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‘Strong family values’

21 August 2015

PFM speaks to Jonathan Holley, regional director (South) of FES FM, about his company

How many employees are there and what is the hierarchy of the company?
The FES Group employs almost 2,000 technical, support and managerial staff across the UK delivering a comprehensive range of building, support services and facilities management services. The three core Group businesses representing the principal service areas are each led by a MD reporting into the FES group board. The group chairman is the original founder of the business, Duncan Fletcher. 

How was the company founded?
FES was established in 1963 by Duncan Fletcher as a residential electrical company trading as Forth Electrical Services. The company has continued to evolve over the last 50 years developing a range of in-house services and now offers clients a complete ‘cradle to grave’ service. Our service delivery capability now extends from Principal Contractor, providing a complete construction service, through a comprehensive range of building, prefabrication, technical, fit-out and facilities management services including renewable technologies. Today FES has a turnover just below £200m. The group branched into England in 2003 with the opening of our South of England offices.

Who is your ideal target market?
Our ideal target market in the South is customers who want a responsive, intelligent and active service and where the quality and style of service makes a real difference to their business, productivity, staff and customers. Our key sectors are health, leisure, education, offices and other asset-critical environments such as data centres.

Describe the case study which best showcases your company’s work
The FES Group were recently involved in the design and construction of the new Bicester Community Hospital in Oxfordshire. FES delivered the full mechanical and electrical installation to the new hospital and, when completed in November 2014 was handed over to FES FM to deliver the FM and lifecycle services on a 25-year contract.

What about your company sets you apart from your competitors?
FES is a family owned business with strong family values and a healthy financial performance history. Our regional structure enables us to self-deliver customer focused bespoke services, with a dedicated and reliable approach to building long-term partnerships. The FES Group has consistently maintained strong family values and full commitment to the knowledge and skills development of staff, ensuring our people remain our number 1 asset. This was recognised in 2014 by BIFM, with FES FM announced as the winner of the learning and career development category at the annual awards ceremony.  

Without giving away too many secrets, what is the key for service providers to win major contracts?
FES maintains a strong corporate CV with proven client recommended delivery capabilities. With a history successfully delivering major contracts to clients throughout the UK and an ability to demonstrate value for money solutions and an in-depth knowledge of our clients’ requirements ensures a strong position to tender for new major contracts.

What are your thoughts on the ‘race to the bottom’?
The ‘race to the bottom’ has a negative impact on our industry and results in the acceptance of an under-rated service with low barriers to entry. FES focus on customer centred delivery solutions and clients who prefer bespoke services that can flex to their needs and deliver tangible benefits to their operation and business goals.

What are the biggest challenges facing the FM sector?
Differentiation - because the level, style and value of service customers really want varies significantly across the sectors. The challenge for FM providers is for customers to be direct about the type of FM service required e.g. from where only cost matters to those where the service impacts directly on staff, business productivity and reputation. The FM Sector talks about innovation, value and service excellence and a long-term approach to maintenance, when the real current focus is mainly on low costs. Without dealing with these challenges the risk is that the ‘race-to-bottom’ will accelerate and the focus on service excellence and long-term planning will diminish, which could result in higher costs over time.

What are your thoughts on the Living Wage?
The FES Group fully supports the Living Wage policy. We believe the implementation of the living wage provides benefits in terms of employee satisfaction and employee retention rates. This has a positive effect on the quality of work undertaken by employees, thus resulting in increased client satisfaction. In certain circumstances, the living wage can be difficult to implement in practice due to (a) competitive pricing (b)TUPE transfers determining the wage and (c) existing wage structures.

How do you know what your clients want from you without directly asking them?
FES believes in developing long-term relationships with our clients. In order to do this we learn about them, understand their business, their values and their goals. Once a relationship is developed we are able to pre-determine our clients’ requirements and working in partnership deliver services working as ‘one team’.  

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