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Time for TFM?

Published:  23 September, 2010

Is it time for centre owners to take a fresh look at total facilities management?

Total facilities management in shopping centres remains controversial. The vast majority of shopping centres are either managed in-house, or use single service providers. Others have gone down the bundled services route but outsourcing full management responsibility remains a step too far for most owners.

However, Incentive FM says its experience at Crystal Peaks in Sheffield shows that TFM can work on large and complex sites. Owned by Hermes and managed by Cushman & Wakefield, Crystal Peaks totals 550,000 sq ft with 2,000 car parking spaces.

Incentive FM was awarded the £1.5m pa contract in March 2008 “It smacked of TFM because of what it was trying to deliver,” remembers Incentive’s commercial director Martin Reed. “It’s a community centre and the one-team approach was ideal for that.”

Incentive employed a new site facilities manager and sixty staff resulting in a single branded team delivering security, cleaning, maintenance, customer service and administration functions.

Since switching to a TFM model, Crystal Peaks has seen consistent improvements.

While he’s a proponent of TFM, Reed concedes that it is not universally applicable. Capital Shopping Centres, for instance, was found to be “too big a challenge.”

However in another consultancy role, Incentive advised Lend Lease on the retendering of the FM contract at Bluewater and Touchwood, which resulted in the incumbent FM provider Vita Lend Lease winning a new three-year contract.

For Reed, this proves that a TFM approach can be effective in the largest and most complex centres. “If you get the TUPE right, if you get staff and management that are committed, then it’ll work. But you need a cultural fit and operational commitment.”

And Reed believes there are good reasons why, in a retail environment, one team is better than many. “In an environment where the customer experience is absolutely key, you simply can’t have a situation where a security guard walks past a spill, or just stands there and reports it and then thinks he’s done his job. But single service contracts make that silo mentality almost inevitable.