Anna Kazarina

Anna Kazarina, Chief Marketing Officer of «Delovoy Kvartal» business park in Ekaterinburg, speaking about the facility management concept, changes in the definition of the commercial real estate and creation of the affinity group by events.

We can say that «Delovoy Kvartal» international business park is a unique phenomenon in Russia. Tell me about the project and its philosophy.

It is commonly known that a human is, in no small measure, a product of the environment. However, this statement is correct for the business as well. When one is surrounded by successful people and companies, one becomes aimed for victory, driven to move forward, and feels like a member of an affinity group. «Delovoy Kvartal» is based on this philosophy. It is basically a business city, 50,000 sq.m. in area, where we have everything for the effective work of businesses, developed infrastructure, which makes it comfortable to work, and eliminates many issues that the companies have. The owner noticed that business model in England and planted it here, in Ekaterinburg.

We decided to change the very definition of «commercial real estate». What do people usually understand by that term? Leasing and then let the companies do their thing themselves. We, on the other hand, follow the «facility management» concept. We ourselves build up and manage all the business life support systems without relying on the third-party contractors, from the construction and development of the services to the building-up of the business environment.

«Delovoy Kvartal» provides its own cleaning services, provided not in the morning or in the evening, but when it is convenient for the company, security services, concierge and maintenance services. There are even two green space workers that look after the plants both in the buildings and in the campus's outdoors.

Each resident (this is how we call the companies that work in the business park) has its service manager, who handles all the problems that may arise. In case of problems, one can contact the office managers at the reception; there is one in each building. Long story short, we added service to the pretty much hollow definition of «commercial real estate», and the business became customer-centric and got to have a «human face».

We choose our residents carefully. Many major international companies, leaders in the market, work in the business park. The offices are 97% occupied. There is even some kind of line of the companies that want to be housed in the business park.

Have you ever refused to accept a company as your resident?

Yes, that happens. We have our own evaluation criteria, and we let them guide us. Some markers are the international or major business, the company’s stability, its solid reputation in the market, and financial solvency. Business environment building-up is a delicate process. We aim for placing the same-level companies that share the same ethical and intellectual views beside each other, making them neighbors.

Tell me a bit about the infrastructure. As far as I am concerned, you are building a business town where the residents will have everything they need within easy reach, from cafes and laundry to fitness studios and kindergartens.

Yes, we give much attention to infrastructure development. We constantly develop and improve the services that make the residents’ time in «Delovoy Kvartal» convenient and pleasant. We do our best to fully satisfy all of their human and business needs. Our campus includes dry cleaning, food stores, footwear repair shop, flower shop, pharmacy, beauty salon, and printing shop. We do our best to support our partners, assist them with the advertising and introduction to the residents. There are also two large cafes, «PrimeTime» and «FoodStory», and four lobby bars in «Delovoy Kvartal». Besides, we have shuttle buses that take people to work.

Currently, we are making a new beautiful entrance to our campus, and we might extend the range of the bus routes. The business park is located in a way that one can enter it from all four parts of the city. Some time ago, the decision has been made that they will construct large buildings for the Universiade in our vicinity, and the center of Ekaterinburg will be closer to us thanks to the construction of new projects. We joke that we will eventually find ourselves in the center of the city if it further goes that way.

12 shuttle buses run at «Delovoy Kvartal». Formerly, there were free fares, and now it is not free anymore. Why has such a decision been made?

So that we can further develop that area. Formerly, our buses ran only to two points, the large transport hubs. Now, we have introduced another four directions and a small fee; it is smaller than that in the municipal transports. The JoinPAY solution helped us with payment acceptance. Thanks to that, people can pay using a card or cash through JoinPOS terminals and QR codes. It is very convenient. The only thing, it does not support Micros Plus cards yet, and payments cannot be made through iPhone. However, the developers from «MST company» are ambitious, and I think that they will solve those problems. It is good that the company not only takes on the tasks it is specialized in, but also helps to solve other problems. For example, we could not find a way to install terminals in the bus interior, and the guys have found a design suitable for its installation.

In March, «MST» launched the promotion campaign in collaboration with the MasterCard payment system, which allows the residents to have a three rubles discount when paying the fares by any bank’s MasterCard. A small saving, but a pleasant one.

