Vantage Strata’s remarkable growth over its four years in existence is a part of the evolving Canberra story about how we choose to live, and the need for more professionalism and expertise in managing the increasing number of multi-unit properties that more and more are calling home.
Vantage’s partners saw the changing landscape and a gap in the market, but started small, beginning with just one staff member and one client in Barton. Two more staff joined, but for the first year, all of them worked from a windowless server room.
Today, operating from a bigger, light-filled office in Reid with 25 desks, meeting rooms and dedicated staff facilities, Vantage Strata has 29 full-time employees, close to 6000 units under management, and clients throughout Canberra and Newcastle. Vantage will soon expand into the Greater Sydney region.
Vantage Strata’s goal is to grow to more than 10,000 units in the foreseeable future to become a significant business in Canberra, and nationally in the strata space.
Managing director Chris Miller, who set out with Colliers International State Chief Executive Paul Powderly, and Maloney’s principal Peter Maloney to transform strata management in the ACT, says 50 per cent of the early growth came from their energy and vision.
“The other 50 per cent was a genuine response from a market that was crying out for a better solution, which was the reason we began the business in the first place,” he says.
Professionalism was missing, and the strata management sector had not kept pace with the changing requirements in residential buildings, which had become more complicated.
“There was a real vacuum, where a commercial approach to these pressures was required, and we had an industry built around a relatively immature skill set,” Mr Miller says. “Management of institutionally-owned commercial buildings was worlds apart from management of mixed-use residential buildings, even though fundamentally there is very little difference in each built profile.”
Today Vantage Strata’s professionally-trained staff range from strata managers to onsite building managers, facilities managers and finance administrators. Four-part-time “scribes’’ attend owners’ meetings to record minutes. Mr Miller says the strata sector, and in particular Vantage Strata, offer a career path for anyone with a passion for property.
“It is an incredibly fast-growing sector and fits adjacent to the changes in how communities choose to live. In the ACT, nine per cent of the population lives in a strata-titled development, more than 50 per cent of those developments have occurred post-2000,” Mr Miller says.
Over recent decades Strata’s rapid acceleration has led to forecasts that in the 2030s, 50 per cent of the population will live in a strata-titled building.
Vantage has been at the forefront of growth in staff training and new technology.
“An interesting convergence of software-based technology to manage buildings and communities, interfaces with smarter buildings themselves,” Mr Miller says. Software identifying everything that is in a building is systemised on a facilities management platform that not only records when maintenance is carried out, but also becomes instructional to the managers and the committee.
“For example, it can say it is time for the two pumps in the basement to have their six-monthly routine maintenance checks,” Mr Miller says. “That ability to map out and describe all the infrastructure and things required in a building and then have them catalogued and task-managed has been a significant improvement.”
Vantage is most proud of its community engagement resident portal. A unique feature extends access to all stakeholders, including residents who are not owners, agents and property managers. This provides them with meaningful information about the building, things happening within the building, and keeps them updated if problems like power outages arise.
All stakeholders are informed. “This has been the jewel in the crown from our people-focused point of view,” Mr Miller says.
The portal integrates on site with Vantage Strata’s new smart parcel locker system. This will enable people to access parcels securely, receive text alerts, and use the lockers to drop off dry cleaning and laundry and other items for collection to service providers.
“This is a small, exciting glimpse into the future of apartment living where residents will have enhanced access to a wide range of services and amenity,” Mr Miller says.