There are a great many providers of serviced office space in this region – over 30 in Singapore and Hong Kong strikes the century mark. And all business professionals understand the benefits of using serviced offices, so how is anyone – the small business person (typically, but not always) – supposed to choose between the different providers?
Well, the answer’s quite simple. Don’t focus purely on the facilities and the offices themselves – a mistake many business professional make. Of course, state-of-the-art facilities are vital, however, the real value comes with the service provided.
“We position ourselves as a service company, not just a serviced office provider,” says CEO SUITE, President, Ms Mee Kim, a Korean by birth, but lives in Jakarta and Singapore, with a Masters read at a university in Sydney.
CEO SUITE is Kim’s brain-child, she is an owner-manager, with a great many years experience in the serviced office industry. Kim is also the mother of a five-year-old boy and balances a frenetic home-life with her globe-trotting commitments. However, her team, members of which she has hand-picked from across Asia, boasts no less experienced.
Says Carole Khoo, General Manager for Singapore: “There is a great deal of experience in this team. No one is fresh out of college. Even our receptionist has ten years of experience – not in being a receptionist, but in being an experienced receptionist in this industry.”
Khoo, a Singaporean, is a further example of this trend. Her background is in hospitality before she moved on to a large multinational serviced office provider, before being headhunted by Kim.
Like a great many other successful businesses, a good team may not be enough to survive adversity in the market. CEO SUITE clearly has a good team, but something more has helped it to actually expand with one new office per year over the last five years… all in a market which has forced many of its competitors – large and small – to fold.
The management team has a couple of important, survival of the fittest, qualities. They are experts at identifying opportunities out of the economic rubble, and they are aggressive.
Interestingly though, but by no means accidental, the team comprises almost exclusively of women. And this is where Mee Kim goes controversial – tongue-in-cheek, of course: “Ninety-five percent of our clientele is male… isn’t it obvious that we should be women? Women are more intuitive and in my opinion have a better eye for this sort of business.” OK, we’ll leave that there. But one thing is for sure: spending their way out of bad economic times is something governments have been doing for years, but a business performing its own model of fiscal pump-priming is not only quite innovative, but also very courageous. And it’s working, says Kim: “You have to spend money to make money. It’s as simple as that. And that’s why we have opened, and intend to keep opening, new offices. Shanghai is the latest, and we are looking forward to entry into that market.
“At the end of the day however, this organisation is just not about opening branches, and domination of the serviced office world – its management is clearly committed to a boutique-brand image – it’s about quality of service. “There’s a demand for creativity and we will endeavour to meet any request from a client,” says Khoo: “We can cater for clients who just need our offices for cocktail parties or an international video-conference. You can hire a meeting room for one hour or you can set up a telemarketing floor. We are all focused about meeting needs.”
And CEO SUITE has the clients to back-up its promises. They range from single proprietors and semi-retired professionals and consultants to Fortune 1000 companies – all satisfied that the people at CEO SUITE are adaptive enough to meet their special requirements.