The fine art of facilities management in the UAE

Facilities management is an ever-growing, ever-diversifying sector, especially so in the UAE.

One of UAE’s facilities management market leaders is ETA Facilities Management, which enjoys the rare privilege of supplying all of its services in-house.

The company, part of ETA Ascon and Star Group. has been around since 1977 and has 17,000 employees in the UAE and 1,000 in Qatar. It began as a humble cleaning service, called Modern Building Maintenance (MBM), but has since expanded to three more subsidiaries, boasting an annual turnover of Dh1.35 billion and a huge spectrum of services – from plumbing to pest control.

PMS Hameed, senior general manager of MBM, has worked at the company for 35 years. He says the UAE market is “thriving”, having learnt much from its more developed counterparts abroad. “UAE people travel a lot to developed countries. When they go travel across to developed regions like Europe, they see property owners just give their property to facilities management companies to manage.

He says ETA Group was inspired by more developed markets when it began more than 40 years ago. “I think the concept has grown over the last 10 or 15 years, coinciding with Dubai’s development. As you know, since 2004 or 2005, Dubai has seen such a big boom. Everbody wants a wonderful property, so they spend a lot of money on a beautiful structure. This needs proper maintenance.”

This growth, he says, has also driven the market away from segmented services – such as maintenance, cleaning and security – towards integrated facilities management solutions.

“At that time, you could go for independent small companies, but now their capability is not enough to integrate things. And people would rather deal with one person than six. When it all goes to one professional facilities management company, once they undertake the job they’re committed to provide all the services to the satisfaction of the customer. So we have a proper system – everything is computerised, ultra-modern and integrated. It is more informative and transparant.”

The way in which ETA Facilities Management maintains such transparency is through a customer satisfaction system, which allows customers to track complaints in their building. “They can see what the complaint was, when it was raised, why was it raised and what our reactive response was.

“Now, post-property boom, and with such huge investment in infrastructure development, facilities management is very much required in this country. And, as you know, Dubai is a role model for the other countries in the GCC. Now our business is thriving in Qatar, and we’ll soon also be moving to Saudi Arabia and Oman.”

Mr Hameed says a crucial element of operating a successful facilities management company is maintaining customer relationships. “We have a customer who has been with us for 30 or 35 years – Dubai Chamber. Dubai Municipality, Dubai Police, they’ve all been with us for a very, very long time, so we have good relationships. They are like our business partners.”

halbustani@thenational.ae

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Published: June 14, 2014 04:00 AM

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