Wincasa is a flexible market participant offering its clients a wide range of services at every stage of the real estate life cycle, from the initial planning of a building to its construction, operation and revitalisation and sale. Through its decentralised branch network in 24 different locations, the company manages 233 000 properties. This makes it the market leader and one of the most influential players in the Swiss real estate sector.
Integrated value generation
The Wincasa business model is based on two key value-generation processes. These are asset and portfolio management on the one hand and property management on the other. The company maintains strategic relationships with institutional and corporate clients, delivering an integrated range of real estate services covering the entire property life cycle. These range from renovating and re-letting properties, to construction-project management and strategic facility management, to property management, which comprises such elements as vacancy management, energy controlling and operational optimisation and the management of large centres and mixed-use sites.
Profitable collaboration within the Group
Wincasa’s comprehensive branch network provides it with a valuable knowledge of local market conditions and the needs of owners and tenants alike. Thanks to that knowledge, the company can, for example, also match sales mandates from third parties with potential buying interest from Swiss Prime Site Immobilien. This happened in 2017, when Swiss Prime Site Immobilien was able to purchase three buildings adjacent to Winterthur railway station from the Fenaco Agricultural Federation.
Wincasa administers the entire Swiss Prime Site Immobilien AG property portfolio, which, with an aggregate value of CHF 10.6 billion, represents a substantial proportion of its total assets under management of CHF 66 billion. Serving the needs of a major client which is also a member of the same Group enables Wincasa to test innovations before offering them as services to its third-party clients. In 2017, for example, the company worked closely with Swiss Prime Site Immobilien on developing its new mixed-use site-management services, which it is now actively marketing to third parties.
Wincasa also manages large building projects on behalf of Swiss Prime Site Immobilien, such as the Motel One development in Zurich and the Stücki Park revitalisation project in Basel. The scale and variety of these projects enables Wincasa to accumulate valuable know-how, which can also be put to use in collaborations with other clients.
Opportunities and risks
Wincasa observes megatrends such as urbanisation, demographic evolution and the increasing demand for sustainability and uses them as the basis for creating new business opportunities. One such megatrend is digitalisation, which is causing a sea change across the entire real estate sector. As buildings become ever more intelligent, it is now possible for them to generate continuous real-time data at every stage of their development, from the planning stage right through to full operation. This provides precise information on all technical installations, their maintenance cycles and current energy consumption. This data, combined with digitalised tenant records, is useful in a number of different ways to asset managers, brokers and commercial tenants. Wincasa sees significant market opportunities in the fields of innovation and digitalisation and is playing a leading role in capitalising on them. A key example of this can be seen in the launch and ongoing development of the My Wincasa tenant portal. This initiative reflects the company’s declared strategic objective of establishing itself as an expert in digital technologies over the next few years. As part of its digitalisation strategy, the company is now taking the opportunity of using state-of-the-art technologies and information models to develop new services for the owners of large building projects and to establish a presence in the emerging building information modelling (BIM) market. Digitalisation also creates risks, however, particularly when it lowers the barriers to entry for new market participants, who then attempt to attract clients away from their established service providers. That is why Wincasa has entered into new partnerships to optimise its My Wincasa portal. The company is also making every effort to align its service offering with the future needs of its clients. Wincasa has a dedicated risk-management and internal-controls function. This unit reports directly to the company CEO and maintains regular dialogue with Group risk management. Responsibility for the company’s multi-layered risk-management process rests with the Risk and Audit Committee, comprising members of Wincasa’s Board of Directors. Every year, the Risk and Audit Committee questions the company’s ten most significant risk takers – members of the Executive Board and a number of officers reporting directly to the CEO – on their risk portfolios and the key current and future challenges facing their business areas. Once a year, the Chief Risk Officer and the CEO submit a risk report to the Board of Directors.
