INDUSTRY INSIGHT: Why it’s time for FM service providers to ‘raise their game’.
Interview with Jeff Alden, CEO SEE Services
Jeff Alden, CEO SEE Services has over 20 years’ experience in the FM sector. In this Q&A he shares his thoughts on the pressures dominating facilities management and the need for service providers to ‘raise their game’.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi I’m Jeff, CEO of SEE Services. I have over 20 years’ experience in the facilities sector, working for a number of well-known providers. In my role at SEE I am hugely passionate in making the provision of FM services as seamless as possible.
What are the biggest trends you are seeing in the sector?
I like to get to know my customers and ensure everything we deliver is centred around their needs. A big part of that is listening to the challenges they are facing. There are some common trends that come up time-and-time again including: rising costs, reducing operational budgets, updating ageing infrastructure that requires investment and pressure to reduce carbon emissions. Poor communication and quality of service from incumbent suppliers is also a challenge I regularly hear from prospective clients.
How can an FM provider help with those challenges?
Facilities providers are perfectly positioned to help customers overcome many operational challenges. With in-depth knowledge of a client’s property and assets, they have the ability to provide significant data to inform decision making. For example, data can be used to support maintenance and asset replacement planning, revealing when the cost of replacing an ageing item will be more cost-effective than continuing to maintain it.
If it’s that easy, why are companies still experiencing these issues?
Just because the data and insight should be available, doesn’t mean service providers are sharing it! I see a lot of companies promoting 'Big Data', but client retention rates across the industry are poor. Data isn’t the final answer, customers need a partner that can help make their estate work for them to deliver their strategic priorities. At SEE, creating a seamless FM experience something I really focus on - and it’s something we need to see more of across the industry in order to raise the game.
You seem passionate about the facilities sector. Where do you think service providers should improve?
Facilities is increasingly demonstrating it has a place at the top table. The strategic value the industry can provide is huge. I don’t think that all customers realise this yet though, and in those instances facilities provision is often poor quality. It's looked at as a cost that should be cut as much as possible. At SEE, we put considerable focus on building excellent relationships with customers and delivering high quality services that support their business goals. I believe that if we see more of this customer-centric, data-driven approach across the industry, the perceived value of facilities services would be greatly enhanced.
Finally, what advice would you give to a customer who is looking to switch FM provider?
Procuring a new provider is a really important function. Companies should be looking for a partner who will enhance their business. There are lots of things to consider but three that I think that are frequently overlooked are:
1. Pick a supplier that understands you and wants to build a partnership. They have to be as passionate about your priorities, challenges and opportunities as you are.
2. Pick a supplier who will prioritise communication. This is two-way, of course and there should be multiple points between the client and the FM partner on a regular basis. Sadly, too many FM companies promise this and fail to deliver.
3. Understand how you will be able to make use of your facilities data. The insight generated should help unlock cost savings, improve operational environments, reduce carbon emissions and so much more.
About SEE Services
For over 40 years, SEE Services has delivered facilities management and infrastructure support services to customers across the UK. Recognised for its quality of delivery combined with a personal touch, customers trust SEE to ‘Comply, Maintain and Sustain’ their properties.