What Future Holds in Facility Management of a Large Shopping Centre

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Interview with ASURA Group

Real Estate market is facing substantial changes so all the stakeholders need to accept this fact and speed up their dynamics to stay competitive. If we want to keep commercial building in function, we need to provide before all the end-users with the right solutions to keep them interested. Work from home is becoming a standard, shopping centres, bars, restaurants need to implement new health&safety standards. Landlords and Property Managers are becoming more and more aware that quality facility management services are ever more important factor in the performance of a building as well as end-user satisfaction.

ASURA a privately owned Facility Management company active in a wider SEE region is partnering with Imagine using our Facility Management Solutions to enhance the quality of their services, to be more effective, reactive and expedient to meet landlords needs and keep end-users satisfied.

We have interviewed Mr. Ašo Zupančič, Country Manager and Mr. Siniša Žugić, Marketing Manager of ASURA about their strategy, digital development plans and about engaging their services with one of the largest Shopping Malls in the region the East Gate Skopje.

Klemen Fajmut

Ašo could you please shortly present yourself, who you are, what is your company’s mission?

Ašo Zupančič

Klemen, first let me thank you for inviting us to this interview. I believe that we will be able to shed some light on different possibilities on PropTech in everyday operations of Facility Management.

ASURA is privately owned Facility Management company covering the region of South East Europe with branches stretching from Slovenia, Croatia all the way to Northern Macedonia and Montenegro. We are focusing on delivering superb FM services for our customers that come from a variety of industries – manufacturing, retail, office building landlords etc.

Klemen Fajmut
How would you say Asura is different to other FM providers and where is your competitive advantage?
Ašo Zupančič

I need to point out two things that differ us from our competition and these two are – extensive FM technical knowledge and superb service level for the customer. We do not take any compromises on these two and therefore we strive to employ only the best workforce which is also reflected in our prices that are on the high end of market approved prices. Feedback from our customers proves that such an approach is the right one – customers are willing to pay that extra amount to get the superb service level.

Klemen Fajmut

Facility Management can be very fragmented process or a very complex one depending on the service level agreement and on your resources and services you offer. What are the key challenges for you?

Ašo Zupančič

As already mentioned we strive for perfection and this is reflected in our day-to-day operations. As we all know Facility management is a set of complex operations spanning all the way from office cleaning, event management all the way to preventive and reactive maintenance of complex machines and systems. Management of such different processes and people associated with them is a challenging one. Unfortunately, it is not enough any more just to relay on good management of people and processes in charge, but we also need proper IT support in these.

Klemen Fajmut

How do you find the process of digitization in your industry and what is your approach in engaging with new technologies?

Ašo Zupančič

The process of digitalization in Facility Management has started more than 10 years ago with solutions being developed within specific ERP environments. This approach was acceptable when FM was organized as an internal function within a company. With the establishment of companies specialized in FM this needed to be changed. Suddenly there was a need for a solution that could communicate through different channels to different customers. Latest developments in this field are going into direction of SaaS – Software as a Service which in my opinion is the right way to go. This is also the reason why ASURA Group decided to use iFacility software from company Imagine to be our main facility management software in everyday management of different real estates – spanning from production facilities, office buildings all the way to large shopping centres. This

software brings us flexibility, agility and responsiveness which are necessary to be able to manage and comply to


changing demands of landlords and end users.
Klemen Fajmut

Can you please describe how you use iFacility in everyday life as a Facility Manager?

Ašo Zupančič

First of all, we use it to organise our regular preventive maintenance tasks. With use of iFacility all the tasks are documented, tracked and easily presented to our customers through agreed upon KPIs. A very important part of our work is also reacting to our customers needs and wishes. Without the iFacility this was done mainly through phone and E-mail but now with the use of iFacility as our main helpdesk tool we have streamlined the communication process. At the same time, we have full transparency and traceability of this communication. Not to be forgotten I must also mention a very important feature – that are Dashboards that are fully customisable and show relevant information to different groups of users such as customers, support technicians, Facility Managers and so on.

Just to put into the perspective of tasks that need to be performed in an average shopping center with the size of 20.000 square meters. You have approximately 100 stores / users / tenants that need to be taken care of. If approximately ½ of these people call you, you have 50 calls per day that need some action to be taken. You need to distribute these tasks among your team members which again takes time and effort. As a lot of these tasks need more time and effort it is very important that you are able to track and trace them. Without the use of some software support this is very demanding and stressful task. With the use of iFacility a lot of the coordination is eliminated as work orders are automatically distributed to the right groups of employees – janitors, cleaners, technicians…

Klemen Fajmut

The new Shopping Centre SEG in Skopje is one of the largest projects you are onboarding as an FM provider. Siniša can you briefly describe the project, so we give some perspective to our listeners?

Siniša Žugić

East Gate Mall in Skopje, North Macedonia is the largest shopping centre developed in the SEE region in the last years. It spans over 57.000 square meters over 5 floors, and it has attracted more than 200 well-known international retail chains that will surely attract a large variety of visitors to the shopping centre. It is expected that 12 million people will visit East Gate Mall in the first year alone.

Klemen Fajmut

Can you please explain what are the challenges in provision of FM services for such a big shopping centre and how are you planning to address them? What is the technological perspective on that and what is your strategy?

Siniša Žugić

Due to the sheer size of the project we have been dealing with recruitment and onboarding of needed staff to support such a big operation. We have been looking for well educated, trained and experienced staff that will facilitate our strategy of providing excellent service to our customers. We are now in the final stages and we have started with technical data acquisition that will be the basis for our IT support to every-day FM operations. Based on our past experience we have already prepared standardized protocols for operation and maintenance of all major systems in the shopping centre – such as air conditioning, heating, ventilation to name just a few. Standardized working procedures for cleaning and other services have also been deployed and adjusted to fit specific customer needs and requirement. In the following weeks also all data will be imported into iFacility and when this is done we will be using it to successfully start the FM operations at the foreseen opening of the East Gate Mall.

Klemen Fajmut
To wrap up our discussion today let me ask you what comes next. How do you see the future with PropTech tools and solutions?
Ašo Zupančič

As East Gate Mall is the biggest in our FM managed portfolio, I am sure that some new tools and solutions will be needed. We definitely see lots of potential in connecting our system to ERP software as well as other data sets such as Building Management System (BMS) and IoT data. This would bring value to the efficient process management, end customer satisfaction and better profitability for the landlord.

Here we see Imagine as our strategic partner and integrator with the knowledge and capacity to follow our needs and needs of our clients. I believe that with this we will be able to retain our position as a market leader with superb technical services that will ensure profitability for our customers.

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