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Fast Forward

31 May 2012

The Facilities Management industry is constantly evolving, and adapting to meet the changing demands of the market. Chris Hoar, Chief Executive of The Facilities Management Association (FMA), explains how the FMA remains on top in this fast paced environment.

In an increasingly complex marketplace, The FMA is constantly striving to represent excellence in the FM industry, and provide representation for our members. This has required a forward-thinking attitude, to ensure that we are at the leading edge of service provision to our membership base.

With a huge spread of members, it is important for us to provide a forum which represents and promotes their needs, and those of the industry. The ways in which we are currently striving to deliver this are very different to the more traditional methods that were previously employed. For example, we circulate member news via an e-newsletter; becoming a portal for industry news, rather than talking solely about the work of the association itself. We are also taking an active role in the use of social media to promote the work of our members and the industry as a whole. For example, you can view a video that we created for our Young Manager’s Forum on our YouTube channel. Not only does social media allow us to connect with people in a more direct way than ever before, but it also allows us to reach out to a different demographic. For us, this is really important when trying to bring new people into the industry, and highlight its importance to the UK economy. Moving forward, we expect to see the levels of member interaction across these platforms increase exponentially.

We are also now being listened to by Government; taking part in Government and Property meetings, as well as being an active influencer of CBI policy. This is all part of our broader work to promote the industry, as well as representing the interests of FM service providers. We are also working with The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and The Prince’s Trust to encourage young people into work. Our Young Manager’s Forum specifically looks to support the senior managers of tomorrow in the FM industry.

Our work to up-skill the industry is also something that I am very passionate about. Not only do we want to attract young people into the FM industry, but we also want to help those already working in the industry to achieve formal qualifications as recognition of their work. As FM is now recognised as a profession, the number of progression routes within the industry is increasing. We hope that, by demonstrating the career opportunities that the industry has to offer, more young people and graduates will choose a career in FM.

Furthermore, we hope to attract professionals from other industries, such as retail and hospitality, who can bring fresh ideas and initiatives to the industry. We also hope to offer formal qualifications to those professionals that have worked, and evolved with the FM industry. I believe that this will be crucial in recognising the achievements of some of the most experienced specialists in our industry.

As a trade association, we look for every possible opportunity to promote and demonstrate the work of our members, and, more broadly, the FM industry. We try to help the industry showcase their work via a number of events, including The Facilities Show. This year, our new ‘FMA Village’ aims to offer members a dedicated platform over which to promote their services, and also offers a networking zone, to encourage multiple FM service providers to discuss possible initiatives and build valuable contacts. This represents a collaborative effort between the FMA and a number of our leading service provider members, to raise awareness about what we have to offer.

We are connected to many other Facilities Management Associations worldwide, such as in India and the Middle East. This helps us to ensure that we are up-to-date with initiatives that are being trialled globally in the industry, and also gives us an accurate impression of the state of the industry in the global marketplace. This is becoming increasingly important as a number of our members are increasing their offering to enable them to offer global contracts. It is vital that we can offer advice and support that is able to grow to accommodate the extended offerings of our members.

We have also adapted our working practices to ensure that we are demonstrating best practice in sustainability and environmentally friendly operations. For instance, we now demand a paperless operation, and do not operate from a fixed office. This helps us to reduce our carbon missions, whilst at the same time reducing our overheads. To conclude, we feel that is important for trade associations to remain forward thinking, and proactive, not only in their delivery of membership benefits, but also in their own operation. Whilst the FM industry may be faced with a number of challenges in coming years, including those of economic change, we believe that it is our role to demonstrate responsiveness and effective change management.

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