With the implementation of Centra CRM, the Al Handal International Group is confident of efficiently dealing with property sales across their real estate assets and of enhancing its customers’ experience across their projects.
Established in the 1940s in Baghdad, Iraq, the Al Handal International Group (HIG) was founded by Haji Noori Ayyed Al Handal, who can be credited with its continued success.
Over the last seven decades, HIG has grown and expanded into a diversified group with businesses in banking, travel and tourism, construction, oil, real estate, security services, retail, fashion, and perfumes. Other than banking and finance, the rest of HIG’s businesses are managed from its headquarters in Dubai.
Some of the group companies include: Eber Almodun for construction projects; Ishtar for security and protection services; Abr Almasafat for travel and airline ticketing; Ashur International Bank for investments; Al Rased for trading in foreign exchange; Trust Islamic Bank for banking; and Bayariq Al Fursan for retail franchise operations.
Both Ashur International Bank, and Trust Islamic Bank operate only in Iraq with around 10 branches. HIG, recently entered the agriculture sector and also operates in other countries including UAE, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Cyprus.
Mohammed Al Handal, CEO of Al Handal International Group, said: “HIG’s mission is to play a leading role in the reconstruction, rehabilitation, modernisation and development programmes in the Middle East.
“We are committed to the highest quality standards and distinguished customer service and believe our strength is the quality and experience of our people. Technology has been a key enabler in our growth and by deploying the latest technologies, our endeavor is to enhance customer service and experience even further.”
At present, HIG is developing three large real estate projects in Iraq, with one of them involving as many as 1,800 flats and villa units. The company’s employees primarily manage its development projects.
The complex materials and subcontractor activity for construction projects led the company to implement an ERP application. However, to keep track of customer activity and inquiries on the real estate projects, namely the front end of the business, HIG was looking for an innovative CRM solution and Centra CRM was their preferred choice.
“As a developer of large construction projects, it is important for us to keep proper records for each customer. After Centra made a presentation to us, we felt their CRM solution would be a perfect match as it is simple, easy to use and cost effective. We also chose Centra CRM because it could be easily integrated with our accounting and ERP system,” said Hardan Al Handal, Vice Chairman of Al Handal Group.
Centra CRM is used to manage and automate the front-end operations with prospective and purchasing customers. The solution is used to enter the customer information, the property that they are investing in, and generating the contract terms using automated templates. This information, primarily the financial details, integrates with the group ERP system, so that there is no duplication of entries.
“Centra CRM is primarily used for the real estate business of HIG and is especially useful to track cancellations and movement of properties. If at any time, a buyer drops out, the availability of the property can be moved to another buyer. By having a detailed history of all buyers, we can manage the movement to alternative and prospective buyers, without suffering a default. Centra CRM is also useful to track visibility of projects,” Hardan Al Handal added.
The process of buying or leasing of property in Iraq is very different from the rest of the world. Buyers usually do not avail of bank loans and prefer to pay on their own over a period of time. HIG, therefore plays the role of both self-financer for its own real estate projects, taking on the risk of construction, while also playing the role of a bank by keeping close relationships with the buyer, across the leasing period of seven years.
Faris Balbeisy, General Manager of Eber Almodun group, said: “As a developer in Iraq, we provide the money, as no bank gives such a facility to a customer. So, we give a seven-year payment schedule, and it means for seven years we need to manage the customer records.
“The prolonged dealing with the buyer makes it necessary to use a CRM to ensure we know all the details of the buyer, as well as the current state of the sale process. This has also meant customisation of the CRM to make it easier for end-users, as well as to enable suitable integration with the ERP used by our company.
Prior to the implementation of Centra CRM, HIG used spreadsheets to manage information about buyers and projects. But it had its limitations, said Faris. “Maintaining spreadsheets is fine when it is small scale but when the operations grow, it has to be centralised and automated and that makes life a lot easier,” he said.
However, for HIG, the biggest benefit remains the ability to generate reports. Prior to the implementation of Centra CRM, the lack of reports and the absence of a project status dashboard, were the pain points. “The main concern that we had was the reports. We needed to get quick information from the system and that is why we looked for the CRM program, which gives us the details,” added Faris.
Now post the implementation of Centra CRM and its integration with the Al Handal Group’s ERP, project reports can be easily generated and presented.
“It has also reduced a lot of paper work,” said Faris. “Centra CRM has already given us a return on our investment in terms of reduction of time and manpower required to generate the project and buyer status reports.
“Since the same information is available from Centra CRM at all times, it can be made available to prospective buyers to help them take timely decisions on availability of property leasing options, leading to higher levels of customer satisfaction and better return on investment.”
In future, HIG expects the projects to look like development of mini cities, rather than mini communities. So successful has the implementation of Centra CRM been that HIG is keen to not only increase the number of property development projects, but to also increase the number of units per project.
In the future, the company also plans to use Centra CRM to track maintenance history along with project development.