The 21st century mandate for companies is clear: work smart or lose out. For several companies, adopting a smart approach has included outsourcing a part of their business process as a cost saving measure. And since its inception in 1985, Updater Services (UDS) has cashed in this very trend of outsourcing. And today, with a turnover of Rs 200 crore, UDS is a prominent integrated facilities management service provider in India with an impressive list of clients of over 350 companies. Its workforce spans over 15,000 people and the company manages over 50 million square feet (MSF) all over India.
The fact that we started the business at a time when the economy was opening up to foreign direct investments and the advent of a new crop of multi-national corporations who were privy to facilities outsourcing in the west made it easy for us to source our first clients,” states Raghunandana.
Crossing the hurdles
But all this has not come easily for UDS. Selling a novel concept of outsourcing facilities management posed an interesting challenge for Raghunandana, founder and managing director, when he started out more than two decades ago. On the challenges front, one of the primary stumbling blocks for UDS was to get Indian companies to buy into their concept, as these companies were reluctant to outsourcing property and services management. But, as their multi-national counterparts set the trend, Indian companies followed suit. Additionally, it was challenging for UDS to change the lackadaisical attitude of semi-skilled and unskilled blue collared workers. A comprehensive change was achieved in this regard through job training that enhanced their skill sets and a dedicated human resources programme that addressed their concerns.
Finding its niche
Once it overcame the initial challenges, UDS managed to get a foothold in the market. “The fact that we started the business at a time when the economy was opening up to foreign direct investments and the advent of a new crop of multi-national corporations who were privy to facilities outsourcing in the west made it easy for us to source our first clients,” states Raghunandana. The services UDS offered initially were predominantly soft services like housekeeping, janitorial, gardening, pest control, waste management, mail room management and vendor management. With companies investing sizeable funds in creating physical assets like office buildings and factories- with several electrical and mechanical systems – UDS started offering specialised services for the management and the operation of these assets. Unlike other facilities management providers, UDS scores because of the slew of in-house employees who are trained to manage specialised production services which ensures cost efficiency for their clients.
Continuous evolution, the key
In the last decade, several manufacturing and automobile companies established their base in south India leading to a requirement of skilled employees to work in their production facilities. UDS seized this opportunity to move up the value chain and started providing staffing solutions for production services, administration or even warehousing facilities based on a company’s requirements. “Our clients are a relieved lot as they do not have the hassle of dealing with employee retentions, human resources and trade union problems that are often hurdles to production time management,” says Raghunandana. “At the same time our deputies are a happy lot as we take utmost care of their economic needs and job satisfaction,” he asserts.
Its emphasis on quality and consistency in service has helped it achieve the ISO 9001:2000 (BVQI) certification. “We rely on continuous upgradation of technology, processes and methods in our service offering to keep our service standards at the highest possible levels. The core principle of the company is to give the best value to the client with strict adherence to statutory compliances,” adds Raghunandana.
Like all businesses hit by the global downturn, UDS saw a marginal dip in turnover for 2009 when compared to a more lucrative 30 per cent and 35 per cent in the last two years. Going forward, though the outlook is conservative, the company is likely to benefit from the demand for office space from both the IT and non-IT sectors such as retail. “We expect an average growth of about 25 per cent in the year 2010. The real estate sector is looking up and the Indian economy is showing positive signs for the next fiscal,” says Raghunandana. It also plans to include production support services to other industries besides the automobile industry. Their vigil over changing trends within the Indian economy has enabled them to diversify into food services that cater to hotels and food courts. “Our aim is to make UDS a one-stop destination for all corporate service and maintenance requirements and in the offing grow to a Rs 500 crore turnover company in the coming years,” says Raghunandana.