Nick Platt discusses the FM sector’s challenges, opportunities and working together better as an industry.
What have been the biggest challenges the FM industry has faced over the past 12 months?
Since entering FM in 2006, I have never seen so much negative press towards our industry. If you compare the current share prices of most of the quoted companies, you see a pattern. Unhappy shareholders, multiple profit warnings, changes in leadership… these issues lead to short/medium-term turmoil and constant restructures, which is normally not in the interest of the customer. The industry’s biggest challenge is to change the perception of our industry at all levels. This will require real cooperation between lead companies, suppliers, subcontractors, shareholders and also the customer.
And what have been the biggest opportunities?
At Salisbury Group, we see a lot of opportunities. With a sustainable contract management policy, low overheads, a national presence, self-delivering the vast majority of services and an entrepreneurial senior team, we are well placed to be the credible alternative to the struggling companies.
What is the biggest priority for the FM industry in 2018?
We need to work together as an industry more. We don’t have a unified voice and the whole industry suffers from that. Hungry FM companies looking for growth and procurement departments driving savings have reached a tipping point. For both service providers and customers, the biggest priority needs to be sustainability of contracts, with reasonable KPIs/SLAs delivered in a transparent way.
What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2018?
The growth of exciting medium-sized businesses – like Salisbury Group – challenging the established companies. Also, technology is becoming more affordable and FM providers can produce more data than ever before. The question is what to do with it?
What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?
FM is traditionally slow in terms of investing in, testing and implementing new technologies and platforms. The remote monitoring of assets – connected in the Internet of Things – has the potential to rewrite the rule book for FM. However, this type of innovation can be seen as a short-term threat to revenue streams. Salisbury Group is proud to be a disruptor and is currently trialing some technologies that will improve efficiency and reduce costs.
In 2020 we’ll all be talking about…?
A more dynamic FM market in which customers have alternative choices to the usual suspects.
Which person in, or associated with, the FM industry would you most like to meet?
Rupert Soames CEO of Serco. No nonsense industry leader.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the FM sector?
No matter the role or level of seniority, I meet people on a daily basis who are passionate about their work and the customers they serve. It’s very inspiring.
You go to the bar at the FM Forum – what’s your tipple of choice?
A glass of dry, crisp white wine.
What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
Meeting people and companies who want to make a better environment for their colleagues. When I first entered FM, my family and friends thought I was nuts. I have visited many locations and facilities that are not accessible to the public, which is always interesting. I still cannot believe how privileged I am to work in this industry. Every day is a school day.
And what’s the most challenging?
Due to the amount I travel, I have to spend time away from my family and balancing things can be difficult. Like most people, achieving a good work-life balance is very important to me.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Employ people better and more intelligent than you.
Peaky Blinders or The Crown?
Both. I admire the entrepreneurial spirit of Peaky Blinders and the stability of The Crown. Both can be described as ‘The Firm’.
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