The problem and the prize

The comments made by the MD of this small but growing general maintenance company captured the seriousness of the problem:

• We’ve got very good internal systems …but they’re from the ‘50s

• I’m very conscious the world changing quite quickly!

• If we’re not doing something new…we’re not going forward…

• Commercial maintenance is pretty generic so anything that differentiates us is good

The company had been around for some 20 years but for the last few years had “drifted” and the original MD wanted to exit the £750k pa turnover company.

The new MD bought the company and in the first year had shaken up many of the old paperbased systems and grown it by 30%. However, further growth was severely limitied as PQQ’s consistently asked for management system certifications the company did not have.

Essentially the company needed to tidy up it’s own internal processes and get UKAS approved certification to allow it access to more lucrative parts of the market.

The ambition was to smarten the systems and significantly grow the company.

The client

The company focused on highly competitive, predominantly low level commercial maintenance work for prestigious clients in the City of London. A typical job may be fixing a door handle or a blocked toilet, each job typically commanded between £50 and £500.

The approach and the solution

The approach was not to simply build a UKAS registered ISO management system; the approach was to develop a system that the company could use as a platform for consistency and growth: They wanted to make the system their own, as a result they gave it a name and developed a logo consistent with the company initials. The system became their:

The three members of the management team were completely committed to the growth of the company and how the project could help. Originally, the project was to be undertaken via a series of face to face meetings and workshops but with the onset of Covid-19 the entire project was undertaken virtually.

The initial task was to work on the company purpose. All systems need an “aim”, something to deliver on, and the question asked to define the “purpose” was – What are the benefits and capailities that you deliver to your clients? Their client purpose was defined as: Client purpose: We let busy and stressed facilities and property managers know that maintenance issues with their buildings will be solved efficiently and professionally & let them know when they are.

In considering the idea of a purpose for the system, impressively the, cerebral and people focused, MD suggested that there should also be a purpose for the staff. As a result, a second purpose was developed:

• Staff purpose: We will provide a supportive, fun environment where we help develop, challenge and fulfil our people whilst rewarding them properly

The purpose provides the aim for the systems and processes, the core activities undertaken, to deliver on. The core activities are those undertaken to deliver value to the client; essentially, the way in which the work works. This was defined as:

In order to fuel growth, there will be cash out at the beginning of these processes and cash back in at the end. As a result, it is these systems that need to be continually developed so they are made slicker, better & faster as the company changes and expands.

This core activity map was then placed in an overall systems diagram to give a “one page window” onto the entire system.

The outcome

• The company now has a “book of best practice” that will be used as a platform for a process of “creative destruction” to continually refine how the company’s work works

• On site end of job review systems have been introduced to identify additional works which within months returned more than the initial project cost

• Applications are now being made for contracts that could deliver a return of 10 or even 30 times the initial investment