According to report by TechSci Research, a global market research and consulting service provider, UAE’s maintenance services market was estimated at $1.6 billion last year with an expected growth of 8.5% per year over the next four years. It’s a big enough opportunity to accommodate different players and that is why we have been seeing different UAE-based startups, trying to win their share of this $1.6 billion market, by connecting people to tested and quality maintenance service providers.
The latest addition to these startups is HammerHeads. Co-founded by cousin brothers Abdullah Jassim & Mohamed Saif, it’s Dubai-based startup that provides on-demand maintenance professionals in UAE. Since launching almost an year ago in June 2016, HammerHeads now has more 80 service providers with them. These service provides can be hired to perform variety of tasks, from things like simple electrical repairs to complex interior renovation projects, HammerHeads provides professional for all the maintenance needs.
Idea to start HammerHeads came from troubles of Abdullah & Mohammed’s families with different maintenance service providers when the wanted to renovate their Dubai-based properties.
“When our families renovated two of their properties in Business Bay, we confronted a lot of problems from many service providers – unstandardized pricing, long lead times, mediocre quality and sluggish customer service. We wondered whether other consumers feel the same? Saif and I sent out electronic and physical surveys to more than 300 residents in my neighborhood. The answer was an overwhelming yes. That is when the idea of HammerHeads was born.” Abdullah tells us.
In order to become market leader and scale quickly, many startups these days are burning cash too fast. But HammerHeads like to do things differently. They are a lean startup with only Abdullah & Saif working from their Dubai office, having remote web development and digital marketing teams in Ukraine & India. Instead of investing their efforts and capital into building great after-sales customer service, HammerHeads rely on selecting the best possible service providers and then providing them with frequent training to ensure customer satisfaction.
“In the maintenance industry, good customer service means maintenance professionals need to have excellent knowledge of technicalities, best practices, standardized pricing and can talk about these with ease with the customer, confirming that the business is run by those who know what they are talking about and solidifying trust between both parties. We achieve this by training service providers monthly with the latest customer insights. On the rare case that customers’ expectations are not met, they simply call and email us and we have a three-strike policy amongst service providers for quality of the job.” Abdullah notes.
But building a great service with an excellent network of providers is never easy. It comes with a lot of problems. Abdullah thinks that it is very easy to launch a website or an application. The difficult part starts afterwards. From finding the sweet spot between quality and cost, to the classic chicken and egg problem of any marketplace, HammerHeads had to face different challenges. But these challenges helped them learn and learn quick.
HammerHeads had to become much more than an online agent, explains Abdullah. “We screened multiple service providers through an exhaustive checklist to select a few trusted service providers.” The duo in early days of the startup used to accompany service providers on jobs to interact directly with the customers. It helped them receive feedback and learn ways to improve the user experience for both service providers and customers.
They don’t share numbers at this point but have a lot of customer stories to tell that validate their success as a startup.
“One of our customers started off with small tasks such as handyman work. Today, the customer wants us to build their new house. We have also had customers with civil engineering backgrounds challenge our methods during renovation projects, only to learn that our methods were better. Positive validation from customers feels great because it shows that the exhaustive process we went through in the beginning paid off. ”
The only numbers we have access to are from their Facebook page that has more than 2,000 likes and 27 customers reviews with a rating of 4.7 out of 5, and SimilarWeb that estimates their monthly website visitors at about 17,000.
They are aware of the competition in this market but are not obsessed with it. “We’re customer obsessed. Building customer experience is like cooking your Mom’s secret recipe. It can be almost perfect but there is always room for improvement. We want to garner respect and attention and form a loyal customer base. By doing so, we achieved profitable unit metrics early on and demonstrated strong product market fit. Any funding we would raise in the future would only accelerate growth.”
Their ability to go lean has also helped them as it offers them the luxury to have lower margins than their competition and offer their services with same great quality but lower prices.