Thanks to its comprehensive service offering, Wincasa generated operating income of CHF 141 million in 2017. Besides managing 233 000 properties, the company’s activities include such services as re-letting properties for clients. Wincasa maintains a very diversified mandate portfolio, encompassing not only residential, office and retail premises but building land and industrial sites as well. Key account management is responsible for meeting the needs of property owners, who also have primary direct contacts to five dedicated senior relationship managers and specifically designated managers in the relevant business areas. The 60 000 plus tenants are each in contact with one of the company’s 24 branches and can also communicate with the company via the My Wincasa tenant platform. At present, some 5 000 tenants use this application, which provides a very good overall standard of customer service.
In order to remain agile in a rapidly changing market environment, it is essential to be able to recognise trends at an early stage. In 2017, the company identified more than 30 highly significant signals. These resulted in six recommendations for action being submitted to the Executive Board and four new projects being initiated. One of these has already been completed.
Wincasa has set itself the objective of using less energy, both in its own operations and in the context of its client mandates. Accordingly, the company is helping property owners to cut their CO2 emissions (see the «Protecting the environment» section on pages 59 f.).
Wincasa offers a total of 830 attractive jobs (on a full-time-equivalent basis), providing its employees with a high-quality working environment (see the
«Attractive Working Environment» section on pages 59 ff.). To maintain its agility in responding to market developments, Wincasa continuously invests in its employees’ training. In 2017, each full-time employee attended nine hours of training on average.
Focusing on client needs
Besides major commercial tenants such as Coop, Migros and Swisscom, Wincasa also has some 60 000 apartment tenants as clients. While the concerns of these two client groups differ, both most often relate to the adminstration and infrastructure of the buildings concerned. Wincasa’s dialogue with its major clients comprises regular exchanges on day-to-day matters and separate coordination meetings at management level, where strategic issues are discussed. Wincasa also conducts annual surveys among its major clients to ascertain their requirements and gauge their level of satisfaction with its services. The results are systematically used to improve business processes. The 2017 survey confirmed the existing impression that greater attention needs to be devoted to vacancy management, the frequency of changes in administrative staff and adherence to the budgets for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Measures taken in response to these findings included increasing the size of the vacancy management unit within the administration department. This unit takes a proactive approach to managing vacant floorspace, using innovative methods to market it. In addition, the frequency of changes in administrative staff and budget discipline are now being closely monitored on newly created client dashboards.
As property owners become increasingly aware of the need to operate their buildings sustainably, Wincasa is assisting them in implementing their envrionmental strategies and is now marketing a range of services in this area. In future, the company will provide its clients with more detailed reporting on the energy consumption of the buildings it manages on their behalf and the CO2 emissions they generate.
Value-oriented management fosters long-term capital appreciation
Wincasa takes a holistic approach to managing its businesses which reflects the needs of its stakeholders and aims to achieve a sustainable increase in the value of the company by increasing its revenues and profitability. To that end, the company uses a system of controls based on key metrics. The incentive schemes for management and staff are systematically linked to the performance of these metrics, which include factors such as revenue growth, EBIT and client satisfaction. Continuous improvement of its business performance enables the company to ensure its viability over the long term and meet its stakeholder obligations. A key objective for Wincasa is to remain competitive and to maintain the quality of its operations. To that end, the company relies on a range of defined and reliable processes, whose efficiency it is constantly monitoring and improving. In 2017, for example, the handling of telephone conversations with tenants was optimised. Resources at the Customer Value Centre in Winterthur were enhanced and new guidelines for answering questions frequently asked by tenants were drawn up, thus improving the quality of the information provided to them. The number of lost incoming calls was also reduced.
Following its successful acquisition by Swiss Prime Site, the Group positioned immoveris properties ag as an agile boutique consultancy operating in conjunction with Wincasa’s Letting and Investment Advisory (LIA) service to extend its geographic reach. LIA will be incorporated into immoveris AG with effect from 1 January 2018. This will enable the Group to concentrate its advisory expertise in the fields of marketing, transaction management and strategic consulting in one single entity.
