Jamal Abdulla Lootah, Group CEO, Imdaad
It has been a whirlwind of a year. Despite the challenges thrown at them, Imdaad was able to achieve strong performance and sustainable growth. As they enter into the New Year, Group CEO Jamal Abdulla Lootah shares how the pandemic allowed them to not only demonstrate their skills but also renew their trust with their clients. Talking about the future of Community Management in the region and how the year 2021 will further strengthen their hold in the market, Jamal Abdulla Lootah gives CM today an insight into their robust business strategy.
HOW DID IMDAAD’S SPECIALIZED CLEANING SERVICES PERFORM DURING 2020?
Our range of specialized services, which are delivered through Imdaad’s subsidiary Isnaad, performed exceptionally well last year. This can, in part, be attributed to the huge increase in demand for disinfection and sanitization services arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the implementation of our new service line in these areas, Isnaad achieved an annual growth in revenue of 208%.
We also succeeded in retaining the majority of our business despite challenging market conditions, thanks to the high levels of trust that clients place in our services. While there was some degree of restructuring of contracts involved in order to provide the best possible value to our customers, this was achieved with minimal financial impact.
In addition to retaining nearly all of our existing clients, we won several contracts for prestigious new projects. These include a three-year contract for the provision of façade and deep cleaning services at the Palm Jumeirah Monorail and a new agreement to deliver a range of soft FM services at The Galleries, a 20,000m2 mixed-use development in Jebel Ali.
HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES OF COVID-19?
We succeeded in overcoming the challenges of the pandemic thanks to our robust business strategy, commitment to the needs of our clients, and agility in the face of the rapidly evolving situation. Our number one priority has always been to deliver the highest standards of service while ensuring the safety of our team members and the communities they serve. Naturally, we arranged comprehensive training for all staff on the enhanced safety protocols required. We were also able to manage our teams efficiently by swiftly deploying and reallocating resources in line with customer requirements.
As part of Imdaad’s wider contribution to the nation’s battle against COVID-19, Isnaad launched several customized disinfection packages for both residential and commercial facilities. The early implementation of our mobile disinfection teams was key to our leading role in supporting the government’s efforts to contain the pandemic, which is something we are immensely proud of. We were among the very first companies approved and listed with the Dubai municipality, confirming our readiness to quickly adapt to new scenarios and convert challenges into opportunities.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PRIORITY FOR CUSTOMERS WHEN CHOOSING A COMPANY TO DELIVER FM SERVICES IN THE WAKE OF THE PANDEMIC?
Many customers have been affected financially by the crisis and are looking for affordable solutions, but I believe the number one priority remains the quality of services delivered. This is one area where Isnaad will never compromise since our reputation for excellence is built on our clients’ trust in the quality of our services. Rather, we have focused on offering cost-effective solutions by enhancing our operational efficiencies.
Isnaad’s flexible approach has also enabled us to develop unmatched customer loyalty since we do everything we can to accommodate the needs of our clients and work together in a way that allows us to fine-tune our offerings for the benefit of all parties.
Maintaining the highest of standards is a crucial factor in community management, particularly where some of the specialized services we provide such as water tank cleaning or swimming pool maintenance are concerned. These have a direct impact on residents’ quality of life, therefore it is very important not to cut corners – our clients truly appreciate the quality of our work.
IMDAAD PROVIDES MANPOWER SERVICES IN AREAS INCLUDING COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT AND THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY. HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY INCREASE OR DECREASE IN DEMAND AS A RESULT OF COVID-19?
In terms of our role as a manpower services provider, the main driver of our success is a growing economy. Aside from its natural resources, the UAE economy is heavily dependent on tourism and business travelers. This means we have felt the impact of the travel restrictions implemented in response to COVID-19. Initially, demand in this area of the business decreased drastically, but we have been witnessing considerable growth since things have been opening up again.
Engaging with external manpower suppliers brings many strategic advantages to businesses in the current climate, including the easy availability of talent for tasks that require specialized skills at short notice.
From the very beginning, the UAE has taken unprecedented steps in terms of preventive measures to protect its citizens. As a result of this success, we are now experiencing a drastic increase in requirements for both manpower and hospitality. We have recruited more than 450 blue-collar staff within the first month of 2021 alone. With the vaccination program continuing to be rolled out, we expect to see further growth in demand across both manpower and hospitality.
IMDAAD OFFERS A WIDE RANGE OF SPECIALIZED CLEANING SERVICES, CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THESE?
We provide a full spectrum of specialized cleaning services, which creates a ‘one-stop-shop’ for our clients and avoids the need for them to engage with multiple vendors. These range from our industry-leading disinfection and sanitization services, which are ISO 14001, ISO 45001, and ISO 9001 certified and have played an important role in the nation’s battle against COVID-19, to façade and high-level cleaning carried out by our highly trained and certified personnel.
