29 Apr 2020

COVID-19: 7 Survival Strategies for FM Businesses

As businesses around the world continue to seek ways of keeping their heads above the COVID-19 waters, the global Facilities Management (FM) market – and indeed those of developing markets such as Nigeria, also continues to respond to the changes the pandemic presents before them.

This was the crux of our know-sharing initiative, FM Market Outlook Series. The series, with the theme: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Nigerian FM Market held last week and led by the Head of Planning & Enterprise Management Systems (PEMS), Alpha Mead Group, Ukeme Peters.

The webinar opened up the various dynamics around the global economy and situated Nigeria within the scheme of things. He appraised the impact of COVID-19 on the general market and narrowed it down to the Real Estate and Facilities Management. Download the presentation HERE.

After appraising the macro and micro economic environment, here are 8 survival strategies FM businesses might apply to survive during and post-COVID19:

  1. Financial Planning:

As business revenue nosedives due to market realities, clients will demand more from their Facilities Management partners or teams. For some companies, these new demands will range from increase in scope without commensurate increase in service charges or management fees; and for others, it will mean a reduction in either their FM team or partner’s team – as part of the overall rationalization that most businesses are engaging in now.

Whichever option the client chooses, it will definitely affect the revenue and by extension the cash flow and profit of the FM company.

Therefore, FM companies must include in their financial plan ways to increase revenue – win new businesses or creatively expand the scope of existing ones, put stringent measures around their cash flow – focusing on how to conserve cash rather than burn it. At another level, there should also be a strategy to defray or minimize the impact of financial obligations such as loan, credit, etc.

  1. Strategic Planning

FM Companies must redefine their business plans to ensure optimal use of man, money and machine. This is not a time to have idle assets at these three levels. Strategic planning for FM businesses at this time should focus on faster recovery and on how to achieve more with less.

As said in the first point of, virtually all businesses will be experiencing a slow down this period. So the questions FM businesses should ask is, what are our recovery plans and how long will they take to bring us back to where we were? What do we need in terms of man, money, machine and technology? Which of these do we have in abundance and which is scarce? How do we shore up our deficiency and manage our ideal assets?

  1. Supply Chain Planning

This is very key to the FM business and must be re-thought again to accommodate the unexpected fall out of a post-covid-19 era.

From the logistics of sourcing to supply; vendor selection to pricing; negotiations, delivery and payment; a supply chain that is not in tune with market realities can ruin an FM business in a time like this.

Therefore, to survive this season, FM companies must re-think their supply chain to access materials and services at the lowest possible cost, without compromising quality.

  1. Business Risks & Continuity Plan

Although economies around the world are now in favor of easing the lock down, it is not any indication that the pandemic is over or its impact on human and businesses is no longer far-reaching.  No one can fully speculate at this time the eventual outcome of COVID-19.

Therefore, FM businesses must develop – if they don’t have before now – a risk register and cultivate the habit of periodically evaluating the changes that are happening across the economic, political, socio-cultural, environmental, legal and technological space.

The result of this risk evaluations and suggested risk mitigation and elimination actions should form the bedrock of the Business Continuity Plan, which the business can draw from as the market or its variables change.

  1. Develop Human Capacity

As many companies try to find their footing, they will be required to do more with less. This will cascade to various industries including the Facility Management Industry and the need to become fit for the future will increase. Organizations who are able to demonstrate in addition to their expertise, adaptability and future-fit thinking through business processes, delivery methods, and technological capabilities will remain relevant and high demand.

  1. Stakeholder Management

Communication is key during and post the pandemic. There should be a clear understanding of the expectations of stakeholders and how to manage them through constant and timely communication.

Stakeholders for FM business usually range from customers/clients, to vendors, bankers, government agencies in charge of environment, employees and the community. Each of these stakeholders have expectations of the FM business. The earlier their expectations are managed through engagement, the better.

  1. Brand Management

COVID-19 is the first global pandemic to occur during the social media age and according to Forbes, internet use has increased by 70%. One of the survival strategies for FM businesses at this time is how they position their brand in the mind their stakeholders.

This is an unusual situation and people need accurate information to stay safe. FM organizations that focuses their brand on helping and educating people about how to navigate the period within their homes, offices and other physical environment will endear themselves to the stakeholders and will reap the reward for this investment into the future.

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