I’ve learned that relationship management, or guanxi, is one of the most important aspects of business in Beijing’s real estate relocation industry. My company relies very heavily on word-of-mouth marketing because it helps expats relocate to Beijing and many choose agencies to help based on recommendations. If a client has a bad experience it can be really difficult to recover and land new clients from the company or even industry that client is working for. Guanxi is also important for the process of finding properties. If the agents at my company don’t have connections with landlords, then it is much more difficult for them to show clients properties and negotiate leases.
CityWise does a great job with respect to relationship management because, as a smaller company, it can dedicate more resources to each client and really build personal relationships. Another advantage my company has is multilingual functionality. Having the ability to communicate with German, French, and English speakers, opens the company up to a much larger pool of potential clients than it would otherwise have. The only area I feel that the company could improve is efficiency. However, almost every inefficiency results from an unforeseen problem brought up by a client or landlord because business in China tends to be uncertain. I’ve learned that being flexible is key.
I’m excited to be working for my company during this time because I am helping make some of the major changes to the website. This includes writing introductions for property compounds, writing blog articles, collecting information about properties, and tracking the progress on Excel. Updating the website is a huge marketing opportunity for them because it will make it much easier for potential clients to understand the differences between properties and areas within Beijing. This is also an interesting time because of the challenges facing the relocation industry. Real estate prices have been on the rise in Beijing and while there is still a large demand for homes, the supply is shrinking. Thus, it is becoming increasingly difficult for my company to find properties for clients.
My week outside of work was really fun. I saw Incredibles 2 at the movie theater because experiencing things here from the culture back home is a great way to notice cultural differences. At American movie theaters, I can expect to pay around $12, get a bowl of popcorn drenched in butter, sit through 20+ minutes of previews before the movie starts, and possibly hang around for a few minutes after the movie ends. In China, I was surprised to pay the equivalent of roughly $5, receive a bowl of butter-free kettle corn, have the movie start right on time, and watch the lights turn on the exact moment the movie ended. Seriously, the theaters here are no joke.
Another interesting intercultural experience I had this week was the 4th of July! It was really strange not being home, but we all dressed up and had a great time at Makato, our favorite local bar. It felt amazing to share our patriotism and celebrate with the British students also doing internships here, as well as with the local Chinese people. The overall amount of globalization in Beijing is pretty amazing. For example, Garrett and I decided to go on a subway this past Saturday without a destination in mind. We ended up getting off at the Pingleyuan stop simply because we thought the name sounded funny, and we found ourselves in a garden filled with beautiful Greek statues. It was extremely random, yet oddly intriguing.