Walk a mile in their shoes
Building service contractors have to keep up with industry trends to offer the best possible solutions for their customers changing needs. Yet, while contractors can learn a lot from their peers and associations geared toward cleaning professionals, they still need to be aware of the latest facility-management needs. That means they should be involved in the same associations that their customers look to for updated industry information.
The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) caters to professionals who handle everything from operations and maintenance to finance and telecommunications responsibilities in a variety of facilities. It has about 18,000 members and offers a wide array of services to meet their needs.
Contractors can take advantage of IFMAs corporate sustaining membership for companies that offer products and services to their main members. This membership costs is $3,200 annually for a company, which also includes two associate memberships for individuals in a local chapter.
IFMA has an extensive local chapter network in which contractors can become members; however, to maintain a set balance between facility professionals and service providers, there can be waiting lists to join as an associate member in some cities. Annual membership in a local chapter is $245 per year if the company wants to receive association materials via e-mail, or $275 per year if they prefer print publications.
Contractors can participate in many of the local chapter functions such as regular meetings or regional educational seminars. They also can offer local resources such as newsletters, local member directories and benchmarking information relevant to the area they serve.
IFMA also has topic-specific councils that transcend local boundaries to cover specific issues relevant to facility managers around the country and the world. Such groups include the health care council;, environmental health and safety council; academic facilities council; and corporate headquarters council. Most group meetings are open to anyone interested in their topics.
The Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) and the BOMI Institute also are valuable resources for contractors trying to better understand their potential and current customers. BOMA has more than 18,000 members who own, manage, build or specify commercial properties.
Contractors who operate on a regional, national or international scale can become national members at large for about $1,000 a year. For local cleaning providers, BOMA has a large network of chapters in a variety of cities across the country that may be more effective. Each of these groups sets its dues individually.
Contractors can benefit from local meetings and networking, as well as localized industry information and research reports.
BSCs also can attain the same certification that many customers have, through BOMI (www.bomi-edu.org). The institute offers multiple certifications, though the facility management administrator designation is most applicable to BSCs.
To receive this designation, contractors must take exams in seven areas after classroom or self study preparation. To take the courses on a self-study basis they are $395 each (the ethics course costs $175). Local classroom courses are subject to local BOMA group pricing.
The courses include:
- Fundamentals of facilities management;
- Technologies of facilities management;
- Environmental health and safety issues;
- Design, operation and maintenance of building systems, parts I and II;
- Real estate investment and finance;
- Business ethics.
To maintain the designation, individuals must earn 18 points of continuing professional development credits every three years.
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