Connected FM

The Dynamics of Soft and Hard Services in Facilities Management

Episode Summary

Today we are joined by Mauro Ortelli the Managing Director at 14forty, Jacqueline van Beek the Managing Director at Compass Group Netherlands, and David Hogland the President at ESFM USA. Together they delve into topics like the potential shift from soft to hard services, the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, the balance between technology and the human touch as well as the challenges and opportunities presented by the journey to net zero.

Episode Notes

Today we are joined by Mauro Ortelli the Managing Director at 14forty, Jacqueline van Beek the Managing Director at Compass Group Netherlands, and David Hogland the President at ESFM USA. Together they delve into topics like the potential shift from soft to hard services, the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, the balance between technology and the human touch as well as the challenges and opportunities presented by the journey to net zero.

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Episode Transcription

David Hogland: [00:00:00] I think what's important though, is how both hard and soft exist together. It's not one or the other. And I think it's also the fact that. If you can weave hospitality through the whole piece, we're going to end up giving a better workplace experience to our clients.

Host: Welcome to Connected FM, a podcast connecting you to the latest insights, tools, and resources to help you succeed in facility management. This podcast is brought to you by IFMA, the leading professional association for facility managers. If you are ready to grow your network and advance in your career, go to ifma.

org to get started. Today we're joined by Mara Ortele, the managing director at 1440, Jacqueline Van Beek, the managing director at Compass Group Netherlands, and David Hoagland, the president at ESFM USA. Together they delve into topics like the potential shift from soft to hard services, the impact of COVID 19 on the FM industry, as well as Challenges and [00:01:00] opportunities presented by the journey to net zero.

Now, let's get into it.

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Mauro Ortelli: Before we kick off, Jacqueline, be great if you could introduce yourself. Yeah,

David Hogland: sure.

Jacqueline van Beek: Jacqueline van Beek. I'm a managing director for the Netherlands with Compass Group and with the company now for three

David Hogland: years. And David Hogland, yeah, I've, I'm with Compass Group North America, delivering support services across the U S I've actually been with Compass for 20 years now, started in the [00:02:00] UK and somehow ended up in the States.

I was asked to come up with a funny fact. I actually started life as a pipe fitter welder. So you could say that I've been in this industry. Since the age of 16, when I started, and now I'm getting close to 60, which is getting really scary

Mauro Ortelli: to be honest. Still years to go, David, don't worry. And of course, my name is Mauro Ortelli.

So I'm the managing director of 1440, which is the support services business in the UK. We've got. Half an hour to have a chat about support services. And I thought so we could probably cover a couple of topics first and foremost, soft services versus hard services and why we focus on soft services, but why we see a real opportunity in the hard services arena as well.

So I guess Jacqueline in the Netherlands, your focus foremost is soft services.

David Hogland: Yeah,

Jacqueline van Beek: that's right. Yeah. We are do mainly soft services and like 27 different services we do. And in the state of maturity we are now, we are thinking about doing heart services as well to be also for the client a single [00:03:00] point of contact.

It's not in our DNA yet. So if we are going in this way, we are partnering with parties that are credible on this side. But for now, we're just doing the soft services at well, around and about

Mauro Ortelli: 30 clients. And then David, be self instructed.

David Hogland: So I think both can exist together. Over time, as we've gained experience and as we've gone through the maturity curve, then we've gained the experience in the hard services and now.

As an offer to our clients, we're offering the whole IFM experience in the U. S. I think what's important though is how both hard and soft exist together. It's not one or the other. And I think it's also the fact that if you can weave hospitality through the whole piece. We're going to end up giving a better workplace experience to our clients.

Oh, absolutely. And

Mauro Ortelli: I think actually it's also very similar in the United Kingdom, where our heritage is catering and hospitality. And I think [00:04:00] that's the USP really for all of us is that we approach facilities management and support services. The different terminology is used in different countries around the globe, but it's fundamentally built around our hospitality and delivering facilities, management support services with that sort of customer service ethos, I think is really important.

I guess a further question to you, David, in, in terms of your business in North America, how have you sort of grown it? How have you grown that business over time?

