The latest edition of the Nigerian Facilities Management (FM) Roundtable which was organized by Alpha Mead Facilities – a Strategic Business Unit of the Alpha Mead Group to commemorate the World FM Day provided a rare opportunity for FM service providers and their client to discuss and align on some trends defining the industry’s growth path.

The forum also provided an avenue for clients of FM service to give some instructive feedback to service providers on how to redefine their value proposition and distinguish themselves in the marketplace.

Also in attendance were Real Estate market watchers and Analyst who predicted trends both parties need to watch out for in the near future. Here are 10 themes both clients and service providers discussed at the forum.

Emergence of Lifestyle communities:

Participants at the forum identified that some trends defining the Residential segment of the Property market. The most prominent was the emergence of Lifestyle communities and multi-user estates as against the old standalone homes.

These estates which are designed to encourage communal living among young families and professionals is gaining momentum in most urban centres such as Lagos, Abuja etc.

The emergence of these estates simply implies that FMs must rethink their service offering by demonstrating the capacity to effectively manage the shared services and amenities in these communities.

Government need to provide an enabling business environment for local and foreign investors:

The perfect combination of an increasing population, rising purchasing power and urbanization is no doubt enticing investors to Africa’s biggest economy. However, while these social indices should naturally turn into economic opportunities for investors, our business environment have remained hostile to both local and foreign investors.

Professionals at the forum vehemently lamented the current trend where bureaucratic bottlenecks and stringent laws and policies have continued to wane investors’ interest in the economy.

They urged the Government to provide an enabling environment for business to thrive by instituting reforms that will ease basic but important commercial activities such – company registration, property acquisition and registration etc. To them, the Government should be more concerned with building institutions and creating an evaluation and monitoring mechanism that will support the growth of the private sector rather than doing business.

Demand for value-driven FM service:

According to Real Estate analysts at the forum, despite the country exiting recession and macroeconomic indices improving, FM service clients – individuals and Corporates are now more discerning about their FM spend.

Hence, clients now expect value-driven service in exchange for their service charge. To enable FMs respond to this, they were advised to exceed their current level of offering basic service to delivering value that are not only measurable but also speak to the need of their clients.

Multi owner facilities easily loose value:

Citing example with one of the most prominent residential estate in Sub-Saharan Africa, Participants at the event explained that multi-owner facilities easily loose value because it is always difficult to harmonize a clear and comprehensive vision and objective for such asset.

Hence, savvy property investors and homebuyers were cautioned against investing in such assets, while FMs who must take up the role of managing such facilities were advised to align their objectives with the vision of the residents and asset owners before taking over such project.

Innovative ways to bridge infrastructural gaps:

The death of infrastructure even in city centres across the country have continued to increase logistics cost for businesses. Given government’s snail speed in bridging these infrastructural gaps, Manufacturers are keen on how FMs can come up with solutions to meet their logistics needs without slowing down production process.

For instance, Manufacturers anticipate a situation where FMs provide bespoke services that will ensure gas are supplied to production plants at the right time, raw materials arrive the factory seamlessly and produced goods get to the stores irrespective of the logistics challenges.

Cluster shops to rival Shopping Malls in future:

Nigeria’s retail revolution which is barely a decade old is about to take a new turn. Trends show that due to high rents and service charge at the malls, Retailers are opting for cluster shops where they can offer customers the same experience – ambience, detailed security and variety of brands – like Shopping malls but with minimal operational cost.

This growing trend is significantly gaining traction in highbrow neighbourhoods, hence, FMs at the Shopping malls were tasked on the need to become innovative by reducing operational cost for tenants at the malls, while developers must rethink how to retain the value of their assets despite the looming competition.

Need for Wholesale Shopping Malls:

Professionals at the forum expressed concern that given the success recorded with the increasing spread of retail malls in the country, there is a need for wholesale malls – where retailers or customers who want to buy in bulk but still savour the experience of a shopping mall can shop.

Bola Shobanjo, Portfolio Executive, Persianas Group, developers of The Palms Shopping centre responded to this, explaining that while this is a great idea, the limited space in city centres such as Lagos, Real Estate investors and developers would face a herculean task constructing expansive facilities that will meet this need.

She however noted that Wholesalers can decided to situate a standalone shopping centre for their individual brand or product but must be in proximity to cluster shops. She was optimistic that this will be the trend in the next 18months.

Government needs to fund, equip and restructure the Healthcare sector to Global best standard:

Just like most Sub-Saharan African countries, Nigeria’s healthcare sector has continued nosedive in status. From obsolete medical equipment and poor service delivery at hospitals to poor funding of the sector by the Government. For instance, Government only spent 5 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012 and 3.12 percent in 2014 on the health sector. This is a far cry from the 11 percent advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and 14 percent stated in the Abuja declaration in 2011.

In view of these challenges, Professionals echoed the need for a deliberate attempt by the Government to effectively fund the sector, equip and improve the facilities and amenities in all healthcare centres within the country.

Prof. Babatunde Green, Managing Director, Alpha Mead Healthcare Management Services (AMHS) noted that  AMHS has the technical competence to provide solutions that will bridge the current gap in service delivery and also optimize operational efficiency at healthcare centres across the country.

Improve customer service delivery across every sector:

Across most sectors of the economy, customer service delivery have continued to dwindle at a significant rate. According to Participants at the forum, this trend clearly negates the idea of Positive Experience, hence, they advised organizations to make frantic effort in training their staff on the need to always go a step further in delivering services to clients.

According to them, if organizations tow this path, staff members will begin to consider  themselves as brand ambassadors of the organization, hence, will strive to excite clients at all times.

Create a directory to ascertain the integrity and competence of FM professionals, Vendors:

The increasing number of Facility Management firms and Vendors in the market place is gradually restricting clients from identifying professional FMs and vendors who genuinely have the competence and capacity to deliver value on their projects.

However, this challenge can be tackled with the aid of a corporate directory which will list the contact details, skill, competence and integrity rating of all credible service providers within the built environment.

Participants were optimistic that the directory will significantly aid eliminate pseuds in the marketplace, as they can now leverage on such document to examine the skill, competence and capacity of such FM before engaging them