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One for all

As the FM services sector experiences increasing opportunities for growth, Simon Barnes, VP Sales, ABM UK & Ireland says it’s important to support the one team approach

The facilities management industry is more exciting today than it has ever been, with an enormous amount of opportunity for advancement and for growth. While on the one hand, economic uncertainty continues to impact demand we are also experiencing outsourcing opportunities in many sectors looking for efficiencies.

We’re operating in a market which Mintel recently valued at over £150 billion in the UK and Ireland ; and it’s a privilege to be a part of a business which is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this moment in time and deliver ambitious expansion. However, as in any dynamic space, with opportunity comes challenge: How do we make sure customers buy what we are selling?

Many will say that technological advancement is the key to new contracts and I don’t disagree…not entirely. For me, in an industry which creates spaces and places for the comfort, productivity and pleasure of people – it’s the happy marriage of innovation and human connection that customers really want to see.

But what are the key considerations to delivering that fine balance and then shouting about it? Here are my top considerations in leveraging the strength of one team.

  • Imagine every team member is in business development: At the heart of any successful strategic vision today lies a profound understanding that success is a collective effort. By empowering team members with the tools, resources, and support they need, business must foster a culture of collaboration and innovation. Viewing every team member as a member of the business development team crystalises the importance of valuing their contributions, nurturing their potential, and equipping them with everything they need to contribute to the organisation’s success.
  • Change the narrative on tech: The noise around AI and robotics is a risk to the concept of one team. While technology plays a crucial role in driving operational efficiency and innovation, for me it’s crucial to ensure every team member understands the strategy around it. By communicating steadfast commitment to the essential human element of our industry, businesses can explain that automation is here to streamline processes and remove mundane tasks. This is about empowering team members to focus on high-value activities such as problem-solving and relationship-building; not replace people. This harmonious blend of technology and human ingenuity allows FM providers to deliver superior service while staying attuned to the needs of clients.
  • Harness the power of face-to-face time: Getting the right narrative around technology segues perfectly into the importance of an old-fashioned face-to-face. Following the pandemic, businesses saw most interactions become deliberate: Conversations were scheduled, with people even asking permission before picking up the phone for a quick chat. This is not a world where creativity or problem solving thrives; and so today, we are seeing customers praising those who are available, in person. Leveraging technology in the right way means we can create time for our people to be available, to give customers that face time and feel empowered to innovate.
  • Invest in your team members of the future: The sustainability of every business is being scrutinised now more than ever. Demonstrating a real commitment to the longevity of your organisation puts you a step ahead of the pack and this extends to the investment you are putting into the next generation of operators. An example is ABM’s Junior Engineering Engagement Programme, a social mobility project which works with young people to bring the endless opportunities of the FM industry to life and bust the outdated myths that exist around key topics like apprenticeships, careers in cleaning and aviation and technical roles. Now only aged 11, these are our future FM operators; something which never fails to resonate with customers and prospects.
  • Transfer skills wherever possible: Taking advantage of the opportunities in front of us is as much about expanding existing relationships as it is about forming new ones. The skillset that exists in businesses like ABM are rich but can become siloed where you have teams serving customers in different geographies and sectors. However, by levering the one team approach, customers can see the efficiency benefits of expanding relationships. Adding technical services to a critical solutions contract or taking advantage of staffing solutions as part of relationships with airports presents enormous opportunity.

In all of these considerations, the red thread is a one team approach. Is it easy to achieve? Absolutely not. Is the reward worth the effort? Without a doubt.

About Sarah OBeirne

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