Established in 1992, McFarlane Telfer provides catering and refrigeration equipment maintenance for clients in the corporate, education and health-care sectors. It is also a Royal Warrant holder and services Windsor Castle and the Royal Palaces in London.
The company currently employs nearly 50 people and is based in Maidenhead. Its turnover in 2013 was c. £5 million and it now has ambitious plans to expand both its domestic and overseas operations over the next five years.
McFarlane Telfer was first introduced to the EFQM Excellence Model in June 2013 after attending several BQF networking group events. It was attracted to the Model because it provides a complete framework for an entire business from its culture, leadership and strategy right through to its results, and ties them together in a clear way.
With its growth plans firmly in mind, McFarlane Telfer decided to start using the Model to ensure that it was in good shape before embarking on them. It also wanted to use the Model to help map the positive traits that had led to its present success so that these could be retained during the expansion process.
To get started, key staff members attended a number of EFQM Excellence Model User Group events and asked lots of questions! George Roberts-Smith, McFarlane Telfer’s Business Improvement Manager, also undertook EFQM Assessor Training in order to gain a deeper understanding of the Model and the assessment process.
Room to improve
Over the next few months, the McFarlane Telfer management team looked at each of the Model’s criteria in turn to weigh up how the organisation was performing against them. It found a number of areas where the business was performing quite well, alongside some others where there was definite room for improvement.
Some improvement measures that were identified could be implemented quickly. As the organisation began to see the benefits, it also wanted to find out exactly where it stood and, more critically, to identify where it should be focusing its future improvement efforts.
Despite this, the decision to apply for EFQM Recognised for Excellence certification was not one that was taken lightly. In particular there was concern over how the assessment process would work for a smaller business, but this and other issues were talked through with the assessors.
McFarlane Telfer found the assessment process served as a terrific team building exercise that involved the whole company and helped to raise the bar of what could be achieved.
The assessment itself revealed that there were many parts of the Model that the management team believed it was addressing but which were largely undocumented. This made some activities harder to benchmark and measure, and the experience of a challenging evidence-gathering process has made the team consider how best to record its efforts in the future.
The team was also proud of the way that the organisation’s positive culture shone through, in particular the focus on its customers at all levels of the business from the engineers on the ground right through to the accounts team.
In April 2014, McFarlane Telfer was awarded EFQM Recognised for Excellence status at 4 star level on its first attempt.
Chris Craggs, Managing Director, said: ‘For us the assessment was always about seeing where we were and where there were specific areas that we could start to make improvement – it also shows customers that we have the ability to deliver an exceptional service that is constantly being improved and refined!’
‘External assessment provides valuable insight into the organisation from those who are not so close to the business, as all often are in a small company. We now also have a much clearer insight into the process with which to carry out internal assessment going forward as we continue to grow.’