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Hall of Fame 2011 - Fashionable facilities

30 September 2012

We are close to filling up the 2011 Hall of Fame as we turn our attention to the last of the partnership project winners - Matalan with SSS Management Services in the Public Access Facilities Award.

At the time this is published, judges will be roaming the country interviewing and exploring the 2012 finalists in the PFM Awards. This is a tough test, as much in the preparation as in the delivery of the presentation and site tour. Getting the balance between sharing the ordinary and teasing out the extraordinary requires perspective and a degree of objectivity which is difficult when you are in the thick of operational FM. This time last year it was the turn of Matalan and SSS Management Services to share their interpretation of a partnership, their achievements and the improvements they have made to service delivery since the beginning of the contract.

Matalan is one of the UK’s leading value retailers offering quality fashion and home ware at up to half the equivalent high street price. Launched in 1985 in Preston, Matalan now trades from 6.5 million square feet gross over 210 stores across the UK from a head office and distribution centres in the UK. With an average 30,000 sq. ft per store, Matalan provides well-priced quality goods by procuring direct from the manufacturer and maintaining low overheads at its perdominantly out of town stores. In a toughening marketplace, the focus, in addition to the customer, has been to manage efficiencies in the business, delivering improved margins and stronger cash flows.

Matalan reviewed the delivery of its reactive and planned preventative maintenance provision at the beginning of 2009. It was clear that the existing model of self-delivery was not providing the clarity and auditable transparency required by the business. Matalan selected SSS Management Services to provide a maintenance helpdesk and contractor account management service largely because the team was impressed with SSS’ can-do attitude and felt they could work positively together.

Getting started
The main objective of the contract is to maintain a compliant Matalan estate by the most cost effective means possible. The facilities management help desk and associated services are a critical component of Matalan’s facilities management operation available 24 hours a day 365 days per year. As a business which trades through its space, Matalan is acutely aware that any downtime in part of the estate can result in a loss of revenue.

The FM operation is made up of four components:
? Administration Service – Receipt of calls, logging, and allocation and follow up of jobs with stores and contractors.
? Planned Maintenance – Scheduling and managing the order process for works.
? Payment, Asset and Compliance Documentation and Management – Reconciling contractors’ invoices with the agreed rates and authorising for payment. Ensuring the asset register is updated to reflect changes and that the compliance documentation is correct.
? Contractor Management and Service Delivery – Procuring and managing the services of suitably competent contractors on Matalan’s behalf and agreeing rates for work including managing a competitive tender process.

Matalan was keen to establish the network of contractors that would be utilised to deliver the maintenance tasks as it was critical that the contractors understand the Matalan estate and the nature of the business. Matalan reviewed the sub-contractor base that had historically carried out works across the estate and where there were gaps nominated other new contractors to take on the specific disciplines. Some of these new contractors were nominated by SSS as they had worked with them on other contracts. The Matalan team then identified the work packages, and put in place the work package specifications. The specification was then put out to tender and the contracts were awarded. By keeping control of the process Matalan was setting the benchmark for service standards and introducing SSS to the Matalan way of working whilst drawing on SSS’ expertise.

Prior to the ‘go live’ date, Matalan met with SSS and the appointed contractors to present the contract and showcase the new procedures. This was a critical piece of communication as there were a number of fundamental changes in the new contract such as using the “Call Tracker System” to log engineers on and off site, the need to provide quotes before orders for works would be allocated, and for updates and pre-approval submissions to be presented in a standardised format. This was an opportunity not just for the Matalan and SSS to present the handover programme, but it created an opportunity for the contractors to meet the teams and ask questions. 

How it works in practice
Matalan and SSS agreed a ‘suspended call’ policy at certain periods of the year. All calls not deemed to be either health and safety or business critical are logged on the system. These calls are passed to the Matalan team to be reviewed. If approved, the call will be allocated a cost.

SSS provides Matalan with regular and relevant management reports. After a revision of the information, an amended accrual report is published. This reviews all service calls logged on the SSS database on a daily basis and allocates a set acrrued figure set by trade. The report provides Matalan with complete transparency on potential spend. The report continues to be issued weekly with a week by week comparision every Monday, and an accrued weekly spend overview every Friday.

Following an indepth review of the asset register and the maintenance worksheets, it was concluded that the asset register did not match the information provided by the contractor. As a result of the findings, credits have been issued and the unit cost amended. These are now regularly scrutinised.

The asset information collected prior to May 2009 was issued to all contractors. Working together with the Matalan Regional Facilities Managers (RFMs), the nominated contractors and the SSS team created an ammended asset register. Information collated during RFM visits to sites was used in conjunction with information gathered from dialogue between SSS and the various contractors.

What are the benefits of the partnership?
Matalan uses the tailored data and reports to highlight patterns of vandalism across the estate. An increase in incidents at some stores where the copper pipes have been stripped out from external condenser units prompted a review of security to identify where steel cage protection is required.

Call volume, established using data from the previous supplier, has been reduced by nearly 10%. A reduction in calls to the SSS helpdesk enables operators to chase-up outstanding service calls and update the system allowing Matalan to access the live status of any recent call using the web interface.

The initial report structure provided a basic update element, allowing Matalan to review all emergency calls and current status. Weekly reports provide quoted and work order updates. The number and type of reports has subsequently been adapted to include a comprehensive reporting schedule including:
? financial and accrual reports
? emergency call updates
? suspended calls /all calls passed to contractors
? weekly call stats / quote detail / approved work updates / H&S calls
? call figures by store
? contractor performance
? quality audit of helpdesk and contractor performance
This information is used to monitor and evaluate a wide range of trends across the business. This in turn results in that appropriate action being taken and feedback is provided to the Retail Operations Department.
The SSS account management team relies on the Matalan RFMs for technical support. Site visits, when accompanied by the RFMs, have helped to illustrate specific technical equipment and its relevance to store trading. These regular maintenance challenges reviewed in-situ have in turn enabled the account manager to challenge certain contractor performance.

What the future holds
Matalan demonstrated that the relocation of switching in some stores allowing sales floor lighting to be turned off after close of trading, generated a pay back in under 12 months. This initiative was therefore extended to other stores managed by SSS.

Matalan is developing a broader, less centralised base of contractors to improve response times, quality of work and more competitive rates. The project is combining the technical expertise of the Matalan team with SSS’ knowledge of maintenace contractors’ current performance and costs.

The planning and execution of the presentation to the judges was a time consuming and daunting prospect at times. However the experience of showing FM industry professionals the achievements filled everyone involved with pride, a feeling only to be topped on only on the night in November when the names of Matalan and SSS were announced as the winners.



“The judges said SSS and Matalan have clearly made a huge change to the maintenance of the retail units over the last two years allowing Matalan to concentrate on its business”



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