Career Tips and Advice for Commercial Property Managers

City buildings on the edge of a river. Commercial high-rise buildings and bridge.

The levels of knowledge and the professional skills required in commercial and retail property management are unique and deep.  They are quite different to the skills required in a leasing or sales situation.  A property manager is a differently skilled person, and they need to look at the big picture and remain focused on their properties and clients for months if not years.

 

That long-term focus allows the managed investment to improve over time through changes to the tenancy mix, the cash flow, and the property function.  The investment process is lengthy; the investment requirements of clients will be individually unique.  That is why and where professional service and property manager performance will underpin client attraction, retention, and engagement.

 

If commercial property management is a career for you, then there are some things to learn and disciplines to implement for the long term.  Expect to be very busy as you embark on your career and remain in it as a professional.

 

What do you need to know?

 

You will need to learn about the legalities of occupancy, investment performance, leasing, cash flow strategy, and property documentation.  Control systems will be at the centre of your property management career and portfolio control.

 

Every day there will be pressures on your portfolio and your properties with tenants, maintenance, landlord focus, reporting, and risk management.  As part of your career, you will be at the centre of many events, requests, and communications.

 

If your properties and workload pressures are excessive, you will lose control of the ‘property management process’; that then leads to unhappy clients and out of control tenants.  There is a balance between quality property management services and a sensible workload of tenants and landlords.

 

Typically, the landlord will be your client, and you will be the main controlling factor to property performance and investment outcomes.  That is why the skills of the property manager are so important.  The days of collecting rent and maintaining the property are well gone.  The strategic approach to property management is now well established and evolving in new and different ways with efficiencies in building technology and the requirements of local business.

 

What do you need to do?

 

Are you ready for the property management challenge?  If you have a large portfolio or a long list of tenants, the complexity of the daily workload just gets deeper and more challenging.  There will be plenty of work to control and direct.  Here are some rules to help you with that approach:

 

  1. Knowledge – get to know everything possible about your location, the leases, competing properties, business activity, rents, and investment priorities. Through a substantial level of knowledge, you will see how you can improve an investment situation for your clients.  That is where tenant mix changes and leasing strategies will help with property performance.  That then becomes an important part of your professional services.
  2. Complexity – there are many variations to tenancy mix control, lease negotiations, rental cash flow, and property performance. The decisions of today with a tenant or lease matter will impact the investment for the long term.  Understand your decisions and how you can improve the investment outcomes for your client.
  3. Clients – every client will have different pressures and priorities when it comes to property performance. Get to know those factors with your clients, understand their portfolio activity, and look at the life cycle of their investments.  Don’t just manage a property but understand the asset and the focus of the client.
  4. Controls – there will be different systems that you can use to help you in providing services to your clients. Software programs will cover the facts and variables of lease management, rent collections, maintenance, and facility management.
  5. Reporting – report about your managed properties in the ways that the landlords require. Information will help them make choices with rents, occupancy, and expenditure spending.
  6. Tenants – expect the tenants to be pressuring you on their issues and their occupancy. A retail property is a prime example of that pressure with many tenants positioning for better sales, lower rents, and a successful business.
  7. Property performance – every property should have a business plan and a budget to work to over time. The client or landlord will be setting investment priorities and cash flow controls.   If you manage properties for many clients, the issue gets deeper and more challenging.

 

Through all these pressures and strategies there will be opportunities for a professional property manager to excel in skills and career development.  Are you ready for the challenge?

How to Avoid Procrastination in Commercial Property Management

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Get things started early in Commercial Property Management

In commercial real estate property management, procrastination can be a big issue or hurdle in getting the harder jobs done. Let’s face it, there are difficult things to do every day of the week in our industry. Have your people in the management team got the right knowledge, experience, and commitment?

(N.B. these ideas are also sent out to regularly to our friends in Commercial Real Estate Online Snapshot to help amplify brokerage results…. Get your access here)

Workload pressures in commercial property management are usually consistently high. Free time and spare time is a luxury if and when it occurs. Most days of the week are quite busy. Stress can also be a problem for some people.

What is the Focus?

The best commercial managers are the ones that get the work done first and foremost every day. They prioritize their time so that they are effective in the best possible ways. So what are the issues that put the pressure on? There are many pressures arising from separate categories such as:

  • Tenancy management and communication
  • Landlord reporting and approvals
  • Maintenance contractor controls
  • Property performance to targets and to the budget

So the best property managers know how to optimize their time and will usually do so efficiently and directly. Any inefficiencies in the job role will usually create problems with clients and property performance.

Any team leader in commercial property management should be careful to select the right people for the tasks and the portfolio under management. The team of people within the division should work to a system or plan to help them get the work done and to control the assets in the best possible way.

Commercial Management Systems?

