In the last five years, the landscape of tendering for new business in the facilities management (FM) industry has changed enormously. Research shows that over 60% of service contracts now involve a combination of services or a full total facilities management (TFM) model. As larger and more complex bids to win business become the norm, a key theme that has emerged is a desire from clients for suppliers to achieve a ‘trusted advisor’ role for the organisation. This is one that involves a level of collaboration, trust and partnership beyond the traditional client/contractor key performance indicator based relationship.
For those of us engaged in front of house services, this has meant taking a more holistic view of what our guests and customers need from us. Historically hired to welcome and serve visitors at reception and in meeting spaces, front of house services must now be as innovative in supporting the internal customer and building user as they are for external guests. This has involved taking an advisory role on areas such as space planning, meeting room system procurement and selection of AV suppliers. For the most progressive clients, collaboration has even extended to the front of house team taking the lead on wellness in the workplace and disability awareness.
Collaboration is also becoming commonplace in how clients engage with potential suppliers as part of the tender process. One of the obstacles for those of us involved in trying to create a better service for clients at this early stage can be a closed off approach from some procurement teams. Q&As which redirect us to already unclear specification documents and an unwillingness to host site visits and allow access will never result in the best provider being selected on merit or the best fit service being procured.
Fortunately, collaborative dialogue and workshop based tenders are fast replacing this, where potential clients will outline exactly what they’re looking for and allow us to work together to assess the right service models, systems and approach to best fit their requirements. This will always lead to a more successful and long term relationship once the contract starts.
As a specialist service provider we have a wealth of industry and cross-sector experience that we can use to share ideas and best practice. Combine that with a collaborative approach from a client looking for an innovative solution to improve their service and the outcome really will be the best fit all round. As a trusted advisor, you have the opportunity to learn more about their business and gain insight to help deliver a service that meets, and flexes with, their ongoing needs. It’s a win-win situation and one that allows us to put the customer at the very heart of the service.
Keith Seymour is Head of Business Development for Mitie Client Services