Saba to look after its own with fledgling FM venture

Behrouz Javaheri, chairman of Saba Real Estate, tells Zoe Naylor why his firm is setting up a facilities management arm for its three projects at Jumeirah Lake Towers in Dubai.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  May 27, 2006

|~|123int200.gif|~|Javaheri says that by setting up a specific FM division for Saba Towers, the firm is safeguarding the future of both its developments and reputation.|~|What prompted Saba Real Estate to launch a facilities management (FM) division?

Maintenance becomes a critical issue as soon as you take delivery of a tower — buildings tend to appreciate far more in value if they are maintained properly.

In addition, Saba towers One, Two and Three are our investments and we want to keep them as a reference for our future work.

We are very particular about quality and high standards and once we deliver our first tower in Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT), people will see that.

And since we are very particular about quality, we want to make sure the towers stay that way. Quality does not end with the delivery the units to the clients: it should continue with the after-sales support, which in this case is the maintenance of the tower.

How important is FM in a market such as Dubai?

Dubai is changing — it’s becoming a very professional city and a magnet for a lot of prominent companies from numerous industries. These companies need buildings that fit in with their requirements and offer prestige. So we are trying to maintain our buildings the best way possible.

Facilities project image, and this is a key issue. When you walk into a building that is meticulously maintained, you get a good impression; but when you walk into a building that is dirty and shabby and not well looked after, you immediately lose confidence. If you work in a prestigious environment, it provides added value to your business.

It’s like maintaining your home or your car — some people look after them properly, some don’t. Building something is one thing, but maintaining it is totally different. It becomes a critical issue the moment you hand over a building.

Can properly managed FM increase the overall lifespan of a building?

Absolutely. What FM does is pay attention to wear and
tear. It’s about minimising this, and constantly trying to renovate the building and maximise its use.

Does FM change according to whether it is a commercial or residential project?

You expect certain things from your home and certain things from your office. But while there are different requirements, it’s almost the same thing in that people want somewhere clean, well maintained and well managed — it requires the same qualifications and the same concept principals.

For FM to be successful you have to have preventive management and advance planning. If your style is corrective management i.e. you wait until something goes wrong, then you are bound to fail. What you need is a pro-active management facility that strives to prevent mishaps by planning ahead. This means that the risk is minimal.

What is Saba’s approach to FM?

FM can be categorised into hard services and soft services. Hard services entail making sure the air conditioning, elevators and power utilities are operating reliably, economically and safely. Soft services cover things like internal cleaning, pest control and security.

FM is a 24-7 job — if there is a leak, for example, you have to have the means to attend to it very quickly. Reaction time is critical. We categorise FM into five different codes of urgency: Urgency One means pay attention to it instantly; Urgency Two queries will be dealt with within a day or two, and so on.

There are so many different areas in a tower and you have to be prepared to pay attention to them all. Many people seem to think FM is just about cleaning or security, but there are many aspects to it.

How many staff will Saba initially have on its FM team?

We will start with around 10 people. That will be for the first tower, which is due for delivery around the end of the year.
We then have a few months until the second tower will be delivered. We will have an office in tower one for FM, and everything will be coordinated from there.

With so many projects coming online this year in Dubai, do you think FM firms are going to be stretched to handle the vast amount of work on offer?

Definitely. We said some time ago that if we don’t get sufficient suppliers to come from abroad, this market is going to have serious problems, because the existing suppliers are so stretched. For example, glass is hard to find, and sub-contractors are hard to find. And the same thing is going to happen to FM.

In JLT alone there will be 79 towers — how many FM companies can cope with that? I don’t think they have enough staff and manpower to do it.

And once you accept too many towers, the quality will diminish. A lot of towers here are going to be run by home associations. If you have 300 units in one tower, then coming to a decision on anything is going to be very difficult. They will tend to go the easiest way and sub-contract it to somebody. But this then means that your life is in the hands of someone else. This is why we wanted to have our own FM.

How will Saba operate its FM services?

After the one-year warranty we will have maintenance contracts with the people that installed the units. For example, the company that installed the MEP will be the same company to maintain it. But we will watch them to measure their performance.

We intend to manage our facilities directly and avoid sub-contracting this function to others. This is the only way we can ensure that our buildings will be well maintained and that our clients are totally satisfied with our services. We are also creating our own custom-made FM software to support this.||**||

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