What does it take to make both an asset and the people behind managing it ‘happy’ in the true sense? Mohamed Adil Haneef, the COO, AG Facilities Solutions, shares his take on happiness in this interview with ‘CM today’.
The year 2019 marked as one of the best years for AG Facilities Solutions across multiple business dynamics – Revenue, Jobs Award, Customers Delight and Recognition, Service Delivery upgrades, Global Certifications, and Employee Satisfaction.
Ending the year on a strong order book exceeding AED 1 billion, AG Facilities has many key clients like ADNOC, Ministry of Education, UAE Armed Forces, Meeras, Majid Al Futtaim, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Municipality, NMC, Landmark and Musanada in the kitty. Besides, having witnessed a renewal rate of above 90% + of their contracts is a testament to their Customer-Centric Service delivery.
AG Facilities certainly knows a thing or two about ‘happiness’ however, Mohamed Adil Haneef, the COO, reveals to ‘CM today’ that happiness is only achieved when you create a balance between the asset and the people behind managing it. “We may not have a success ‘mantra’ or a happiness strategy per se. But in our journey in this market has led us to believe that it is only when we see growth/happiness internally can we truly showcase that in the assets that we manage,” Haneef reveals.
With the acquisition of the soft-services firm Modern Building Maintenance, or popularly known as MBM, AG Facilities Solutions, has made their presence in the FM space in a much stronger way.
Like any successful marriage, AG Facilities and MBM have managed to strike a balance by learning and growing on their strong points. Talking about the intent for acquisition, Haneef reveals, “At the beginning, AG Facilities was growing well in hard services, while we were outsourcing soft services. It made sense for us to acquire a company in soft services. We bought MBM, which is close to around 8,000 people. There were a lot of processes which we had to introduce in this new company; a lot of IT-related initiatives had to be implemented. We had synergies between both entities. Through the acquisition, we optimized operational and support teams by using them more efficiently.”
The other advantage of the acquisition, Haneef mentions, is the opportunity to cross-sell between AG Facilities Solutions and MBM, which also helped in securing the AED1bn order book. “MBM has close to 800 contracts in retail, financial, educational, healthcare and hospitality sectors. We were able to integrate (with MBM) well, especially by getting our soft services clientele into hard services and vice versa,” says Haneef, while adding, “Majid Al Futtaim malls was our first major win post the acquisition. And this is where we truly optimized and streamlined a lot of things.”
Achieving happiness is impossible if you are not happy from within. And in this case, Haneef says that is very important for the people in the company to be happy first. Investing in their manpower has always been of top priority for AG Facilities. “The people are our ambassadors as they are the ones who are out there interacting with the clients. And it is only if they are happy does it reflect on their work and the company overall,” adds Haneef.
Hence, apart from ensuring there is a constant growth in their professional graph in the company, there are many welfare initiatives AG Facilities has implemented as well. One such is the ‘M Coins’ initiative. To promote health & safety among employees, each ‘safe’ activity conducted by an individual in the company will get reward coins, which they can redeem any time of the year. For example, if a driver achieves 100 safe kilometers he gets a certain number of coins that he can redeem as cash or gift vouchers to take back home. “It is a small motivation that has worked very well to ensure high standards of health & safety among our employees,” adds Haneef.
Similarly, apart from other welfare measures like awarding the best-kept staff accommodation, they also give importance to internal promotions. Haneef feels it is very important to let and show the employees that they will grow along with the company. “It is all about motivating the people who work so endlessly towards the growth of the company. End of the day, clients want to see motivated staff working at their assets as well,” Haneef adds.
Achieving happiness at an asset level comes easily if the manpower is motivated. However, other factors encompass an asset’s ‘happiness’. Haneef points out that a key factor is providing value-added services to the clients. “Money should not always be the bottom line. What is written in the contract invariably any good standard provider delivers? What you do over and above it, gives value-add to the client at a time when he requires it. Be it by providing additional services like replacing old light bulbs or even implementing a solar-lighting system for no added cost goes a long way with the clients. These simple measures end up being your marketing exercise,” explains Haneef.
