Tag Archives: Helpdesk Management

Case Study: Cushman and Wakefield

Propertyserve (UK) Ltd, was invited to tender for the UK FM helpdesk contract for Cushman and Wakefield Property and Asset Management, Corporate Occupier and Investor Services, Cushman & Wakefield Site ServicesLtd.

PS were successful with the bid, the story doesn’t end there though, please take a minute to see how that has worked, the implementation process and comments from Cushman & Wakefield personnel

cushman-wakefield-case-study

How Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

As I find myself encamped in the hotel lobby awaiting my next appointment I’m allowed a little time to reflect on the past 3 or so months with Propertyserve… yes, 3 months already. My journeys have seen me travel to Stirling, Birmingham, Edinburgh, London, Teeside, as well as nearer to home in Leeds, Manchester and Shipley to name a few, and serve to highlight the vast coverage of Propertyserve UK and its supply chain.

The team has now been completed with the arrival of Ricky Nelson as the southern contract manager allowing David Lackenby to move into his new role as quality manager. In the near future we will be working closely together to identify pinch points, plan ahead as well as providing ideas for continued improvement.

I can’t help but be reflective in relation to time and at this moment reminds me of a director I worked with previously who opened my eyes to time management. We had many discussions regarding this topic with one comment sticking in my mind which I would like to share with you:

“Treat time as a management tool, an asset to be used and managed wisely. This in turn will allow you to work smarter, not longer” 

I see a link which fits in well with the recent blog released by Chris MacDonald in relation to employee well-being. To allow us to manage time we need to be motivated, fresh and engaged. I have seen and experienced first-hand the employee welfare package available to all of Propertyserve’s employees. The need for breakout space, small reward, fitness incentives, the provision of fresh food and drink in addition to quiet areas to ensure minimal distraction are all elements which often are neglected. Yet these directly impact on morale and, subsequently, performance. Believe me, in the past I fell foul to the ethos that working longer was the answer. Sometimes we just need to reflect, discuss and adapt the way we operate to achieve the correct balance. This in itself is not an easy task given the demands and pressures we find, but it can be achieved and is sometimes simply a change of mindset.

I often hear people discuss work/life balance being difficult to achieve. I believe that the benefits currently being offered to myself and my colleagues can only help conquer this, at the same time ensuring we are all prepared mentally and physically in the various service lines we offer to our clients. Needless to say, a happy workforce is, more often than not, an efficient workforce.

I have once again been astounded with the dedication shown not only by the front line troops, but by the management team’s commitment to ensure our workforce is motivated, empowered and rewarded.

I will leave you with the following quote to help you when time is taking control of your day:

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you”

Richard Parkin – Regional Contracts Manager, North

The Life of a Northern Contract Manager

As I sat on the big bird in the sky, en route to Heathrow airport to begin the new chapter in my career, it allowed me time to contemplate, review and also enjoy the clear blue skies above the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

I was filled with all of the normal feelings when starting a new role; nerves, excitement, trepidation, the unknown followed by the unnerving thoughts…

Will I fit in?

Can I make a real impact on the business?

Have I made the right choice?

Monday 8th June – my official start date and my re-introduction with Chris Macdonald (Managing Director), a formidable character standing 6ft plus in stature, well-spoken and, on first impressions, a great judge of character – after all he did offer me the job!

It wasn’t long before I was put at ease and was immediately made to feel at ‘home’ in the beautiful surroundings of the converted barn housing the Propertyserve UK team in rural Amersham. As we worked our way around the different departments being introduced, I could not help but feel the buzz and team ethos emanating from the teams. This became infectious, however I was still the new kid on the block and had to earn the right to be part of the team.

As Vanessa, Oli, Mel and Lawrence took the time to hold my hand and introduce me to the helpdesk I was struck by the professionalism, dedication and positivity from them. I must however reserve special thanks to Sam Wooster who had unfortunately been lumbered with me for what must have felt like an eternity. As I sat in listening to calls coming through the system, I had a flashback to all those years ago when I was a helpdesk operative and remembered these guys are on the sharp end of the business.

Sam soon managed to shake me off and it wasn’t long before I was thrown in at the deep end taking calls – the less said about this the better!

The following days I spent time getting to know some of the contractors who had visited the office for reviews, as well as spending time with Nikki and her fantastic team in the accounts department. This was followed by a visit to the Excel in London. Once I had finally figured out the way around the FM show I accompanied Chris in collecting the Tomorrow’s FM 2015 Helpdesk of the year award. This, after the time spent with the guys on the helpdesk, all made sense and simply confirmed my initial thoughts of the team.

