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OPINION - Making room for the one-stop shop

16 January 2013

Taking stock and reassessing key elements of the supply chain is a practical and necessary part of the business process for any company in the current climate, says Michael Page, joint managing director of office fit out company Saracen Interiors. By doing this, we can take measures to improve the way we do business…

Times of budget cuts and financial restraint can present us with one great positive. It’s an opportunity to review how we spend our budgets and to take a calculated look at the relationships we have built to-date. Can we make them more cost-effective? How can we save ourselves money and, potentially, do things better?

The service providers who come out on top in trying times are those who relish a challenge and who are willing to reassess and extend their offering. Similarly, the canny decision maker doesn’t hang on to incumbent suppliers out of loyalty or generosity of spirit. He or she renegotiates or looks to other parties who can provide a similar service offering for a better price.

External facilities management companies are in a particularly vulnerable position within the property supply chain as there are other experts in the field snapping at their heels, keen to extend their service remit and include facilities management in the mix.

If facilities management is considered as a part of the overall property provision and estates services, then there is always going to be room for a more unified, and potentially cost-effective, approach. After all, surely it is better in the long run to have all your property needs met by a one-stop shop?

Many fit out companies and mechanical and electrical providers are capitalising on the good relations that they have built with existing clients and, as well as looking for new projects to fill the pipeline, are also looking at ways in which they can do more business with those existing clients. Facilities management seems to be one of the most obvious packages that can be incorporated into the service offering of these businesses.

It makes perfect sense. These companies know the facilities better than anyone else, particularly if they have played a part in the design as well as the fit. They know every nook and cranny and every nut and bolt. Most importantly, if they have fitted a system, they best know how to mend and maintain it as well as knowing how to run all the systems and facilities in the most cost-effective manner.

Added to that, if facilities management and maintenance services can be accommodated in the original fit out contract, at a reduced cost or as part of the refurbishment package, then why would a client company continue to bear the costs of a specialist facilities management company?

As facilities management can be a bit of a catch all, it is down to each contractor to agree, in the first instance, what they are taking on board and what will fall in their remit so they are adding real value for money and an extra service without running the risk of damaging the relations they are hoping to build and capitalise on. The one-stop shop also needs to make sure that they have the team in place to cater for any additional offerings.

If a fit out provider can successfully build facilities management into a contract at a low enough cost then it may well be time to embrace new agreements and a new way of working.

If you disagree with the opinions above feel free to email the editor and have your say!

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