2022’s trends in facilities management – and what that means for FM firms
What do the 2022 trends identified by i-FM – the leading provider of facilities management insight – mean for FM firms? Paul Witter, the FM ambassador at BigChange, reflects on the opportunities for firms to grow stronger this year.
Mergers and acquisitions are at an all-time high. Technological investment is a key focus. And growth is returning to the sector.
These were just some of the headlines in i-FM’s ‘2022 Trends and Opportunities’ report. But what do these trends, from the leading source of FM news, mean for the thousands of small and medium-sized FM firms in the UK today?
i-FM key trend 1: M&A deals are at record levels
Mergers and acquisitions are back, after a sharp dip in 2020. i-FM noted a few reasons for this – better revenues generating surplus cash, and greater market confidence linked to the success of the vaccine rollout.
Paul’s analysis: M&A can’t come at the expense of consistent customer service
M&A is key for FM firms looking to grow. The ability to provide a wider range of services makes these businesses more attractive to customers, and new specialised services often have higher profit margins than general maintenance.
However, it can lead to a serious risk of service quality sliding. Aligning new acquisitions to your existing processes and retaining the quality of service that comes with your brand is a considerable challenge. For those that get it wrong, contracts could be short-lived.
The best FM businesses are looking to technological solutions that help new acquisitions and subcontractors meet service standards seamlessly. Greater oversight of operations and shared, standardised workflows are vital for firms aiming to control the service level regardless of who’s delivering.
i-FM key trend 2: Customers are adopting hybrid working
The return to workplaces has not been as swift as expected. While the future of homeworking is uncertain, i-FM says that facilities managers will need to provide clients with choice and control.
Paul’s analysis: Hybrid working can be more efficient and sustainable
i-FM is right to see post-pandemic workplaces as an opportunity. I don’t think we’re done with the office yet, but it will be up to FM firms to manage these spaces more flexibly.
With fewer people in the office, facilities managers should take a more proactive approach to asset management – for instance, you don’t need to service an empty room. More importantly, lower use means less maintenance and a lower carbon footprint. By running spaces more sustainably, at a lower cost, it frees up funds for investment in green solutions.
Elsewhere in the report, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are called ‘game changers’. Leading firms are making use of these tools to make a shift to condition-based maintenance and dynamic scheduling. By predicting how and when spaces are being used, they’re able to provide a more efficient and sustainable service.
i-FM key trend 3: Giving customers extra value is becoming a necessity
i-FM couldn’t have been clearer, stating that, ‘An FM service provider’s demonstrable ability to add value can be a significant differentiator in the marketplace.’
Paul’s analysis: Amazon-style customer journeys will become the key differentiator
Customer expectations are rising rapidly. In the Amazon age, it’s no longer about just getting there and fixing it.
Offering a complete digital service to customers – with online booking portals, real-time updates, and consistent service – will become the key difference between FM firms.
That level of service is not currently possible for many smaller FM providers.
The other game-changing technology i-FM highlighted was new FM service-delivery models. Only by looking to new technologies and new digital field workforce management can FM firms cut administrative costs, guarantee operational oversight, and deliver a better customer experience than ever before.
About the author
Before joining BigChange, Paul Witter spent 15 years working in the facilities management space. He served at Director level, delivering Hard Services engineering, TFM and Helpdesk services nationally across the UK and managed pre-planned and reactive maintenance contracts with values of up to £5m pa.
BigChange is the complete Job Management Platform that’s helping field service businesses across the UK to win more work, take control of their operations and deliver winning customer experiences.
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