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From Coffee to Carillion: Does Size Matter?

Posted on Mon, 2018-08-13 09:46 by Shona Dunsmore

It was a particularly dreary Monday. An exhausting weekend was now a faint and distant memory and it was full steam ahead into another busy week. With my mental diary buzzing with upcoming meetings and appointments, there was only one thing for it. COFFEE. And preferably lots of it.

As if by fate, Starbucks appeared before me beckoning me in with its siren call. Eager for maximum effect, I ordered the biggest sized cup there was, handing over the cash without hesitation. However, seconds into becoming the new owner of a vat of hot coffee, I realised my mistake.

In my haste for the best solution, a combination of muscle memory and psychological bias for “bigger is better” kicked in.  I ordered the largest Americano on the menu and was presented with a vat of coffee – admittedly with the caffeine fix I needed, but so large it would take me 40 minutes to drink and heavy enough to make the remainder of my commute a challenge when carrying my laptop bag on the other arm.

The January collapse of Carillion, one of the largest construction and FM services providers in the UK, was an earthquake in the sector, devastating for its shareholders and testing for their clients. ‘Bigger’ in business very often tends to equate to better – cheaper due to economies of scale, greater capacity to handle demand, and the list of assumptions goes on.

I imagined the many public and private sector organisations left reeling in the wake of the giant’s liquidation probably placed faith in Carillion’s size and perceived security. And now? I’d think they’re probably spending a small fortune trying to protect their interests, maintain delivery of their services and ensure the people who understood the cursed contract remain in the process.

As I threw the surplus half of my now cold coffee in the bin, I noticed to my shame and expense that I too had gone with the ‘bigger and better’ option. What I needed was a double espresso, small but potent and capable of making a quick impact.

Of course, some companies are big for good reason but there are many FM companies out there whose smaller size equates to a more agile, intuitive and reactive service offering. Flexibility, individualised service, sensitivity and smoother communication are among the many advantages smaller companies have to offer and the inclusion of SMEs to the Crown Commercial Services framework will be a welcome chance for the Davids to show their might against the Goliaths.

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