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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?

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Ways of Building Tenant Mix Strategies that Work in Retail Shopping Centers

shopping center mall

In a retail shopping center, there are key factors to watch that can impact the shop tenant mix and the vacancy factors.  (NB – you can get plenty of retail shop leasing tips in our Snapshot program – its free)

As a leasing expert in retail you really do need to balance all of these issues mentioned below in any shopping mall and the shopping center, particularly when placing a tenant:

  • Positioning a new tenant in the retail cluster of tenants
  • Choosing rents that aligned to the local market and that are achievable for the long term
  • Lease documents that build the landlords investment position over time
  • Lease clauses that encourage the tenant to build their successful retail business

So there are things to do here.  I have said many times that ‘retail’ is perhaps the most unique and special part of investment property performance.

In this audio program, I talk about the special factors of retail leasing and tenant mix establishment.  You can get the audio here below:

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Commercial Real Estate Leasing – Rental Income Growth Strategies for Agents

City buildings on city skyline.

When you work in commercial real estate leasing, you will need a good degree of local market awareness to help you with the leasing and rental strategies of any property negotiation.

Note – You can get plenty of commercial real estate leasing tips and ideas through our regular coaching and training material right here.

As you work for different landlords with different property types locally, the market rents, and the occupancy costs vary from property to property. In this audio program, John Highman shares some ideas to help you improve your leasing market awareness and negotiation outcomes.

Of course you can work for either landlords and tenants in today’s property market. They can both be valuable clients to work for from different ends of the leasing equation. It doesn’t really matter whether you work for landlords or tenants, but it does matter as to how you optimize the rental position of your client as part of the leasing process.

As you strive to achieve better results in the leasing market today, consider the special factors of lease occupancy where you can add value to your client. Most particularly those factors should include the following:

– level of market rental
– lease duration
– lease documentation
– optimal use of leased space
– sensible balance of occupancy costs to area occupied
– vacancy minimization
– the budgeting of occupancy costs given current market rentals

In this audio program, John Highman shares some specific income growth strategies that you can use in commercial and retail property leasing today.

You can get the audio program below:

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Commercial Property Management Questions to Use in a Handover

City buildings on Sydney Harbour

When you take over a new commercial property as part of a management strategy for a new client, you should ask specific questions relating to the asset, its history, and the tenancy mix.

You can get plenty of commercial property management tips and ideas as part of our regular online coaching right here.

There are many things to explore as part of a new property management listing on your brokerage books. In this audio program, John Highman talks about the factors to question and review. Most particularly key matters to look into will include:

– lease documentation
– tenancy mix
– property maintenance routines
– risk matters
– rentals and rent recoveries
– critical dates
– vacancy factors and pressures

You can listen to the audio program here to understand exactly how you can approach the handover process in commercial property management today. It doesn’t matter whether you are managing a retail shopping centre, or a commercial office tower. The same strategies and processes apply. Attention to detail will help you with the fact review and gathering process.

You can get the audio below:

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Boost Rents and Leasing Strategies in Commercial Real Estate

Buildings and boat on Hong Kong harbour

There are many different rent strategies that you can implement in commercial real estate brokerage.  The facts of the rental matter hinges on just how long the property owner wants to own the property. (NB – you can get plenty of commercial property leasing tips in our Snapshot program right here)

You can have rent strategies for the short term or the long term.  You can boost property value in a rental lift.

You can encourage a tenant to lease a property using fair and staged rents, or you can ask for the highest levels of income from the leased space and run the risk of a vacancy occurring.

Don’t forget that you also have net rents, gross rents, and incentives to work with in any lease negotiation.  The income or rent that you start with can be enhanced over time, so look at the bigger picture when negotiating with tenants.

Don’t focus so much on the start rent, but the income over time.  Look at the rent reviews and how they can support stable occupancy for the longer term.

In this audio program, John Highman talks about the rent and leasing strategies that are so important in today’s property market.  You can listen to the audio and download it here:

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Commercial Property Management Skills Start Here

City buildings on rivers edge

In commercial property management today there are plenty of things that you can do to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Make no mistake, managing a commercial or retail property can be quite a challenging process. (NB – you can get plenty of commercial property management skills and ideas in our Snapshot program right here – its free)

Real skills are required and special people should be dedicated to the process of providing specialised services to investors and company owners.

In this audio program, John Highman talks about the special and unique skills required to manage a commercial or retail property today. Learn how to grow your brokerage business from a base of management activity and property management clients.

