Tag Archives: commercial property maintenance

FT 1000: Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies

FT 1000 : Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies

Propertyserve, has made it into the inaugural FT 1000 list – a new league table compiled by the Financial Times and Statista, highlighting Europe’s fastest growing businesses.

“With well over 40,000 jobs a year, our 24/7 reactive fabric maintenance solution has been developed over the last 13 years and has expanded rapidly since 2012 and is continuing to grow.  For the business to be recognised in this way is brilliant and fantastic reward for all the hard work that the staff have contributed over the years”, comments Managing Director – Chris MacDonald.

The new league table, published in full in the Financial Times on April 24th, will be produced annually and ranks independent companies in 31 European countries, across all industries. Annual revenues of the 1000 companies featured ranges between €1.5 million and €3 billion EUR.

Ian Robertson, CEO of Propertyserve, commented: “We are extremely proud of this achievement, and to be aligned with such an established and well respected brand.

“Over the last few years, we have focused heavily on our growth, whilst – at the same time – continuing to provide the best possible levels of service. This result is a reflection of the commitment and enthusiasm of our team, and the support of our growing client base.”

What next for Britain’s barmy weather?

Are we really prepared for Britain’s Barmy Weather?

With the winter weather starting to take its toll on buildings, are you prepared for the highs and lows of property management in the UK over the coming four or five months?  From cold spells to weeks of endless wet weather, freeze and thaw conditions, plus the tail end of one or two hurricanes sent our way buildings need to function, stay open for business and be fit for purpose. Although the storms may make great news headlines, the FM’s amongst us will no doubt be holding our breath, as we go through the next few months, hoping to avoid the disruption adverse weather causes.

In 2007, when much of the UK was subject to flooding, the cost of repair to buildings was estimated to have been around £2 billion; almost £800 million of that attributed to commercial properties, affecting approximately 7,000 commercial.  A further cost to consider is the impact on business, adding a further £160 – £200 million*.

Since 2007, rainfall has increased significantly, with seven of the wettest years on record being in the last ten. In fact, 2015 was the second wettest year on record!


Turning our attention to temperature, eight out of ten of the hottest years have occurred since 2002.  Not surprising then that our buildings – residential and commercial alike – are feeling the strain!

Dealing with the aftermath of flood damage, roof leaks, blocked drains, gutters or gullies is time consuming and costly.  Before you know it, the day has passed and everything that needed to be done, hasn’t been! Such is the nature of the reactive side of FM, you have to be versatile, able to change your plans and react quickly to events, including severe weather related damage.

There is a lot that can be done to prevent such an arduous task and many of the preventative measures are simple and cost effective, especially when compared to the potential costs of repairs and replacements following weather related damage. This is not to mention insurance claims and tenants pursuing loss of earnings for not being able to trade or for damaged stock.

It will probably not come as much of a surprise to learn that the extremes of weather, due to climate change, are having a significant impact on our buildings. As a result, the costs of keeping them running and open for business have risen dramatically over the last decade too.

Whilst we can’t stop the rain, we can minimise the damage and disruption to our property.

Picture the scenario:  the rain starts to fall and it just keeps coming, day after day. A property manager with a large portfolio of buildings located across the UK, is desperately and frantically ringing around, trying to find contractors to patch up the holes where the leaks are springing across multiple properties. Inevitably, the phone rings off the hook, time and again. To add to the chaos, the building manager or Facilities manager is unlikely to be able to respond to the myriad calls and (frantic) messages from tenants.

For many, at this stage, it’s about survival – corners are sometimes cut just to make sure that a job is being attended. As a result, compliance and financial impact can fail to be properly addressed as you battle to jobs underway. A contractor that can attend, and says they can do the job, sounds just what you have been hoping for – especially when you have tenants screaming at you.  However, the fact is, if you send a contractor to site, that doesn’t have the correct insurances, accreditations, can provide the necessary RAMS and health & safety documentation, you and your business are at risk should anything happen on site.  That’s before you are billed for minimum call out charges of two- four hours!

Quibbling about call out charges at that point does not even register, neither does detailed accounts of what went on with a building, where the problem was or what’s going on to solve it. Let’s be honest, in the majority of cases these are secondary to ensuring 1. The asset is protected and maintained, and 2. The tenant is placated and left satisfied.

