Leaders Forum: Scott Davies, ISS Facility Services Australia

INCLEAN chats to Scott Davies, CEO, ISS Facility Services Australia.

How was 2019 for ISS? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

The last 12 months have been very positive for ISS Australia. We achieved double-digit organic growth and reported strong performances in education, health, aviation and resources. That growth was also off the back of the retention of several key accounts and growth of existing accounts.

In 2019 we completed two of our largest ever transitions. The first was SA Health, where we now operate a multi-service, integrated facilities services contract across four large hospitals. The second was with Property NSW, where we retained and grew our school contract – securing another region in Sydney.

The challenge with that growth is that we need to keep attracting and retaining the right talent. There’s been a lot of recruitment at all levels over the past 12 months for us to be able to deliver on increased volumes of business.

What will be the immediate focus for ISS in 2020?

One key focus will be inclusion and diversity. Over the past few years we have built a robust Inclusion & Diversity Strategy and now the focus is executing that strategy.

Some keys areas of our Inclusion & Diversity Strategy include our flexible work policy, paid parental leave, our mentoring program for top female talent across the business, addressing the gender pay gap and providing Indigenous employment and partnerships.

More broadly, our business goal for 2020 is to accelerate our focus as a key account business, aligned to the Global ISS Way strategy. We have proven our ability to win and grow key account customers and we want to strengthen our position further in a marketplace that offers compelling, long-term growth potential.

We have clearly identified our key market sectors for the future along with our blueprint service delivery model. In 2020, we will focus on pursuing new key account opportunities to deliver a range of facility management services within these sectors.

What do you see as major opportunities for ISS over the next 12 months? What challenges do you expect to face?

The opportunity for us will be leveraging our strengths in the key sectors we play in. We’re seeing very strong growth in health, education and aviation so we will look to leverage that and examine how we can expand our service offering, such as our catering and technical services, with existing partners.

The challenge for the industry is fighting commoditisation. We must continue to focus on outcomes and on what is being delivered by our solutions and our people. Being an input-based model is one of the big challenges and more education is needed for the customer on the outcome being produced, rather than a fight to the bottom on price.

Finally, there are still many contractors in our industry who do not treat their employees ethically. This is one of our biggest challenges, and as a result, ISS has focused on those sections of the market where our customers truly understand the cost of employing service staff, value the outcome that they deliver, and consequently will not accept a tender price that looks “too good to be true.”

In 2019 ISS issued its third Zero Waste Challenge – will the focus on waste reduction/management and sustainability continue for ISS in 2020?

Sustainability is a key element of our value proposition. Our focus is on power, waste, and water so we’re looking to leverage partnerships in those key areas.

We recently launched a partnership with Clean Up Australia and that will be something that we will look to leverage in 2020. We’re very excited about the partnership and there is a lot that ISS and Clean Up Australia can do together to help educate the market.

The partnerships that we are developing as part of Inclusion & Diversity Strategy are very important to us also. We believe our role with our customers is to see how we can bring the right people together to build a solution that is the right one for the customer.

What role will innovation play for ISS in 2020?

Innovation is continuing to play a big role; however, our biggest asset continues to be our people. We self-deliver all our services across the globe, and across Australia and New Zealand we have 15,000 employees. So, while our focus in on innovation it’s also on our people and our service with a human touch.

Mapping the touchpoints of our solution is critical, and so is measuring the impact and technology is starting to play a role in assisting us with this. Automation and robotics is also starting to have a significant impact on efficiency and on customer service, which is allowing our people to have more of a focus on service delivery and customer service.

Our global facility management reporting tool, FMS@ISS, powered in partnership with IBM, is also starting to produce significant benefits. We have rolled it across some large contracts in Australia, including Metro Trains, and it is starting to provide us with improved transparency and accountability around the service delivery. The system is rolling out globally and we will continue to implement the system across our business, with transitions to the new platform ongoing this year.

What do you expect will be the big trends of 2020?

The big trend we see is around workplace experience, and the growing understanding the role FM service providers can play improving the experience and engagement of customers, employees and visitors on-site.

Another emerging trend is the move towards more integrated services and more outcome-based contracts.

The focus on sustainability will also continue in 2020, primarily on reducing water, power and waste. There will be a growing expectation on service providers to have a robust solution in response to these issues, rather than it be considered an add-on service.

How do you see the cleaning landscape evolving into 2020?

We see a trend towards more purpose-led business. It’s important that we are a purpose-led organisation, where our people are not ‘just cleaning’ but are also assisting in controlling risk, improving the environments they work in and making a positive impact on the customer experience.

In environments such as healthcare, support services staff often have more interaction and connection with the patient than the clinician does, so the opportunity to have an impact on patient experience is significant.

What is one issue the industry should urgently discuss in 2020?

Workplace experience. There needs to be a stronger link between the work done by our people, and support service workers, and what the customer is trying to achieve. We need to make sure that they are linked, and the people on-site understand that link. We do a disservice to our people when we don’t properly recognise what they can help deliver.

Is there a message you would like to share with the industry?

We need to be better at attracting graduates and young potential leaders to our industry. We’re already seeing the benefits of this with the success of our global graduate program. The other, is the importance for us to deliver tangible and meaningful outcomes with our Inclusion & Diversity Strategy.

Read INCLEAN’s inaugural Industry Leaders Forum Report in the January/February issue of INCLEAN magazine. 

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