Focus on both hardware and software
While it’s important to focus on maintenance, tenant satisfaction is just as crucial to the success of an office tower, says Noorbaizura Hermeyney, CEO of Tower REIT. Tower REIT owns Guoco Tower in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.
“We want to continue to be sought after by tenants despite the age of the building and the arrival of new office towers [in the area]. We believe good property management has helped us position the tower as the office building of choice. We put everything in order, while proactively managing things,” she says.
“We want to address tenant satisfaction, make sure they’re happy to stay here…it’s both hardware and software. Rates will be competitive, but tenants always want to stay long term and this long term factor relates to their comfort and satisfaction with the building.
Guoco Tower is the gold winner in the Single Ownership Offices category under 10 years in a mixed strata category.
Part of the RM2.5 billion Damansara City development, the 19-storey high-end office tower is Green Building Index (GBI) certified, Gold Leed 2009 for Core & Shell development and is designated MSC Malaysia Cybercentre.
Its net leasable area is 236,500 square feet, with each floor contributing approximately 14,000 square feet. Major tenants are British American Tobacco Malaysia, Dentsu Holdings Malaysia Sdn Bhd, AECOM Perunding Sdn Bhd and GuocoLand Malaysia Bhd.
Henry Butcher Malaysia (Mont Kiara) Sdn Bhd (HBMK) was appointed property manager on January 1 last year.
Noorbaizura says the tower is occupied by several multinational corporations (MNCs), so service commitment is high. This is where the management receives feedback and understands the necessary improvements for the building.
“It is essential for us to get feedback and understand their situation… Multinational tenants have certain requirements such as ESG (environmental, social and governance) compliance, health, etc. These things are important and we need to make sure that our building management will be able to handle them,” she adds.
“Tenant retention is important because the building is part of a REIT. We make sure to plan ahead and be proactive. We also compare ourselves to other office towers. It’s not for the competition but we want to improve. We look at the systems other buildings have and see if they apply to us. »
Guoco Tower is currently 86.9% occupied, with most tenants having been there since it opened in 2015.
HBMK Associate Director Paris Tian notes that tenant satisfaction is all about understanding tenant needs and ensuring they are well taken care of. “We hold regular monthly meetings with our anchor tenants to hear from them and from there we improve. We believe that constant communication is important and our key to success, in addition to strong teamwork .
At the Guoco tower, 14 planned preventive maintenances are carried out regularly in-house. Its outsourced maintenance, on the other hand, includes the elevator system, fire fighting system, air conditioning and mechanical ventilation system, pest control and cooling system.
Building manager Abdul Shahnaz Abdul Halim notes that it is about proper control and governance while keeping the management team informed about new systems.
“In order to get the best maintenance results, we need to have proper control and governance… Our service providers help us with preventive maintenance, but we need to have some sort of control. The way we do it here is that while our service providers have their checklists, our team also has their own checklist to cross-check to make sure everything is done correctly,” he says.
“We will not depend solely on service providers. Our team needs to know how things are done. Even though the service providers have more knowledge, the team still needs to know the basics of what’s going on. »
Tian reiterates that these are checks and balances. “For example, when the elevator service provider tells us that we need to make replacements, Shahnaz himself will come down to the site to check and confirm if there is a need for replacement… We will request more parts supporting documents to the service provider to confirm the need for the replacement. We will do all due diligence and checks and balances.”
Abdul Shahnaz believes it is difficult to maintain Malaysia’s digital status (formerly known as MSC status) and certified green construction as it involves a ‘complex system’.
“Certain criteria associated with these statuses are difficult to manage and maintain because the [whole] system is complex and it is not easy to ensure that the system is always in ready mode. For example, we have a building control system that controls and automates our air conditioning system. This involves a lot of electronic systems and programming work. These are very technical and complex and it is not easy for us to maintain them”, he explains.
“We overcome this problem by doing our own research and maintaining a close relationship with our service providers to understand – better and correctly – the system itself. From there, it helps us to troubleshoot the system on our own. We are not experts, but we must have the basics necessary to maintain these systems, especially those related to electronics. »
Abdul Shahnaz agrees that consistent and appropriate communication is important in property management. He ensures strong teamwork between Tower REIT and HBMK, as well as a good relationship with tenants. “We communicate regularly with the owner. We build relationships with our tenants and get their feedback to ensure the building meets their requirements. »
Indoor air quality (IAQ) has been particularly important with the advent of Covid-19. Tian notes that maintaining IAQ is in line with Ministry of Health guidelines to reduce the infection rate.
“We’ve done a gap analysis and are trying to close the gap to make sure the Guoco Tower’s IAQ is kept at an optimal level,” she says.
On the top floor there is a fresh air fan which brings fresh air into the building, minimizing the cost of keeping the temperature at an optimal level.
Abdul Shahnaz hopes Guoco Tower will continue to be one of the best office towers in Klang Valley, with tenants getting the best service experience. While keeping abreast of technology is important to ensure systems are always up to date, crisis management is also crucial, he points out. “When we manage a building, the main thing is to know how we react in the event of a crisis… Above all, everyone in the team knows their role and what they have to do.”
Noorbaizura adds that Tower REIT does not want to rest on its laurels. Guoco Tower must continue to be researched.
“The location itself is not enough because there is a lot of competition around…Benchmarking is important and I think we are at a pretty good stage now…There is always room for improvement and I believe in benchmarking ourselves against competitors and market standards, or we will never improve. We even talk to agents, who will give their opinion on offers from other office towers. Competition will always be there, so we have to keep improving.