Following my two week ‘initiation’ I was released back up north along with my new colleague David Lackenby. I was home. “Time to get cracking,” I bellowed in my deepest Yorkshire accent as we set off on our northern contractor adventure. As we pounded the M1 and M62 motorways meeting and greeting many existing suppliers as well as meeting potential new relationships I already felt like one of the team, a feeling which helped me as I followed David’s lead on the initial meetings.

As we swept across the Northwest, Yorkshire and the Northeast like an election candidate on a voting drive, we found ourselves in Manchester searching for respite by means of food and a light beverage. Given the feeling of progress and small victory I felt we had achieved it was only fitting that given we were in Manchester, and following the wise words of a one Louis Van Gaal: “We win, we go to Wings!”

It wasn’t long before our little venture was at an end and we parted ways to enjoy the weekend and reflect on the work and progress we had made with the supply chain. As I drove home that evening I was again offered the time to reflect on the last 3 weeks which allowed me to re-contemplate the questions I had whilst on the flight to Heathrow:

Will I fit in? I hope I have as I could not help but already feel an affiliation to the team, the company ethos and a feeling of content.

Can I make an impact? Only time will tell, but I sat in the car with a great feeling of excitement, optimism and energy.

Have I made the right choice? My response: I wish I had joined Propertyserve UK sooner!

To the future!

 

Richard Parkin – Regional Contracts Manager – North

Propertyserve’s Top Four Strangest Calls

Over the last ten years the staff at Propertyserve have certainly had a wide array of call outs to deal with. From lift entrapments to ceiling leaks, flooded drains to blazing buildings, our helpdesk operators have seen the lot. With over a decade of property maintenance calls, some are bound to push the boundaries of what we’d consider normal requests, however. “I’m used to taking cleaning requests from tenants,” says Tori Nagle, one of our most experienced members of staff, “things like flooded carpets or clearing out entire office floors are pretty common. One day about a year ago, though, I answered the phone to a woman who’d just finished her breakfast and had spilt a bit of her yoghurt on the floor. She wanted us to send out a cleaner on an emergency basis to wipe it up”. With a plethora of great stories from our helpdesk operators, narrowing them down into a blogable list was difficult – but here, in a very vague but certainly not definitive order, are four of our favourite call-out requests of the last ten years.

4. Evening of the Living Dead
Saturday evenings can get fairly busy for our out of hours staff. “The time was about 11 o’clock in the evening on a relatively quiet Saturday night and the phone started ringing,” says Tony Martin. “Our typical calls at this kind of time will be for fire alarm activations or leaks – that sort of thing. I picked up the phone and the guy on the other end was clearly in a bit of a panic. He was quite out of breath and was talking really fast and was difficult to understand at first. Even when I asked him to slow down, I still thought I was mishearing what he was saying. When someone tells you there are zombies running around outside, you kind of do a double take”.

Tony’s hearing was fine, however, as it became apparent that the flustered security guard was genuinely amidst a real-life zombie apocalypse. Left alone overnight the guard had headed outside to carry out one of his hourly patrols only to find his torch trained on a limping, torn-clothed, blood smeared zombie straight out of Evil Dead on the road outside his industrial unit. Somewhat surprised and suspecting a prank, the guard walked on to find several more wandering about and a hoard of hundreds groaning and shuffling over the fence to the next door unit. “It took us a while to realise what was really going on. An events company had organised an overnight zombie escape game in the next door unit and the guard hadn’t been told about it. All these people dressed as zombies were running about all over the place – the poor guy must’ve been terrified!”

3. Trouble in the Pipeline
In her three years at Propertyseve, Vanessa Aldridge has taken her fair share of strange calls. “The best one I took has to be the time I answered the phone to a less-than enthused tenant explaining that he’d lost his favourite ferrets into the pipework of a building we take care of”, she says, “They’d scampered in amongst the pipes that served the building and he couldn’t get them out”. Liaising with the sympathetic Facilities Manager, Vanessa was eventually required to call out the fire brigade to cut into the pipes and release the furry fugitives. “I don’t know if they found them – I hope they did.”

2. Where There’s Smoke…
“Four o’clock in the morning is never a good time for anything,” says Tony Martin, who’d only just recovered from his zombie scare a couple of weeks before. “We’ve had fires reported to us before and when we get them there’s a lot of people than need informing and contractors lining up to carry out remedial repairs once the fire brigade have made the building safe, so when the security guard on the phone told me he’d called 999 and that the emergency services were on their way I knew I was in for a tricky morning.”