David Hogland: I think it's, again, we've developed those experiences by that going through that learning curve and that. Maturity curve from just soft services into hard services.

But as we've gained new clients, as we've bolted on clients, and as we've expanded our experience and the services we offer clients, it's enabled us then to, to generate this center of excellence group that again has enabled us to show the experience that we have. And the professional side of what we do and the experience we do to, to our clients, and [00:05:00] that has led to the growth and actually over the last four or five years, the growth has been double digit through the business.

And I think some of that is also back to what I said earlier around the hospitality. I think pre COVID there was this workplace experience was really starting to get kind of some momentum behind it, that all of a sudden COVID came and everybody went to work from home. And I was just in a session now where they were talking about the whole return to office and how do we get back people into the office and how people are actually more productive at home and how can we get them as productive in the office.

So I think hospitality. And a re engagement in the workplace experience is really going to be what's needed. And organizations like ours are ideally positioned. And that's being again, part of this growth trajectory for us as being around this hospitality and that being within our DNA.

Jacqueline van Beek: Yeah. But I also think that it's not.[00:06:00]

Either or is just going together and see what's the question of the client, what are his needs and how can you make a unique propositioning and how can we add value to the client in what he wants to achieve and then you can see what arrangement is best for the client or whether it's hard or whether it's soft.

And then I agree that the connecting dots are our hospitality DNA, which we have on food. Which makes the

David Hogland: difference. And I think we are seeing, we're seeing signs of it now where they've gone through that maturity curve, where they've single sourced services, they've bundled the services, they've gone down the whole IFM, TFM route, whatever we want to call it.

And now they're looking going, okay, I'm still not getting the value. What I need is those experts. That are going to be able to deliver the business. And depending on where you are in the world, those experts might be back to single sourcing because that's the maturity of the business in that country. [00:07:00] Or it might be into the bundling of the soft.

It might be in the bundling of the hard.

Mauro Ortelli: Absolutely. I think fundamentally, I think the most important thing is this hospitality heritage, isn't it? Exactly. And I'm in my, my experience starting off before I moved into facilities management was in, in the hotel industry, and I think we're all of the same in the, on the same page that this is, we're effectively running buildings as a hotels without beds.

So this is providing that. Absolutely. That's hospitality, hotel service. Yes. Managing those harder and softer. Elements, but actually not having the bedrooms that we need to service as well, which is a godsend in terms of sort of trends within the industry. What are you seeing David in North America?

David Hogland: Technology, we've got the whole, I don't know what we're going to come onto it, but the whole piece around sustainability and the environment. Yeah. And the more I look at that, it's not about it being a sprint. It's about a marathon because that's going to be with us for the next 20, 30 years. Diversity and inclusion is massive in particularly in North America, [00:08:00] as you can imagine, but I think it's the same around the world now that we need to have a lot more diversity and inclusion in the industry.

And I think when people don't talk about this a lot, but I'm really seeing now, and maybe it's just because of where I came from. Now I started life as an apprentice. I think we're seeing a real skill shortage. Particularly when you look at the traits. We've got people that left school like I did in the eighties that went to, and got an apprenticeship, learned to trade.

Then when implied that trade in their working careers, we've got now where people were coming out of college and out of school in the nineties and in the two thousands, basically, instead of going to trade school, they're going to work for the technology companies like Google or Facebook or whomever.

And now all of a sudden we've got a 20 year gap where those trades are starting to, those trade schools are starting to retire and there's no, there's nowhere to fill the gap. And I was talking to actually my wife's parents at the weekend. Because my father in law is from a building background [00:09:00] and he was telling me that bricklayers in London can earn up to a hundred thousand pounds a year as a bricklayer.

You think about coming out of trade school and being able to go into a role like that. And instead of going into a 30, 000 technology job, it's really becoming desirable, but you've got to go through the training. And for me, we've got ESG, we've got D& I, but I do think there's a skills gap. That's really going to be painful in the years to come.

And then

Mauro Ortelli: Jacqueline, how do you think support services plays out in your country? How is it considered as a service? Is it understood? Do you think?

