The pandemic heavily dented the profitability of enterprises around the world, and many are still looking for ways to recover – before they can resume some semblance of growth. And yet, there are those who have navigated the multi-million dollar disaster with ease, and emerged almost unscathed.
Founder and chairman of an eponymous empire headquartered in Dubai, Kalandoor thinks it is high time UAE businesses pull themselves up and push themselves forward. “It would be remiss of me to claim that the pandemic did not affect aspects of our operations,” he admits.
“It did, just as it affected business across the country and the world. The weeks of the lockdown saw business come to a grinding half for everyone except essential services, and yet, that was the most productive time for reviewing, planning and future-proofing.”
According to the industry veteran, multiple factors can make or break a business during a crisis, and it takes the right measure of forethought and fortitude to pull through. “However daunting the circumstances, it is a mistake to operate on survival mode,” he explains. “If a business is built on stability and sustainability, there will be no need to hit the panic button. Instead, the focus must be on reviewing and resetting goals, and rolling out both strategic and structured changes.”
Resetting the business will help build resilience, he says. “When you weed out weaknesses in your operating models, you will be better positioned to weather the next disruption.” Kalandoor advocates external help to understand the scope and magnitude of problems if they are overwhelming, and professional assistance in overcoming them.
“In the first four months of the pandemic, we initiated a group-wide restructuring programme, and it is now underway.” Long hailed as a front runner in design-build and interior contracting services in the UAE and GCC, the Kalandoor Group is making steady inroads into new regional markets, new businesses like customised furniture, and new audiences like mega yachts and uber luxury villas.
“After the necessary reviews, reinvent your revenue functions, with short- and long-term goals,” he advises. “Establishing a new metric framework is an important aspect of reinvention.”
He also urges struggling businesses to focus on existing customers, while trying to attract new ones and identify new revenue streams. “Customer attrition is one of the big pitfalls of post-pandemic recovery, but on average, it costs about five times more obtain new customers.”
Start with understanding changes in customer behaviour, and then find ways to reinforce their loyalty. Give them what they want: extra attention, greater personalisation, bigger rewards, whatever it takes, he explains, alluding to his own rollcall of satisfied clients, many who have stayed with them through the course of the last 20 years, and of course, through the pandemic.
Although the year has not ended, Kalandoor has fast-forwarded his operations to 2022, with ambitious plans. “The destruction in global business environments is unlike anything any one of us has seen before. Here in the UAE though, we don’t have any real reason to delay recovery and focus fully on growth.
“Thanks to exemplary leadership, and the government’s many wise and prudent initiatives, we are not only safer and more stable compared to the rest of the world, but we also stand ahead.
“The future should not be about surviving but about thriving,” he says.