Home > The Monday Musings Column > Musings front the facilities front #5

Musings front the facilities front #5

Timing is everything; when you get it right life is good, but the margin between hero and twit can be very small indeed. Luck plays a big part of course, but Lady Luck is a fickle companion and sometimes experience is what you need to avoid landing in the smelly stuff.

It’s January in the UK and our seasons have a wide enough range to make life a bit interesting in the world of FM as this tale illustrates. It all started when one of our clients had an important presentation to make. They were pitching for a piece of business and were keen to make a good impression from start to finish and we had our end of things covered for them.

But as the last minute preparations took place late in the afternoon before the big day the client’s MD decided that the conference room windows needed cleaning for it had rained the previous night and there were a few streaks on the glass. One of his team was delegated to sort it out and, as my team had gone home by then, they rang the window cleaner, a local small business, direct. The conversation must have gone something like this:

Client – we need the conference room windows cleaning. Just the corner on the ground floor by the railway line.

Window Cleaner – no problem. It will have to be first thing and I need a order number from the FM team. If you FAX it over tonight.

C – I don’t think that I can get one at this time of night.

WC – well without an order number I don’t get paid, so I can’t do the job. Unless you’ve got a purchasing card; I can do that now over the ‘phone.

C – oh great, here’s my card number.

So the next morning around 0730 the window cleaner arrives on site. He is spotted by one of my colleagues, but we have other things on our mind and whilst it isn’t his usual day, it’s a bank holiday week and many things are out of synch so we ignore him.

One of the things on our mind is that the temperature is hovering around zero and it is about to get light. On a clear morn such as this the temperature can drop a couple of degrees or more as it gets light and the decision whether to grit or not is under debate. Sure enough the lightening sky in the east sends us down to minus two and we get gritting, but then an anguished call comes across the car park from our squeegee ace… Yes, he has just sprayed the windows and they have frozen.

With not much more than an hour before our client’s visitors are due our conference room has frosted windows, some of which are beautifully patterned, but that is beside the point. We send the window cleaner on his way; there is no point in him hanging around, but we scrounge a squeegee off him and wait for the sun. Fortunately we have no tall buildings opposite and within half an hour we have enough of a thaw to clear the majority of the windows as they face south east, but there are a couple around the corner towards the north east and they are not going to thaw in a hurry. We can’t put temporary heat into the conference room, but with the careful application of a couple of tricks of the trade we have them de-iced and clear literally moments before the visitors arrive.

Was luck with us? Maybe, but whilst we lacked vigilance; we should have stopped things before they went wrong, we were able to pull ourselves out of trouble through the application of experience. From zero to hero this time, but, as I said at the top, the margin is a fine one and we can’t rest on our laurels for who knows what tomorrow has in store.

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