.

Selectorized and plateloaded strength equipment. Check all upholstery for tears. Make sure that all moving parts and belts have proper lubrication, are free moving and are not worn. Check all bolts and screws to make sure they are tight.

Treadmills, cycles and elliptical machines. Check upholstery for tears, and be sure the machines are cleaned and sanitized. Handles should be cleaned, and the exterior and screens should be wiped down.

Basic building maintenance. All vents should be vacuumed out. Sinks, water fountains and showers should be working and free of leaks, and drains should be cleaned and checked. Lighting should be checked and replaced as needed. Sockets should be checked to make sure they are not loose. All emergency exits and exit signs should be checked. Lockers should be in good condition and close tightly, and hand towel dispensers should be in good condition.

When each of these scheduled PMT dockets is completed, they should then be placed in a file and stored for further use. These forms can be used to track a regularly occurring issue, and to avoid the progression of a problem with a machine that could cause an expensive repair.

By controlling these repairs before they become more expensive to accomplish, you can add funds that can be brought straight to your bottom line.

Outside company tasks

The second column of your PMT list should include items that the maintenance staff is not certified to perform. These items could include cardio equipment repairs, or other major repairs, such as plumbing. The information on what can and cannot be performed by staff should be obtained from the manufacturer or manual (and common sense).

Most manufacturers recommend that staff only complete basic maintenance tasks, and that a certified technician perform any further required maintenance to avoid voiding your warranty. For these repairs, the manufacturer will most often put into contact with a local company or local representative. If you contact a local company directly, make sure that they are certified by the manufacturer to perform PMTs for your equipment. Ask if they offer a PMT plan, or if they have service plans. Though the monthly cost of one of these plans may be expensive, it can be worth it if you need to repair or replace some of your more costly equipment.

Other items that would be included in this column, along with the more technological equipment, are your fitness center's pool, sauna and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) system. Be careful when deciding who you are going to contract to perform your PMT on systems such as your HVAC system, because these repairs can easily become costly.

Finding a maintenance company

When deciding who and when you should perform scheduled PMTs, consider weighing certain options. The first option is deciding whether to hire a national or a local company. Here are some things you should take into account:
  1. Will you have to sign a contract?
  2. What is the length of the contract? Most contracts last one year, with a chance to increase in the end.
  3. Where is the company located?
  4. What is the monthly cost of the PMTs? This will usually depend on the size of the building. The range is usually between $350 and $550 per month.
  5. What is included in the monthly PMTs? What is not?
  6. What discounts will the company offer if you need repairs or replacements? These could include no overtime charges, or discounted hourly charges.
  7. What is the response time if you have a service call? Is there a charge for weekend and emergency service?
  8. Do they have purchase power if you need to replace a costly part? A 10-ton air conditioning unit can cost more than $10,000 to purchase, and possibly more to install.
  9. What is the turn-around time if you need a major part? Larger parts may have to be ordered from the manufacturer, and could take time.
  10. Does the company back the work it performs?

The technician appointment

Once you've decided upon a company, set up an initial appointment with the area supervisor and the technician, and be sure you have several hours to spend with them. As you and the technician walk through your business, carry a pad and paper. Usually technicians will point out maintenance tasks that your staff can do to avoid repairs. Have the technician walk you through each of the systems that they will be servicing, and explain what they will do and how this will affect repair costs. Spend time having the technician explain what items aren't covered in a PMT that could be a concern in the future. The technician should also take this time to go over any immediate repairs needed to bring your facility or equipment back to peak performance.

Build a PMT relationship

Each time the technician visits your building in the future, be sure that they spend at least a short time with you explaining what repairs they are doing and how each affects your equipment/building. Go through an inspection with them every few months so you become more familiar with what they are servicing. This will also give you the chance to validate that the work they are performing is necessary, and that the billing is correct. When the invoice arrives, review it and save a copy in your maintenance file for further review. This can give you a chance to track whether the service is still remaining cost-effective for your facility.

Upkeep means cost savings

With the cost of doing business rising every day, and competition becoming more intense, it is important to focus on facility and equipment repairs, maintenance and updates. By consistently making sure that your fitness center and equipment are at peak performance, you can give your members the best experience from your facility, and receive the most from your bottom line.
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