Jacqueline van Beek: Yeah, it's an understood business model and I think due to COVID it even became more serious because when COVID hit us and also caterers, then revenue dropped and we all survived due to our services propositioning because everything had to be cleansed and everything have to be more intensive than there before.

That really also was a shift within our own [00:10:00] organization in the importance of facilities. And what you see as well is that data is getting even more important because it's not only services, but how can you prove and what's the effect and how does it add on in, in doing the services? And it's all about like food as well.

It's all about people. So I think our approach. It's not only about bricks and about making savings, it's about people and how can we get the touchpoints clear from the moment they leave the house and they go into the working environment? How can we make those touchpoints lighter and enjoyable from the moment they leave to till they get home?

And I think also COVID helped in making this more important in having the workplace as a second home and a place that you can enjoy and be inspired and by, by delivering food, but also delivering services, we can really make a difference there.

Mauro Ortelli: Absolutely. I think you touched on something that's really important.

We are the [00:11:00] glue. The people that provide support services or facilities management are the glue that holds those businesses together with a kind of silent service that's unseen in many aspects. I think following the pandemic, certainly in cleaning, we were expected to be more overt and upfront so people saw what we were doing and people felt more secure.

But to your point, it is about all of those touch points through every minute of the day. In terms of, I guess we touched on trends, but one of the big things that we're seeing certainly is that we're I Is, uh, some robotics as well. What's your view? Do you have a particular view on robotics, David? Not, I'm not going to ask you to give me a technical spiel on something.

Oh, I'm not going to do the robot dance either. Or the robot dance. Do you have a particular view on it? I know I do. And you know,

David Hogland: I think there's a place. But I think also we're trying to overachieve with robotics and you can never replace that human touch. It's you need to have, whether it's in the food service, whether it's in the other services [00:12:00] we deliver, there's always going to be a need for that human experience.

And we're hospitality. It's about interaction with people. Yeah. Robots don't interact with people. in the same way as humans do. So I think there's a place for robotics, but I don't think we can become overly dependent on them.

Mauro Ortelli: No, no. And I think Jacqueline, you're on the real start of that journey, aren't you?

So I won't ask you that question specifically. I know in the UK, a bit like yourself, David, you know, that there is a mindset that robots will, are the panacea that will fix my problems. I think, you know, that the cost of that technology is probably still a little bit too high to be. To really drive out lots of savings, but certainly to take away from the mundane tasks and to add value to what the human being can do, the cleaning operative that's working, it'll certainly provide a benefit.

So those long corridors, those big logistics centers, that big bit of kicking up and down in a safe way, you know, deliver some excellent cleaning. But actually then our individuals, our staff members that are working can then add that added [00:13:00] value. I think we're all on that same page. I

David Hogland: also think it goes back to post pandemic.

We still, as people return to the office, as people return to their work environment and you touch them up, I think there's this whole piece around now you have to be seen. So the building users seen touch points being cleaned regularly, taking care of, it's not just, you can't just now have a, a building that's clean KPIs.

I mean, I. That doesn't cut it anymore. It's about how do we create healthy buildings. And that's what will also help drive people back to the office. And I don't think robots actually do that.

Jacqueline van Beek: No, but I also think that robots will never replace human beings. And we have, do have a scarcity of personnel for now in the Netherlands.

So maybe it's an add on with the scarcity. That you, and also it's like funny to have seen this blue leaded thing in the hallway and that you can say, Oh, we do [00:14:00] innovation. This is our robotic system. You also have this Pepper, the reception robot where you can log in. And when we look at the usage of it, people still go to the reception when there's a person because they like the human touch.

So it's a grade on, and if you move towards innovations, then there are also smaller improvements or innovations than just a cleaning machine. Uh,

Mauro Ortelli: yeah, I think you're absolutely right. And if we think back to the first, to the opening address that we had this morning, a robot can't give you a high five and make you happy, can they?

