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Long-term, sustainable, FM service delivery

02 November 2018

Speaking after his company’s first six months in business, Martyn Freeman explains its focus on staff and working openly and honestly with clients.

Martyn Freeman

There are increasing signs within the FM industry that the practice of outsourcing services to the company offering the cheapest price is beginning to change.

Included amongst these are the announcements made by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) that more consideration is now given to the longer-term value of each contract within public sector tendering processes.

Another is the successful emergence of companies such as Q3 Services, which is receiving a positive response to working openly, honestly and sustainably with its staff and clients.

Speaking exclusively to PFM, chief executive officer Martyn Freeman explains the values that the Q3 management team have established and which they are determined to preserve, regardless of how the business develops in the future: “The culture within Q3 is centred on focusing on staff welfare, combined with transparent and honest dealings with clients over cost and profit margins.

“This means working with clients that value the services provided by FM companies and the benefits that these can bring so we’re being selective on who we work with, because this doesn’t suit every company,” says Mr Freeman.

In order to explain how his company works with clients, he provides the analogy of the guarantees provided by the Consumer Rights Act to retail customers in the High Street, who know that any goods not providing satisfaction can be returned and money refunded.

“But that’s not the case with the FM sector, which often just offers excuses when things don’t go according to plan,” says Mr Freeman.

“Q3 doesn’t want to make a profit out of client dissatisfaction, we’d rather give the money back if a customer is unhappy with our level of service delivery,” he says. “The same goes for our staff, too, and we don’t want them to work for us if they’re not happy or if they can’t help the business.”

At present, the best example of how the company is working with clients and staff can be seen from its operations in the Channel Islands. Having purchased two cleaning businesses earlier this year, these are now operated on the principles outlined above on the islands of Jersey and Guernsey.

“We’ve made a lot of effort to instil the Q3 values in our Channel Island teams to ensure that these provide a stable platform. Word spreads fast in these small communities and showing that we care about our people and our clients has been noted and well received and has already led to new contract awards,” Mr Freeman continues.

From left: Alex Gavrilovic, Martyn Freeman and Stuart Bellew

Proof of this can be seen within the pages of the autumn issue of GYone lifestyle magazine for Guernsey residents, which features an interview with Q3 Channel Islands managing director Ken Nicolle.

He explains how the application of technology-led solutions is providing enhanced client engagement and cost-effective solutions by a team of full- and part-time employees working on a flexible basis to meet their personal requirements.

“Our employees are very important to us; they are a vital part of our customer service,” says Mr Nicolle. “Our company code of ethics is most definitely: quality clients; quality service; and quality people.”

Following its acquisitions in the Channel Islands and continuing expansion within the UK mainland, Mr Freeman says that the company has already passed the £5m turnover mark within its first six months.

It has also launched a pest control and waste management division and plans to continue to reinvest in all necessary areas, including resource and technology. While the above would indicate that further impressive growth is likely in the near future, he says there are no set targets and is determined that the business will not fall into the trap of accepting work on any basis.

“If we continue to do the right thing in all areas of the business and treat everyone fairly, then more work will come,” he says.

“But we’re not going to go down the road of accepting contracts that don’t allow us to make a reasonable margin, because we’ve all seen how that can end up with the failure of Carillion this year providing one of the best examples but there are a few others out there.”

On the subject of “reasonable margins”, Mr Freeman further explains his company’s method of working with clients:

“We make sure that our customers are kept informed about anything related to cost, including where savings are being made. If we make more money than expected, we’ll let the client know.

“The conversation will then look at giving the excess money back to the client or, if they’re happy, used for bonus payments to our staff,” he says.

Given the fact that the Q3 Services board of directors has over 150 years’ FM experience, Mr Freeman says that although there is a certain level of expectation for the company’s future growth, particularly as the members have worked for large organisations, everyone agrees on the need to maintain the focus on its founding principles.

The board currently includes non-executive chair Baroness Ruby McGregor, managing director Stuart Bellew, solutions director Alex Gavrilovic, bid director Lucy Hayes, commercial director Lian Kockelbergh and Mr Freeman.

Reflecting on his company’s first six months of operations, he says that his previous long and successful career with Mitie provides an interesting comparison in the setting up of a new business.

The lengthy and complicated process of creating a new company has helped him to appreciate the role of the entrepreneur, he says.

“Going from a large corporation, where you can get new projects off the ground fairly quickly by a quick call to the relevant department within the business, I think my previous role can be described as intrapreneurial.

"When you’re starting from scratch with no credit rating, access to funding or anyone to help source and buy all the things you need to get started, it really brings home how much harder it is for SMEs in the marketplace and there should be much more support available,” says Mr Freeman.

“On that note, I’d really like to say how grateful we are to our clients for placing their faith in us to deliver on our promises,” he continues.

“As a new business we had no references so they really stuck their necks out and we’re very grateful to them, which has made us put even more effort into making sure we deliver on all our promises.

“It’s all about treating everyone with respect and being reasonable,” says Mr Freeman.

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