Bob Forsyth, the Managing Director of MITIE Total Security Management (TSM) discusses sustainable buying. Bob writes:
“The security sector has come a long way; we’re witnessing more joined up services, innovation in technology bringing greater effectiveness and efficiency, and there are signs of economic improvement.
“In theory, all looks positive for our sector; but in reality, this remains to be seen. Ongoing improvements may not necessarily happen unless security professionals start to build sustainable plans and work to a longer-term vision and strategy.
“Of course, the recession has caused everyone to re-evaluate their methods, and I think one particular positive has come out of it. We have all been encouraged to become more innovative in order to deliver the most effective security under cost pressure, but it’s now time to create a sustainable future – based on long-term buying decisions.
“Short term buying decisions predominantly based on price do not deliver true savings in the long term, and this appetite for a short term fix to reduce costs is a false economy.
“I regularly come across clients who have made a tender decision based purely on price and are forced to change suppliers early in the contract term to ensure the quality of service isn’t being sacrificed.
“If the contract price has to be reduced, the actual scope and provision also have to change. If clients want to remain with current staffing levels the cost will increase over three years not decrease – it’s that simple! Long term savings are achieved by moving away from a model based on manpower to introduce smarter thinking and management of contracts. Security companies who can provide these sustainable, smart and strategic options will gain the advantage.
“Mitie recently secured a major retender with a client that has always been very price conscious. We developed a long term sustainable buying programme and introduced new ways of working that actually meant the client would save more in the long term. This was a great example of where smarter thinking from both parties meant that we retained a key account and the client achieved real and sustainable savings – win, win!
“The need for this type of approach is clear as the realities of pricing pressure are likely to only become more complicated. For example, salary and pay pressures will start to be seen in the wider business and at the coal face of contracts. Are clients willing to increase their cost base by three to four per cent in the coming 18 months? What’s more as the job market begins to heat up and more opportunities are being offered to semi-skilled labour, more pressure will be added to this area.
“It’s simple economics of supply and demand. In the next three to four years there will be a continued increase in people-related costs, which again will add pressure to margins, such as holiday pay and other benefits.
“The stability of the security industry will be more certain if we all look to the longer term; avoiding the quick fix solutions that fail to resolve long-term issues or deliver true savings.”
With over 17 years’ experience in the security industry, Bob is a proven achiever at a high level. He is a strong relationship builder who is financially astute with excellent negotiation and communication skills, with the ability to work with people at every level. A team player, Bob is able to lead by example.
Bob was promoted to the position of Managing Director of MITIE’s security business in April 2010 after several notable achievements since joining the company in 2004, including his win of the prestigious MITIE new business award.
Having successfully implemented the merger with Initial Security in the Southern region and developing a profitable part of the business, Bob has continuously worked towards expansion including the implementation of the response service, and has significantly contributed towards year on year growth. In June 2009, Bob initiated the launch of the business’ total security management ethos; to take an integrated risk-based approach to security, incorporating people, technology and consultancy services.
Bob continues to move the business forward and has delivered record EBITA profit. He has increased business retention and launched new services lines including lone worker, void secure, employee screening, and security risk and business resilience. Under his leadership, MITIE’s total security management business has grown into an organisation with a turnover in excess of £280m. He takes every opportunity to promote MITIE’s presence within the industry through his involvement with industry bodies such as City Security and Resilience Networks (CSARN) and the British Security Industry Authority (BSIA).
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