The Fexa 2020 Innovation Summit wrapped up recently and we have been reflecting on key discussions around insights from the panel discussion and engagements. (If you would like to hear the full panel discussion, you can listen to the replay here). Some of the highlights from our discussion of the consolidation trend follow here.
Consolidation takes many forms as retailers evolve, as we explored in this article. However, it became very clear throughout our Fexa Summit Panel discussions that the pace and nature of changes addressed through consolidation were significantly influenced by the business realities brought on by the global pandemic.
Facilities management and consolidation trends around blending best practices.
Prior to the pandemic, consolidation was often triggered by mergers and acquisitions pursued to increase competitive offerings. These corporate consolidations in turn drove consolidation at the functional level of the companies affected. During our panel, Laurie Blackshko, Sr Facilities Strategy Manager, at T-Mobile shared how the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile had resulted in opportunities for a unique blending of best practices between the two facilities teams as they worked collaboratively to unify the brands across their very broad facility footprint. For the merging teams at T-Mobile, they found themselves facing the finalization of their long-awaited merger and the pandemic all at once in March of this year. Laurie shared that it surprisingly strengthened their focus and collaboration to find the best ways in which the organizations would consolidate.
Technology enabling new efficiencies in facilities management through consolidation.
Consolidation through acquisition was also discussed by Tyler Stenton, Director of Facilities for Crate & Barrel. Tyler shared how the facilities team integrated the Hudson Grace brand into its fleet during the discussion. In the case of that effort, the facilities team was able to rapidly provide new levels of efficiency and savings to the business by incorporating the Hudson Grace facilities onto their Fexa solution. Prior to the acquisition, the Hudson Grace team had operated facilities management function without a software solution. Tyler indicated that while they needed to take into account unique aspects of the Hudson Grace stores, integrating them onto the Fexa solution for management was seen as a very positive change for the acquired stores.
Functional collaboration triggered by crisis
Functional level facilities management and consolidation trends have been underway across the industry as companies have made organizational changes to bring construction, real estate, store operations, and facilities management together. Motivations for functional consolidation are typically related to:
- Identification of potential cost savings through creating efficiencies to reduce people hours or duplicative systems;
- Identification of opportunities to capture top-line growth through creating a more agile adaptation to dynamic consumer behaviors through store openings/closings and store reconfigurations
Within every crisis lies an opportunity is a well-known concept that has been attributed to Albert Einstein. As our panelists shared, the crisis created by a global pandemic has certainly surfaced opportunities for the resilient facilities teams and their functional colleagues across the business. Containing costs rapidly was often the primary driver for many adaptations that our panelists described. However, these established savvy facilities management leaders also shared ways in which they kept their eye on the top line with their operational colleagues. Creating adaptations in the layout and ways in which the facilities under their care were managed played and is still playing a critical role in how their businesses find new ways to deliver the customer experience as it is evolving.
Joshua Witte, Director of Facilities for Ross Stores, shared several examples of how the crisis in the form of the pandemic had actually accelerated new levels of collaboration across the various functions – Store Operations, Facilities Management, Construction – in ways not typically seen prior. A shared goal of keeping the business viable and healthy at Ross by quickly pivoting as the business demands shifted and everything from regulatory to demand volumes changed created the perfect storm for very innovative collaboration at Ross. Joshua shared how many of the changes in everything from store layout to how and when stores were cleaned were developed collaboratively across the functions and that those changes were actually going to stay around even into the future because of the positive impact on the business.
Seasoned facilities managers value adaptable solutions
In all cases, these seasoned facilities management teams acknowledged the importance of underlying facilities management and maintenance systems and solutions to support the businesses’ top and bottom line drivers of consolidation. Due to the pace and urgency of change during the pandemic business climate, adaptable software solutions were enablers for delivering the cost savings and cost containment requirements. Adaptable solutions proved to be even more important as teams worked with their peers throughout their businesses to get past the initial challenges of the pandemic and focus on the longer-term adaptations of their facilities to meet new consumer shopping expectations and desires.
Listen to full replay of the Fexa Innovation Summit Trends Panel Discussion here.