Mahajak A Model for Enterprise Innovation

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Before heading home to Australia from Bangkok in late December, I went to a pool side party in an apartment building. This party was for the management and the staff, hosted by a long term tenant to say thank you.

When in Bangkok I stay at Mahajak Apartments in the very livable and popular downtown area of Sukhumvit. We have had this apartment for many years, after finding hotels impersonal and transient. For our business we have had similar sets up in Singapore, Indonesia and London, but this one in Bangkok is quite special.

Although Bangkok is not my home, I feel like it is as I come and go. Our office at Central World is a few minutes away and our customers also see me as relaxed to continue to be around for them.

Regardless of traffic and the bustle of this very large city, when I arrive, it is a most pleasant experience. It never lets me down as I am greeted by a “Sawasdee”, with welcoming smiles and an attitude that nothing is ever too much trouble.

The building owners are a family, who also own and operate Mahajak Group. This is a significant well established group with a reputation for high quality. Built around automotive nuts and bolts, these days it clip_image004has diversity that also specializes in such things as quality air-conditioning, home automation, and audio and entertainment equipment and more. The families live in the building themselves during the week to run their operations in the building adjacent. So like me it is their second home, so it is important it works for them too.

The building is modern looking although it is about 20 years old. It has a welcoming feel when you walk into the reception but even before that the security staff make you welcome.

Despite being in one of the busiest and vibrant areas in Bangkok, the building itself is situated in a quiet and relaxing off street area which fits into the landscape that over looks the city. In-house staff are employed to manage maintenance , but they are unlike others who just take care of the infrastructure. At Mahajak Apartments they have a proactive and in touch approach to attending to tenants needs, no matter how big or how small.

Khun Angkana, who is one of the principals in the Mahajak family, takes an active part in the day to day operations. Being both a customer and provider of her business, she certainly understands first hand customer’s needs; she is also extremely well liked and highly respected by everyone. She is fluent in English and also in Japanese, which she studied at Chulalongkorn Universityimage.  She can be often seen working away at her desk as she translates some documents to or from Japanese as a sideline and hobby work for a former employer.

In this prominent sought after location in the Sukhumvit area with a large ex-pat business population her track record is unique, with so many long term residents. With her team, their attention to detail to make everyone feel at home is what makes the difference to keep the tenancy rate so high.

But during last year as things got tight with the downturn in business and tourist trade, I noticed a change. One day, with her staff, they were busily arranging short term accommodation for someone new. Later I asked her about her approach for handling the mix of long stay residents and short visitors. She told me how full service short stay people filled the gaps.

Short term guests were also happy to pay the better rate than hotels or a mainstream serviced apartment.  This approach, she said, was yielding well as people sought home style accommodation for periods from one to four weeks. And with such a good location she said she could also be selective to ensure long stay people were not impacted.

The initial approaches were from people needing family accommodation to visit the nearby world class Bumrungrad Hospital. Many come from all over the world for affordable treatment that is more out of reach in the home countries. Mahajak being so convenient is a bonus.

So now the Mahajak Apartment focus has shifted to also be good at providing this much needed accommodation service. The upside too is the atmosphere has more a light hearted feel as short term people engaged in neighborly exchanges with long-people like me.

On one occasion, Angkana’s husband confided to me that even though the percentage of short stay was low, it had made the difference and showed them that alternative markets were an option, even when facing adversity.

Even though property management is not really our core business”. he said, “this model and this experience has opened our minds for expansion as the market returns”.

If you are planning a short stay,

Check it out at Mahajak Apartments

Or just contact them by email for more information.

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