Know Before Your Go: First Budget Meeting

January 29, 2020 | By: Molly Looman

Working with a budget is one thing. However, creating a budget is another. Maintenance and operations account for a large part of a property’s budget. If you are given an opportunity to be a part of a budget meeting, it is important to prepare correctly.  

Know the Numbers 

The anxiety dream of staring at a test in high school and not knowing the answers follows most people to adulthood. But, walking into a budget meeting unprepared is a very similar feeling. Especially if you are the only representative from operations and maintenance, the rest of the departments are depending on your knowledge. Therefore being the leader of the people who know the building the best, you are in a unique position. Executive management will be looking to you to give updates on the state of equipment, their life cycles and estimates for tenant build-out costs.  

This is also an opportunity to impress. IF you are new to the position or have been doing it for years, showing your knowledge at a budget meeting will show that you are skilled and condiment in your job. Forming a budget is all about teamwork and everyone has a job. Everyone serves as a representative and an advocate for their department. Knowing your numbers and studying the vocabulary are the first steps to representing well.  

Leave Room for Changes 

No matter how good the predictions are, how well you know the systems and how thorough your equipment evaluations are, expect the unexpected. Throughout the years, parts will break, natural disasters may hit, and tenant needs will be different. When formulating your budget to bring to the table and when considering the budget being discussed, leave room for the unexpected. Showing your upper management that you considered this will show them that you are thinking ahead and considering the company’s wellbeing on the whole.  

Your Numbers May Be Different 

Budgets concern everyone. Every department has a different viewpoint and goal for the meeting. A successful budget meeting involves managing expectations. Having well-calculated, properly formed estimates is important. But being prepare for someone to give opposing numbers is equally is important. Be prepared to explain or advocate for certain choices. Compromises may be necessary but going into the meeting knowing that makes the end result easier to work through.  

Shift Your Thinking 

Most of your day is spent thinking about operations. Keeping systems running and maintenance on track is the goal of most building engineer’s work week. When you walk into a budget meeting, the intentions change. This is a meeting about long term decisions, visions and choice. Your brain must switch to a strategic point of view. But the concerns should be about what the maintenance and operations needs will be over the next year, five years or even ten years. Above all, if your building is working to be more sustainable, think of the long-term implications so that you can provide the proper strategy and estimates.