Facilities management at Newbury Racecourse
20 January 2020
OCS has partnered with Newbury Racecourse to deliver cleaning and customer services across all facilities. Jeremy Dicks, director of venues and events at OCS, discusses the unique challenges of providing FM services at a racecourse, and how it impacts on the end user – whether it be race-day goer or conference attendee.
Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire is the largest independently owned racecourse in the UK. The venue hosts flat and jump races, as well as a range of other events including conferences, parties and weddings, and has a long, spanning more than 100 years. The Newbury Racecourse Company was formed in 1904 and the first ever race meeting took place in 1905. Since then, the venue has grown in popularity and versatility. OCS has plenty of experience looking after large public spaces, sporting venues and arenas, including Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, Westfield Shopping Centre, and Birmingham’s NEC Arenas and Exhibition centre, yet Newbury Racecourse presents its own distinct challenges.
What’s the challenge?
As well as hosting jump and non-jump races, the venue is used for a number of other events including conferences, parties, and weddings. The venue includes over 400 metres in length of Grandstand concourse viewing, three individual Grandstand buildings of up to five levels, accommodation for jockeys, a paddock viewing and parade ring area, horse stabling, offices and a nursery. Facilities require expert management with a variety of suitable cleaning solutions to deliver service to each element of the venue and maintain high standards regardless of what event is taking place.
The racecourse has recently completed a number of refurbishments and developments including Grandstand facilities, owners club and other hospitality facilities. This wide range of facilities are spread over a large area and require different cleaning services and solutions. It also attracts a wide range of customers with differing reasons to visit the racecourse, including leisure, business or work at the Racecourse. This single venue is a fascinating challenge.
A personalised approach
At OCS, every customer is recognised as being unique, so designing a solution in depth, specifically for the client, is standard practice. The venue’s various areas could be considered separately for their needs, but we also needed to look holistically at the venue and how different events would change its requirements as a whole.
It is vital to us that our employees work as part of the wider customer’s team rather than a separate entity. It is this approach that is key to creating a team that knows and adapts to the venue it is caring for. The experience of the public using those facilities matters as much to OCS’s employees as it does to the customers.
This can be seen in the attention to detail: beautifully clean hospitality facilities ready for use, neatly laundered catering employee uniforms, a site clear of litter, and informative employees to answer customer queries on race days. To achieve this consistently at Newbury Racecourse the teams need to manage a number of challenges relating to the physical space of the site, employee resourcing, equipment and the need to adapt quickly to changing requirements of each unique event.
On any complex site such as this, offering a great service depends on having the right people. Managers and employees are the key to success and core to OCS’s business. During a race day or non-race day event, reactive cleaning and customer interaction are a regular occurrence, so it is important are all employees are competent and confident in their role and ready to adapt to any situation. As points for contact for the general public they also need to have great customer service skills. For the end user, this ensures a seamless experience where all needs can be catered for with the least amount of effort on their part.
The nature of what the venue requires fluctuates hugely depending on what is happening on any given day on the site, be it a race, a conference or a party. As such, employees need to adapt to any situation. The planning and scheduling of employees is a particular challenge. Requirements for staffing numbers range between six and 60 depending on the day and the event itself. Regardless of how many colleagues are at the venue, each and every one of them needs to understand the venue and their role. This allows employees to adapt, carry out reactive cleaning and respond to members of the public. For the end user – members of the public – the experience is simply that of a fantastic event at a stunning venue. The role of OCS is to adapt to any situation behind the scenes so that the public’s experience is seamless no matter what.
With many in the OCS team being casual employees the company supports them all with a local induction, site orientation and customer service training. By the time team members start work, all of them know the site and are confident in interacting with customers. OCS provides an event briefing on each day and strong supervision so that employees know where to turn if they do have questions. In addition, employees have access to online training and development programmes to support each member of the team.
Mutual respect and benevolent behaviour is important to our management teams. Along with access to effective equipment and systems, respect contributes to an informed and engaged team, able to work confidently and autonomously. The team will appear to the public as being totally at home in their environment and able to cater to the event in any way necessary.
Since the events at Newbury Racecourse are wide ranging, not only are the requirements for each event varied, they can change quickly. For example, weddings can often run late, conferences need additional space, or on race days the turnout can be hugely weather-dependent. It is essential for OCS to work closely with Newbury Racecourse managers. Fast and effective communication channels between OCS and customers are vital so the team can adapt employee numbers and timings as needed. Having a fluid team behind the scenes is the only way to ensure the customer experience is consistent.
Non race day events are equally as key to Newbury Racecourse business as the races themselves. Therefore, it is essential that the various facilities are ready for use at all times and that even when events are not taking place, they are in a fantastic condition to be shown to prospective customers. Each of the Grandstand buildings will have a different level and frequency of usage. Regardless of what level the usage is at, it is essential to ensure the space is turned around immediately after each event.
Naturally, there is also a wide range of periodic tasks, including window cleaning and deep cleans that need to take place throughout the year. It is vital to plan these around the venue use so as not interrupt the business of the Racecourse. OCS provides onsite equipment and trained cleaning operatives to complete these tasks within the local team. Well trained, local employees are capable of reacting quickly to any requirements if needed, minimising cost.
OCS focuses on continuous improvement. A current project is waste management and recycling onsite. To encourage the best waste management possible, we want to make it clear to all members of the public where to dispose different pieces of recyclable and non-recyclable waste.
For OCS, what makes servicing a venue such as Newbury Racecourse possible is having an expert team which can integrate with the customer. The role of OCS is essentially to ensure the overall customer experience is exceptional and memorable, and that is what we focus on.