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Interesting, unparalleled and unprecedented are some of the overworked adjectives used to describe life and times in 2020.
Not the best time perhaps for trying to build a new facilities management business, but a period in which Q3, the company that describes itself as a boutique FM service provider, has continued to develop and thrive. From its launch in 2018, Q3 has seen a rapid growth with revenues expected to top £20m by the end of 2020.
Why has Q3 succeeded when so many FM providers hit a wall during the Covid19 lockdown? According to CEO Martyn Freeman, the secret to bucking the trend lies in the basic philosophy and values on which the company was established. The name Q3 itself, was created to summarise the directors’ desire to achieve a powerful quality blend across the three main elements that make up their business – clients, people and service. This philosophy has held them in good stead in recent months.
Q3’s senior team is proud to be part of an entrepreneurial, privately-owned company, but at the same time operate with the confidence, mentality and governance that served all of them so well previously in larger, public-quoted companies. Q3 did not accept that a complete close down was necessary in every case and they worked closely with their clients to ensure continuity. So, from the outset, they treated the pandemic threat both as a unique change-management project and as a business opportunity.
There was a conscious decision by the management team to be hands-on and proactive to help clients adapt and adjust to the new normal. Instead of telling clients what could not be done, Q3 created dialogue. The team developed workarounds and processes for ensuring ongoing support for the clients’ core activities, whilst keeping those involved in operational delivery safe and secure. Senior-level engagement with all major customers was critical throughout the early days of Covid19, as well as a pragmatic adapt-plan-implement approach. Freeman argues that larger service providers have neither the flexibility and agility to work in this way, nor the intimate client relationships to achieve their support and buy-in.
Working closely with clients in this way has been particularly successful with Q3’s public-sector clients, which represent about half of the organisation’s Q3’s turnover. Looking after people is also a fundamental value for Q3 and during Covid19 and with the support of these clients, the company has managed to retain 100% of its managers and supervisors. This mirrors the 100% contract retention that Q3 has enjoyed since its inception, which is a measure of the strength of relationship the company has with its customers. Indeed, client relationships are so strong that Freeman claims that he could call on any one of his existing clients for a reference and get a good one.
The future for the FM sector has never looked so uncertain. As a result of lockdown, home working became the norm for many previously office-based employees and even now, with workplaces operating at reduced capacity, the whole raison d’être for the traditional FM model has been challenged. Martyn Freeman is of the opinion that the traditional FM delivery models were already creaking well before the global pandemic and that the recent demise of several major industry players was a portent of what was to come. FM providers will have to reappraise their role and their modus operandi if they are to survive and more than ever, clients will be demanding solutions that deliver value. Freeman believes that the all-embracing, Total-FM delivery model has had its day for many organisations, other than the large global multinationals, and even they will be reviewing their property and service provider strategies.
Martyn Freeman has some very unambiguous views on what the future holds for the sector and in particular for Q3 as an emerging force. “No organisations can tolerate the big overheads anymore, so service providers must use technology, experience and skills to achieve a sustainable business model that works for all parties. I see a very clear role for the new breed of service providers like Q3 who don’t seek to be grand, strategic partners, but simply focus on providing key services effectively and efficiently, delivering real value with quality. That simple philosophy will take us to the next step in the company’s development.”
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