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Updater Services Limited Transforming the Business Services Landscape

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At an early stage, Updater Services Ltd (UDS) shifted its focus to “Services” which “definitely was the future”. Being among the leaders in the organized sector way back in the 80s, UDS rose to pan India levels by the mid-90s and today is operating from over 40 regions across India. Doing the service business is one thing “but to scale up to doing larger facilities with a bouquet of services, especially with an engineering stronghold, is probably possible only for an UDS”, says Raghunandana Tangirala, Managing Director, UDS. In an exclusive interview with Clean India Journal, he shares UDS’ 35-year journey to becoming a ‘business services leader’ in the IFM space.

Despite running profitable ventures, I saw the need to shift towards a less capital-intensive industry. This led me to explore sectors like facility services, where scalability could be achieved without large capital investments. The FM sector then was not organised, and I saw an opportunity to provide comprehensive services beyond offering an array of services like cleaning or plumbing. I embarked on establishing an organized Facilities Management service, foreseeing its potential for growth and scalability. UDS is the first such company to have private equity in early 2000, which was unheard of then in the service sector.

How did you navigate the challenges of convincing businesses to adopt comprehensive services rather than the traditional piecemeal approach?

Initially, it was indeed challenging to sell the concept of integrated services, as businesses were hesitant to consolidate all their needs into one provider. However, as the IT boom swept in during the late 80s and early 90s, businesses started demanding more comprehensive solutions, including international standards in facilities. We gained traction by meeting these evolving expectations. Our track record and investments in people, systems, and technology helped us secure trust and establish ourselves as leaders in the sector.

What has been your expansion strategy to include various business services?

Over the last decade, the metrics of doing services with double digit margins crashed to single digits, largely due to the advent of IPCs entering markets globally.

Recognizing the changing landscape and the challenges posed by margin compression in the FM sector, we strategically diversified into high-margin business services. We began by venturing into food services, background verification company, sales enablement companies and so on.

Here is a list of our other services. Denave offers a comprehensive range of services encompassing sales, channel management, and marketing for IT/ Tech companies, consumer durables, FMCG, and BFSI industries. These include demand generation, lead management, inside sales, database management, digital marketing, sales and retail analytics, customer outreach, field force management, and field marketing. Matrix Business Services India Pvt. Ltd is engaged in business assurance services and employee background verification. Avon Solutions & Logistics Pvt. Ltd focuses on mailroom management and niche logistics solutions. Global Flight Handling Services Pvt. Ltd provides ground service support for airlines. Tangy Supply & Solutions Pvt. Ltd deals with procurement, marketing, and trading of cleaning materials, chemicals, and housekeeping items. Stanworth Management Pvt. Ltd specializes in facility management services, particularly in star hotels. Fusion Foods and Catering Pvt. Ltd offers corporate and industrial catering services. Washroom Hygiene Concepts Pvt. Ltd provides washroom sanitizing and hygiene solutions. Athena BPO offers inbound and outbound call centre services, back-office support, business process outsourcing, and data processing services.

Breaking into the market was not without its challenges. Convincing businesses to embrace a holistic approach to facility management required perseverance. Initially, businesses were apprehensive about consolidating all services with one provider. It took time to establish trust and showcase the benefits of integrated FM solutions.

These moves were aimed at not only expanding our service portfolio but also enhancing our margins and market position. By the early 90s, we had established ourselves across major metro cities and tier-two towns. Today, we operate in over 40 regions, catering to diverse industries.

Can you shed some light on UDS’ approach to technology and innovation, especially in the context of Facilities Management?

We have heavily invested in technology to enhance efficiency, streamline operations, and offer value-added services to our clients. Our focus has been on digitizing our operations, enabling remote management, and leveraging automation where possible. While we understand the importance of technology, we also recognize the need to offer these advancements as part of our service rather than charging customers separately. This approach ensures that we stay ahead in the competitive landscape while delivering added value to our clients.

One notable investment is in Peppermint, manufacturer of robotic cleaning machines. By integrating robotics into our operations, we have enhanced productivity and safety across various sectors, particularly in manufacturing.

Your insights into UDS’ future plans and areas of growth?

Looking ahead, we remain committed to our strategy of diversification and innovation. We will continue to explore new segments within the B2B space, leveraging our expertise and market presence. Additionally, focus on further integrating technology into our operations to drive efficiency and enhance customer experience. Our recent IPO has provided us with the resources to pursue both organic and inorganic growth opportunities, and we are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. Listing has not only provided an exit for minority investors but also reinforced our commitment to transparency and governance. It is a testament to our journey and credibility in the market.

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