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RFMA : A History of the Restaurant Facility Management Association

In January, 2004, Joe Robertson, President of Rightway Facility Services, met with a group of facility directors from major restaurant groups, Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, Darden Restaurants, Brinker International, Applebee’s and P.F. Changs. Together they pondered one of the major questions facing their companies: How can facility directors manage the facilities of their ever-growing chains without adding manpower? They decided in that meeting that it was not a company problem, but an industry-wide problem, and the only way to solve the problem was to find new ways of doing business.

In thinking about new business practices, the attendees deliberated about an association specific to their needs as restaurant facility professionals. The existing associations were indeed helpful, but not to the degree these facility directors were seeking. Some restaurant groups were specifically interested in educational opportunities for their restaurant staff, insuring their teams had some career paths. Others expressed interest in professional certification.

The restaurateurs also discussed their contractors and suggested the possibility of pooling their best vendors into a master list that all facility directors could use. They also talked about best practices and solutions, and how, as a team of restaurateurs, they could share ideas among themselves about how to protect the company assets.

From this discussion it was determined that an organization just for restaurant facility directors could indeed help them to guide their own individual chains in keeping overhead down as new restaurants were added.

The group knew they couldn’t start an association swiftly enough on their own, so they chose Professional Retail Store Maintenance (PRSM) as a partner in helping them set up RFMA. "We thought we could learn the most from PRSM,” says Jeff Dover, Chairman of the RFMA Board of Directors, "because most retail chains deal with many of the same facility issues as restaurant chains.” RFMA and PRSM signed an agreement in July 2004 and then got right to work planning RFMA’s first National Conference, which was held jointly with PRSM’s National Conference in Las Vegas. In April, 2005, 140 attendees, representing more than 75,000 restaurants, participated in RFMA ’05, the first official gathering of the Restaurant Facility Management Association.

RFMA has an active Board of Directors, an Executive Director, Education Director, Facilities Resource Manager, Marketing & Communications Manager, Membership Development Manager and Membership Manager. RFMA also has five busy committees several task forces, and an Editorial Board. In Fall of 2010 RFMA launched our own official publication, Facilitator and in October/November 2016 Facilitator celebrated its 6th anniversary with a re-design. In 2010, RFMA also announced our certification program where you can earn your CRFP (Certified Restaurant Facility Professional) designation. To help prepare those taking the CRFP exam, RFMA launched in 2013 an online CRFP prep course. Not only does this prep course help you prepare for the exam, it also helps both members and non-members learn more about some pillars of restaurant facility management. 

Association membership continues to grow as RFMA reaches out to restaurant groups of all sizes, as well as national and regional service providers. As membership grows, so will the services available to members and the events and opportunities for education and networking. We invite you to join RFMA and get connected today!!