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Compass points the way

Published on Friday, 02 Nov 2012
Andrew Chung
Photo: May Tse

Although just three years old, Compass Offices has already taken over as the leading provider of serviced-office solutions in Hong Kong. The locally based company has 29 offices around Asia, including in Singapore and Tokyo, with more regional growth planned and other markets being considered.

At the helm is CEO Andrew Chung. A former accountant, he discusses the company’s expansion plans, how it stands out in a crowded market, and how a previous venture in the recruitment field set him up for success with serviced offices.

What areas are you hiring in?
We are always looking to invest in new team members – as former recruiters, we really understand the importance of having good talent in the business. We are hiring for our centre operations team, sales team and for business support areas such as accountants.

Centre-operations team members are responsible for running the business centres. Sales people and client-relationship managers work closely with clients, assisting them with their business-growth needs.

Accounting, payroll, company secretarial support and administration roles help support both our clients and Compass Offices itself.

If someone has a customer service focus and is driven and passionate about what they do, we want to speak to them.

Are there any particular qualities you look in staff?  What sort of background do most staff have?
Many of our centre-operations team come from the hospitality industry, as there are a lot of similarities between what we provide to clients and the services offered to guests at, say, a top-tier hotel.

Our sales team comes from a range of industries. We tend to look for skill sets that can be applied to our own industry, but also allow us to be more creative in our approach.

Why is Compass different from other serviced-office firms?
We started out committed to several key principles that differentiate us from other players. Among these is a refusal to charge hidden fees – we believe in transparent pricing and flexible terms.

We offer clients new, customised spaces and solutions for their businesses. We also invest heavily in IT and our centre infrastructure to offer an exceptionally high-quality product. Being structured as we are, we move and adjust quickly to the market and our clients’ needs. If they need a special space, built and fitted out a certain way for their requirements, then we are able to deliver that quickly, and to the high standards we are renowned for.

Why did you originally choose to focus on Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo?
We grew really rapidly so we focused on these three markets initially as they were where we had capacity and there was a need. We listened to what our clients want, and we had quite a few who needed regional offices in those locations. We are planning more regional growth in our existing locations and also looking at other markets.
How competitive is the serviced office market?
With serviced offices becoming not so much a trend as a necessity, it is a very competitive market with a handful of global players, as well as a base of strong local competitors in every market.

With economic instability and companies’ structural needs fluctuating all the time, it’s a smarter choice to work with a company like Compass Offices to find a flexible solution that allows a business to grow and expand as needed. Businesses are organic in their growth, so you need to find a place that accommodates this. A traditional office space is often too large for the first few years of operation. After that, companies quickly start to outgrow them. We cover everything from pantry areas and a front-desk team to office facilities and infrastructure. So you can scale your business as you need it without increasing too many overheads.

What are your future plans?
We plan to keep growing and to take our business model and product to new markets while continually refining it in our initial locations. We will always push ourselves, strive to do better for our clients, and continue to anticipate and respond to their changing requirements.

We will try to stay flexible as to what the market needs, but focusing on Asia-Pacific is a priority.

Tell us about your partnership with Encore Professional Services – the company-formation and back-office support you provide.
Encore Professional Services and Encore IT evolved out of Compass Offices’ own support team. We have such a fantastic team supporting our business that clients were asking if they could also be supported by them and it all grew from there.

Encore Professional Services specialises in company formation, company secretarial, visa processing, accounting and other back-office support such as recruitment licensing. They literally take care of every aspect of both a start-up and an operating business. Similar to Compass Offices’ model, you pay for what you need, so you can again scale your business wisely as you grow. We work in synergy to provide end-to-end solutions for clients.

Are you really the largest serviced office provider in Hong Kong?
Yes. We know it’s a big claim, but as a Hong Kong-owned and built company, we are very proud of it. We have done the unimaginable in such a short period, becoming the largest provider by both workstation and square footage.

What kind of companies do you work with?
We have welcomed a broad range of clients, including traditional finance firms and consultancies, social media companies, fast-growing start-ups, and large global corporations launching their businesses in Asia.


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