The com­mer­cial ser­vice model

CBRE, the world’s largest com­mer­cial real es­tate ser­vices and in­vest­ment firm, has seen ex­cep­tional growth both glob­ally and through its Aus­tralian di­vi­sion over the last five years. Since 2011, the Pa­cific busi­ness has dou­bled with an im­pres­sive shift in

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Join­ing CBRE Pa­cific in the mid­dle of this mas­sive growth is Amanda Steele, Se­nior Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the firm’s As­set Ser­vices busi­ness. With an ex­ten­sive back­ground in sus­tain­abil­ity and roles with gov­ern­ment and the not-for­profit sec­tor, she has brought con­sid­er­able strength over the last three years in cre­at­ing in­te­grated so­lu­tions across the en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and eco­nomic spec­trums.

“I’ve loved the role – more than I ever thought I would to be hon­est,” says Amanda. “I’ve re­ally en­joyed the chal­lenge of run­ning a big busi­ness and I’ve re­ally en­joyed the chal­lenge of work­ing with such a great team and with world lead­ing clients.

“I’ve worked for the not-for­profit, gov­ern­ment, and the cor­po­rate world, and have found all three fas­ci­nat­ing and chal­leng­ing in their own re­gard. They all bring a unique per­spec­tive and skillset that gives you a more com­plete ap­proach to the next role. It’s given me a great plat­form to help drive CBRE now.”

Amanda talks pas­sion­ately about ap­proach­ing busi­ness with a well­rounded at­ti­tude. Her ex­pe­ri­ence in pol­i­tics and pub­lic poli­cies fo­cussed on com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, which is how she was in­tro­duced to sus­tain­abil­ity. Her ap­proach to the work came from “the so­cial side whereas many oth­ers ap­proached it from the en­vi­ron­men­tal side”.

“I al­ways run a very holis­tic ap­proach to sus­tain­abil­ity around so­cial eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment chal­lenges and how to over­come them in dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tions.”

While CBRE’s growth has been ex­cep­tional in re­cent years, Amanda is also quick to high­light that the broader in­dus­try is ex­pand­ing and de­vel­op­ing so­phis­ti­ca­tion, heav­ily sup­ported by tech­nol­ogy and staff diver­sity.

“The prop­erty man­age­ment sec­tor in par­tic­u­lar has moved from man­ual to au­to­matic – which in­creases things like build­ing ef­fi­ciency. If you think back not long ago, we used to have this guy with the jingly keys tied to his back pocket, how­ever the tech­nol­ogy peak means that we can au­to­mate some of that work and di­rect the staff ef­forts into other ar­eas. Now we have fan­tas­tic concierge staff that are wait­ing at the front to greet the work­ers to the build­ing and re­ally set them up a great day at work. It pro­vides value to own­ers and oc­cu­pants.”

In do­ing so, CBRE now hires a more di­verse group of peo­ple. As Amanda notes, the ma­jor­ity of staff for a prop­erty man­age­ment busi­ness was tra­di­tion­ally linked to me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neers; how­ever the scope now in­cludes the likes of sus­tain­abil­ity pro­fes­sion­als, ex­ec­u­tive chefs and wide-rang­ing concierge staff.

“I think it’s al­lowed us to con­sult in a re­ally great way,” says Amanda. “That in­te­grated ser­vice at CBRE is re­ally adding that value to our clients. They’re not just get­ting the leas­ing agents any­more; they’re also get­ting the eval­u­a­tion team, and the as­set man­age­ment and ac­cess to our re­search. That’s pro­vid­ing a lot of value to our clients.”

One such tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment is Pulse; CBRE’s prop­erty man­age­ment sys­tem. The Pulse sys­tem in­cludes all of the data that any­one would pos­si­bly need to un­der­stand their prop­erty port­fo­lio, such as lease re­newals, ac­counts, stack­ing plans and more. It is then trans­lated through­out its busi­ness in­tel­li­gence to pro­vide be­spoke in­for­ma­tion to make the clients’ lives eas­ier.

