For anyone considering property in Beijing as a long-term investment, it is important to think not just about the quality of the development?s construction, but of its services management, too. After all, no one wants to pay top dollar for an apartment in a great location only to find that the security guards are asleep most of the time. This is still a relatively new market, and experienced management can help maintain the value of an asset over time, according to Alan Yau Wai Hoo, managing director of Singapore?s largest facilities management firm, CPG. 'Beijing represents in a nutshell the evolution of facilities management in China,' he says. 'Previously there was no concept of facilities management - all the buildings were run by government and you?d call the manager.' All that changed quickly after the reform of the housing market. 'The concept is becoming more widely accepted as something which can preserve and enhance the value of property,' Mr Yau says. CPG came to China in 2001, starting with a joint venture in Shanghai. Now it manages three million square metres, including Richmond Park in Beijing, has 3,500 staff and foresees rapid growth in the next few years. 'In order to cope with demand emanating from the Olympics, there are a lot of high-tech buildings being built and multinational companies are coming in. Expectations about facilities management have risen in recent years,' Mr Yau says. Mr Yau says the quality of a development can be easily judged by looking at the brand-names of their developers and management, but the most accurate gauge is to look at the secondary market. 'We are concerned about the sustainability of a property's life-cycle cost and looking at what happens around the project. We can keep on a par if not ahead of the market at all times,' he says. Not all facilities are created equal, of course, and sometimes, no matter the reputation of the facilities manager, it helps to have a huge, classy clubhouse. Chateau Glory, a development in the north of the city near the Olympic Village, is an example. CCA International took over management of the development?s Summit Club in July this year. It opens next May. 'There are so many apartment complexes in Beijing with clubs as amenities. But we offer more,' says CCA's general manager, Gary Waugh. 'This will be the place to recharge your batteries and meet like-minded people; a private sanctuary for people who like to appreciate their hard-earned lifestyles.' Mr Waugh says he aims to put the Summit Club into the elite circle of clubs in Beijing that can stand on their own, without a residential complex. 'There are 840 apartments to be sold here; we could probably handle twice that number,' he says, adding that memberships will be sold to non-residents. 'We are looking at the newly rich who understand that money brings more than material goods. We aim to help them realise their expectations for a wealthy lifestyle,' Mr Waugh says. Jeremy Martin, general manager of Century Citadel International, which will manage the entire development after its May 2005 completion, says it?s all about expectations. 'The customer service management here will rival any high-class hotel,' he says. 'But we don't just have to keep someone happy for a few days.' Among the services on offer will be the 'Golden Key' option, with a highly trained butler who has the experience to book a private jet for overseas excursions. 'Everyone here will have housekeeping and a concierge,' he says. What to look for in property management Do some background checks on the company, and find out what their core competencies are. Besides normal operations, such as cleaning and security, can they offer more high-end strategic facilities management, such as for special events? Do they know where the nearest hospital is, and do they have a plan to get residents there in a hurry during an emergency? Look carefully at their plans for financial reporting to residents. You want to know how your monthly dues are being spent. Ask about their plan for managing energy consumption in the development: it helps to know if they are worried about heating and cooling bills, too. Check with others about their reputation. This is a long-term relationship and if the company has a poor reputation it will hit the resident at some point in the future. Ask others already living in the building or nearby about the performance of the facility management.