From securing several important contracts to introducing promising new initiatives, the year 2019 has been a year of growth and development for Three60 Communities, a subsidiary of Eltizam Asset Management Group, in line with the company’s five year strategic plan which was launched in early 2019.
The company was awarded the biggest community and utility management contracts in the Northern Emirates for two projects by Al Hamra, Ras Al Khaimah's largest real estate developer – Al Hamra Village and the Bab Al Bahr Residences. Additionally, Three60 was selected by KOA Real Estate Development LLC as the Owners' Association Management Company for their KOA Canvas in Dubailand; while the company also signed an agreement with one of Oman’s most exclusive communities, Muscat Bay, to provide community and property management services – which aligns with plans to expand their market share in the Sultanate of Oman.
Apart from growing their portfolio of projects, the company has focused on a number of internal initiatives aimed at sustainability and people development. This includes the mangrove cleanup project that was recently carried out as part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. The initiative focused on cleaning a large part of the National Mangroves Park around the City of Lights in Abu Dhabi, protecting sensitive fish habitats adjacent to the community it manages, and spreading awareness on plastic pollution among their employees and community residents Three60 Communities has also placed a strong emphasis on 'Happy Living Strategy' by building happy communities. Focusing on community happiness through service is one of the core pillars of the Get Wonky framework, and their efforts throughout the year have also contributed to the success of the National Happiness Agenda that aims to make the UAE the happiest country in the world. Furthermore, Three60 Leisure, the Group's dedicated lifestyle Division that focuses on recreational activities and wellness initiatives within communities managed by the company, has also been a major highlight; making huge strides towards implementing Eltizam's Happy Living Strategy that sets us apart from competitors in the region's asset and community management industry. This has been achieved by enhancing several aspects necessary for a happy living environment, including the availability of more parking spaces, abundance of green landscapes, proximity to shops and restaurants, nearby activity and entertainment options, pet friendliness, and tolerance, and frequent quality communal events.
Giving his take on the new law and how technology is reshaping the way they manage their communities is Mohammed Alsharaf, COO, Eltizam Asset Management Group. Here is the excerpt from the
Q. How has the new RERA legislation that came into effect earlier this year for jointly owned property been accepted within the industry?
As a key stakeholder that constantly interacts with individual property owners, suppliers and the regulator, we at Three60 Communities welcome the new law. We believe it will facilitate improvement with regards to how commonly owned properties are managed and ultimately benefit property owners by protecting long-term asset value. It is evident that lessons have been learned from managing commonly owned property in the UAE over the past decade, and the new legislation will result in enhanced governance and transparency to create an environment that benefits developers, investors, and end-users of real estate alike.
An example of the improved measures is the requirement to do open tendering of services, which will ultimately result in better pricing for the communities, while the necessity to have budgets reviewed by independent auditors also improves transparency and will likely lead to better service charge collection rates as owners develop more and more trust in the system. We believe not only that the new law is the most advanced legislation for jointly owned property across GCC and MENA region, but that it will become a benchmark for other jurisdictions as well.
Q. The recent introduction of Mollak in Dubai, the online system for managing and paying owner service charges, has been received very positively by the industry. That being said, with any new system comes a set of challenges. Could you provide us with some insight into the new system and how it has been beneficial for Three60?
Every new system presents challenges and with Mollak, the process of transferring communities' data and files to allow the issuance of service charge invoices online has been no different. The sheer amount of data that has to be transferred and reconciled alongside the detailed audit reviews of each and every community as they get uploaded into the Mollak system has presented obstacles that our Community Teams have taken on and completed for all of our Dubai communities during Q4.
This has required careful planning and coordination to ensure timelines are met and the experience of customers continues to be seamless. We believe that the launch of the Mollak system will streamline the service charge budgeting, invoicing and collections processes across the emirate of Dubai; essentially encouraging owners to pay service charges on time. This, in turn, will ensure service continuity and enhance service quality within each community.
Q. How is technology changing the Community Management industry in the region? Could you elaborate with a few examples of the kind of technology adopted by Three60 in their communities?
The Community Management industry has not been bypassed by the global trend of digital transformation and technology adoption. Locally, regionally and internationally as part of a broader property technology movement, we are seeing technology improve community management in two key aspects – customer experience and operational efficiency. In terms of customer experience, the development and launch of Three60 Communities' online customer portal have enabled our customers to benefit from 24/7 services at the click of a button – reducing the need to visit our offices, improving transaction processing times and lowering the amount of paper being consumed in line with our environmental objectives. Similarly, in terms of operational efficiency, business process automation has allowed us to improve our service transaction processing, with better insight and knowledge of SLA's and internal team performance.
Another interesting technology case study is Three60 Communities recent collaboration with micro-mobility company Circ to provide residents of Reem Village, Marina Square and City of Lights in Abu Dhabi with e-scooters. This unique partnership aims to support Abu Dhabi's Environment Vision 2030, which prioritizes mitigating the impact of climate change and ensuring safe and healthy living conditions through the provision of clean air and reduced noise pollution. As technology evolves, so too does the Three60 Communities technology roadmap. Our team is busy working on the next wave of innovations and we will be rolling out a major project to benefit customer community engagement during Q1 2020. Watch this space.
Q. Can you shed some light on the M-100 training provided by the company?
Three60 Communities recently revealed it was the first company in the region to provide employees with "M100 - The Essentials of Community Association Management" training devised by Community Associations Institute (USA) in conjunction with the Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI). The initiative was developed with the aim of enhancing the knowledge, skills, and performance of all departments and ensuring all participants are trained to the highest international industry standards. A group of over 50 community management staff recently undertook the course at the newly launched Eltizam Training Academy and, following its resounding success, it will now be provided to external organizations interested in facilitating professional development within their respective community management teams. This comprehensive community management association course provides a practical overview for new managers, an essential review for veteran managers, and an advanced course for board members. Topics within the course include: Roles and responsibilities of managers, owners, committees and the board; Management ethics; Organizing and conducting board meetings; Preparing budgets and funding reserves; Assessment collection policies and procedures; Collecting delinquent payments; Evaluating risk assessment and insurance programs; Implementing maintenance programs; Preparing bid requests and identifying key contract provisions; Recruiting, selecting and managing personnel; Managing sustainable and developing communities.
Q. What is the vision for 2020 and how do you see the future of Community Management?
We believe in building sustainable communities and, by managing every aspect of real estate development, we are committed to providing each of our residents and clients with a thriving community full of life in which they can live, work and play.
In 2020, the community management industry will have a bigger role to play as customer demand for a holistic service continues to rise. Technology has also evolved since the inception of association management as a segment-specific form of management, and it is not inconceivable that someday there will be "virtual managers" to attend to the needs of clients. One thing that will, however, remain constant is the need to provide superior customer service; and no system, electronic or otherwise, will replace the need for skilled professionals who have the necessary skillset to service and assist this continuously changing component of the housing industry.
Looking ahead to next year, we will continue to move forward with our expansion operations in new territories including Egypt, Bahrain, and Kuwait while simultaneously targeting new contracts in our existing markets, Oman and UAE.