I have been in front of house and customer facing environments for more than 15 years.
During that time have I experienced both sides of the so-called divide between in-house and outsourced guest services, seeing first-hand how both approaches suit different companies operating in their own unique circumstances.
But the dial is shifting. Commonly held misconceptions about outsourcing are being dispelled, and the value proposition is strengthening across key metrics as the role of front of house and corporate receptionists evolve.
Let’s look at two of those metrics here.
It is no secret that businesses are operating under enormous financial pressures. Energy prices are at record highs, National Insurance contributions have risen, and VAT relief has ended for hospitality firms after being hammered by the pandemic.
Organisations are therefore looking for efficiencies anywhere they can be found, providing they don’t compromise on quality and service.
While outsourcing reception duties may not be the first option on many bosses’ minds, it should certainly be a consideration – 80% of our clients who opt to outsource for the first time see their costs reduced by an average of 20%.
How can this be? It is largely down to how we can deliver time saved (around a day a week) in team management, administration, recruitment and delivery.
Recruitment is a good example. We typically receive 75% more applicants than in-house vacancies, and on top of that around 15% of our colleagues move into new leadership positions, helping to reduce employee turnover.
Not only does all of this create cost efficiencies, but it also enables clients to focus their time and energies away from the day-to-day of front of house and onto more strategic matters that will drive growth in their business.
Even more of that time is liberated by not having to invest in reception/front of house training.
Learning and development is a big (and necessary) investment that employers make to hone the skills of their staff and keep them motivated.
A specialist outsourcing provider can cover this, and in the vast majority of cases can cover it better.
Our programmes are devised and delivered by subject matter experts. At Portico, for example, we have more than 70 courses available to employees, many of them recognised as best-in-class within the guest services industry.
This is because they are constantly evolved to remain on trend. In recent years, the role of receptionists has been evolving away from traditional secretarial duties and towards a community builder responsible for creating a compelling and friendly experience for building occupants.
We train and develop our colleagues so they can make a buzz around their clients’ workspaces, creating events and experiences that will provide a crucial differentiation from homeworking.
This is only possible because our employees are fully engaged, which itself comes from being a part of two families – ours and the client’s – enabling them to combine the best of Portico’s culture and values with those of the companies they are representing.
This is another common myth associated with outsourcing, that external colleagues cannot fully engage and get on board with internal culture. At Portico, we ensure employees join their clients’ induction programmes that cover key elements such as values, customer base, ambitions, CSR and more. If a client lacks a formalised induction programme, we offer to sit down with them and build one together.
The road ahead
Times are tough. Businesses are tightening their belts while also trying to open up their workplaces for employees to return following long stretches of remote working.
On both of these levels, outsourcing front of house duties could help to alleviate some of the associated stresses and strains.