Here are some ideas to help you develop the best property management system and control process:

  1. SOFTWARE: At the top of the list would have to be the selection and use of a specialized software program controlling property performance. There are many different programs available for the task, and some are better than others. Typically, a program will need to control rental monies in all categories, arrears management, tenant communication, lease administration, critical dates, and property maintenance. The best programs tend to be somewhat expensive, however they provide high levels of property control and reporting. If you are going to manage high quality assets for quality clients, then you will need such a program.
  2. FILE ACCESS: Cloud based storage is always very useful. When the managers are out in the field meeting with tenants and landlords, cloud based storage can help when it comes to file access, reporting requirements, and all communications.
  3. CLIENT ACCESS SERVICES: Develop a dedicated client portal for all client communications. All of the client reports can be stored online within a dedicated portal for VIP client access and communication.
  4. TENANT COMMUNICATIONS: You can enhance tenant management through a special web site where any maintenance issues and communications are directed or first initiated. The website can retain all communications and redirect as required to the right people in a timely and efficient way. Like it or not, some of maintenance issues occur at the strangest of times, and you will need an effective communication process to handle those things.
  5. MAINTENANCE PERSON: As the property management portfolio grows, there are benefits to be achieved by employing a specialist maintenance manager. The manager can oversee the day to day maintenance requirements and unexpected portfolio issues for all of the managers.
  6. LEASE ADMINISTRATION: Appoint a year lease administration person to monitor the lease critical dates and upcoming lease changes and issues. The larger the portfolio, the more desirable, essential, and efficient you will find this position. A lease administrator will be a good addition to most property management portfolios.
  7. TRUST ACCOUNTS AND FUNDS CONTROL: The handling of monies, rentals, arrears, and property performance will require an experienced accounting person understanding the issues of lease documentation, tenant management, and property law. There is high value here in choosing the right person for the role.

From this list, you can see the specialties required in commercial property management. The same can be said for retail property management. Choose the best people and position them accordingly.

8 Tips to Grow Commercial Property Management Portfolios

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Assess the buildings in your commercial property management market.

The commercial property management business is quite special in so many different ways and the same can be said for retail property management. From a portfolio of managed buildings, as an agent or broker you can generate many sales and leasing opportunities over time.

(N.B. these ideas are also sent out to regularly to our friends in Commercial Real Estate Online Snapshot to help amplify brokerage results…. Get your access here)

The Rule to Remember

There is one specific thing to remember here. Property investors require specialized help in an ongoing way when it comes to optimizing property performance, improving the tenancy mix, maximizing cash flow, and serving both tenants and visitors to the property.

If you really understand property performance and how to enhance it, then that can be a good way for you to build your real estate business.

Are you the ‘Go to’ Property Manager?

Given that you should understand the local property market in a comprehensive way, you can be the best person to provide targeted solutions to the clients that you serve. Those solutions can be matched to the property, the tenancy mix, and the client. That’s how you grow a property management portfolio over time.  Be specific and be real in the way in which you serve the commercial property and the client.

Show the client that you really have a grasp of the industry, the management process, and local tenants.  There are some clever ways to do that.

Here are some other strategies to help you grow a property management portfolio:

  1. Look at your location so that you understand where the best assets and buildings are located. When you manage, lease, and sell properties in the prime locations, your image and profile as a local agent will escalate quite quickly. Tell the local property market about your recent major appointments in management.
  2. Find the better properties through deliberate assessment. Check out the properties for income potential, vacancy exposure, tenant popularity, and lease stability. You can learn a lot about particular properties by talking to the occupants, the landlord, and other businesses in the proximity.
  3. Connect with the better landlords so that you can convert ongoing leads and transactions through well established relationships. The property owners locally will fall into different categories. Understand how you can serve individual property owners, corporations, public companies, small investors, and property trusts. In any town or city, there will be plenty of people in each category to connect and work with.
  4. Use a professional software program for all of your property managements. It is a known fact that you cannot control and manage complex assets without using a significantly proven and well tested property management software program. When you have a number of tenants in a building there will be many active issues and things to control. The property management software needs to cover the bigger factors such lease documentation, rental cash flow, occupancy compliance, maintenance, budgeting, and financial performance. There is no way of managing a complex building without the right software to help you.
  5. Integrate and assess your tenant lists so you know what is happening in a property and across a location. The tenants in a building will tell you a lot about the location and other businesses nearby. That market intelligence is valuable.
  6. Improve property performance so that your services can be seen to be valuable in the bigger picture of property growth and change. When you are successful in turning around a difficult property, poor tenant mix, or refurbishment project, tell the local property people about that through articles, editorials, and social media.
  7. Portfolio growth with any of your clients is a possibility. If you have some bigger clients in your portfolio, they are very likely to be candidates for alternative services such as project refurbishment, leasing, tenant relocations, and vacancy minimization. You can have a strategy for each.
  8. Fees per management should be critically assessed so that you get the fees for the job involved. So many agents under quote to win a property management appointment. That is a recipe for disaster. Know every property for what it is and its demands, and then decide how much professional time you will need to devote to managing it on a weekly basis. Set your fees accordingly. It is easy to work out just how many hours you should be devoting to managing a property; from that point it is simply a matter of determining how much your time is worth.

There are always new commercial property clients to be served and properties to be managed locally. Use some of these points as methods to find the right properties and the best clients for your real estate business.

(N.B. these ideas are also sent out to regularly to our friends in Commercial Real Estate Online Snapshot to help amplify brokerage results…. Get your access here)