Avoid Taking a Bath in the ‘FM Sheep Dip’

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On the face of it the ability to work with a single FM provider, capable of providing all the services required by a customer is a pretty tough proposal to argue against.  The customer should benefit from a ‘single point of contact’ and the bundling of services gives the FM provider the scale that they need to leverage improved cost control.  My fear, however, is that this drive for low price – high volume service provision is limiting the quality of services that customers are receiving and that this vanilla offering is becoming accepted without question or challenge.

Ultimately our customers’ requirements do not really change all that significantly.  They need a legally compliant service, which enables them to provide and maintain an environment that facilitates optimum performance of their core business assets (whether that be people or technology).  They also need a service, which realises all the commercial and environmental benefits that are available to them.

The environment in which they operate is constantly changing.  This may be as a result of new legislation or developments in the geopolitical, socio-economic or technological landscape. The challenge for any business is how on earth does a business manage to develop a cohesive long-term strategy for FM within the context of such external change?

The challenge is further increased by many businesses continuing to structure themselves so vertically, when they engage with the market across a much broader spectrum.  There continues to be a lack of communication between departments with an ‘interest’ in facilities management and more than that these various stakeholders will have their own objectives, targets, strategies and plans.

Businesses going through this planning exercise will find themselves using the C word.  The number of moving parts in the external environment can seem to present a challenge that is simply too big to face up to.  Consolidation to a single super FM provider can seem like a simple solution – one provider with responsibility for compliance and cost control across the whole piece.

This approach however is not without risk.  There is truth behind the saying “jack of all, master of none”.  Quite simply no business can confidently offer a market leading service across all FM disciplines.  In addition, a solution driven purely by cost will never be a solution designed to foster creativity and deliver innovation.  Yes it will work, yes it will probably represent what appears to be decent value.  But it will never be the optimum solution for the customer.

Working with established and credible service providers, who have a proven track record of innovation and delivery in their core service, helps businesses avoid the ‘perfect storm’.  This situation is created when the supply base continues to consolidate towards an axis of  super FMs and the customer (often under-resourced and over-stretched) seeks perceived value through bundling. This ultimately dilutes innovation, personalisation and specific expertise and leads to the ‘FM sheep dip’ where generic models win the day and the vibrancy of individualism is dulled to subtle hues of the same neutral colour.  Expertise, entrepreneurialism, innovation and bespoke solutions from specialist providers are essential to achieving the perfect colour palette and they create an environment which is far more likely to enable businesses to optimise their commercial, environmental and service potential – ultimately providing an effective means of differentiation and creating competitive advantage.

I hope you found this interesting! If you have any comments or suggestions for topics to cover please email them in.