Why taking the time to listen to customers is the secret to growing and maintaining a successful business
Our Sales Director, Tanya Rogers talks to University Business about the growth of Crystal Facilities management over the past ten years. She explains how the secret to success starts by listening to customers.
The service industry is notoriously competitive, with every supplier believing that they can offer more, cost less and ultimately reinvent the wheel. Of course customers are always going to be attracted to new ways of doing things and will naturally want to save money wherever they can, however, finding a company that truly understands their needs is another story.
For a supplier to be successful in an industry that expects such high standards it is imperative that they can offer something above and beyond the competition. At Crystal Facilities Management, we have found that the answer is as simple as taking the time to discover exactly what our individual customers need, rather than delivering a ‘one size fits all’ service.
CFM has expanded rapidly over the past ten years, taking us from a small family business of just 3 people right up to our current workforce of 350 servicing over 80 schools, colleges and Universities. During this time, we have gained an excellent reputation within the education sector for providing a consistently high quality, trustworthy service whilst retaining that all-important personal touch. This reputation, however, hasn’t just appeared over night and it isn’t simply a product of delivering exemplary service. It is largely down to the time we spend with our customers, getting to know them and their particular requirements.
If there is one thing that we have learned over the past 10 years it is that no two schools, colleges or Universities are the same. Each and every facility has its own different needs, and, as a result there is no ‘packaged’ approach to servicing them. The simple reason why education facilities are keen to work with us, and keep enlisting our services year after academic year is because we listen, observe and take the time to understand their requirements, allowing us to go that extra mile to deliver packages bespoke to their specific needs.
Another secret to delivering a service that is one step ahead of the competition is that instead of simply focusing on servicing the buildings and their contents we look at the bigger picture — to the students who reside within the accommodation. During our time working within universities we have recognised the need for additional supporting services that can help the smooth running of student accommodation alongside general cleaning and maintenance. By observing the student’s needs and talking to Universities about how best to preserve their properties we have developed additional services, expanding our portfolio to cover areas such as CCTV security, concierge services and new build support.
We have also grown to understand how a University’s needs shift throughout the academic year. As a result, we tailor our cleaning and maintenance services to tie in directly with the academic calendar, ensuring that we have additional resources on hand at the most important times. Our team of experienced, conscientious and trustworthy staff are highly trained to deliver exactly the right services at the right time, including the new build period, in preparation for the new intake and on an ongoing basis.
Five key areas of our service include:
For new build student accommodation we work in line with the construction company, carrying out full build cleans at three stages of the construction process:
- A Deep Clean of the interior once the shell of the building is constructed.
- A Pre-Clean during fit out stage.
- A Sparkle Clean once all building work is complete.
Prior to every new academic year we carry out a through deep clean on all areas of the student accommodation (new and established), leaving facilities immaculately cleaned ready for the new intake of students.
Ongoing cleaning throughout the year helps maintain the ‘five star’ feel synonymous with modern student accommodation. Aside from routine cleaning of communal areas, we also offer an individual room cleaning facility, allowing students to retain that ‘just moved in’ freshness throughout the academic year.
It is common for minor damage to property or furniture to become irreparable if it is left untended for long periods of time, so ongoing maintenance reduces or even prevents the need for significant repairs at the end of the academic year.
During the academic year we also provide concierge and security services, protecting students and their belongings from unwanted visitors. Not only does this help protect University property it also gives students an extra level of security, allowing them to feel safe and comfortable in their ‘home-from-home’.
The benefits of immaculate, well maintained facilities are far reaching, as we have found from speaking to our customers. Existing and prospective students, parents, lecturers and those responsible for the University estate all reap the rewards in different ways:
Living in clean, well-maintained accommodation undoubtedly helps new students through the settling in period, a time which can often be key for home sickness, especially for those who may have left home for the first time. A comfortable living space also provides the best platform for studying and revision, minimising any distraction caused by mess and clutter.
Knowing that their children are in a safe, homely and hygienic environment helps ease any concerns that parents may have about their children being away from home.
It also goes without saying that students who are happy and content in their living quarters are going to be better mentally equipped to engage in their lectures and focus on their studies. Ultimately immersing themselves into University life and getting the best out of further education.
- University Estate
We have had great feedback from the universities themselves who have reported a reduction in the need for extensive ‘patch ups’ or even partial refits at the end of the academic year. When ongoing services are present it prevents damage from escalating over the year, ensuring the longevity of University property.
- Prospective New Students
There are several elements that contribute to the decision making process when selecting a University, one of which is the standard of the accommodation. With many Universities offering accommodation comparable to a five star hotel maintaining that ‘first class’ is essential for attracting new students.
Although Crystal Facilities Management has grown significantly from our original set up, we endeavour to maintain the same ‘family business’ mentality that set us on our successful path over ten years ago. Our close working relationship with our customers is what helped us get this far, and so no matter how big we grow or how many new and improved services we may go on to offer, we promise to stick to our original core values and simply listen to our customers.
To read the article on the University Business website click here.