25 November 2016 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
A report by the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association about the trends for facilities management in the retail sector describes the FM of the future as someone who is no longer a skilled tradesperson.
Instead, facilities managers will have to manage multiple complex systems generating big data that must be analysed, sorted and interpreted. It also says training and recruiting future FMs is “critical to the industry”.
The report, an annual review of the state of retail facilities management and key trends affecting retailers and suppliers, talks of organisations in America – but the lessons are transferable.
Other trends that the report identifies will change the FM industry and how an FM goes about their job include decisions being increasingly driven by technology because of the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the evolution of the retail landscape from indoor shopping malls into “highly specialised, trending stores, pop-ups, outlet centres and high-end malls”.
Are these trends applicable to FMs in the UK’s retail sector? Mark Rycraft, centre manager at Middleton Grange Shopping Centre in Hartlepool, thinks so. He told FM World: “The report is pretty accurate. As a shopping centre manager, you have to have a wide and varied experience – you have to tend to operational and retail functions.”
Rycraft thinks the changes identified in the report have been happening in the industry “for a long time”.
He says: “Customer service is key to running an establishment such as a shopping centre. It’s not just about people who are dressed the part and dealing up front with customer’s queries, but also about cleaners and security personnel also being able to deal with these.”
Rycraft says he regularly trains people in customer services about “going the extra mile”.
This is even more vital because of social media, he points out.
“Long gone are the days that if you get bad service you tell nine people – now because of social media if you experience bad service you can tell nine million people,” says Rycraft. “Your brand identity can be damaged without you knowing exactly what you have or have not done.”
Shopping centres are also becoming places to do more than just shop. “Millennials have changed the way people shop,” continues Rycraft. “There is more time spent doing different activities within shopping centres and eating out, going to the cinema.”
Being a shopping centre manager is no longer just about “selling goods, but also about window-dressing, product design, marketing and handling cash”. Rycraft says it is also his role to reach out into the surrounding community. “I work a lot in the community and integrating the local school’s curriculum with what FM is. My role is widening their view of shopping centres.”
A breakdown of the major trends includes:
Training and recruiting future FMs is critical to the industry.
Relationship selling: The trend in successful retail FM marketing and sales is built on understanding retail FM needs, psychology, vertical markets, and establishing relationships, using case studies and testimonials, while delivering value – not selling products and services.
Technology – data-driven decisions: The Internet of Things, cyber security, the digital ceiling, augmented and virtual reality, and nanotechnology are all driving retail facilities management. Technology that delivers a proven return on investment will continue to influence FM.
The evolution of the retail environment: During the past 20 years the retail landscape has evolved from hundreds of indoor shopping malls into specialised trending stores, pop-ups, outlet centres and high-end malls. Retailers depend upon the FM to play a key role in transforming the retail environment, enticing customers to shop in physical stores instead of online.