Most of us meander through shopping malls without thinking much about the operational processes behind a smooth shopper experience. However, there is more than meets the eye behind the scenes of our favourite malls.
Although Choon Liang spends most of his time at his desk, he will occasionally make on-site visits to conduct checks.
We talk with Tan Choon Liang, Senior Manager, Operations, Retail Properties and Ng Kok Weng, Building Manager, at The Centrepoint to find out what it takes to maintain a safe and enjoyable environment at Frasers Centrepoint Singapore malls.
Delivering what is best for our customers
Choon Liang has been part of the Core Operations team for over 9 years and works closely with centre managers of our properties to ensure smooth operations. He oversees the streamlining of safety processes and manages the different elements involved in moving tenants in and out of our malls.
Describing some of his recent projects and responsibilities, he feels that understanding the needs of tenants and shoppers is core to their work.
“I was recently involved in implementing in all Frasers Centrepoint Singapore malls and commercial properties, the Fibre Ready Scheme (FBR), which was rolled out by the Infocomm Media Development Authority. With this in place at all of Frasers Centrepoint Singapore’s non-residential properties, our tenants and shoppers can have access to ultra-high speed fibre broadband. This will result in a faster turnaround time for tenants applying for fibre broadband services.
Apart from major projects like the FBR, I also advise our mall tenants on situations they encounter during ongoing Asset Enhancement Initiatives (AEI). Advising them on actionable solutions also helps ensure they are complying with the standard operation procedures to meet future operation needs.
For new tenants that move into our malls, I am typically present onsite to address any concerns they may have, including technical matters such as air-condition requirement piping, and to check and ensure that all is in order for a smooth move-in.
Each tenant is different and we must be sensitive to their needs. Helping them is almost equivalent to helping ourselves.”
Improving sustainability, slowly but surely
“I aim to help Frasers Centrepoint Singapore attain its sustainability target, which is to reduce energy use in our retail properties by 15%, by 2025.
Over the years, I have witnessed and am encouraged by our progress towards achieving a greener Frasers Centrepoint Singapore. In 2011, Causeway Point underwent major AEI works which reduced the chiller’s energy use by 20.7%. The mall received recognition for this new energy-saving feature and was awarded the Building and Construction Association (BCA) Green Mark Platinum Award in 2011.
Causeway Point is also one of the top 10 performers for sustaining their buildings’ energy performances and serve as exemplary showcases for the building sector to emulate when improving the energy efficiency of their buildings and premises. These are reflected in the BCA Building Energy Benchmarking Report (2015 and 2016). In 2016, we also implemented LED replacement for Anchorpoint to reduce energy costs.
We are currently exploring other ways to reduce energy usage include implementing energy saving equipment such as efficient chiller systems and LED light bulbs.”
Teamwork makes the dream work
“My job requires working and coordinating with different teams at once. I am blessed to be working alongside helpful colleagues across all the malls. Each mall has their own operations team, but on occasions where one property needs extra support, I can count on colleagues from a different centre to lend a hand.
Such teamwork is important to keep the malls running seamlessly, and the same goes for having good team members. Spending time with the same team over the years helps us to understand each other better and the relationship is strengthened.
I try to identify and develop my team members’ strengths and focus on that. This is something I picked up from my weekend soccer sessions with friends. In our teams, each of us has unique strengths and skills. To perform well, each of us should play up to our strengths and focus on our role.”
Open communication drives a good team
With a decade of experience under his belt, Ng Kok Weng, Building Manager, Building & Maintenance, The Centrepoint, is more than familiar with managing a tightly knit team that is responsible for the mall’s smooth operations. He shares how open communication within the team is important in their volatile work environment.
“I work closely with a team of 10 people in the Maintenance Department and meet with them twice a day, once in the morning at the start of their shift and once more before the afternoon shift. At these meetings, we address issues that arose the day before and the solutions that we want to carry out during the day itself. These include preventive and corrective tasks involving safety, maintenance and tenant management. Staff are also assigned to oversee repairs or maintenance with the support of sub-contractors.
On top of that, staff commitment plays a huge part in keeping everything running smoothly. I find that a sense of responsibility to the building and equipment one owns, escalating issues at an early stage, having a sense of belonging and a strong sense of integrity are characteristics of a reliable team member. Through guidance from more experienced staff, these qualities can be developed further, strengthening the team even more.
We even have in place a “buddy system” here where new staff are trained and guided by more experienced staff. This is critical in easing new hires into their roles and allows them an outlet to discuss work concerns. They are paired for more intensive training for a minimum of two weeks, after which guidance is still provided by experienced staff as the newer colleagues begin to work more independently.”
Keeping up with the times
“Skills courses are essential in our line of work. Regulations are amended from time to time and it is vital that the team is trained to maintain the increasing range of equipment that are introduced into our properties.
While it is nearly impossible to predict when a crisis might occur, a crisis ready team is always on standby, prepared to rise to the occasion. A firefighting team was previously in place to deal with fire related crises but this has been replaced with an Emergency Response team, which now handles a range of emergencies.
Together with educating our tenants on proper emergency protocols, these measures safeguard the well-being of our shoppers ensuring a peace of mind while shopping.”