Planned Preventative Maintenance – Prevention is better than cure…

John Valentine, Manchester Office, Director - Dunlop HeywoodBy John Valentine, Director.

Many businesses live by the old adage “if it’s not broken why fix it?” but if you live by this philosophy when it comes to Planned Preventative Maintenance then you could be gambling with more than just a few extra pounds in your maintenance budget.

In an old episode of The Simpson’s do-gooder neighbour Ned Flanders refused to take out house insurance as he said it was a “form of gambling” – this was as his house disintegrated around his ears thanks to Homer’s latest escapade – but he was right.

Planning or not planning for the future is a form of gambling, whether you put your faith in insurance premiums or a strategic approach of running repairs on your premises.

Heating failure in an office building on the coldest day of the year, a leaky warehouse roof that causes damage to stock during a critical trading period. It never seems to be a good time to be spending money on building maintenance.

By adopting a Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) strategy this will ensure you have the right systems in place to deal with those major failures and minimise any disruption.

It can help plan out capital expenditure and be very useful as evidence to demonstrate to tenants where their service charge is being invested. It is a tool that shows how a responsible landlord is planning for the future and can also highlight patterns of future expenditure.

Keeping tenants happy and informed is just one of the advantages of having a PPM; the other more obvious one is that building values are so often linked to condition – a well maintained building is a more valuable one.

It is easy to think short term, particularly in a bull market where demand is high and tenant turnover low. If that roof is good for another couple of years then keep it off the balance sheet to make this year’s figures look better.

Owners often like to maintain as much flexibility as possible. Even though tenants meet the cost of repairs through service charges, the actual level is an important barometer of an asset’s appeal. A low service charge helps to entice new tenants into space, higher service charges signal that tenants are willing to spend extra to secure their tenancy in the right place.

There are always a myriad of reasons not to adopt a PPM and they all make perfect business sense until you get that phone call at 1am in the morning to hear your roof tiles have just floated away on Storm Desmond.