Compliance and social commitment
Evaluating client data without compromising data security
Collating and partially evaluating client data also helps Wincasa to maintain a competitive edge. The Group IT and legal departments are responsible for ensuring that these processes adhere to data-protection laws. In order to provide additional data security, Wincasa has also formulated its own data-protection guidelines. The company attentively monitors the evolution of Swiss data-protection legislation, taking appropriate action where necessary. On the IT side, a CISO (Chief Information and Security Officer) is resonsible for reviewing security standards on a regular basis and ensuring that they are met. No complaints regarding breaches of data security were received in 2017.
Furthering the common good
In 2017, Wincasa created 63 new jobs and trained 40 commercial apprentices. The company also supports local associations and events to strengthen its ties to the regions in which it operates. A total of CHF 100 000 was spent on sponsorship contributions in 2017. For the first time, the company directed the CHF 70 000 which had previously been earmarked for presents to clients, employees and retired staff, to two charitable projects with links to Switzerland. The funds allocated to each charity were determined by a digital poll in which the three groups mentioned above were invited to take part.
Wincasa is a member of the Swiss Real Estate Association of Property Trustees (SVIT), the largest association of its kind in Switzerland, and the Swiss Council of Shopping Centers (SCSC). The company is also a member of Bauen digital Schweiz, a group representing the interests of companies using digital technologies in construction. Wincasa has often supported the SVIT’s Real Estate Symposium and the Shopping Center Forum Switzerland meetings. The company is also an accredited member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the world’s largest professional body for real estate practitioners.
Sustainable investments and services
Health and safety are the key priority
Ensuring the health and safety of its clients and employees is Wincasa’s number one priority. Besides keeping people safe, the company also strives to maintain a high level of business continuity and to minimise the adverse events which could damage its reputation. To that end, a number of tasks are undertaken, whose nature depends on the mandate concerned and the requirements of the individual property owner. Typical duties include fulfilling due-diligence duties for property-management mandates, formulating safety and security concepts, reporting on the performance, safety and condition of buildings and earthquake-resilience projects. 20 property-management safety concepts were drawn up in 2017. All buildings are managed by trained administrators, who ensure that that all applicable directives are followed. In 2017, Wincasa instituted standardised security-officer job descriptions for all the large centres it manages. The company’s internal-controls procedures regularly verify that these requirements are being met. Regular reporting and random checks are also used to ensure that the prescribed safety exercises and training sessions are being carried out at these centres. Wincasa maintains an emergency handbook for its own operations. In 2017, local versions of this were produced by each branch to reflect its specific circumstances.
More purchases from socially and environmentally sustainable sources
A comprehensive sustainability strategy also requires that the supplies a company purchases come from environmentally and socially acceptable sources. Wincasa’s policy here distinguishes between suppliers it contracts directly and those contracted by property owners. In 2017, the company purchased some CHF 20 million worth of goods and services from more than 70 direct suppliers.
Wincasa sets store by working with business partners and suppliers who share its values. Hitherto, quality and value for money were the key criteria used to evaluate suppliers. In 2017, Wincasa began developing internal guidelines on environmental and social parameters. These will be implemented as part of its 2020 facility management strategy. Factors considered include the use of biodegradable cleaning products and the proportion of household equipment which is repaired rather than replaced. Energy efficiency and the possiblity of returning equipment for repair are already important criteria in all purchasing decisions. In 2017, the company signed four new master agreements with explicit environmental criteria. Suppliers are evaluated by operational line management and the purchasing and services department.
Protecting the environment
Focusing on environmental impact
Both in its own day-to-day operations and in managing properties for others, Wincasa strives to protect the environment and limit its use of natural resources. In executing its energy-control and operational-optimisation mandates, the company assumes a business-coordination role, advising property owners on the design and implementation of their sustainability initiatives. In this way, Wincasa plays an important part in improving the energy efficiency of the buildings in its management portfolio and cutting their CO2 emissions.
