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I bet you never saw that coming!

The monthly blog from Martyn Freeman, Mitie’s Facilities Management MD

In the early part of 2016 a very catchy song by Jamie Lawson seemed to have taken over the airwaves with the catch-line “I wasn’t expecting that.” Ironically, Lawson actually wrote that song over four years ago, but it could well have been the anthem for the second half of this year. 

For a long time, politics has been one of those taboo subjects that is rarely raised outside the privacy of one’s home, but it struck me how for about four months this year, just about the first subject people talked about was their views on Brexit.

Regardless of your own perspective, this was a subject that held huge ramifications. It was fascinating to see how this political event impassioned people who would never normally speak out or share their views. People were galvanized around the topic because the outcome really mattered.

We then watched from across the pond as the whole thing appeared to be rerun in the US. As we’ve seen in the news coverage since, when people feel they have been disempowered, whether by the result of an election, or by the people for whom they work, their feelings run deep.

Throughout the year, I’ve been watching as our Executive Relationship Programme (ERP) has evolved. This programme was created four years ago as a forum for senior people from the world of property and FM to exchange views and opinions on key issues affecting them.

We were the first to engage some of the most senior strategy makers in this way and I now hear others trying to replicate our success. A recurring theme at these gatherings has been how our industry has undergone a huge shift in focus. When I first started in this business the KPIs were pretty basic and all about measuring inputs. In the last year, discussions have moved from measuring outputs to evaluating outcomes. Previously contracts were developed with KPIs that looked at factors such as how much uptime is achieved from plant, the cleanliness of the premises, and how much energy is being saved. This year we’ve started to look at outcomes, such as the effect on people using a building, levels of productivity, and customer experience scores.

One of the most striking examples of this came from NHS Property Services, a much-valued client, at a pilot scheme in a new mental health facility. Here the FM service is tailored around the individual care needs of the people staying there and the resulting improvement in patient outcomes is frankly staggering.

These results echo a point made by one of our ERP dinner guests in the autumn. Asked why their shopping malls are growing from strength to strength, when the retail high street is contracting at such a rapid rate, he said: “People today are looking for an experience – whether it is in a hotel, a retail space, a leisure park or a workplace. That’s what we give our customers, and why they come back time after time.”

And perhaps as we draw to a close in 2016 that’s the message we should all take forward – it’s all about the customer experience, and if we can all focus our attention to making that the best possible one, we too should enjoy success.

I mentioned earlier how things have changed since I came in to this industry. 2016 saw me celebrate 25 years here at Mitie – my silver anniversary. It’s a job that’s changed my life very much for the better, and, I hope, those of the others with whom I’ve worked.

Only today did I learn that I actually share the anniversary of entering a life-changing career with no-one other than Nigel Farage! 

I certainly wasn’t expecting THAT!

About Sarah OBeirne

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