Cheung Kong Holdings
Citybase Property Management
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
|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
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
|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 ('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 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
Human Resource Focus
responsibility of grooming competent
workers and future leaders for the society.
||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
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.
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.
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.