ServiceBusiness Accounting, Payroll
SectorEngineering & manufacturing
Alba Facilities Services were formed in 2003 and provide mechanical, electrical and building fabric led services to over three hundred locations for customers within the commercial and public sectors. Their portfolio consists of a mixture of static sites, where engineers are permanently based on site, and mobile sites, where engineers visit periodically.
With a varied client base that ranges from international banks, nationwide restaurant chains, office complexes, sports centres, hotels and retail outlets, Alba Facilities Services deliver tailored services to the individual client's needs, no matter the size or industry.
Based in Glasgow, Alba Facilities have a workforce of over 60 and an expected turnover of around £5.5 million this year.
Despite the pandemic, Managing Director Ian McCall says that Alba Facilities Services have been kept exceptionally busy. While the hospitality and leisure sectors saw a downturn in work, healthcare saw an increase.
However, there have been challenges, such as having to put staff on the furlough scheme. Ian recalls that the scheme initially did not work for their industry as the company would furlough some engineers then they'd get a call and be required to work. They would have to bring the engineers back to respond to that callout, which meant they had to wait two weeks before putting them back on the furlough scheme - ultimately losing out on £2,000 furlough support. Ian managed to communicate with a local MP to push for a flexible scheme which helped to improve the support for the business and the wider industry.
Alongside the initial furlough issues, other challenges included staff absences through illness or having to self-isolate due to contact tracing. Ian had expected and braced for far greater challenges, such as customers not paying bills, but the reality was that they continued to do so.
Alba Facilities Services took the opportunity to address their employee work/life balance and understand workforce opinion towards improving it. They are subsequently now looking to push forward with improving work/life balance, with plans to investigate if a four-day week will be achievable. Ian believes that they will likely be able to maintain their current productivity or even improve upon it.
The slowdown due to COVID allowed the company to review which customers to concentrate on. When contracts ended with these customers, they retendered at a reasonable value. Since then, profit margins have increased, and the office is a much better place.
One of the primary concerns for Alba Facilities Services currently is the difficulty in recruiting quality labourers and engineers. Ian recognises that this is difficult at the moment and is impacting multiple sectors. Alba Facilities Services have had to turn down contracts as they don't have the manpower to take on the work.
Ian also has concerns about the cost of parts and the time to get them shipped into the country. He notes that deliveries have been pushed back massively since Brexit and can cause interruptions in clients customer service. Prior to Brexit, parts could be off the shelf or arriving within a day or two.
Alba Facilities Services are also having difficulties securing new vehicles with a 12-to-14-month delivery time placed on them. With some older vehicles coming to the end of their life, Ian says that they are struggling to get suitable replacement vehicles within a suitable timeframe.
We work closely with Donald Boyd at Azets. His advice and guidance has allowed us to improve quite vastly over the last two or three years. Donald knows all of our strengths and weaknesses and knows how to push us in the right direction. Azets have been invaluable in helping with government advice and looking after all of the accounting and payroll aspects of the business.Ian McCall, Managing Director - Alba Facilities Services
They are preparing to commence a management knowledge transfer partnership with Strathclyde University to evaluate the entire business. This will help the business streamline tasks, understand if certain operations can be automated and generally improve productivity.
Message as an SME Leader
Ian feels that there should be more support from the government to help move towards improving work/life balance for staff. Not only does it benefit the workforce, but it helps the wider community too.
Ian says it's difficult for business owners to implement improvements if tenders for work are 90% based on price. This makes it difficult to achieve these aims, underlining that improving work/life balance comes at a cost.
Ian also has concerns over major safety disasters waiting to happen due to a lack of due diligence within the industry and too much focus on scoring contracts based on price units.
CPDS is a small enterprise with big expertise at the heart of its mission, and like so many organisations their business suffered the loss of sharing experience and engagement face to face throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.