Critical MAS: A view from the sector

The role of the Management Advisory Service (MAS) consultant in foodservice has evolved with an ever-changing industry. Experienced MAS consultant Ruby Parker Puckett FFCSI speaks with three FCSI colleagues from three FCSI global divisions to find out how MAS consultants are responding to change

1.    How has the landscape changed in the last ten years?

Toni Clarke FCSI (Asia Pacific Division of FCSI): The overall value of being a member of FCSI has increased significantly in the past decade, with greater emphasis on the last three years. The success of Foodservice Consultant magazine and the recently launched app have raised the bar in terms of the FCSI brand. The broader distribution network, to hospitality associated companies outside equipment suppliers, has created awareness and an interest in using the services of a FCSI consultant as part of the team. However, in the Asia Pacific region, the use of consultants is predominantly confined to kitchen design consultants and it remains a challenge for Management Advisory Service (MAS) consultants to be included as part of the project team. The value of a MAS consultant is able to bring to the table is the development of the overall concept brief, ensuring the implementation is in line with the clients’ vision and seamless operational operational efficiency between the front and back of house areas.

Serdar Sağlamtunç FCSI (Europe, Africa and Middle East Division of FCSI): I am a little bit alone in my area [Turkey] as I’ve been the only professional FCSI member there since 1998. The reason is the way of thinking in this part of the world. For me, there are two ideas behind this. Firstly, it is the owner. Usually construction companies don’t want to outsource professional support. It is likely a cultural problem, as they must have the power in projects, giving the impression that the company knows everything and is capable of doing everything. Secondly, they want to hide the facts of the cost of materials and labour. They are concerned that their ‘secrets’ may be used by outsiders. The owners are very conservative.  So the few chances I have is either they have encountered a problem, or foreign hotel chains ask for a registered consultant. In this part of the world there is no change at all but the manufacturing companies and hotel chains changed their attitude. Companies provide consultancy services free of charge and chains follow the investors.

Char Norton FFCSI (The Americas Division of FCSI): Since I have collaborated with design consultants for over 25 years, I will try not to go back that far. In the beginning, collaboration was with only one company. In the past ten years, collaboration is with multiple design consultants depending on the project and the MAS consultant skills. As an example, the design team may need a MAS consultant skilled in health care; another team may have a disaster component in their project. Many companies recommend a MAS consultant they had previously worked with, who has the skills, knowledge, and the ability to work with the company to meet the vision and goals and the outcome of the project.

2.    Why has collaboration become acceptable, or even de rigueur?

Sağlamtunç: In my part of the world, it’s still very scarce, but if one FCSI member gets a job in Turkey and if he feels that it is more costly to come or send one of the company staff than there will be a kind of cooperation. I had one or two occasions like this and each time I asked for only daily fees because of that limited support. I do not sense any inclination for cooperation or it becoming de rigueur from either FCSI design or MAS members.

Norton: Collaboration has now become acceptable, as MAS consulting has matured with the design consultants understanding the various special skills the MAS consultant can bring to their project. As most design forms are small, they cannot afford to have multiple MAS consultants as employees. One consultant cannot fit all their various design project requirements.

Clarke: Collaboration is critical to the overall success of any project and the depth of experience from a combined team of FCSI consultants—MAS and kitchen design – ensures that an objective view is maintained and projects are delivered with set parameters. Many people do not completely understand the network of resources available to FCSI consultants, both from peers and from industry suppliers. In Asia Pacific, FCSI APD brand awareness is slowly increasing and the status of being accepted as a member is seen to add value to all categories of membership.

3.    How does it actually work in practice, for example splitting fees, accreditation, points of contact, ownership of project, etc.?

Norton: The ownership of the project is usually with the design consultant because the design fees are the larger part of the fees. When a client requests a proposal, the MAS and design consultants will determine their own individual scope of services with their individual fee. The proposal to the client will usually reflect a combined fee plus reimbursable. The scope of services will identify all tasks to be completed and usually which firm will complete the tasks. The point of contact can be the consultant that is working that segment. Many times the design consultant works with the architect while the MAS consultant works with the end user. However, communication is the key to avoid problems.

At an FCSI meeting in Anaheim, the question came up if the MAS consultant should go on the interview [with the client]. My response was “no” because it could cost the MAS consultant $2,000 in expenses, for a $10,000 fee. This is much different from the design consultant spending $2,000 for a $100,000 fee.

Sağlamtunç: In principle if we do projects together, we may agree on a fee base that is similar to what they asked from the investing company, and normally it is acceptable. On one occasion, they introduced me to the operator very openly but it is on a waiting phase. In some parts of my division, it is hard to be hired due to the cultural/religious differences.

Clarke: In APD there are two models: either the lead consultant will be engaged by the client and will be responsible for other consultant cost within the project and to an agreed budget, or there will be two defined project scopes and they will engage both independently, again with agreed budget and deliverables. Again, collaboration is the key component of a successful project.

Ruby Parker Puckett FFCSI: This article is not a research study or a complete survey of all MAS consultants in all divisions, but the opinion and experience of three highly respected consultants. As you read this article it is interesting to observe the difference in the role of the MAS consultant in each of the three FCSI Divisions. I think with all the programmes the FCSI Worldwide board and the Divisions are working to implement, the role of the MAS consultant will play a larger role working with designers, owners and, yes, even governments.

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