AG Facilities Solutions has a full-fledged employee development center that provides dedicated training for plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, and other relevant specializations before its personnel is deployed. After the training, the trainees are placed in a mock room for training, which involves recording with different cameras to monitor their performance. “While the training center does add value, we have seen a change where even the clients have shown interest to use the center to get trained and improve their knowledge on the services provided by us. This, in turn, has helped us build a long-standing relationship with the client outside the contract as well,” says Haneef.
The right usage of technology at the assets contributes to the happiness of the assets. Haneef says, “We have been working with different clients from government, semi-government, private, to big asset developers, and most of them have an off-the-shelf software. However, at least 90%-95% of our clients want to use our software for reports as it provides ease of customization and adaptability. We have five full-time programmers working in our office on various projects.”
“If one of our clients is having its software, the first thing we do is integrate the software with ours. We show the client our software capabilities. We provide this as a value-add service. There have been occasions where because of our software capabilities, we have won contracts,” Haneef says.
AG Facilities Solutions’ software is customizable and compatible with all mobile devices running Android and iOS. Haneef adds, “You only need to download our app. Our clients, internal staff and vendors use the app. Through this app, we have tried to minimize paperwork. Be it finance team, operations, or procurement, everything is online.
The in-house IT team supports them with all their requirements. “From developing user-friendly Apps, customizing the solutions according to the client requirement, to helping our clients manage their data more efficiently, we have a very strong IT team that can handle any situation at the asset by implementing the right technology,” says Haneef.
Another way in which they have implemented technology is by using Robotics. This not only reduces the mundane way of conducting the service but also helps in reaching out and managing the areas that are otherwise not very safe and manually easy. “Another key use of technology & expertise that we can help in adding value to our assets is starting at the design stage of the facility,” says Haneef, who adds that there have been times when they have helped their existing clients on new developments by giving them ideas during the design level.
Ultimately, it is the long life of an asset is what matters the most to any real estate owner. “That’s why we do educate our clients on the importance of involving us at the design stage to implement the right technology that can give them that result,” adds Haneef. This particular aspect is provided as a value-add to the clients. Haneef says, now more and more new clients are requesting this service from them. “We treat it as a compliment and the trust they have with us. We do provide this service & technology from the design stage, along with monthly on-site visits until there is a transition. Over time, we have incorporated this in our business model,” he explains.
Other factors like sustainability and energy management also contribute to asset happiness. Haneef says that energy management now is part of the scope. “The client expects us to provide sustainable and energy-efficient solutions.”
The firm itself is planning to install solar panels at two of its several labor accommodations in the region. “I think we are close to saving around 40-50% energy cost on the camps because of our solar energy initiative,” Haneef says. Haneef says that the reason they have implemented this initiative on their assets rather than the clients is that they want to first show them (the clients) the results they can achieve with these simple changes. “In turn, we not only bring in awareness among our staff but also to clients on the importance of clean energy,” he adds.
The future for AG Facilities Solutions is looking clear. With the resurgence of the oil and gas sector, Haneef says that we have what it takes to cater to this market. “We already have some very good clients in this sector and we are looking to grow out here,” adds Haneef, while adding, that hospitality and healthcare are other sectors that they are looking into.
The year 2020 will also see AG Facilities and MBM further strengthen its Financial and Operational capabilities. The development of new service offerings is on the anvil incorporating Technology, AI and Energy Management. They will soon be completing ISO certification for their Employee Development Center (ISO 29990) and Customer Care Center (ISO 18295). Enhanced employee engagement through industry-specific training programs, welfare initiatives, and CSR activities will be undertaken for an all-encompassing development and growth.
“Our focus has always been on quality and that is something we will never compromise on and that is what our clients know us for,” concludes Haneef.