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With increased momentum noticeable occurring within all areas of the FM sector, the expansion of front of house services is serving the sector and the industry itself 

Since the launch of FM Director in September 2022, the magazine has focused on including the thoughts and opinions of the industry’s most progress thinkers to support its growth, expansion and the increasing appreciation of clients for the value it provides. 

This has included reports on both the industry as a whole and its long list of contributing sectors, including that of front of house. Similar to many others, the front of house sector experienced a major shock during the Covid-19 pandemic but has shown its strength and resilience by bouncing back to engage with its clients more effectively, while embracing the changes this has required. 

Of course, there is little that can be done when customers cease trading or contract to the point when they no longer require front of house services, which was the case in many instances both during and following the pandemic. It is, however, very noticeable that these challenges can frequently be used to show the businesses with the highest levels of determination to provide the highest levels of service, while continuing to adapt and move forward. 

An example of the ways adaptation has influenced front of house businesses can be seen in the emergence of technical solutions which many regarded as offering viable alternatives to front of house personnel. While this may have resulted in some companies around the UK, many others have recognised that visitors and staff members frequently need to be supported in such diverse ways that can only be met by front of house colleagues. 

The best examples of the above can be seen by reception staff that routinely deal with staff or visitors with any special access requirements, while also – sometimes simultaneously – assisting those unable to deal with the in-house system for room booking and the many and varied additional options included within business operations. These attributes are the main reasons that professional front of house staff are frequently regarded as essential in supporting the company to maintain high levels of productivity and reputation within the businesses they represent. 

For the purpose of further extending this month’s special feature on the topic of front of house services, this article has additionally been included to further extend the discussion on how the sector is continuing to develop. One of the main developments has been the inclusion of services that include many of the established list of options delivered by professional front of house staff, offered to employees working in clearly defined areas. 

These can include individual floors of the facility in question, or divisions of the client’s business. Further adaptions of the accepted, traditional ‘meet and greet’ services can include front of house staff adapting to the provision of additional services on a more mobile basis. 

While some companies continue to provide the reception desk option, there is increasing acceptance that staff and visitors can be further supported by more personal assistance. These can be delivered by personnel with front of house experience stepping out from behind their desks to engage with stakeholders as required. 

With the overall aim continuing to concentrate on best practice levels of support for visitors and colleagues, front of house staff can additionally be expected to include concierge services and others to meet customer expectations. This extension will require qualities such as adaptability and agility and frequently result in bespoke service levels provided to clients. 

Perhaps the main point to appreciate in the effective delivery of front of house services is that the needs of the client have to be appreciated in as much depth as possible, which can only be achieved through working as closely as possible with the customer to gain as much understanding as possible. While this will be second nature to some client businesses, others will need more time and support to work towards this position, which may also include regular updates and reminders about the value achieved to ensure that this continues into the future. 

In addition to close working with customers, front of house service providers to work as closely as possible with all members of staff and colleagues throughout the business to ensure that everyone appreciates the need for change and development. It is frequently the case that the best examples of these collaborative actions are those enjoying the high levels of growth previously described. 

Yet another consideration for service providers of front of house options is how their company and members of staff engage with other service providers. While this is of particular relevance to those serving the private corporate sector, it can equally apply to the residential market and also public sector clients, as well. 

In addition to the dedicated provision of front of house services, this can also include providers working with, or even adding other service lines such as security, catering and other options. The benefits to the service provider are relatively obvious, in that providing additional services will increase the value of each contract. 

However, the reality of increasing the options delivered by an established business is that it will take time and effort for clients to appreciate the changes and accept them. While the intentions of the company may be entirely honourable, it may have to deal with the attitude of clients with particular views about how they work with others. 

For example, some may prefer to partner with providers on an individual basis for each service line. Client-side FMs will be highly influential in this area, many of whom prefer to work with SME service providers that have an established reputation in a particular area of expertise. 

Those approaching these issues with the most open and approachable attitudes will invariably receive the best results from their efforts, allowing them to gauge the willingness of their clients in accepting new options and services in the future. 

Regardless of the attitudes and willingness to embrace the changes occurring within the service provider in question, there should be appreciation for the fact that these efforts will make the business more attractive to a wider range of customers. Each company will then need to address the issue of how it promotes and engages with the clientele that is likely to provide the best return on investment. 

While the above can be easily applied to all businesses, it is particularly relevant to front of house service providers looking to expand into additional and complementary areas of work. In addition to close working with existing and potential clients, the highly positive examples provided by FM service providers of all types and sizes can be used to inspire them in their efforts. 

Rather than simply copying the development of competitors, high levels of attention should be devoted to appreciating the value that additional service provision lines can deliver, while adapting them to reflect the character and values of the businesses concerned. While it is frequently stated that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, this can result in cynical or negative responses when services labelled as “new” are simply regarded as copies of those already provided by other companies. 

Once the decision has been made on which direction the company wishes to move in, the best method for this then needs to be addressed. Some companies find that the merger and acquisition (M&A) route is the most effective, while others prefer to raise the levels of in-house expertise through training and employing those with the relevant areas of expertise. 

It should also be appreciated that many additional numbers of businesses find that the best results are achieved by using both methods described above and adapting them accordingly. 

In summary, the front of house sector is highly fortunate in that it has many opportunities available for the growth and extension of its already long list of services. Further to the advantages delivered to individual companies, another point to be appreciated is the extended value provided to both clients and the reputation of the FM sector.