In Äripäev’s 2022 rating of real estate service companies, Stell ranks fourth. The success of our enterprise was made possible by a quick response to changing circumstances. Our principles: stay true to the set goals, protect and involve employees, maintain a transparent relationship with the client.
Kinnisvarauudised editor Külli Kaljulind talked to Stell CEO Mikk Sillamaa and Head of Sales and Procurements Margus Välling.
Stell: we did not make fire people and did not reduce wages
Mikk Sillamaa says that, like any other business, their company feels like the next crisis is starting when the previous one has not yet passed: “For companies, this is a serious challenge. I don’t know of a single company that hasn’t been hit in one way or another. Good results did not fall on us from the sky – a long-term strategy helped us to stay afloat”.
“During the pandemic, companies in our sector, like others, received some assistance,” says Margus Välling. “We did not meet the criteria for receiving compensation on wages. Stell did not lay off anyone because of the crisis. We also did not cut salaries, although this strategy was widespread in the market. We knew that we needed to keep people from leaving and managed to survive the hard times.”
“It helped that we were able to work with our clients on a totally different level, making them understand that they need us,” Välling says of the factors that affect work relations. “It would have been easier than ever to terminate all contracts, but we have kept them, guided by a long-term development strategy.”
The concern is the question of the labour force. “It’s getting harder and harder to find specialists these days. We are the practice base for educational institutions and are ready to train the necessary specialists. We have created a centre of educational competencies, which allows us to receive new employees,” Mikk Sillamaa gives examples of what the company itself can do to attract new employees.
“Educational institutions do not produce enough specialists in the technological sector. We cooperate with the TTK University of Applied Sciences, which prepares future property managers. The engineers of the technical department graduate from the Tallinn University of Technology, as well as from secondary vocational schools,” Sillamaa lists Stell partners. In addition, the company, together with professional associations, tries to be visible in educational institutions and take part in career days to acquaint students with their field of activity. “New talent is needed, but it is equally important to value the existing employees,” says Mikk Sillamaa. The tougher the times in the economy, the more openly you need to communicate with the employee, Stell executives say. Cooperation is partnership.
Open relationship with clients
“Through employee satisfaction, we can also ensure customer satisfaction. There are no happy customers if there are no happy employees. We monitor customer and employee satisfaction and see that it is growing from year to year. At the same time, inside the company, we do not say that now everything is ready and done, although things are going well for us. The economy in general, and the real estate service sector in particular change a lot. In the current period of crises, we do not stop working on any long-term service development goal,” Sillamaa talks about the need for sustainable strategic planning. Growth is also driven by new employees.
Sillamaa clarifies that the company is focusing on offering a comprehensive service: “It is difficult, but we are good at keeping the bar high.”
“Both 2020 and 2021 have been good years despite the crisis caused by the pandemic. The advantage of a comprehensive service is that it allows us to get to know the client better, and the clients themself believe that we understand their needs better,” says Margus Välling. As Head of Sales, he is competent to talk about the importance of customer communication: “During the coronavirus lockdown, we discussed with customers the possibility of reducing the volume of cleaning services in shopping centres or redirecting them somewhere else. At the same time, when it comes to maintenance, there is not much room for manoeuvre – filters in ventilation units need to be changed in any case.”
Who is the real client of the company? “We are thinking about the person who works or stays in the building or its surroundings – they should feel as good and comfortable as possible there. Our large clients have personal managers who can give advice and help resolve issues. It gives good results,” Sillamaa explains.
“We are moving towards the principle of “know your client’s client”. Guided by this, we are developing a service with which the end consumer, that is, the visitor of the shopping centre, should be satisfied,” Sillamaa talks about the way of thinking of Stell.
Staying loyal to strategies
There is another aspect that, according to Mikk Sillamaa, makes Stell successful: “We have changed our management culture. Once a year, we meet with middle managers and review our goals – both long-term and short-term. These are not the personal goals of management, but the goals of the company.” He also emphasizes that Stell involves colleagues as much as possible: “We try to convey the message about the goals to all employees. It seems to me that it makes it easier to achieve the goals then.”
Margus Välling adds that the changes have taken place in the last three years: “In addition to middle managers, we have also begun to more actively involve the next level managers in the development of the company. Together we think about how to achieve the goals, we constantly discuss the goals among ourselves (are we going in the right direction?) and only then we move on.”
The same methods help during crises. “During the coronavirus crisis, it also helped that we stopped and discussed the situation. Perhaps next year we will talk about some other method, but so far, this one works”, – analyses Mikk Sillamaa. “And the owner is happy, too!”
“I can also highlight investments in various forms of information technology that ensure the transparency of services. Customers are also looking forward to it,” he says. This year, like the previous one, has been a year of IT investment for Stell.
This article has also been published here: https://www.kinnisvarauudised.ee/uudised/2022/09/06/stell-me-ei-koondanud-ega-vahendanud-palka