 

Property Facts and Controls

 

When you completely understand the strategies behind property management, you can develop special services across asset performance including the following:

– tenant retention
– income enhancement
– lease negotiation
– expenditure management
– net income generation and cash flow control
– lease administration
– maintenance management
– risk minimization
– renovation and refurbishment activities
– vacancy minimization

So there are many concepts and strategies within this list. If you take each individual concept, there are many specialised services that can be provided to your clients and customers.

In this audio program, John Highman talks about the importance of commercial and retail property management in brokerage performance today. Learn how to improve your brokerage business and the future commission opportunities available in your town or city.

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Commercial Property Management – Presentation and Pitch Ideas for a New Engagement

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

The process of commercial property management is quite special and unique when compared to sales and leasing activity. For that reason the people appointed to the task or property management should be carefully selected as to property knowledge and investment awareness. (Note – you can get plenty of property management tips and ideas in our Snapshot program right here)

There are many different strategies to consider when it comes to pitching for a new commercial property management. In this audio program, John Highman talks about the particular elements of a property management presentation that will be of relevance to most clients today.

Listen to the audio program and develop some specific ideas to modify your property presentation and management ideas. Don’t forget to talk about income enhancement, tenant mix changes, property controls, and risk reduction.

You can get the audio program right here:

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Things to do in a Commercial Property Management Handover

high rise buildings

If you are about to take on a new commercial or retail property from a management perspective, there are things to think about.  There are things to think about and the property management handover is critical to gathering the right information.  Every client and every property will have unique issues to prepare for and ask questions about. (NB – you can get plenty of property management tips in our Snapshot program right here – its free)

 

Handover Importance

There is something to remember here about a property handover and why it is so important; you only have a short period to get the full information about the property and its performance over time.  Questions must be asked of the previous property manager, owner, or tenants.

 

Stay Organised

An organised approach with a checklist as part of a handover process is a good thing to work with.  A checklist will keep you on focus and task for the property type.  Different questions are asked when it comes to the different properties.

So here are my experiences and ideas relating to taking over a complex commercial or retail property.  Preparation is the key to success in capturing all the recent and relevant property detail.  You may be able to add to the list based on the location and the landlord:

  1. Check out the physical aspects of the property – it always helps if you visit the property first before you do other things. The visual aspects of the property will help you significantly with investigations and questions.
  2. Review the tenancy mix – in a property with several tenants, look at the types of businesses, location of each tenant, and the performance of the property for the tenants in situ. Some tenant types put pressures on the property such as security or staff issues.
  3. Review all the leases relating to occupancy – the leases will have unique elements of occupancy to review. All leases should be read; extracts and critical dates should be taken from each lease where you can see important facts impacting occupancy.
  4. Understand the vacancy factors – any vacancy now or in the future is an issue. Resolve vacancies through a tenant retention plan, a marketing plan, or a targeted leasing program.  You can also move existing tenants around the property.  Think outside the square when it comes to tenant movement and placement.
  5. Look at maintenance and risk factors – any person owning a property assumes risk and must plan for the challenges of property ownership. The building, the improvements, the location, or the tenant mix, can create risk matters and pressures.  See things for what they are and how they could challenge the investment performance.
  6. Review income and expenditure results – there will be a pattern of income and expenditure to review and consider. The last few years will have value to you when assessing passing income and net income.  The results of the last few years will help you set new budgets for the property given the existing tenants, leases, vacancies, and landlord targets.
  7. Talk to the landlord about expectations and reporting – every landlord will have certain requirements of reporting and control. The property will have income and capital value targets over time.  How can you report to that criteria for the current property owner?  Have you got a software property management program that allows you to report conveniently about the asset and the current results of income, leasing, and tenant activity?  The information that you gather from a property management handover will be captured into the software that you are using to manage the property.

So, there are many things on this list to investigate.  One thing or one question will lead to many others.   As you take on a new property to manage, be prepared for the information and the facts that come your way; take plenty of notes.

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6 Tips for Pricing Your Commercial Property Management Fees and Services

shops in retail mall

The services that you provide in commercial property management are quite special and should be costed accordingly. Care and consideration is required when you are considering establishing a new fee or quoting on a property management service. There are variables at play that could have an impact on your fees suitability and amount.

(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)

So what is the problem?

If you set the wrong fee in quoting on a property management service, you could position yourself for loss of income over time when compared to the time you are committing to the property and the client. Under resourcing is a big problem in our industry.

 

Don’t provide the client with a low fee quotation simply to win the new business opportunity as a property management appointment. Understand the property, the client, and the tenancy mix before you set and finalize the fees for service.  Look at the ‘big picture’.

 

So what do you do here?

You should understand all of the property issues that may put pressure on your management services. Many an agent has lost a property management client and property appointment simply because the agent has been unable to control the property efficiently and improve performance over time; under quoting the fee will very likely create that issue.