Following the set procedure for reporting fires, Tony proceeded to call the Facilities Manager, potential contractors to prepare them for any emergency repair instructions and informed the rest of the helpdesk and management here at Propertyserve. “I had just finished informing the last person on my list when the phone rang again. It was the security guard again sounding utterly miserable. The fire brigade had arrived and located the source of the fire: steam was being generated from the rain falling on the slightly warm lamps outside the building. Apparently the orange glow from the lights made it look like it was ablaze.” While false alarms are a common occurrence at Propertyserve, the security guard’s reaction makes this call stick out in Tony’s mind.

1.       Another One Bites the Dust
Back when the helpdesk was relatively small, Chris MacDonald – now our Managing Director – was working on the helpdesk and had charge of the weekend phone. “About 5 o’clock in the evening I got a call from a distressed woman in a residential property shrieking down the phone that she had a mouse in the kitchen. As I tried to calm her down I arranged for our pest control contractors to attend and they were able to get to her pretty quickly,” explains Chris. “Once they got there they found her perched on top of the worktop in the middle of the room refusing to get down. Our guys didn’t have to look for very long to find the little perpetrator, but what they found wasn’t entirely what they were expecting.

“Instead of an innocent mouse, a small ball of dust was being blown around by the heating fan in the kitchen. The woman had been up on the counter too scared to even look closely enough to realise she was hiding from a piece of fluff.” Although the dust ball was removed humanely and released safely back into the wild, this story doesn’t have an entirely happy ending; after helping the relieved resident down from the kitchen-top the pest control officer headed back downstairs to find his van had been towed for parking illegally!

Jake Jones – Propertyserve Helpdesk

The Signs are Good for 2015

The transition from one year to another presents us with the opportunity to take stock, take a look over our shoulder and then rise onto our tiptoes to catch a glimpse of what’s over the hill.

In terms of both the property market and our own business, both landscapes are currently proving easy on the eye. However, as Michael Fish will testify following the storm of ‘87, forecasts can be wrong. We’re not resting on our laurels; our teams are continuing to work as diligently as ever to ensure we remain at the forefront of helpdesks who are in fact ‘helpful’.

Operating purely in the property and asset management sector, we keep a constant eye on market trends and the views of industry experts. With that in mind, what better way to start this assessment than by giving a brief summary of the market.

2014 was a good year for UK commercial property. The economic recovery coupled with low levels of development has meant that the balance between demand and supply has swung in the favour of landlords indicating that the rental market will see accelerated growth in 2015. London has seen vacancy rates drop to pre-crisis levels with the regions following suit at a predictably lower pace. Manchester in particular stands out in terms of growth in the office sector.

From our perspective there also seems to have been a rise in the number of industrial units and parks changing hands. According to industry experts, the rise in this stock has been largely attributed to the move to online shopping resulting in increased delivery requirements as well as the rise in traditional occupiers, such as builder’s merchants.

So, what does that mean for us? The rise in tenanted property indicates that we will – potentially – have more tenants to handle within our existing client base. It also means that any property management firms without a helpdesk facility will be fighting more fires on a day-to-day basis – with many slowly coming to realise the power of working with an outsourced helpdesk provider. We have already seen the result of this in the market and are speaking to a number of companies of varying sizes who can see the storm coming and are scouring the market for options. We’re delighted to say that early discussions have gone well on all fronts and we’re anticipating a very busy 2015.

As a company, we have also had to make provisions for the anticipated market growth. This has come in a variety of forms, which include:  bolstering our Out of Hours presence to ensure it keeps pace with our impressive In Hours performance –  currently boasting an average pick up time of 3.6 seconds over the past 6 months. We have also reviewed contractor performance and rates to ensure we remain very competitive in the market – our average attendance to a fabric repair emergency in 2014 has been 48 minutes nationally. This is all being achieved whilst proving to be 40% better value than average labour rates in Central London according to contractual independent benchmarking.

At Propertyserve we feel we are prepared to stride into 2015 with our house in good order and a lot to say to the market. 2014 saw significant growth in terms of turnover, client base and our own team. The day Propertyserve opened its doors to the world in 2004, the employees were 75% family (there were four of us!), we now employ over 25 members of staff but the family feel remains as strong as ever. No one is made to work late. No one is made to cover shifts. No one is asked to make cakes. All these things just happen due to having a team who take responsibility, adopt the culture that’s been developed from day one and ultimately want to succeed and help shape their own career paths and futures.

Ian Robertson, Director, Propertyserve UK