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Cheung Kong Holdings Citybase Property Management
Report Summary
   
 
Cheung Kong Holdings Citybase Property Management (Citybase) was founded in 1985. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cheung Kong Holdings. Citybase is now managing Cheung Kong Holdings' flagship properties like The Center, Kingswood Villas, Laguna City, and Concordia Plaza.

Ever since its establishment in 1985, Citybase gave itself and
its staff a mission of changing the ambit and rules of the game in the property management industry. It foresaw that the rising living standard would make the entrenched property management industry no longer immune from the rise of consumer rights. And Citybase believed it was better for property management practitioners to change before they were forced to. The company improved its bottom line by employing documentation and systems (by then, it was still a road less travelled) to keep inconsistency and mediocre service at bay. The enthusiasm for ISO 9000 culminated in the mid 90's in the rise of property management. This development proved that Citybase was right in using a systematic approach in this industry. However, like other companies using the ISO 9000 quality system, when the system was mature and running all by itself, the question 'what's next' began to haunt the minds of management. Citybase strongly believed that ISO 9000, process documentation and streamlining could lead to excellence, but there was a feeling that something was missing on the technical side of the quality movement. Citybase believed that world class companies could not have achieved remarkable results by solely relying on its systems.

In 1997, it happened that one of its managers came across the assessment criteria of the HKMA Quality Award. The emotions of staff were mixed when they browsed through the criteria. There was a feeling of disappointment because, although armed with an ISO 9000 certificate, Citybase was still far from the excellent model of the HKMA Quality Award. But the company was glad it had finally found its answer to the 'what's next' question.

The rest was history. Citybase challenged and stretched itself by using the criteria to refine its management philosophy and mechanisms. The biggest enlightenment that the criteria gave the company was that quality could not be solely achieved through systems. People were equally important to a company when it was embarking on its quality journey.

Leadership

To achieve the aim of quality through people, Citybase has increased its management visibility by pleading with its managers to go to the frontline to soil their hands and to 'slay the dragon'. 'Slaying the dragon' is an esoteric term which has special significance to the staff of Citybase. It means solving the bottlenecks which are holding back performance one by one. Citybase believes continual improvement in fact is finding room for improvement non-stop. And the company needs managers with the mindset of 'think or sink' to achieve this aim. On the one hand, the management instills a sense of crisis to fight complacency. On the other hand, the management loosens the reins by practising an enlightened management style. Citybase understands that to compete in the new century, creativity, knowledge and innovation are of utmost importance. Embracing individualism and respect for the individual are the catalysts for the formation of 'critical mass' amongst its employees. Citybase believes when the critical mass has grown to a certain size, something wonderful will happen.

The company's interpretation of the word 'leadership' is not confined to guiding and showing the way of advancement to its staff but also includes the notion of giving service to the community. Good corporate citizenship is always Citybase's priority. The company is very active in grooming young leaders by organizing scout activities, and has launched a series of environmental activities to highlight the importance of respecting the Earth.

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning ('board room crystal ball') in recent years has started to be accepted in anticipation of a future which is unprecedentedly complicated and unpredictable. Citybase believes strategic planning is indispensable. 'Fail to plan, plan to fail' is still the advice the company gives to its managers. When it comes to planning, Citybase subscribes to Eisenhower's line : "In battles, plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. "

Strategic planning in Citybase starts with its Mission Statement. The Mission Statement contains the word 'the best'. While it may sound like a cliche to a skeptic, the fact is Citybase simply wants to be the best, so it has adopted the term to reflect this fact. The company believes to live up to this promise is more important and pragmatic than to create or coin another word to replace 'the best'.

The above may beg the question of 'How best is the best' At the beginning of each year, the senior management holds a management retreat with their staff to define 'the best'. Their definitions of 'the best' will form the generic strategic objectives. 'What gets measured, gets done'. The middle management and the frontline staff then convert the generic strategic objectives into quantitative goals and action plans.

The generic strategic objectives of 2000 are :

Sound building account management
Zero injury in the workplace
Hi-tech, Hi-touch property management
Environmentally friendly property manager
A good corporate citizen as well as a good neighbour
Creation of job opportunities

Customer and Market Focus

Customer care is Citybase's 'obsession' and focal point of everything it does. In its relentless pursuit of customer satisfaction over the years, Citybase has developed various sensors to detect changing customer needs. These sensors include focus groups, benchmarking, study missions and so forth. Data gathered from these sensors will be used to update its list of customer requirements. Audits, mysterious shopping, spot checks, and market research are measuring tools used by Citybase in probing 'how we are doing' in satisfying different customer requirements.

Information and Analysis

The problem with information in the business world is there is too much of it. Citybase is very careful not to overload management with too many reports. But once executive summaries are on the desk, the company's managers strive to find every anomaly and drill down and trace the cause of the anomaly and cure its root cause. Citybase believes that, only in this way, expensive time and cost spent in gathering information will have a higher return on investment.

Human Resource Focus

When it comes to the human resource focus, Citybase prides itself on how lavishly it trains its staff. The company invests in its people heavily for two reasons. First, it knows that productivity will be at stake if employees are untrained. The world today is too fast-paced, too unpredictable and so topsy-turvy that part of the burden of education is shifted to employers. Secondly, being a responsible citizen, Citybase can find no reason to reject the
responsibility of grooming competent workers and future leaders for the society.

Employee well being is also its major concern. As an employer, Citybase feels it is its responsibility to provide a safe and environmentally friendly workplace, a safe work system, adequate materials and competent work mates for its staff. In addition, Citybase has tried its best to provide an ergonomically friendly office to its employees.

Process Management


Citybase never hesitates to revise its work processes because it knows it cannot afford to lose effectiveness. There is a great difference between doing the right thing and doing the thing right. So the company encourages its employees to challenge the 'status quo' with the question 'Why do we do what we do at all? '. With this question in mind, clumsy processes that were once 'fossilized' in the company's documents are unlearnt and abandoned.

Business Results

The past year or so has been a fruitful one for Citybase. Not only has it won the grand award of the Hong Kong Awards for Service -Customer Service Category, it has as well won the Certificate of Merit of the HKMA Quality Award. Its customer satisfaction rate has been at an all time high (95 %) and employee turnover rate has been at an all time low (3%). Ninety four percent of its employees are happy with the management. Citybase continues to provide sound financial management to its customers and the savings arising from its sound procurement management is substantial.

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