 

So what do you need?

You need the right people and the right processes to manage a complex office or retail building today. Don’t underestimate the required skills of the process and the demands of the property.  Match the people and the processes to the property.

 

Here is another error that is all too common.  As a general rule, don’t set your fees based on a percentage of passing income. Whilst that may percentage approach be an industry standard in your location, it is only an indicator and should be compared to many other factors and choices. There are other things to look at and consider before you finalize your fee structure and client services.

 

Assess all the factors

Consider the following factors as you work through this process of property management assessment and opportunity:

 

  1. Landlord requirements – some landlords are unique and special when it comes to property management requirements and services. The complexity of the property and the cash flow can very likely create pressures on reporting and financial controls. You could find yourself generating many variations of reporting to satisfy the challenges of the property and the clients requirements for information. Interview the client as the landlord before you quote on the final fees for service.
  2. Property complexity – inspect the property completely and thoroughly. There may be issues in the property to control and manage over time. Look specifically into the issues relating to maintenance, rentals, vacancies, lease management, tenant volatility, and property performance. Every property will have certain strengths to work with, and weaknesses to work through and resolve. The weaknesses are the ones that will challenge your task and time management. The weaknesses will also threaten the cash flow and property occupancy over time. Create a business plan for the property to address the known and upcoming weaknesses.
  3. Tenant mix – review the tenancy mix as you inspect the property. Understand the tenants that are trading well and those that are struggling. Identify the tenants that may be under some form of pressure and develop a base plan as to how you may manage that occupancy and improve the overall results. It is a good idea to incorporate a tenant retention plan into the property performance strategy.
  4. Time based comparisons and assessments – when you first take on the property under management, it is likely to be a busy period of time for the first few months as you work through leases, tenants, and maintenance issues. The question to consider here will be how you can get the property under control effectively and efficiently. Some properties can take months to reshape and control. If you are about to commence management of that type and intensity, be very careful as to how you set your fees for service.
  5. Lease review – look at all the lease documents for the property and the tenancy mix. To do that you will need to read the documents comprehensively and thoroughly before you make your choices on fees and management strategies. Look for the weaknesses in lease structure, property occupancy, and tenant performance. The leases will also show you the occupancy challenges in the property with fresh vacancies potentially coming up. You will need a strategy to work with those potential vacancies and optimize the result for the landlord client.
  6. Income and expenditure review – the history of the property can tell you something about financial management and cash flow. Understand how the income has been changing over time and if there are any weaknesses in market rental currently. Rental and income weaknesses need to be identified and addressed quickly and efficiently. Comparisons to the prevailing market conditions will be required, and negotiations will need to be commenced as soon as possible. Seek your landlord instructions and comments as part of an income review and opportunity assessment.  Know all the facts.  Also review the expenditure within the property and the history of net income. Has the property being improving through good financial management or are their hurdles to address? Are there issues or weaknesses of current and future income, and will there be expenditure volatility to be dealt with?

 

So there are many things to look at when it comes to pricing your commercial property management services. Understand the client, the property, and the tenancy mix before you set the final fees and commence your professional services.  Build your brokerage portfolio with care.

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How to Choose the Right Retail Tenants for Shopping Centers

shopping center escalator in mall

A retail shopping center is a special place where the tenant mix just has to match the client and customer requirements for the location.  If you make mistakes in retail tenant placement then sales and customer interest in the property will slow.  That can only mean on thing and that is a decline in rent.

So there are issues to consider in finding the right tenants and placing them in the property.  Certainly the landlord should have a say in what they think about tenants and tenant mix choices, but the center manager should give guidance to the leasing process and tenant placement.

In this audio program, John Highman talks about retail leasing and the important choices to be remembered in attracting and converting tenants to a retail property and or shopping center.

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How to Prepare Budgets in Commercial Property Management

commercial property financial facts

Budget time in commercial property management is something that requires accuracy and planning. Mistakes can be made when it comes to setting the budgets that apply to income and expenditure in an investment property. Many property managers understand the key issues to focus on when it comes to budget establishment.

Essentially a budget of this type involves complete review of the income possibilities for the building given the existing tenancy mix and the prevailing property market. Assumptions have to be made given the known facts and the targets of the landlord.

Note: You can get more property management tips in our email course for brokers and agents.

The history of the property will have some important indicators to merge into the ongoing property budget. You can learn a lot through reviewing the timed income and expenditure over the period of the last few years.

In this audio recording John Highman talks about the strategies behind the commercial and retail property management budgeting process. Understand the key factors that apply, and then merge them into your business plan for the asset.

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How to Avoid Procrastination in Commercial Property Management

Woman reaching for alarm clock uid 1281547
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.