In the dynamic landscape of business, particularly in sectors such as the built environment, leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping organisational success.

We’re curious about what makes businesses great, so in our new video interview series, Built On, we speak with the leaders of some fast-growing SMEs across the construction and property management industries. We want to share their experiences and insights to help other businesses navigate challenges and build success.

In our first interview, we’re joined by Fabien Caqueret, Managing Director of Tudor Group, a company which provides contract cleaning services to offices, stadiums, universities, and other clients across the UK. Through this conversation, we delve into Fabien’s valuable perspective on leading a successful business, emphasising the importance of prioritising people, fostering a values-driven culture, and adapting to technological advancements and sustainability imperatives. As businesses navigate the complexities of the modern marketplace, these principles serve as guiding lights towards sustainable growth and impactful leadership.

Watch the full video interview, or read a summary of our conversation below.


The importance of people:

Fabien emphasises the significance of the three Ps—people, process, and product—in building a robust business strategy. While acknowledging the importance of delivering quality service efficiently, he underscores the role of people, particularly in the service industry, as a key differentiator. For Tudor Group, investing in people is crucial for sustained success.

Does a business leader need to have a clear vision?

Fabien stresses that a clear vision goes beyond financial objectives. He believes in incorporating elements such as social impact and community engagement into the business’s vision. For him, the purpose of the business lies in making a positive difference, not only for its employees and customers but also for the broader communities it serves.

How you communicate that vision is key; Fabien explains, “We as leaders… are the people that our teams look up to… and that they look to for us to have the right answers. I think as part of your vision, you need to acknowledge that and ensure you communicate all these things in an effective manner.”

But also, leadership is about recognising the impact you have on people, and seeking to ensure it is positive: “I think, ultimately, the purpose for me is to try to make that difference from within the industry that we work in, and make a difference for the set of people that we employ, the people that we serve in terms of customers, and their wider communities.

“We [leaders] have a huge impact on actually quite a lot of people’s lives, and you don’t always realise that until later on in your career. I’ve certainly realised that in the last five years. It’s not just about me and my family, or even just my direct reports and my senior leadership team and so forth. It’s much wider than that. And a lot of the decisions that I make ultimately, will have an impact on people’s lives. And I think I try to incorporate that into our purpose. We clean offices and we clean windows, but actually it goes far, far beyond that.”

Living your values in everything you do as a business:

Fabien joined Tudor Group five years ago and shares how, as a new leader taking the helm of an established 30-year business, recognising the significance of company values and the role they play in shaping culture was key to ensuring ongoing success. With a focus on leading improvements for the industry and supporting people within his team, Fabien implemented five core values: quality, safety, accountability, fairness and passion, within days of joining Tudor Group.

Underlining his commitment to people, he argues that the final two help deliver success across all the values, and that living out the values starts from the top:

Fairness is something that is important in our industry. It’s an industry that is well known for paying minimum wage or national living wage, as it’s called these days. We wanted to do something about that issue, like the real living wage, as an example. And the last one –  I buy from passionate people. And I’d like to think that other people do as well: someone who believes in what they do, talking about it in a positive manner. I think that goes a long way.

He emphasises the importance of not only stating these values, but also actively demonstrating them in day-to-day operations, and their impact on shaping organisational culture:

“These [values] underpin what we do as a business. So, in all of our management meetings we cover aspects of our values as a starting point. We don’t start a meeting without talking about health and safety, for example, as the first item on the agenda.

“Culture is important, and therefore the values that you put in place…have a real role to play in making sure that everyone believes the same.”

Celebrating successes and overcoming challenges:

Reflecting on the tendency to focus on addressing challenges rather than celebrating successes, Fabien highlights the importance of acknowledging achievements, expressing gratitude and creating a culture of appreciation within the organisation. He believes: “You can never say thank you too often…it makes a real difference.”

Moreover, he stresses that leaders require support, both internally and externally, during challenging times, and the value of open communication and humility in leadership. He speaks frankly about the value of talking through problems with his teenage son to give him a sense of perspective, as well as the support of his wife, and drawing on the experience of other leaders, including the Chair of the Board and former colleagues also now in senior roles. He advises: “Never be scared to talk…be humble enough to realise that you don’t have all the answers. With many business issues – someone else has been through it before – so reach out – build a network of support”

Adapting to emerging technologies:

Discussing the impact of technology on the cleaning industry, Fabien acknowledges its historically slow adoption of technological innovations. However, he emphasises the need to adapt to emerging technologies such as robotics and AI to enhance service delivery, while recognising the irreplaceable value of the human touch in certain aspects of the business.

Commitment to sustainability:

Fabien highlights the growing importance of sustainability in the cleaning industry, both in environmental and social aspects. He outlines various initiatives undertaken by Tudor Group to minimise environmental impact, such as reducing chemical and water usage, minimising single-use plastics, as well as cutting miles through efficient planning. He also discusses how leaders need to think holistically about ESG, sharing how he ensures the company also considers its social impact, including fairness and supporting its team, as well as engaging in community projects and social causes.

Final advice for business builders:

As a final piece of advice for other business leaders, Fabien outlines the importance of trusting one’s instincts, being humble, and leading by example. He stresses the importance of recognising that your business is unique – there ‘isn’t a one size fits all’ approach. While it is very important to seek out stakeholders’ input to guide decision-making, you must also trust your own judgement.

For more interviews with leaders in the built environment visit the Built On homepage or subscribe to the newsletter.