Upstate resort White Face Lodge is located in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains along Lake Placid. Among its charms the lodge boasts a rustic timber design, handsome interior in a magnificent bucolic setting, and 95 luxurious suites, complete with full service kitchens and multiple bedrooms holds preventive maintenance to a high standard. Unfortunately, maintenance engineers at the resort were plagued with a haphazard array of spreadsheets, paper notes, and verbal exchanges about equipment repairs. There was no system for managing, tracking and analyzing repairs over time.
According to facilities manager William Axtell, maintenance was a “free-for-all,” with frustrated requestors often needing to make repeated calls to repair an oven in a guest suite. Records of repair work were nonexistent.
The management decided to combat these challenges with the help of a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Ultimately, Bigfoot CMMS, produced by the Smartware Group, Inc., was implemented to address the lodge’s issues.
One of the main must-haves for any system that White Face Lodge would rollout, was that it be easy for the entire staff to use.
“We’re not a huge property but our suites are fully packed with amenities that keep our maintenance team hopping 24/7,” said Axtell. “All suites are fully loaded with a dishwasher, oven, glass cook tops, microwave, refrigerator/freezer, whirlpool tubs/stand up showers, and a washer/dryer unit. Both internal and external repairs span anywhere, from re-building boilers to repairing room card locks, to maintaining the lodge’s lush gardens.”
Prior to installing Bigfoot CMMS, maintenance costs were affected by staffers spending hours filling out paperwork to maintain the guest suites, as well as the 33 acres and 90 flower beds on the property. For maintenance technicians who are often more adept at making repairs to equipment than entering data through a keyboard, avoiding such complex paperwork tasks translates into a more efficient use of staff time.
Other unnecessary maintenance expenses resulted from different guests complaining about the same malfunctioning appliances, which could cost the lodge a complimentary overnight stay, averaging $600 to $700 per night. With Bigfoot CMMS’s preventive maintenance calendar Axtell has a schedule for every piece of equipment at the hotel, and a notification system that alerts him through e-mail when it’s time to change an HVAC filter or an incandescent light bulb.
“We had a problem with an HVAC; both heating and cooling were erratic,” Axtell said. “By being proactive and setting up a preventive maintenance schedule, our CMMS reminds us that it’s time to change the air filter so we don’t have to deal with a unit going down and then having to comp a night.”
Maintenance staffers rely on Bigfoot CMMS to handle almost 100 work orders on a given day, including up to 150 preventive maintenance checks. For example, all guest suites have gas burning fireplaces that require cleaning annually, while battery changes for carbon monoxide detectors, electronic safes and entry door locks are each staggered so batteries aren’t all replaced at once, ensuring devices are never without power.
Axtell also keeps track of hotel vehicles on the Bigfoot CMMS: three shuttles; two work trucks, dump trucks; a bobcat and tractor. Vehicle operating time, oil, hydrolic system and filter changes, and registration renewals are all scheduled on the CMMS calendar.
By keeping routine maintenance work orders flowing daily, the maintenance staff eliminates the risk of neglecting those tasks that could lead to guest complaints. But what if the heating element of an oven has been replaced three times and guests are still complaining, yet the assigned technician claims the oven reached set temperatures after he repaired the heating element? With Bigfoot CMMS, Axtell can figure out how to fix the appliance once and for all since the work order tracks a running history of equipment repairs.
“Bigfoot gives me the ability to go back and see repeat problems we’ve had in the rooms,” Axtell said. “If a guest complains about the oven I can call up the machine by serial number and see what was previously reported back to me about resolving the issue. If it’s a repeat problem addressed by the same technician I can figure out if he needs further training or if the machine itself is a frequent flyer and repair costs are nearly as high as the price of a new machine.”
Being aware of and addressing repeat repairs saves the property thousands of dollars in maintenance costs. The seamless maintenance leads to guests being more likely to experience a delightful visit as well – often translating into positive online reviews, return visits – and reduced costs.