“Communication and transparency” improved Emrill’s cash flow

The Dubai-based FM giant’s CFO, Sam Emery, talks to Construction Week about maintaining a healthy cash flow despite the constant turmoil caused by the pandemic.

It is almost a year into the pandemic that, in its early days in 2020, left stock markets crumbling, impacting sectors including hospitality, retail, manufacturing, and construction among others. At this time, facilities management industry continued to be central to not just people’s well-being, but also for keeping places safe.

However, even for FM service providers the situation was quite tough, with suppy chain disruptions and cash crunch, triggered by payment delays, causing turmoil and disruptions.

Dubai-based integrated facilities managemenet services provider Emrill spoke to Construction Week retrospecting the year 2020, while unveiling ways in which the company was able to stay agile and maintain a healthy cash flow.

 

“Cash flow has always been and continues to be a hot topic, not just for facilities management providers but across the entire market. Emrill’s finance team, has experienced volatile periods of market liquidity, which has positioned the company well to weather financial storms,” Sam Emery, Emrill’s CFO told Construction Week.

The CFO explained that for the facilities management sector the situation too has been challenging, with it being subject to “constant economic and market changes, evolving client requirements, aggressive competition, and price sensitivity”.

According to Emery, the FM giant sits in the middle of the supply chain, where it provides services to the clients while also subcontracting specialist services to third-party service providers. This has helped the company gain “unique insights into both ends of the supply chain”.

Talking about how “a relationship-model” has helped Emrill during a crisis, such as a pandemic, Emery said: “Early on, we decided the important function of cash flow should be managed by the finance department, with collaborative teamwork across the leadership team and operations department.

“We use a relationship-based model, which translates to a more personal touch when it comes to account management and cash collection. We recognise that individuals within the business who have strong relationships with clients are in the best position to reach out to clients when payment delays are experienced.

“In our experience, communication from a site manager achieves far better results than if it were to come from the finance team, who may have never met the client. By encouraging the site team to take an active role in the payment process, our relationships with clients are strengthened.”

She further added: “We have seen a significant improvement in our cash flow since we opted for this personal touch and high level of communication. It has demonstrated that where there is good communication and transparency, we can often come to agreements with clients and secure part payments or put payment plans in place.”