“The right product development is key to winning the hearts of home buyers,” says Elson Poo, General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Development and Property, Frasers Centrepoint Singapore.
Elson (left), together with his staff Jenny Ho, Senior Marketing Manager, Sales & Marketing, Development & Property, Frasers Centrepoint Singapore (centre) and Jetro Teo, Showroom Officer, Sales & Marketing, Development & Property, Frasers Centrepoint Singapore (right), at the Seaside Residences show suite.
The Frasers Insider team recently caught up with Elson at the Seaside Residences duplex show suite at Siglap Link. As we sat in a comfortable and quiet corner, Elson recounted how his journey began at the company.
My first sales project
“I just realised that since I joined 16 years ago on 2 January, 2001, I was involved in 46 projects! That’s about 18,000 units!”
“My first day began as Sales Manager of Centrepoint Properties Limited, as it was called then. I headed one of two residential sales teams. At that time, the management engaged an in-house sales team to handle sales instead of depending on external sales agents.
I remember vividly, the first sales project I handled was Compass Heights. It was the first integrated project that was launched in Singapore in February 2001. The 536-unit condominium was linked directly to the MRT and the Compass Point shopping mall. Although the sale of the units was good, people were sceptical initially. They felt the development was located in a new town and lacked privacy being so close to the MRT and the mall. In time, buyers realised the convenience and today it is a bustling location.”
“At that time, our in-house sales team faced a huge challenge to sell over a thousand units in the north from different projects like Yishun Sapphire, Yishun Emerald, Euphony Gardens and Seletaris in Sembawang. The take-up rate was slow as the market was not doing well and the projects were fast approaching TOP stage.
Under such pressure to deliver, we came up with a creative way to sell-off the unsold units by designing some units as show apartments, complete with finishes – about 100 to 200 – and it proved effective as they were sold quickly. People who purchased these units could easily move in the next day. For some units, we had to re-think and reconfigure the layout, break down walls, and even replace furniture to enhance its appeal before they were sold.
Eventually all the units were sold within two years. A lot of creative thinking went into how to make these units saleable. It was not easy but we achieved it!”
Understanding our buyers
“The key elements of a successful project will depend on the product. Does it have the right unit mix, unit type, size and price to attract buyers? We must consider every possible aspect including the specific location of the project and how it caters to the demand in that area.
So even before we engage the architect to design the units, we research our target audience and potential buyers, which is essential to understanding what buyers really want and need in a home. We consider the lifestyle needs of the target audience, what is important to them and design the product and develop it accordingly.
Only then do we work closely with the architect to ensure the product and layout is well-received in the market and that the end-user, whether investor or home owner, will find it useful.”
“To me, innovative product development is crucial as it places us a cut above the rest. And how do we assure this? By putting ourselves in the shoes of the home buyer and visualising how we would want the space in that home to be.
We pride ourselves in product innovation for quality residential living. One such example of product innovation which we conceptualised and launched in Singapore is the TRIO home (dual-key unit layout). Proud homeowners received the keys to the first batch of TRIO homes when Caspian Condominium and 8@Woodleigh obtained TOP in 2012.
Competitors have attempted to duplicate this concept but our thought process is more robust. Branded as TRIO, the dual-key concept has three uses. The design is such that as you enter a home, you will see a common foyer which leads to two doors or units, allowing for each to have their own privacy beyond those doors. One is a studio-type apartment while the other is a 1-3 3-bedroom unit. The studio apartment is suitable firstly for multi-generational families, where the in-laws or grandparents may reside. Secondly, the studio unit may be sublet for supplement income, and for the third use, it may also be converted into a small office home office space. We have developed new concepts in the market from time to time and this has been well-received.”
A passion for sales and marketing
“Today, I lead and guide the team in sales and marketing, advertising and promotions, product development and pricing, all with the sole aim of launching the products with a successful outcome.
It all starts from the phase prior to the land bid and purchase. Before we bid for a plot of land, we will conduct feasibility studies, discuss the concept and base it as closely as we can to the parameters outlined in the tender document. Once we win the bid, we swing into action.
Artist’s impression of Seaside Residences.
Take Seaside Residences for example. After we won the bid based on the parameters stipulated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), we reviewed the tender submission which comprised a 10-storey block in front of a 20-storey high-rise block. We wanted to create a product with no blocked views and consulted with our architects to come up with a design of four majestic twin tower blocks with zero blockage! We successfully appealed to URA who approved our new submission.
Where required we will improve on the design of some units based on feedback to make it more saleable. Four years from now, Seaside Residences will be standing here, well-placed and commanding an excellent sea view.
So, the favourite part of my job starts from before we purchase the land all the way to the end, when we hand over the last set of keys to a happy home buyer or investor.”
“We love our job, we love value creation, which for us means to create the best value possible from a bare piece of land, maximise its potential and reach out to the target market to sell the product.
I am quite blessed to have a team that is inter-dependent and self-motivated. My team is lean, with three marketing staff, one senior marketing manager, two marketing managers and two sales staff. They have been with the company for between five to ten years and are really good at what they do. Although they started with little experience, they have learnt quickly on-the-job.
I will guide and mentor them and we have had many open discussions on challenges faced and how to overcome it. After they have experienced a few projects from start to finish, they now understand the mechanics and processes well, and are able to apply them to each unique product.”
Seaside Residences and how it compares to other projects
“Seaside Residences offers seven unique living space concepts from Suites to Penthouses with wide and open layouts of flexible and functional configurations, which take full advantage of the rare seaside location. Also offered are the dual-key TRIO homes.
Created exclusively for Seaside Residences, is the LIVCLO (short for Living Closet) is a home organising closet area, which multitasks as a “Living Closet” in the living room that addresses storage woes. A motion sensor light automatically illuminates when the door opens, and the LIVCLO gets your belongings sorted out the smart way with efficient storage solutions. This was created out of homebuyer feedback for more storage space as unit sizes in newer developments are getting smaller while store rooms and yards are being replaced with bigger balconies. We have received positive feedback on this new concept from agents, potential buyers and visitors.”
Projects that left their mark
“I enjoyed working on all our projects and each is unique, however, two have left a deeper impression. The first is the Waterfront Collection, a joint-venture project between Far East Organisation and Frasers Centrepoint Limited. The development has just been named World Silver Winner of FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Awards 2017 under the Residential (Mid-Rise) Category. It was quite a challenging project and it is a rare chance to be involved in such a massive project as this that involved new skills like masterplanning. We conceptualised and developed them into four different precincts that complement each other in terms of landscaping, view and orientation.
The Waterfront Collection, has just been named World Silver winner of FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Awards 2017 under the Residential (Mid-Rise) Category.
North Park Residences is my other memorable project because it is the first largest integrated development in the north featuring a shopping mall, community spaces transport hub and a 920-unit residences. This was highly challenging as we aimed to seamlessly integrate the residential part with the rest of the development called Northpoint City.”
Artist’s impression of North Park Residences.
“I will spend most of my free time with my two sons, aged 8 and 13, whether to help them out in school work or engage them in outdoor activities. As I enjoy outdoor sports, I also encourage my children to be active in it. We will usually be out at the water park, swimming, or even cycling or trekking, and this helps keep us fit and healthy. At home, I have a dog as a pet and I also keep fishes in a marine reef tank which is a hobby of mine and a good way to de-stress.
My philosophy on life is to think positively, be flexible in what you do, and not be too calculative. Take things easy in life and excel where you can!”
Find out more about Frasers Centrepoint Singapore residential properties here.