The benefits of outsourcing Front of House services

An interview with Rebecca Stevenson and a case study from Scott Parker

Rebecca Stevenson is the lead contract manager for corporate services at RBS.  Here she talks about the process of appointing a new front of house supplier, why MITIE Client Services were chosen, lessons learned and the benefits they’re already seeing one year since the contract went live. 

What prompted RBS to take their front of house service to market? 

RS: “We’d been working with the same supplier for both front of house and catering services for over 15 years.  We have a responsibility to our shareholders and ourselves to test the market for all of our suppliers, and our process started in 2010.” 

Why did RBS de-couple front of house from catering? 

RS: “The two services are very different, and only by separating them, were we able to properly understand what was needed for each.  We always reserved the option to bundle them back together if it worked out commercially to go with a supplier that was able to meet our requirements for both, but in the end we opted for two suppliers.  We appointed MITIE Client Services to provide services in the areas of reception, AV, loading bays, room bookings, switchboard, events, as well as provide customer liaison assistants – the glue that keep everything together.” 

Why did you chose MITIE Client Services for your front of house business? 

RS: “We wanted to work with a supplier, who would be proactive in the evolution of the service.  When evaluating the potential suppliers, we were impressed by MITIE Client Services’ leadership team, as well as the maturity of the wider management.  The site visits we undertook were memorable, and gave us the opportunity to meet with lots of teams and talk to people that had experienced TUPE.  It was all very reassuring.  Add to that innovations in how they manage areas such as AV and the loading bays, their partnerships with technology suppliers, and their exceptional training packages, they really stood out from the competition. 

“We also really liked their Specialist Leader model, whereby specialists are assigned in key areas, who work across the contract providing a consistent approach to training, and employing best practice at each of the sites.  With 80 percent of costs for front of house attributed to labour, it really comes down to the value proposition.” 

What lessons did you learn from the process? 

RS: “The approach we took to TUPE had its shortcomings, as we had two suppliers taking over from one existing team. Both took very different approaches to managing the process.  We also phased it over the 40 sites, over three months, so all in all it was unsettling for employees who didn’t know when or where they would end up. We’d probably do this differently given our time again.” 

How has changing supplier made a positive impact? 

RS: “Our front of house team previously felt very much led by the foodservice operation, so by separating the services, this is no longer the case.  From the conversations I’ve had, I would say that the teams feel more valued and see front of house as a genuine profession.  Our mystery shopping results have improved, as have our SLAs, and we get exceptional feedback about the team and the experiences they create for our visitors and clients. 

“The team are now more service driven, and I see them flourishing.  They are stimulated and excited.  A huge number of the team have received MITIE Stars (MITIE’s recognition scheme), in fact the back of house team all received Stars after the Olympics.  They worked so hard to make everything work at a time when the contract was just mobilising.” 

How has MITIE Client Services engaged with the RBS brand? 

RS: “RBS recently launched its new vision and values.  We shared this with MITIE, and the team immediately got to work to develop a training programme that is currently being piloted, and will then be delivered into the wider supply chain.” 

What are the main benefits you’ve seen one year into the contract? 

RS: “In terms of service delivery, the team are more engaged and confident, the delivery to clients is better, and there is an increase in connectedness – sharing best practice across the contract. 

“I think that often you don’t really notice great service in a corporate environment, you’re just guided through in a seamless experience, and MITIE are definitely achieving that.”

 

Case study

From front of house to heart of house

Scott Parker shares his experiences  of what transferring to MITIE has meant for him and his team.

Scott is the logistics manager for MITIE Client Services for RBS in London, which involves the management of seven loading bays, a disabled transport service that transfers mobilily impaired customers between buildings and car parks, and a shuttle bus service.  He manages a team of 22 people.

Scott started working on the RBS contract six years ago, and transferred to MITIE by TUPE in 2012, a process which he says was “smooth and professional.”  He enthuses about how once under MITIE’s employ how quickly things started to change.  He says: “logistics in the context of loading bays is a very high-risk area for operatives.  I’d never been given much support in terms of health and safety previously, and so it was one of the first areas that I raised that needed attention.  MITIE were great.  They very quickly brought in people to audit what we were doing, provide assistance, and draw up plans to help me, and I now feel fully supported. 

“Training has also been fantastic.  Most of my team have been through the Revolution Academy, and everyone always speaks very highly of it.  Personally, in respect to health and safety I’ve now undertaken the IOSH course, and QHSE for FM managers, as well as more general courses such as business writing skills.” 

Talking about what the move to MITIE has meant to Scott and his team, he says: “as well as the training and support, we now have focus on our individual workstreams.  Previously, people would often get pulled to work in different service areas as the business demanded it, but now we can focus on what we do best and that enables us to provide a much more efficient service.  Now that we’re not attached to the catering service, the focus is entirely on what we, and the front of house teams do.  It’s brought a lot of people’s real talent out, as they’re being recognised and utilised properly. 

“Motivation is much better now.  All of my team know the regional managers and account directors, and feel very comfortable speaking to them, which they love.  It helps with their sense of worth, rather than the feeling that ‘we’re just a loading bay folk’.  It’s also much easier to get people to change the way that they work due to the open approach we now have.  We can chat about trying things differently, and there is a lot less resistance than we had before. 

“Another big difference is that MITIE’s focusses on workstreams rather than buildings.  This means that we can standardise systems and processes across the service, rather than having maybe six different systems, one for each building.  This different approach means that my team feel a lot more comfortable working in different buildings because they know how things will work, wherever they are.  

“The move to MITIE really refreshed everyone.  We’ve been able to put small things in place that have made big differences, such as having Team Talks across the estate where we can share experiences which makes for a much better environment as a whole.”

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