The Move To Facilities Maintenance (FM)
At any company that utilizes a lot of equipment, good maintenance support as backup is critical. Until 2010, maintenance in our 7-Eleven stores was managed internally through 7-Eleven, using national and local contractors. Early in 2010 we moved to Facilities Maintenance (FM), a big corporation that provides maintenance management services to similar large companies, such as McDonald’s and Exxon.
In January 2010, the transition to FM took place for what were then the Chesapeake and Florida Divisions. In March 2010, franchisees and corporate stores in the rest of the country transitioned, and by May 2010, Canada was added as well. By the summer of 2010, FM was handling all 7-Eleven maintenance. It was a huge transition.
Like any other big transition, some things went smoothly and some things did not. The call center and dispatch were fine, but the learning curve for FM was large and things did not always go as expected. The biggest issues franchisees experienced were contractor response times and repair times—especially on revenue-generating equipment. We had problems with parts not being available and delays receiving authorization to replace a part. P1 and P2 response times were a lot longer than they used to be, and P3 calls were being closed without resolution. Preventive Maintenance (PM) schedules were not being performed, calls were being miscoded (resulting in erroneous billing), and a large number of the non-contract repair charges were excessive, resulting in an escalating number of disputes and requests for credit.
By the end of 2010 franchisees were up in arms and National Coalition leadership got involved. FM management committed, attended three straight Board meetings, and listened diligently to franchisees’ questions and comments. About a year later we are still not where we want to be, but things are improving as FM is starting to learn how we operate.
One of the most important things FM has done is automate dispute resolution through development of www.FM24-7.com. If you receive a charge you don’t feel is legitimate, you can go online, register, and file a dispute. Within ten days you should receive an email notification of the dispute resolution. If you do not agree with the resolution, reply with your comments and the case will be escalated by FM. The entire process, including credit due, should not exceed 30 days. FM management has said the objective is 15 days, but according to feedback from franchisees at the last meeting, we still have work to do because we are not receiving credit back fast enough. The major benefit of the website portal is that we can track our own cases, but so far, only about 10 percent of stores have signed up.
Even with this system, franchisees need more clarification about what is covered under the maintenance contract and what is not. On the 7-Connect homepage under Online System Support Guide (OLSSG), you can find a list of equipment that is 7-Eleven’s responsibility and the responsibility of the franchisee, but the list is neither clear nor complete. FM has committed to updating this list and putting it on their website.
FM tells us that revenue-generating equipment uptime has improved dramatically, to over 99.5 percent nationally, and that response times on P1 and P2 calls have improved. FM says they are committed to more accountability and transparency on the service provider side, mainly through the use of the website portal, including more detail on the actual repair, the technician’s assessment at the store, the billing at FM and details of the repairs performed.
Now a store can log onto the portal and find out information about PMs and the age of their equipment. You can view open or closed cases, and check invoices and expense history. You can view active contracts or report an issue. It has the FM contact list and a link to your FSR. It has a quick checklist to use before calling to avoid nuisance calls. It has information about your disputes. For sure, through the portal you can have a greater awareness of what’s in your store.
Each time a store is visited by a service provider regarding any piece of equipment and the ticket is closed, a satisfaction survey is generated automatically. We can either accept or reject the survey. These surveys are a great tool for franchisees to share their experience with the service provider, yet only 25-30 percent of those emails generate a response. This is a tool I encourage folks to utilize.
7-Eleven needs to come up with a gas PM/maintenance program. FM told me at the end of 2010 they would have something in place, and here we are in 2012 and we’re still waiting. It continues to be a big issue.
I would like to encourage everyone to utilize his or her FSR, your go-to person at FM. Seek that person out on the www.FM24-7.com portal. You can go to them with questions or if you are confused about a charge. Overall, the most important thing about Maintenance is not to get frustrated. Do not hesitate to escalate an issue if you are not satisfied with your service or a dispute resolution, because now we can take it to the next level. There is a process in place.