Because of its nationwide branch network, Wincasa itself is also a tenant. Here, too, it is committed to reducing the energy consumed by the premises it rents, thus reducing their environmental footprint and cutting their operating costs. In 2017, Wincasa published its second annual Sustainability Snapshot. These reports document the company’s operational, ecological and social objectives for 2020 and the progress its has made in reaching them. The latest report shows that aggregate CO2 emissions per FTE employee were cut by 8% in 2017, mainly thanks to fewer purchases of electronic devices and greater use of renewable energy. Since some 55% of the CO2 emissions it generates are attributable to business and commuter travel, the company is now working with an external consultancy firm to draw up a company-wide mobility concept. The measures thus identified will be implemented throughout the company in a number of stages.
Attractive working environment
Its employees are the company’s principal asset
The service quality, client satisfaction and business performance Wincasa achieves primarily depend on the motivation and professionalism of its employees. Alongside active employer branding, an attractive working environment which encourages performance is the key factor enabling the company to recruit and retain qualified staff. Line managers and human resources also strive to ensure an appealing working atmosphere. Should problems nevertheless arise, the anonymous integrity line available to all employees enables them to seek advice or report issues and grievances.
Wincasa relies on staff feedback to ensure that its structures and processes are continuously improved. To that end, the company conducts an employee survey every two years. Employee satisfaction levels in the 2017 survey were slightly lower than in 2015. This can be seen as a consequence of the transformation process currently under way at Wincasa. Fundamental changes often mean more work for employees, as well requiring them to change their existing habits before the results of these changes are clearly discernible. To involve its employees in the evaluation and improvement of their activity areas and working processes, Wincasa introduced kaizen boards in late 2015. In 2017, a new interactive social intranet network was also established in order to facilitate communication within the company.
Employee benefits are a key factor in determining how attractive a company is as an employer. Benefits for all full-time and part-time Wincasa staff exceed those required by law. Wincasa also grants its staff more days off than other companies. Moreover, depending on their length of service, employees are entitled to up to six months maternity leave and up to five days paternity leave. Wincasa staff are not subject to any collective wage agreements.
Business success based on staff development
In a competitive market, a company’s ability to perform successfully and keep ahead of its rivals critically depends on the qualifications and professionalism of its staff. Recruiting well-qualified professionals has been difficult for some time. For that reason, Wincasa’s objective is to retain staff for the long term by providing them with scope to develop their careers within the company. Its strategy focuses on building expertise through the internal Wincasa Development programme. This offers training and coaching for apprentices, young talents, managers and staff joining from other sectors and culminates in a two-day preparatory course for future retirees. Internal candidates are systematically considered for key vacancies and all annual appraisals explicitly review continuing education and leadership potential.
As part of its ongoing digitalisation process, in 2017 Wincasa introduced a modular training programme to promote the digital capabilities of all its staff and prepare them to meet the challenges of the future. Modules are offered in digital skills, leadership and project management. 1.33% of overall annual salary costs were invested in continuing education and training in 2017.
Wincasa is also committed to offering all its staff the same development opportunities, irrespective of their origins, gender or age. What counts is the quality of their work. Men and women are employed at all management levels, including the Executive Board, and pay equality is checked on an annual basis. No cases of discrimination were recorded in 2017.
Health and safety at work keep performance sustainable
Wincasa sets great store by protecting the health of its employees, since their performance and that of the company depend on it. Initiatives to keep staff healthy include subsidised expert advice on optimising nutrition and maintaining a strong metabolism, health-promotion campaigns such as the bike2work programme and contributions to gym membership fees. Wincasa also monitors absences from work throughout the company and maintains a case-management capability. This enables the human resources department to identify cases of long-term or recurring absence among its staff, so that it can proactively engage with employees where necessary. Employees who are ill or have suffered accidents also receive case-management support. As part of its absence-management process, in 2017 Wincasa introduced back-to-work discussions for employees who had been absent, to review their state of health, agree on appropriate action and monitor its effectiveness. Health maintenance is supported by topic-specific training, for which the Executive Board, human resources and line management are jointly responsible. The absentee rate for 2017 was 2.7%.