With one of her main aims to increase her company’s customer portfolio, Ortansa Dumitru of Towers Group is also aiming to target the luxury market. The businesswoman wants to focus on higher productivity services and to adapt to the current conditions.
For Ortansa Dumitru, managing partner at Towers Group, operating in the business world is second nature. She doesn’t remember either the day or the year when she made her first steps in business, but she took to the environment like a duck to water and so decided to remain in the field. She likes being an entrepreneur and could not imagine doing something else with her professional life. “Sometimes I have the impression that I’ve been in the business world since I was born and I wouldn’t be able to develop or get motivated in another context,” says Dumitru. She established Towers Group, a property management company, back in 2007, based on her experience in the field, which even included graduating from the first advanced real estate course in the US, Desert City Real Estate School, in 2004. But in 2006 she became the representative for Romania for the Spanish investment group Urbagasa, as CEO of the company. Later on, in 2008, she started to work for Copper Beech, where she was responsible for launching some residential projects. Last year Dumitru worked as mall manager of Iris Titan for DTZ Echinox, which manages this property.
The idea to set up Towers Group came when she realized that the Romanian market still afforded the possibility to turn some opportunities both for entrepreneurs and society into profit. “We want customers to find comprehensive services for their property in order to maximize its yield and to maintain a safe, comfortable and efficient environment from the operational perspective,” says Dumitru. She saw the opportunity to develop and invest in this area back in 2007 when investors were making a killing. “At that time I thought that someone should live in those apartments sometime. It was and still is a difficult market segment,” says Dumitru. She adds: “The idea came with the need to find a supplier of facility services for a residential project I was working on at that time as product manager.” Her expertise and the opportunity to work in the property management field were among the main factors that counted when she decided to set up Towers Group. “The freedom to choose challenges is the biggest advantage of a personal business, despite the responsibilities and considerable volume of work,” adds Dumitru, sharing her entrepreneurial perspective.
The businesswoman’s most difficult moment was in November 2008 when she found herself totally reliant on the real estate segment, even though the economic perspectives weren’t too rosy. “We hope that with the recovery of the economy, this field will grow to meet the demand that the market will impose through the need for property management services. This market will develop in parallel with the real estate market,” adds Dumitru. She thinks that difficult moments are natural in any business and sometimes it is those times that drive the entrepreneur to seriously review the business strategy and decide whether to stay on the same path or improve the recipe. Moreover, she strongly believes that you have to be optimistic about the future. “I adopt this outlook, so regardless of whether my decisions were the right ones at the time, I knew how to manage them so they didn’t harm my business too much,” says Dumitru.
To gradually gain the trust of its customers seems to be the biggest challenge for Towers Group. “The situation has changed significantly in the last few years as the market has matured, both in terms of beneficiaries’ expectations and service suppliers. The property management market is constantly changing and modernizing in order to meet the most difficult projects that could appear,” says Dumitru. The process of educating the market and lack of legislation are another two big hurdles for the business. “It is important that involved partners be trained and aware while customers know what they need and how to ask for it. Plus, the supplier needs to be aware that each detail of the service he or she is offering really matters,” she says. The migration of customers as a result of their desire to experiment, test new methods of property management and reduce their costs is another significant test for a company in the field.
As for the competition, the property management market is becoming mature despite remaining smaller that the Central European one. “The best such companies are active in Bucharest at present, and they are focusing on business building. As for the residential market, the competition is on the surface only,” says Dumitru. According to Towers Group’s own estimations, the company has about a 5 percent market share at the moment of the real estate services market as a whole. Going forward, the entrepreneur intends to extend the company’s customer portfolio and to move into the luxury niche. “We intend to develop and complement the technicians’ team in the near future. We also want to create a business line of ‘luxury’ services, customized to the profile of those customers with the highest expectations,” says Dumitru. She adds that while it might sound odd, her company had been positively affected by the current crisis because it has helped them to take some measures such as focusing on services with higher productivity, blocking deployment and finding new opportunities for less expensive partnerships. However, “because property management is directly connected with real estate development, it is obvious that as the main beneficiaries of property management services, Towers Group has also suffered a flattening in its business,” concludes Dumitru.