TIPS Noting that we are now only weeks away until the season starts, here’s the advice I would give to busy FMs in the lead up to winter. Who can say if it will be a harsh one, but following this advice is a good step:

► Don’t take the view “it can wait” or “it’s not a priority right now”. Short mobilisation time frames put unnecessary pressure on all parties. This could have a very detrimental impact, no one wants to start off on the wrong foot.

► Engage with your FM’s, internal teams and clients to ensure you are procuring a service fit for purpose,

and ask for these details in your proposals. We appreciate that, in turn, the clients of FM’s may need to take time to consider the proposal so leave plenty of time - the season doesn’t wait. Any service provider ‘worth its salt’ will be ensuring that all its clients are ready and prepared to deliver the service.

► Rely on the stats and facts of winter gone by – where did service work/not work?

► Ensure you work with a proactive partner – a specialist that is ready to pre-empt and protect.

► Make sure you keep communication lines open, to ensure your provider can operate at full capacity – prepared to tackle the winter on your behalf.

and de-risk the asset from adverse winter weather. We know portfolios can quickly change and our bespoke systems have been developed with this in mind. If we are not engaging with our clients regularly, we are not asking for the right people or obtaining the right information - leaving all parties susceptible to possible errors and issues when the service needs to really count.

Typically, engagement starts or becomes more frequent around July – following on from a period of review and reflection. Conversations peak around mid-September continuing into October. For us this is quite late with only weeks to go until the start of the season, but the trend seems to be that facilities managers only start to collate site information specifically for winter services from late July onwards.

We would always advocate the need to provide a bespoke service, moving away from off-the-shelf provision. This type of relationship encourages best practice at every level, and means we can fully get to grips with client needs and demands.

When to engage and how There is no right or wrong time to engage with a prospective provider to discuss, plan or agree to a winter provision.

However, from our point of view, a successful partnership means having conversations year-round, not just during the winter and the cold weather. It is vital for providers to know what makes their clients tick, in order to ensure optimum service levels at every stage. There is little point in running a winter service contract based on only a few preliminary conversations at the beginning of the winter. It is vitally important to work with a reputable forecaster ensuring services are provided where and when required; experience and strategy planning help us to deliver time and again.

For the busy FM, the door continually revolves when it comes to aspects including personnel and properties. We understand that primarily the FM needs to protect

The offering In very basic terms, our task for winter gritting is the spread of salt. But - as we advise clients time and again - there are alternative de-icing products available to do that task should salt not be the answer, and we encourage an open dialogue with our clients to ensure the right product fit. The best solution starts with engagement.

Our work with a client to find the best product for use on a metal raised helicopter pad saw the trial of brine solution, acetate, and phosphate-based liquids to measure the best product for the job. The understanding that while the product specification for a number of alternatives did the job ‘on paper’; only with measured on site trials were we able to choose a product that worked in reality.

Our clients are very proactive when it comes to making contact with us during the winter - feeling the pressures from their own customers to ensure their sites remain open and operational. During the summer months we acknowledge our service is not top of the list and other things take priority. However, the communication for us has to be consistent throughout the year to ensure that we and, in turn, you the FM, can be as prepared as possible. As an FM you want to be confident in your choice of supplier for your client and while winter maintenance might be a small part of your overall facilities solution the wrong choice could leave you out in the cold. TOMORROW’S FM | 55

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