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How many ways can you structure maintenance?

28 October 2020
Around 70% of parents make enrolment decisions based on how they feel about a school after their initial tour, studies have shown. There is no better time than the end-of-year break for schools to carry out restoration and maintenance work for their classrooms and surrounds.

Maintenance can take on a plethora of forms and services. It can range from painting, grounds maintenance, landscaping and horticultural management to building refurbishment, signage and branding.

Don’t limit yourself

Some of the tasks schools can enlist a maintenance service provider to do include updating and refurbishing previously unused spaces for better utilisation. This can take the form of converting unused storage areas and uninspired indoor classrooms into new open plan areas that accommodate physical distancing, and transforming vast dirt patches into edible gardens or natural playscapes where students can both learn and play.

Additionally, sporting ovals can be fully refurbished and physical outdoor spaces like gardens and grounds spruced up alongside the installation of new signage and repainting of buildings to create a fresh-looking school.

Achieve more with less

As a rule, the best times to carry out any maintenance work would be when students aren’t around, for which school holidays are perfect.

A once-off project – such as building a deck or facelifts for older infrastructure – can be carried out in conjunction with regular maintenance works so more can be done in less time with minimal inconvenience to students and staff. The school can welcome the new year or term with a fresh site, updated facilities and in the case of St Johns Grammar School, South Australia, a new revenue stream.

Explore options for flexibility

Structuring such works so that it suits a school’s needs and budget requires a maintenance program that is tailored and has plenty of flexibility. Ideally, it would also involve engaging a maintenance provider who is able to bundle all these services into a single solution and one able to accommodate shifting goalposts as a school’s priorities change.

If buildings, sports fields or any other assets currently look good but an update or refresh in the coming years would be required to maintain the quality of its presentation, these works can be planned and budgeted for as part of a long-term maintenance arrangement. Such forward planning can help schools budget with greater confidence as costs are agreed upon in advance. A clear roadmap for implementation and future works gives greater assurance, while providing clarity around plans for continued site improvements over time.

Tailor your payments

To make these arrangements work, not only does the organisation of maintenance work need to be flexible, but also the cost structure. The cost of any maintenance work can be spread out across the duration of an agreed upon period, for example as part of a ‘pay as you go’ arrangement, or one where amounts are fixed equally across the agreement’s tenure despite the works occurring at various times.

If a school decides to embark on a $250,000 five-year maintenance program where the buildings are completely repainted in the first year and then maintained each year thereafter, this cost can be divided across each of the five years, resulting in an outlay of only $50,000 per annum. Schools decide on the frequency and amounts according an agreed upon timeframe.

The same flexible payment arrangement can be applied even if the works happen in another year or if a variety of works, rather than just painting works, are required.  

Consult and collaborate

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to structuring the timeframe for works or the payment – this can be decided upon in close consultation with the customer.

Little-known but extremely useful as options for structuring flexible maintenance are ‘discretionary hours’, which allow the school to bank a certain number of hours each year for a range of pre-agreed maintenance tasks. The school elects the total hours, their allocation and the scope of the work, determining these collaboratively with the service provider, who also advises them on how best to structure the maintenance program.

For example, Programmed has previously worked with a customer who simultaneously wanted a full exterior repaint and an internal refurbishment. The repaint formed part of a long-term maintenance plan, and the cost of this was amortised in equal parts over the contract’s duration. Meanwhile, because the customer had enough budget in hand, they decided to fully pay for the interior refurbishment upon its completion.

If schools are servicing their buildings and grounds each year, they’re maintaining their facilities – reducing the chance of a big-ticket item sneaking up on them in years to come. A well-presented environment is key to attracting students and providing an engaging learning space, particularly as classrooms move outdoors. Programmed has various options to flexibly fit almost every circumstance or maintenance need a school may have (learn about the different options here), so why not explore your options and speak to Programmed today.

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