Isnaad also delivers water tank cleaning and disinfection for both domestic and industrial water tanks of all sizes, swimming pool cleaning including pump maintenance and deep cleaning, marble crystallization and polishing, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and garbage chute cleaning and disinfection services. Our expert technicians work with the latest specialized equipment to the highest international standards and stand ready to tackle the most arduous of tasks quickly and efficiently.
In light of the pandemic scenario, it has become more important than ever to respond to the needs of our clients and the community at a moment’s notice. With this in mind, we are excited to further enhance our service delivery with the rollout of our new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) module field cloud system. This stateof- the-art digital solution is updated in real-time and enables us to streamline our operational processes, allocate resources with greater efficiency, and ensure the rapid responses our clients have become accustomed to.
ONE OF THE KEY SERVICES WHEN IT COMES TO COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT IN THE UAE IS FAÇADE CLEANING, PARTICULARLY WHERE HIGH-LEVEL CLEANING IS CONCERNED. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN THIS IMPORTANT AREA, AND HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THEM?
In terms of challenges, the UAE – and Dubai in particular – is well known for its stunning architecture. Occasionally, we come across instances where it appears that external cleaning has not been considered as a priority when the buildings were designed.
Fortunately, Isnaad’s advanced equipment and technologies enable our teams to safely tackle the most challenging surfaces and unique structures. These include the Reach & Wash system, which allows technicians to access hard-to-reach areas via telescopic poles. The system uses a soft-bristled brush to scrub the glass, while jets of pure water simultaneously rinse the windows for a spotfree finish with no marks left behind.
We also work with a full range of solutions including rope access, scaffolding, cradles, and aerial work that allow us to deal with any structure to the highest of standards, making Isnaad the trusted provider of choice for a host of prestigious clients.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THE TECHNICIANS CONDUCTING HIGH-LEVEL CLEANING?
As with all aspects of Imdaad’s business, safety is paramount and is ensured through our rigorous approach to training and investment in the best available technology. All equipment and fixtures undergo frequent safety checks, both internally and through our certified third-party companies.
Our teams operate in accordance with local safety regulations as well as international standards such as Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) and International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), giving our clients peace of mind and our employees the confidence to scale new heights of excellence.
WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER TO BE IMDAAD’S BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE IN TERMS OF THE SPECIALIZED SERVICES THE COMPANY OFFERS?
As previously mentioned, it has been an honor for us to contribute to the UAE’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic through our participation in the national disinfection program. We are grateful to have been in a position to support the government’s efforts, and the dedication of our frontline staff has been inspiring to see as they perform this vital service to ensure the safety of the community and the nation.
In terms of business achievements, we are proud to have been selected to provide specialized cleaning services for the Palm Jumeirah Monorail. Isnaad’s three-year contract encompasses the trains, train stations, and façades of the UAE’s only monorail. We have deployed an expert team of 14 personnel to conduct sophisticated cleaning and disinfection operations, in line with the strict HSE requirements associated with a project of this nature. We are delighted to work on this unique project and help create world-class experiences for visitors to the iconic man-made island.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT INDUSTRY?
Throughout the pandemic period, the important role technology plays in keeping people connected and productive has come to the forefront. Yet this was nothing new for our industry since we were already using many digital tools to boost efficiency and ensure our customers receive the services they require in a timely and effective way. As mentioned earlier, our ERP module field cloud system is designed to achieve this very objective.
Breakthroughs in connectivity such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data analysis, and Artificial Intelligence will play an increasingly important role, particularly where the ‘Smart Cities’ of tomorrow are concerned. These technologies hold vast potential in the sphere of community management and are already being deployed around the world to streamline waste management, improve energy efficiency, and manage the flow of people and vehicles in public spaces. Ultimately, the future is going to be driven by these emerging technologies – the key lies in understanding how to harness their immense benefits to enhance the lives of the communities we serve.
FINALLY, WHAT DOES IMDAAD, AND ISNAAD IN PARTICULAR, HAVE PLANNED FOR THE YEAR AHEAD?
Last year proved to be a unique and challenging period for Imdaad and the world, in many ways. However, having succeeded in overcoming obstacles to turn these challenges into opportunities, we can look to the year ahead with renewed confidence and vigor. Our top priorities include continuing to safeguard the wellbeing of our team members and clients, further enhancing sustainability throughout our operations, and embracing innovation to develop even better services and solutions for our customers.
As far as Isnaad is concerned, we will continue to focus on improving customer satisfaction and upskilling our team members to deliver services of the highest quality. As the hospitality sector’s recovery begins to gather pace, we are anticipating greater demand for our specialized grease trap and kitchen duct-cleaning capabilities, which conform to international safety standards including NFPA 96. Meanwhile, on the community front, we expect to see further growth in demand for our sewage tank cleaning solutions.
We will also be supporting Imdaad’s long-term strategy by expanding our footprint across the UAE and acquiring new clients, particularly in the Northern emirates. Thanks to the UAE government’s success in handling the ongoing pandemic situation, I am feeling highly positive regarding the future and look forward to exploring the many exciting opportunities that await us in the months ahead.