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Avoid the Oliver Twist Approach in Budget Negotiations

Negotiating budgets is a challenging task, but there are effective ways for Facility Managers (FMs) to strengthen their case when dealing with finance and leadership. Picture this: the scene from the film ‘Oliver!’ where its main character nervously asks for more food. Don’t be like Oliver Twist when requesting funds.

Adhere to the wise saying: ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’ Invest time in thorough planning to exhibit your knowledge and confidence. Start with a high-level overview and gradually delve into the specifics.

To confidently ask for what you need, consider these helpful tips:

  1. Seek to Understand: Familiarise yourself with the company’s strategy. Is it focused on investing in current locations or considering relocation? Assess the availability of funds. Align your requests realistically with the company’s overall direction. Avoid proposing major projects if the corporate focus is about to shift.
  2. What’s in it for me?: Tailor your pitch to your audience. Understand the goals your leadership aims to achieve and demonstrate how your investment in the buildings aligns with these objectives. Highlight the impact on customer visits or events, potential cost savings, or improvements in employee experience.
  3. Have a Plan: Present projected plans for the estate, not only for the upcoming year but also for future years. Show how your budget proposal fits into the bigger picture, making it easier for finance and leadership to comprehend and support.
  4. Know Your Numbers: Be well-prepared with detailed and substantiated financial data. Clearly outline any assumptions you’ve made in your calculations. For significant investments, provide various cost options (gold, silver, or bronze) to allow leadership to make informed choices. Explain how you’ll secure the best value, and if possible, seek assistance from a procurement team.
  5. Prioritise: Clearly define the criteria used to make your recommendations. Place safety-critical expenditures and projects that risk critical infrastructure damage at the top. Listing priorities helps leadership understand where the budget can be allocated.
  6. Manage Your Audience: Reach out to senior leaders or their first-line representatives informally beforehand. Share your ideas and listen to their feedback. During the budget request meeting, refer back to those conversations to demonstrate that you’ve taken their input into account.

Remember, well-preparedness will increase your confidence and instil trust in leadership. Show how your investment choices contribute to the company’s success, and you’ll become a trusted advisor instead of an Oliver Twist, constantly asking for more.

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