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UAE home care industry promising: HammerHeads founder

Accelerate SME

01 May 2017
Reliable maintenance service providers are hard to come by. And when they do, they tend to pass their high operating costs on to the customers.

"It's a hit-or-miss. You either have a fantastic customer experience or you don't," said Abdullah Jassim, founder of, a marketplace that connects customers to vetted maintenance service providers.

The platform isn't a mere database of providers. It also offers unified booking and takes care of the payment process.

The idea of setting up HammerHeads struck Jassim after he experienced the dilemma first hand, while renovating his own property.

"What we're trying to do is aggregate small service providers that pass on their labor hours to you so that our price is always lower than the [market average]," he explained.

Jassim saw opportunities in the UAE's maintenance market, which is worth USD 1.6 billion and expected to grow 8.5% annually until 2021, according to TechSci Research. It also boasts a strong customer base. Dubai alone has more than 500,000 household units, as per Dubai Statistics Centre's latest data.

As he developed his business plan, Jassim spoke with established maintenance providers about their profit margins, revenue and cost drivers, mistakes they've done, and how they find their clients.

Overall, it took him three months to craft a unique value proposition, and by June 2016, HammerHeads was conceived.

'Lean start-up approach'

Among the services HammerHeads currently provides are A/C repair, building maintenance, gardening, interior renovation, carpeting, and plumbing.

Service providers go through an extensive vetting process before they can be included in the platform. To be considered, they must be in operation for a minimum of three years and have at least one vehicle. The company does not accept freelance handymen, Jassim pointed out.

HammerHeads initially commissioned small jobs to service providers to see how responsive they were, and then gradually assigned them larger projects.

Like many small businesses, Jassim took the lean start-up approach, sidestepping the need for large initial funding. He did, however, partner with a local sponsor who was already involved in his father's business.

"This helped us keep the costs [to a minimum]. We wanted to be as lean as possible," the founder explained.

Operating from a flexi-desk and using a free website building platform also helped minimize expenditure.

He later invested in professional web development, but only after he learned the basics of web designing. In addition, he partnered with his cousin, Mohamed Saif, who is the company's main funder.

Expansion plan

Such a move could come with the support of an accelerator or incubator, which would allow HammerHeads to realize its growth ambitions. Jassim said they are keen to partner with a venture capital who can help them expand to other markets and reach more customers.

He also believes that the influx of accelerators and incubators has contributed to the reduction of costs related to starting a business in the UAE.

Currently, HammerHeads' key focus is Dubai, but there are plans to extend its presence to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

The company has already secured business-to-business partnerships with facility management firms and banks, which should provide ongoing projects and help it scale up.

"We're growing at a good pace. Our sales are in the early mid-six figures and that's in the first nine months of operation [alone]," noted Jassim.

He is also bullish about the maintenance industry, thanks to the UAE's robust real estate activity. Also, a new bill requiring large buildings to reduce their energy consumption by up to 30% by 2030 has opened opportunities for service providers to showcase their ability to maintain buildings more sustainably.

"Concentrating on customers was the best decision we made. People say you need to have many customers, but [I believe even] one customer [can] give you so much value," he added.

More than 50% of HammerHeads' customers do repeat business, with four transactions per customer on average. "Everyone tends to focus on maximizing profit, but we're looking at maximizing customers. That's one of our unique approaches. We're not competitor obsessed; we're customer obsessed."

© Accelerate SME 2017


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