Stewart Hinks is National Facilities Manager, Restaurant Brands NZ Ltd. He has been in the role since 2013, overseeing, managing and implementing functional FM across Starbucks, KFC, Carl’s Jr and Pizza Hut.
What does your job involve and who do you work with?
Involved in my role are the usual FM areas: H&S, hard services, equipment procurement and maintenance, contract management, project works, compliance, creation and financial management of Opex and Capex budgets. Direct reports who make up the team are Facilities Coordinator Ariel Mandemaker and a Facilities Manager Greg Smith who’s dedicated to our largest brand KFC.
The FM team sits within the larger Property Team made up of Development and Leasing. There’s plenty of property-related interaction between all groups which creates a positive energy and collegial environment.
The FM team manages 198 stores nationwide and engages over 250 regular contractors to deliver the various service elements required to meet compliance and maintain brand standards.
What does ‘facilities management’ mean to you/your organisation?
To me personally it’s about striving for continuous improvement in our service delivery and support of the wider business. At the end of the day FM services are an overhead, although an essential one, that needs to demonstrate its value and contribute effectively to the bigger business picture.
It is important to be able to be flexible to meet business needs and changes and be a reliable source of reference for others in relation to the many areas FM encompasses: H&S, budget management, compliance and technical input. We work closely with Brand Retail Operations to ensure that they can get on with the business of running brands efficiently, safely and profitably without equipment downtime or property related issues.
What is a typical day like for you?
The team is based in our Head Office in Penrose, Auckland. Most days start at this location with external meetings, store visits and audits (scheduled after the Auckland rush hour if possible). When in the office it’s important for me to try and structure my day to cover the various elements of the job in terms of FM administration, reactive items and longer term planning and implementation issues. Depending on what’s coming through the door this can be a moving target; I’m sure this is true for most FM Managers. It’s important to cut down on superfluous business noise whenever possible and I do create and maintain structured forums for Brand Operations Managers to ensure that we capture and channel issues in one place and that plans and solutions are recorded and worked through.
Once a month I travel to the regions to audit stores, meet Area Managers and contractors. Some of our best value is time spent in the field on the ground.
What are some of the challenges of your job/your organisation from an FM point of view?
The QSR business is extremely dynamic; we can be buying another brand, selling outlets to franchisees, building new stores and closing others at any one time. This being the case, it’s important for the FM team and our contractors to be able to move quickly and adjust to and cater for new situations. It’s also important to keep abreast of new equipment technologies and wider business requirements in terms of best practice and regulatory changes. It’s important to make correct decisions when investing capital expenditure; poor or hasty decisions will impact the business if you don’t get them right and they’re short of operational requirements in any way. Due diligence is crucial.
On a wider scale, the challenge of maintaining a national portfolio can present many logistical and operational challenges from an FM viewpoint. The team work hard at maintaining a methodical and organised approach with good records and effective communication at all times.
What’s the most interesting element(s) of your job/your organisation from an FM perspective?
I would say diversity keeps it interesting – four brands with their own characters and requirements catering to different markets. With the range of services the FM team covers and to the depth their managed, as in most FM scenarios, no two days are the same.
What are some of things you like most about working in FM?
Variety – being a small team means that we touch nearly every area of the business. FM is very much a people business – good communication, shared goals and successful joint outcomes give great satisfaction when it all comes together.
What do you think are the most important skills required to carry out your job?
Wider thinking – To be able to step back from the coalface every now and then is essential; having a good FM Annual Plan to work to throughout the year with realistic and tangible goals.
Contract and Financial Management – To fully understand your budgets and have the ability to monitor trends, identify issues and use information to contribute to improved operational strategy.
People skills – FM touches all areas in most businesses and this will mean everything from talking to contractors to presenting to the wider organisation. If you don’t like people this isn’t the business you should be in.
Many Facilities Managers in NZ describe themselves as ‘accidental’ FMs. How did you get into facilities management?
My background is in commercial HVAC, leading on to building services management, contract management and into FM. I would say that I’ve grown with the FM industry as it’s developed in the past in the UK and now for the last 12 years in NZ. As well as technical qualifications, I have qualifications in NZ Dip Management. This background has served me well in the FM arena but it’s encouraging to now see other recognised areas and skill sets coming into FM recognition in their own right.
How has your education and/or past experiences helped prepare you for your current role?
I think undoubtedly past building services experience has helped me with previous FM roles, although the diversity of FM and its many facets ensures that you are always learning and improving your knowledge base.
What is your proudest accomplishment in your career to date?
An easy one! I was lucky enough to be the ODA Olympic Stadium FM through 2011 to 2012 for the London Olympics. To be part of the team that delivered the 2012 Games was a great experience from the last stages of the ‘Big Build’ through to the Games completion. I was encouraged to see Lawrence Waterman at the NZ Annual H&S Conference recently and that we are looking at some of the learnings from the event and that strategy to contribute to improve H&S in NZ. A lot of good work has been done around the globe and we shouldn’t waste time reinventing the wheel but rather take the successful strategy of others and fit to our own environment.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in FM?
Get educated! There are many more qualifications now available for professional recognition as FM has grown into a recognised profession in the wider world. Perhaps I would also say that if you thrive on variety, people and organisational process but can still think on your feet, then you’ve chosen well.
Where do you hope to go with your current job and your career in general?
In my current role I’ve made some resource and system improvements that have raised the effectiveness of the team to bring us to a level that we can demonstrate greater value to the wider business. My challenge going forward is to raise the bar further with some of the more strategic FM goals that we have set ourselves.
When you’re not at work, where would we find you?
You would most likely find me at Pakuranga Golf club or out on my Triumph Street Triple.