1 April 2019 | Paul Skelton
Outsourced facilities management is continuing to defend itself in the glare of a national spotlight. For this month's Think Tank poll we asked if you think the market is changing to favour smaller providers?
Here is Paul Skelton's opinion on what he thinks is happening.
In some market sectors, for clients, customers and end users there has always been a belief or requirement that if you 'think big' you'll receive a better service delivery, better quality, lower cost with the governance and de-risk attached.
The reality is that even when assigned to larger players in the world of FM there are a whole host of small and medium-sized businesses delivering the expertise at the coalface for its bigger brother.
Often the expectation of the SME operating in the sector is that through a longer-term partnership with larger service providers in multi-year contracts with end users it will see greater profits, sustainable contracted revenue and potentially the ability to forecast some growth.
The reality is often that the SME will enter into a continuous competitive arena for winning new churn or project business, sometimes even having to support an extensive auditable supplier system that requires the cost of administrative support. In addition, many of the yearly savings that were agreed across the term to maintain a contract are also driven from the supply chain base at regular intervals.
As a proud, growing SME established 20 years ago, we deliver support to both direct clients and through 'bigger brother' FM partners. The overriding factor for us is relationships, aligned values of openness and a combined belief with our partners to not overstretch capacity. As an owner-managed business with an operational board, discussions are had daily regarding financial implications, bid work, levels of risk, demand scheduling, quality of output, and all other factors that the client and the industry expect to be going on, although in recent high-profile cases it appears this isn't always the case.
We've seen first-hand how, in the light of the Carillion collapse, clients who were in term contracts can take the control back, set up agreements with the supply chain previously in place and have seamless, continuity of service. We've been growing at a rapid rate the past three years and interestingly the largest market sectors increase we've seen for commercial refurbishment and moves management has been both government and financial services.
There may well be a macro shift in clients choosing to deal directly with the providers who deliver the work - at Active we've seen this happening more and more in recent months. There will, however, always be a place for the well-run, well-managed and well-delivered 'big brother' FM companies, who, with a trusted band of partners, continue to support their multiservice contracts, delivering industry best practice and a little innovation here and there.
One thing's for sure; this industry changes all the time - even when it seems like it might be slow at keeping up with certain trends. Stranger things will happen.
Paul Skelton is business development director at Active Workplace Solutions