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4 Tips for a Smarter Preventative Maintenance Strategy

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By and large, businesses make the mistake of being too reactive. This plays out in various ways, but is especially evident when it comes to equipment, property, and other tangible assets. Better preventative maintenance strategies can provide some much-needed help.

Preventative vs. Reactive Maintenance

A poor maintenance strategy can cause your business to suffer – financially and logistically. The problem is that most businesses don’t have the right systems in place to be as intentional as they should be about maintenance.

Generally speaking, there are two types of maintenance a business can engage in:

  • Reactive maintenance. This is the strategy of repairing equipment and systems only after the asset has already broken down or reached a point of failure. The benefit of this strategy is that you get every ounce out of the asset you possibly can in the short-term. The downside is that it’s often much more expensive to fix when something does break. (And you risk compromising the asset’s long-term health or functionality.)
  • Preventative maintenance. Also known as planned maintenance, preventative maintenance is where you invest in upgrades, repairs, and maintenance while the equipment or system is still functional. The goal is to prevent unexpected issues and breakdowns.

A reactive maintenance strategy is what happens by default. (After all, when a key piece of business equipment breaks down, you have no choice but to fix it.) But if you want to protect the long-term profitability of your business and increase uptime and reliability, you’re much better off adopting a preventative maintenance strategy.

4 Tips for Better Preventative Maintenance

There are numerous directions you can take with a preventative maintenance strategy, but here are a few helpful tips:

1. Assess the Current State

Start with the current state of things. Take inventory of every piece of equipment and asset you have in your business. This includes everything from expensive machinery and heavy equipment to handheld electronics and small devices. Determine if anything needs to be done right now and begin developing a schedule for future maintenance.

For example, take a look at your parking lot. Something as seemingly innocuous as pavement has to be accounted for. As McConnell & Associates explains, concrete and pavement cracks have to be dealt with immediately, or they can create serious long-term issues that are much more expensive.

Leave no stone unturned in your initial analysis. This is the secret to developing a preventative maintenance strategy that actually holds water over the long term.

2. Develop SOPs

After getting a pulse on where things currently stand, develop a standard operating procedure (SOP) for every machine, system, and asset. This should include a maintenance schedule, as well as the proper steps to take when maintaining different elements. Be as clear as you can in your documentation of these SOPs so that you can hand off the maintenance to anyone and not see a dropoff in quality.

3. Train Your Team

You can have the perfect preventative maintenance strategy in place, but it’s useless if your team is misaligned. And the best way to ensure your people follow your plan is to train them.

Training isn’t a one-time ordeal. It’s an ongoing investment. Have one big training session to kick off your new strategy, then continually loop back and retrain employees. Any time a new system or piece of equipment is introduced, it should coincide with a brand new training session on how to maintain that system. (Bring in the manufacturer’s rep if necessary.)

4. Track Your Efforts

Every preventative maintenance strategy should have a set of specific key performance indicators (KPIs) attached to it. These are essentially benchmarks that can be measured against to see how you’re performing. Track them at regular intervals and you’ll begin seeing trends. Because maintenance is typically a long-term investment, it could take years or months before you truly understand the impact. But trust that it’s working and continue to invest the time and money.

Iterate to Great

The first preventative maintenance strategy you develop won’t be perfect – and that’s okay! You’ll learn what works and where you can improve. The key is to be honest and proactive. As you identify areas for improvement, take action. Quick pivots and changes aren’t anything to be embarrassed about. They’re a sign of maturity, humility, and a growth mindset.

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Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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