FM Growth
  • 21 Apr.2021
  • 3 min read
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What’s driving the Growth of regional facility management firms in the Middle East?

by Sumit Nawathe

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The Middle East construction industry has been seen as an ever-growing ‘growth engine’ for multiple sectors ranging from hospitality, trade to property management. Despite the setback due to the pandemic and subsequent ripples on tourism and workplace adoption, the industry has shown a massive comeback in the first quarter of 2021.

The UAE’s facility management market was valued at $14.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to showcase a CAGR of 10.8% by 2030. In many ways, the facility management landscape of MENA is far different than other global markets. One can witness the unique equations of multinational and regional firms there. While multinational firms bring in their cross-market expertise, standardizations, and service benchmarks, regional firms provide Ultra customized, cost-effective solutions with low turnaround time. 

In the past couple of years, we have witnessed that the IFM market in The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is getting closer to a consolidated stage due to the increasing competition and presence of many players in a concentrated geographical region. 

Many multinational FM service providers have adopted various growth strategies, including mergers and acquisitions, aggressive expansions, and joint ventures with local service providers to strengthen their position in this market. Yet they are facing fierce competition from the homegrown players. In fact, in many aspects, those regional firms are proving more successful in their endeavors than the global ones.

In a pursuit to understand those critical functional traits of successful regional facility management service providers, we analyzed the leading facility management firms based on their recent activities, type of contracts, product/service portfolios, and their organizational value systems. In this article, we are trying to present our learnings and takeaways to everyone.

Agile structure: 

According to McKinsey’s report, there are five key trademarks of an agile organization which focuses on the strategy, structure, process, people, and technology part of the business. We observed that most of the regional facility management firms exhibit at least 3 to 4 such qualities.

During the first wave of COVID, many firms responded quickly to prevent the spread of the virus. In such difficult times, firms like Imdaad quickly acted upon robust strategies to get closer with their clients and ensure continuous and hygienic operations of their facilities.  

Contactless applications to remote asset management, In the last 12 months many firms have rolled out technologies at an unprecedented speed. FM firms have realized the opportunities for product portfolio expansion in the area of energy management, predictive analytics, and mobile engineering teams. Interestingly, firms are doing the same without exposing their capital investment by building everything from the scratch. 

Strategic partnerships with technology startups are helping them to leverage mutual expertise and gain that competitive edge. While multinational FMs are investing heavily in R&D to develop their own technology stack, regional firms are focusing on getting into JV with a tech company and white-labeling the solution for their customers, maximizing the coverage with limited exposure to capital.    

Customer-centric approach:

While we all have been a part of a transition from an outcome-based to an ‘experience-based economy’ this is particularly very evident in UAE and the entire MENA region. Maybe because of the exponential growth of tourism or cosmopolitan and millennial workforce, clients and tenants are expecting seamless experience more from the facility management teams. 

Forward-thinking facility management firms are not stopping by creating help desk or service centers but also investing in human-centric technologies to deliver uninterrupted experience. Firms like Ejadah Asset Management Group have started a dedicated division to focus on ‘customer-centric operations’  under their new initiative. Biju Nair, head of a customer experience, Ejadah recalls the meeting they used to conduct every month to discuss the pain points of each individual facility owners and corrective actions to take, eventually, this exercise helped them to improve their Net Promoter Score from 54 to 72 within two years last year Ejadah was selected as a finalist in the Customer Centricity World Series 2021 awards. 

Upskilling the workforce:

Multiple studies have demonstrated that employee upskilling has a positive influence on Facility Management’s performance and improving their bottom line. Besides skill development, there are other benefits of upskilling such as employee retention and higher productivity of the teams. No wonder smart and lean facility management firms are giving special attention to cross-skill or upskill their workforce through training and capacity-building workshops. 

Upskilling becomes even more relevant for soft services due to the sheer number of blue-collar workforce. Chris Roberts, CEO of Eltizam Asset Management Group, strongly believes that sustainable business growth can only be achieved by focusing on the development of its people and processes  (organizational development), customer happiness, and ensuring efficiency in operations. Hence every senior management employee has to go through their relevant training programs. They also support their employees for a higher degree of education.  

Firms like Transguard have gone one step further the show their empathy towards the blue-collar workforce during the pandemic by taking the voluntary pay cuts. Note that this is the same firm that has already accomplished net zero emission targets for one of their fasciitis in UAE, a feat even multinational FM firms would find difficult to execute.  

To summarise, successful facility management firms are lean and quick in their decision-making process. For them, employee welfare and customer experience are always on their priority list, and most importantly they strongly believe in strategic partnerships and constantly updating their technology stack to be able to provide relevant solutions to their clients. 

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