Now, imagine an alternative scenario, a solution that means you can call just one number, to organise a pre-qualified and actively managed contractor to attend.  One where you can keep up to date with ongoing jobs in real time, wherever you are, at any time.  One with compliance and RAMS attached to each job, minimising your risk. One that automatically tells you a contractor has been dispatched, their ETA and when jobs have been completed. One where you are still very much in control of your day and can minimise the disruption caused to your tenants by inclement weather. And one that logs and records for reporting on any fabric related problem like broken windows, blocked toilets or guttering issues together with other unforeseen circumstances.

That capability exists, 24/7 across the UK for any building fabric eventuality; coping with the affects that extreme weather conditions are having on our properties.

It is vital for property managers to build a comprehensive picture around where future funds will need to be directed in any planned maintenance schedules, to overcome underlying issues with the building fabric – specifically relating to the impacts of adverse weather.

Some might say being so well prepared may take away all the fun of the reactive property maintenance roller coaster. They could even look back with rose tinted spectacles on those frantic times with a wry smile and a quiet sigh of relief that they weren’t ‘caught out’. Bit, as we move towards autumn and winter, and no doubt a new deluge of weather related subsequent issues, I would ask whether any property manager really wants to relive those experiences again?

Propertyserve procures, manages and delivers facilities support services to UK commercial and residential organisations.  We currently provide reactive fabric maintenance solutions to more than 4,000 properties nationwide through our fully managed and compliant supply chain.

Property management is stressful – let us help

Stress in the workplace

Stress accounts for 40 per cent of all work-related illness. With national employment at an all-time high, it goes without saying that if you want the best people to stay with you – you have to look after their wellbeing.

The effects of stress at work, cannot and should not be underestimated.  ‘There’s no health without mental health’ was the recent, central and powerful message from the UK’s Department of Health. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), reported that 428,000 people in the UK suffered from work-related stress “at a level they believed was making them ill” and that stress accounts for 40% of all work related illnesses.

We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Both change throughout our lives and, like our bodies, our minds can become unwell. The UK Chief Medical Officer raised concerns in a report in 2014 stating that 70 million working days are lost each year in the UK due to mental illness – of which stress, was a significant portion.

So, with stress levels in the workforce on the increase, at a time when the unemployment figures in the UK are amongst their lowest, can you afford to ignore wellbeing and still attract the right staff?  The leverage of a significant salary may not be the driver it once was when retaining or attracting the best employees; many will be looking at the ‘whole picture’.  All employers have to move with the market offering more and more money to procure the best talent, that’s just business.  However, today’s successful employers have identified that offering their employee’s job satisfaction and equipping them with what they need to complete their job is just as important as how much is in their bank account at the end of the month.

In the property management sector particularly, staff are being asked to take on more. The requirements of a modern day client have escalated significantly – more responsibility and pressure to do things quicker, more efficiently and at reduced cost. Faced with these demands, unless you change how your department works or bolster your teams, the constant fire-fighting soon becomes waring.  Quickly, staff become less happy, stop talking to one another because they are “too busy”, which in turn leads to communication failure, isolation, sickness rates rising and staff retention problems.

Consider the Gallup 12 employment survey. It’s about how you feel valued in your place of work, how you interact with your workplace and engage with others in it.  How, by being able to do your job well, you grow in confidence and are afforded opportunities to learn and become the very best version of you possible. People thrive on challenges.  Often, when they feel confident they achieve things that they thought they weren’t capable of doing. The more successful organisations encourage this – at all levels of the business – they ensure staff have time to grow and are not dragged down with mundane tasks, which often take the most time and seemingly never end.

Take your typical property manager; I’d put money on the fact that they didn’t enter this industry to spend an afternoon sorting out a blocked toilet! Moreover, these menial tasks are often those that take up huge amounts of time, not to mention the stress involved in dealing with irrate tenants and contractors that don’t understand the importance of good communication, especially is emergency situations.

Many articles relating to employee wellbeing have been written over the past few years.  Largely they concentrate on wellbeing initiatives afforded to the employee for example: Perkbox, free fruit, coffee machines, gym membership etc. These are bonuses, and yes – of course – they are important.  However this is just papering over the cracks.  Fundamentally if you are constantly unable to do your job, a Skinny Latte or a Pepperoni slice won’t give you the job satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that successfully completing tasks does.


So what can make the difference?

Simply put – allowing people to excel in their jobs. Being innovative as to how you can free up their time to be good at the things they are employed to do. In FM terms, this means reducing client risk, providing tenants with an excellent building experience and ensuring the building itself is maintained and managed in a way that protects the owner’s good name and makes it as desirable to potential buyers and tenants as possible.