“I think it re­ally im­proves ar­eas of risk and op­por­tu­nity across the port­fo­lio and pro­vides re­ally clear in­sight,” says Amanda. “It gives you the time and the tools to al­low you to fo­cus on your in­vest­ment strat­egy. The in­tent of the Pulse sys­tem is to take away the noise of prop­erty man­age­ment, and pro­vide the client with that high level in­vest­ment fo­cus port­fo­lio. It gives you back your time, which ev­ery­one is short on.”

Adding to the Pulse sys­tem is As­pire, which acts as a busi­ness in­tel­li­gence plat­form that sits across the top to pro­vide re­al­time re­ports that in­te­grate with a range of dif­fer­ent sys­tems. It pulls to­gether ev­ery point of data in a build­ing or a port­fo­lio to pro­vide ac­cess in an easy ac­tion­able way. For ex­am­ple, it can be used to mea­sure foot traf­fic in a shop­ping cen­tre and present it in a for­mat that is eas­ily di­gestible.

“We in­vest mil­lions of dol­lars glob­ally in tech­nol­ogy ev­ery year, and we an­tic­i­pate that we’ll be re­leas­ing new up­dates ei­ther to those plat­forms or to dif­fer­ent plat­forms, ev­ery six months, within our busi­ness line,” says Amanda. “We have to re­main valid in the cur­rent mar­ket place and tech­nol­ogy en­ables that in a mean­ing­ful way.”

While the tech­nol­ogy pro­vides great ben­e­fits to the client, Amanda is quick to high­light that cus­tomer ser­vice needs to be a fo­cus in or­der to truly sup­port their needs. It is an area of fo­cus that she has in­vested a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time and en­ergy.

“Com­mer­cial real es­tate didn’t tra­di­tion­ally put enough ef­fort into cus­tomer ser­vice, when it re­ally should be at the top of the in­dus­try. I think it’s re­ally key to my lead­er­ship at CBRE, and what I’ve re­ally in­stilled in our staff, is that we’re ac­tu­ally in the busi­ness of cus­tomer ser­vice. Prop­erty man­age­ment is what we do, but we’re in the busi­ness of cus­tomer ser­vice and the bet­ter the cus­tomer ser­vice de­liv­ery, the more sat­is­fied our clients are and the bet­ter our busi­ness flows.”

In or­der to meet that level of ser­vice, CBRE puts its staff through train­ing with MCA, whose clients in­clude the likes of Dis­ney. In ad­di­tion to the spe­cific skills in prop­erty man­age­ment, there is a di­rect fo­cus on de­liv­er­ing ex­cel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice.

“Peo­ple are com­ing into the work­place now and want­ing more than just a nice shiny of­fice,” Amanda says. “They want peo­ple who can an­tic­i­pate their needs and de­liver them in a re­ally in­spir­ing way. That’s what our prop­erty man­age­ment teams do and needs to be a con­tin­ual fo­cus.”

Nat­u­rally, this com­bi­na­tion of tech­nol­ogy and cus­tomer ser­vice works best when there is gen­uine staff en­gage­ment, and Amanda has put a lot of work into cre­at­ing an in­clu­sive cul­ture where peo­ple want to come to work.

It is an at­ti­tude that clearly re­flects Amanda’s holis­tic ap­proach – and one that she be­lieves not just cre­ates a more en­joy­able work­place, but also a more suc­cess­ful or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“I re­ally want to change the in­dus­try,” she says. “I know that can come across as ar­ro­gant, but it’s what we should all strive to do. I want CBRE to be so good th at the rest of the prop­erty ser­vices com­pa­nies are try­ing to catch up to us. I think there is a lot more head room on what we can de­liver yet.”

With such a com­plete and con­sid­ered ap­proach it would ap­pear to be well on its way.

Amanda Steele

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