Driving facility management
Before becoming company president, Johnson went through rigorous interviews with the Sodexo’s group CEO and the head of HR as a relatively new and unknown team member.
“I did have one thing going for me. When I first arrived a few months prior, I was fortunate to lead a high profile FM deal that put me on the company radar. I arrived at Sodexo in January and received a call in February from GlaxoSmithKline. ‘I have some good news and some bad news,’ he said. ‘The good news is we have a big RFP coming out, it’s for food and 12 other services and we want to put you on the bid list.’ So we did the food, which unbeknownst to me we’d been doing for years, and they put us on the bid list. Then he told me the bad news. He said I’d be presenting on Monday. This was on a Wednesday. I told him we’d be there and hung up the phone. So away we went, and subsequently won the whole thing.”
Johnson recalls that when he came to Sodexo Canada, the company was in rough shape. “We were consistently selling about $40 million in new business a year, and not getting traction growing the FM part of the business. The people in the organization were complacent. They weren’t challenged from a leadership perspective and thought FM was a passing fad.”
Johnson restructured the senior leadership team. He noted the company was selling within the operating lines and lacked a centralized sales team. “There was no constructive conflict between sales and operations. We sold what we were comfortable operating. We weren’t taking any risks. There was no sales culture. We lacked accountability from an organizational perspective – we’d miss targets and there were no repercussions.”
Johnson made changes with people and drove deliverables into people’s performance reviews. He set up plans so that there were consequences when the company failed to meet its objectives. He centralized sales and brought in a strong sales leader. “I told people straight up that if they thought FM was a passing a fad, they wouldn’t survive here.”
In 2005 Sodexo Canada came out with some objectives (Ambition 2015)– to double its revenues and triple its profitability over a ten year span – by 2015.
“We have clients in various industries including corporate, health care, education and remote sites that are looking to get more services from fewer service providers. The market is changing. Our clients don’t want to just outsource food; it’s about maintaining the all of their space. We make sure the heating works and that the grounds are cut. We oversee reception, switchboard, the mailroom and photocopiers. We are streamlining the supply chain to simplify things for our clients. “
“Financially it helps us grow. If I have a client and focus on food services, I can make $1 million in top line revenue. Under the new contract I make $15 million in revenue and $2 million worth of profit.”