There are options and solutions that don’t involve spending thousands of pounds on coffee machines or corporate gym memberships. In the property sector, the aim should be to give property managers and FM’s the tools to do their job successfully by reducing the time consuming and mundane tasks for them. It should be about, assisting them and providing additional resource and support, whilst freeing up their time to make them, and your business, more productive.

Absolutely employers need to take employee wellbeing seriously and it should be a major contributor to how any business sets its stall out. Wellbeing initiatives aren’t just a great idea, they are a necessity and really can improve staff morale, loyalty and absolutely give the employee a sense of belonging and value. But let’s not forget that getting the job done is the driver for any employee and the best place to start is to provide them with the tools to do it.  And only then can they enjoy the coffee machines, pizza and gym membership.


Case Study: Cushman and Wakefield

Propertyserve (UK) Ltd, was invited to tender for the UK FM helpdesk contract for Cushman and Wakefield Property and Asset Management, Corporate Occupier and Investor Services, Cushman & Wakefield Site ServicesLtd.

PS were successful with the bid, the story doesn’t end there though, please take a minute to see how that has worked, the implementation process and comments from Cushman & Wakefield personnel


How Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

As I find myself encamped in the hotel lobby awaiting my next appointment I’m allowed a little time to reflect on the past 3 or so months with Propertyserve… yes, 3 months already. My journeys have seen me travel to Stirling, Birmingham, Edinburgh, London, Teeside, as well as nearer to home in Leeds, Manchester and Shipley to name a few, and serve to highlight the vast coverage of Propertyserve UK and its supply chain.

The team has now been completed with the arrival of Ricky Nelson as the southern contract manager allowing David Lackenby to move into his new role as quality manager. In the near future we will be working closely together to identify pinch points, plan ahead as well as providing ideas for continued improvement.

I can’t help but be reflective in relation to time and at this moment reminds me of a director I worked with previously who opened my eyes to time management. We had many discussions regarding this topic with one comment sticking in my mind which I would like to share with you:

“Treat time as a management tool, an asset to be used and managed wisely. This in turn will allow you to work smarter, not longer” 

I see a link which fits in well with the recent blog released by Chris MacDonald in relation to employee well-being. To allow us to manage time we need to be motivated, fresh and engaged. I have seen and experienced first-hand the employee welfare package available to all of Propertyserve’s employees. The need for breakout space, small reward, fitness incentives, the provision of fresh food and drink in addition to quiet areas to ensure minimal distraction are all elements which often are neglected. Yet these directly impact on morale and, subsequently, performance. Believe me, in the past I fell foul to the ethos that working longer was the answer. Sometimes we just need to reflect, discuss and adapt the way we operate to achieve the correct balance. This in itself is not an easy task given the demands and pressures we find, but it can be achieved and is sometimes simply a change of mindset.

I often hear people discuss work/life balance being difficult to achieve. I believe that the benefits currently being offered to myself and my colleagues can only help conquer this, at the same time ensuring we are all prepared mentally and physically in the various service lines we offer to our clients. Needless to say, a happy workforce is, more often than not, an efficient workforce.

I have once again been astounded with the dedication shown not only by the front line troops, but by the management team’s commitment to ensure our workforce is motivated, empowered and rewarded.

I will leave you with the following quote to help you when time is taking control of your day:

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you”

Richard Parkin – Regional Contracts Manager, North

Propertyserve Partners with PerkBox

Propertyserve UK has teamed up with staff benefits provider Perkbox. Set up with the belief that the best companies to work for look after their teams, Perkbox offers staff a fantastic way of saving money and enables them to treat themselves, family and friends, without breaking the bank. Our partnership with Perkbox is another sign of the commitment to our employee well-being programme and so far it is going down well!

“Perkbox offers something different,” explains Chris MacDonald, Managing Director, “it allows our staff to enjoy activities and time outside of work at reduced costs”. Chris recently published a blog highlighting the time he spent working with various departments across the company. “I believe morale is key in the workplace and Perkbox is another avenue to sustaining a happy team,” he says. Saurav Chopra, co-founder of Perkbox, agrees. “Ensuring that a team can remain satisfied and motivated in their role is essential for delivering quality work and services for their customers, which will ultimately lead to further growth and success.”

So far, the team has jumped on the opportunity with the vast majority of employees signing up. “I’ve already taken advantage of the available discounts,” says Katherine Spencer from accounts, “I got a reduced price on a brand new washer/dryer – that arrives on Friday – and I’ve booked my car parking for when I go on holiday next month. I’ll be using the discounted cinema tickets most weeks, too.”

Hopefully, this is the start of a long and successful relationship!