7 September 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The progressively global nature of FM deals in which clients are looking to standardise services internationally means companies are having to establish a multinational footprint or risk losing out in future.
Increasingly, longer contracts are required as projects become bigger and more complex, and often spread across several geographies, so higher investment and longer timescales are required to mobilise and get these contracts to a steady state.
And this trend looks likely to intensify swiftly, according to Ross Abbate, managing director of Macro.
The company, a subsidiary of Mace, the international consultancy and construction company, now offers integrated services across the full property and infrastructure lifecycle, covering more than 40 countries across four continents.
Abbate explained: "Previously, FM was provided within a country or maybe even a couple of countries. Now, more and more clients are asking for regional and global tenders, and you need a global footprint to support them.
"This means we are now managing a global business, covering over 40 countries, delivering the same high international standards across them all. Working across borders helps us raise our game."
And as clients prove more demanding, so mastery over longer contracts is becoming an essential condition of winning a deal.
"Contracts are now usually a minimum of five years instead of previously three years. Also, clients are increasingly looking for workplace efficiencies, not simply a maintenance contract."
Abbate predicts that within 15 years the typical FM contract will mean creating a whole workplace environment.
"FM providers in 2032 will be provided with a building and asked to create an environment to support a client's culture and objectives. They will be responsible for managing everything to deliver that environment, from energy coming into the building, to the air quality through the efficient use of space. This means working more closely with the client to offer sustainable solutions," he said.
And he believes that the likely corollary to developing this greater expertise will be a heightened profile for the industry.
"Hopefully, FMs will also have a seat at the table in 2032, working as an integral part of the client executive team."
This whole future, he said, is contingent on the sector resolving the single most difficult problem it currently faces - establishing the most suitable workforce.
"[It's] finding good people who fit into your own culture. A number of people move from one organisation to another within FM (it is a small world) but we are trying to grow our own teams through apprentice and graduate programmes to develop and motivate talent in-house. You need to ensure that all your teams grow at the same rate while maintaining your culture and standards.
"To retain a good team, it's important to create new opportunities with either new clients or in new locations. This is one of the advantages of working across borders. It means we are able to transfer skills and knowledge with ease. At Macro, we have also created a new portfolio structure based on vertical markets, which allows for internal growth, assisting individuals with promotional opportunities within the company," he added.
"Macro has a number of team members who have been with the company for years. Our aim is to create a company and a culture that people are proud to work for."