Another convenient feature is that JoinPAY enables to view the analytics: how people pay in the transports, how loaded are the shuttle buses. This makes it easier to manage our transport project.

Let us talk about the development of the business community in the business park. How do you do that?

Through various events. For example, with top managers, we arrange a series of meetings by the name of «DK Community» where we invite the stars of business training such as Gil Petersil, Sergey Makshanov and Vladimir Yakub. At that venue, we gather our residents and the executive officers of the companies that we would like to see among our ranks. There, we tell about our business park in an informal setting. We have also lots of training events. For example, the «quiz» format is trending. Such meetings gather many teams; 150 to 180 people can play at the same time.

Where do such public events take place?

In our cafe, the «FoodStory». It is very spacious, and can perfectly accommodate us. Moreover, there are many media screens, so that everyone sees everything. We are also planning to arrange the Singing Block contest, which we will do once such an opportunity presents itself. During the pandemics, we got to miss real-life communication.

I also like to arrange events that not only pump some specific competence but also simply help us in our life. For example, many people are highly anxious because of the COVID, so we have carried out the online event during which we told how to fight stress. During another meeting, we discussed the matter of interaction with the family members during the remote work. Before the quarantine, we had an interesting offline event regarding emotional intelligence.

We also do not forget about the gender holidays: both 8 March and 23 February are fun days in our business park. Sometimes, we do pleasant things without a particular cause. For example, we gave out ice cream to the residents on the hottest day of the summer.

Considering the business agenda, we choose the topics depending on the tasks or some news. We arrange the business chambers, where we invite the high-class experts who know all subtle aspects of the taxation, for example. During those events, people have the opportunity to ask questions that are relevant to their companies.

I would like to say that we actually put a lot of time into the community and the business environment building up. The competition in the market is strong, all companies’ offers are roughly the same, and only those who can build up emotional ties between their company and people, to make them not want to leave, will win.

Are such serious investments in the services reflected on the rent?

Our approach to the residents is personalized, and we always find the solutions acceptable for both parties. Speaking of the services, I think that our cleaning services are somewhat more expensive than on average in the market. As to the rent, it is less than the rent in the same-class office buildings in the city center. Another great advantage of ours is a huge free-of-charge parking lot, while the price of one car-place can cost up to five thousand per month in other places. Long story short, after adding up all components, I think that our price is a little higher than the market price. But we provide a vast amount of additional services for that a «little higher» price, while in the other places, those services are provided at extra charge.

I cannot help but ask how you go through the pandemics.

We have a hard time, just like everyone else. The good thing is, not a single resident ended the contract with us, none of them left. Some companies optimize their areas, and there those who, on the contrary, expand a lot. We manage all those instances, rotate the spaces. We did not provide any large discounts to the companies, because we carry out our operations regardless of the pandemics. We are under the obligation to provide the services that we declared we would. Many residents kept working in the office, so we could not turn off the electricity, heating and ventilation in one half of the building and keep them turned on in the other half, or remove the security on some floors while keeping it on the others. However, we talk to the residents and do our best to make concessions, if we can.

Did you yourself bear high losses during that time?

They were pretty high. We invest a lot of money in the sanitizers, which, naturally, were not budgeted. We regularly treat all the spaces. In particular, we use the «cold mist», an installation that we have recently acquired. Masks are already a part of the corporate culture. The staff members wear them and require the others to do so too. Not even the president himself will pass through the reception without a mask on and his hands sanitized. I must say that this pays off: not a single employee of our managing company got sick during the pandemics. The management was very serious about our safety, for which I give my thanks. Also, not a single employee has been made redundant, and the salary is paid to everyone.

Our both cafes, 2,000 sq.m. in total area, are still idle, but the company keeps staff there as well. Since many residents continued working in the offices, we got to prepare food for delivery. Considering our areas and capacities, not only is it not profitable but also lossmaking: just like the electricity, you cannot cut off half of the stove. In general, I think that the structure of the consumer demand in catering will change a lot in the pandemic's aftermath. So far, we do not know how it will be, nevertheless, we monitor the situation carefully.

Did the government help you?

No, we are not among the companies that receive support. It is a pity that the government did not take on the risks and did not declare a state of emergency. Basically, they just left the businesses to sort out the problems. So, everyone does the best they can. The situation improved lately, and I think that the business park will begin to work at full capacity by the beginning of September, or at least it will definitely head for it.

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