World FM Day is a moment to celebrate our contribution, as FM providers, to our clients’ workspaces and businesses. As a sector, I believe this day offers an opportunity to reflect and reconnect with our roots. In a dynamic industry, modern clients continue to demand a firm belief in the reliability, capability and responsiveness of their provider. Swift, open communication throughout the lifespan of the client / provider relationship underpins confidence. In essence, clients want a provider that is compatible with their commercial goals.
So, why is trust important?
Customers rely on us to help realise value in the management of their properties and commercial facilities. In my experience, effectively managed facilities create a clean, safe and harmonious working environment for clients’ employees. Therefore, a well-managed workspace has the potential to boost employees’ morale and well-being. Happy staff are more likely to remain in a business. They help attract skilled recruits in a competitive labour market.
Evidence also suggests that happier staff are more productive. If that wasn’t enough of a reason to focus on the employee experience, the World Health Organisation estimates that poor employee mental health costs the global economy $1 trillion each year. The UK alone lost 15.4 million workdays to stress, depression or anxiety in 2017/18. Research suggests that the physical work environment can directly impact mood. Ensuring that a space is spotless, light, bright, airy and secure can therefore go some way in preventing unnecessary stress and strain at work.
Well-managed facilities and cheery employees are the face of an organisation’s corporate image. As providers, we can help clients build, showcase and curate their brand with their own clients and customers.
To establish trust, clients must believe that their FM provider is competent and credible. I believe this can be achieved by offering clients a single and responsive point of contact. Clients seek a skilled ambassador from an FM company with a personal touch, the ability to resolve matters quickly and effectively, and the nous to work with unified teams across the services offered. In other words, clients want us to do what we promised!
To earn clients’ faith, there are a few must do’s. We must constantly review, meet and exceed their expectations. We must develop and maintain sound relationships with clients, across all levels. We must treat our own FM colleagues fairly and strive to be an employer of choice in the facilities management industry. Finally, we must provide consistently outstanding service at all times, developing a track-record of capability and competence.
I draw on my own experience. Between 2016 and 2018, while I was MD of Integrated Solutions for Servest South Africa, I led the facilities management delivery aspect of a 24-year public–private partnership contract for a major public sector client. The project was design, build and operate, of which Servest South Africa owned a majority equity stake in the operations company responsible for the IFM services for the 24-year period. The building in question was 45,000m2 in size and operated on a full risk pricing basis with a stringent SLA structure and significant penalties for non-performance. I represented Servest on the boards of the operations company as well as the private party, and we formed a very close working relationship based on trust with the Director General who was the key client. The building opened on time and was commissioned successfully and seamlessly. Many challenges arose, as you can imagine, but it was trust that paved the road to success.
In the fluid FM market, I am seeing a growing trend. Our clients are increasingly seeking service providers who are big enough to be trusted and capable, yet small enough to care. So, as FMs all over the globe celebrate World FM Day, let’s continue to champion the best possible service with an equal measure of passion, transparency and pride so we can instil even more confidence in and further promote the value of this business-critical profession of ours.