And start that day in the right way. And I just think that smile as you walk into a building is second to none. I guess the huge topic that we're all aware of is this journey to net zero, which. I think everyone believes is the right thing to focus on. Ultimately, we are responsible for what will happen to our children and our grandchildren, and in fact, their children going forward in terms of North America.

What sorts of things are you doing in that sort [00:15:00] of space?

David Hogland: Oh, I think it's everything, you know, from utility management, whether that being electric gas, water, whatever those are, how we can make better use of the resources we have. And how we can drive down utility usage on behalf of our clients. But I think the discussion's way bigger than that.

It's about the new building of the future and what that's going to look like and the space we're going to exist in. There's probably 20 hours worth of podcasts we can do on this whole subject and never get to what, never get to what the answer is. I think we've got a whole group of people that are. Or trying to go 70 miles an hour at the minute to try to get to a solution.

When actually I don't think the solution exists today. And I think that's why I said earlier, this whole program is not a sprint. It's a marathon. And there's things that we don't know today that are going to benefit us, but we're not going to know that for a few more years yet until somebody's discovered [00:16:00] those and we start to implement those.

So I think. It being on the agenda is the right thing. I think planning for it and coming up with strategies of how we can better execute and support our clients is the right thing. But I don't think we have the answer yet. I think the answer is going to evolve over time, but we will get there because what's going to come after net zero, then people are going to say we want negative 10, we want negative 20, we want negative 50.

Again, I just don't think the whole thing's baked in yet, but I think we have to be absolutely, it has to be front and center of our agendas.

Mauro Ortelli: Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. Jacqueline, what's your view for the Netherlands?

Jacqueline van Beek: Yeah, in the Netherlands it's a very vibrant theme because we just had elections and there was really a statement over there for a party.

That is for the farmers saying, slow it down somewhat because we are now maybe going too fast in our ambitions on sustainability. And [00:17:00] when you see where the highest impact is, that's on the food part, it's on the dairy and that's on the meat. So there you can make large steps into putting down a smaller footprint on CO2.

And we have a, what we call green thread that's called Nula, it's a race to zero. And this is our way of thinking and acting in everything what we do. That's also in FM, in the products we use, in the way we encounter our personnel and people, scarcity of personnel. Just be very thoughtful of how you use the planning and how you encounter people.

Working towards, but I agree with you, it's, it, you can need more specific steps in towards where you want to go to land there. But, again, on food, we can make a lot, much larger steps than on the FM part, but we need to be there as well. No, absolutely.

David Hogland: And there needs to be a balance that you brought up the farmers.

It's not often. That the [00:18:00] Netherlands makes headline news in the US, but it has been lately, kind of thing with demonstrations that have been going on here. And that's why there needs to be a balance. It's not like you just can't throw the baby out with the bathwater. You've got to do over time and you've got to create that balance.

Yeah. And

Jacqueline van Beek: also you've got to seduce instead of say you can't anymore because we all drive electrical now. All our colleagues have an electrical car. We work in a BREEAM certified building, so we are contributing, but it's a journey and you can't do everything at

Mauro Ortelli: once. I think, I guess, to summarize, certainly around net zero, it is, it's a huge ambition.

I think each of our countries is absolutely focused on it and we recognize the importance of it. In the UK, it is science based targets, so we're trying to set a target pre pandemic and then working to drive out our carbon emissions based on that target that we've set. Although it's a huge ambition, it's actually not a difficult conversation to have with clients, which I think is beautiful because invariably you can talk about many other topics and [00:19:00] everyone has a different view, I think.

Predominantly, it's a view that everybody supports that we need to drive out our carbon emissions because for the benefits of our planet and as I said, our children going forward.

Jacqueline van Beek: But even better, when you don't have a plan and an ambition on this, it's also a knockout in the bids we get. So you need to be there and make a difference.

Otherwise the clients won't select you because it's just a no brainer. No,

Mauro Ortelli: absolutely. Absolutely. Without further ado, I'd like to say thank you so much for joining me on the podcast

David Hogland: today. No, thank you.

Host: Thank you so much for listening. I hope you really enjoyed this episode. And as always, please don't forget to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast for more incredible content.