Groomed from the ground up

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 January, 2007, 12:00am

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT services have come a long way from the days when they focused mainly on matters of maintenance and security. Of course, the business still requires expertise in coping efficiently with everyday matters, such as lift repairs, fire safety and dripping pipes, but the job now entails much more.

These days, property management may also involve managing sports facilities and a clubhouse, arranging flowers for tenants celebrating a wedding anniversary and laying on activities for residents. All of these require professional training.

Fortunately, graduates in any discipline keen to enter the property management sector in a management role can get the required training at the Sino Group's Property Management Academy. The academy offers a structured introduction to the industry and a platform for developing a successful career in the field.

The intensive 60-hour training programme is held on eight consecutive Saturdays and is open to graduates recruited by the company as trainee managers.

The training course covers all key aspects of building maintenance, cleaning and security, as well as landscaping, facilities management and quality assurance. It also covers the Employment Ordinance, insurance, finance and accounting. Trainees also learn soft skills for customer service and presentations, and coaching for improved performance.

Senior in-house managers provide much of the instruction, while guest consultants share their expertise in accountancy, occupational safety and aspects of the law. Officials from the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Fire Services Department are also invited to talk to the trainees.

'It is important to give newcomers a full picture at the start of their career,' said Sunny Yeung Kwong, director and general manager of Sino Estates Management. 'Our service is to add value to the property we work for through good management.'

Mr Kwong said employees should be always ready and willing to help, maintain continuous learning and keep up with trends.

A new module on law and practices has been introduced to equip trainees to handle issues with legal implications. Subjects include liability, insurance policies and mediation. Mr Yeung said the knowledge gained would also help staff deal effectively with other internal departments.

The course on concierge service is attended by representatives of Sino clients, such as the MTR Corporation and the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation. This approach allows direct feedback from customers; trainees hear what is most important and are thus able to maintain a competitive edge.

'When problems arise, we must quickly attend to them and satisfy customers,' Mr Yeung said.

The company believes in achieving increasingly higher service standards. This is essential for business growth because most property management contracts are renewed every two years.

'We will not be satisfied by simply relying on our mother company, Sino Land, to supply us with clients,' Mr Yeung said. The corporate objective is to keep winning new contracts through open tenders and enhancing the value of properties through quality management services.

So far the academy has trained about 200 people. The class size is about 20, which allows for easy interaction among participants. The firm also offers training in other areas such as procurement, languages and personal grooming. Sino is committed to using customer service consultants and providing top-quality coaching.

On completing the academic programme and a year's service, trainees are automatically promoted to the rank of property officer and, subject to performance, will move on to more senior supervisory and managerial roles.

Property officer Winky Lau Tin-yuk joined Sino in 2004. She said the best things about the training programme were that it was wide-ranging and directly applicable in the workplace. She found especially useful procedures taught to persuade tenants to settle unpaid management fees.

Cherry Lam Ching-yee, a trainee following the course, said what impressed her most was how practical everything was in the learning programme. For example, her class was taken to a shopping mall to get a close-up picture of how large-scale promotion events were organised.

Programme Highlights

Comprehensive course content with emphasis on practical solutions

Outside professionals invited to give talks

New modules introduced regularly

Clients invited to attend and give direct feedback

Small classes to encourage interaction

Company commitment to coaching and teaching customer service skills