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:
The commercial or retail property management process can be time intense and quite frustrating. The observation is quite common. Most property managers will be intensely busy every day of the working week. On that basis they need to be organized to the tasks that really matter as part of providing quality professional services. Here are some tips from our Newsletter.
It is worthwhile noting that an experienced property manager will bring significant skill and opportunity to the landlords that they serve. That will be across the property in a number of ways including the specialized disciplines below:
Tenant mix strategy
Safety and risk management
Property value improvement
Renovation and refurbishment
So there are plenty of ways that the manager can bring growth and opportunity to the clients that they serve. It is just a matter of understanding the plans and the targets of the client as they relate to the future of the property in the region. It is a wise process to create a property business plan on an annual basis to manage the variables of property performance for the client.
So let’s go back to the tasks and activities of the property manager. If the correct person is chosen for the portfolio and the client, the other balances required will include the following:
Be aware of the amount of time it takes to manage a property for a client. Some properties and clients will require significantly more work than others. If that is the case, the intense workload should be reflected in the fee. One way of calculating a fee is to consider the amount of time each week a property will require for ongoing control. Consider the factors of the tenancy mix, lease documentation, maintenance, customer involvement, vacancy issues, and rental collection. The larger the property, more intense these issues will be.
With quality clients and properties, the reporting process can be quite specific and tedious. The factors of income, expenditure, lease management, maintenance, tenancy mix, and documentation will require special processes and established guidelines. In a large property, it is not unusual to be reporting to each of these factors on a weekly basis. That written report will support any verbal instructions given or communications made with the landlord.
The best way to get your job and portfolio under control is to work to a daily and weekly plan. It can also be said that the end of each month will be busier with reporting requirements and property analysis. So look at the factors of work that apply to each day, each week, and each month. Split the working day into two segments. The first half a day should be devoted to documentation and reporting issues. The last half the day can be devoted to clients and tenant contact. Obviously there will be some variations and pressures that apply.
So you work in a busy segment of the market. At least 80% of your time should be under control. In that way you will preserve the quality of performance and control that your clients require in commercial and retail property management.
To manage a shopping centre effectively and efficiently, the shopping centre manager needs to be knowledgeable but also time efficient. There are many pressures to balance as part of the property management process.
In an average working day, the following activities are some of the big items that will usually require attention on the part of the manager:
Collection of rental relative to the leases
Connecting with tenants regards day to day matters
Ensuring that the customers to the property receive the correct services and experiences
Marketing vacant tenancies within the property
Staying on top of the critical dates relative to the tenancy schedule and the existing leases.
Maintaining the property physically as to maintenance and essential services.
Balancing the tenancy mix with an affective a business plan and tenant retention plan
Reporting to the landlord on a regular basis regards income activity, expenditure activity, and rental arrears.
Marketing the property from a customer trade perspective to improve sales across the tenancy mix
Finding new tenants for the property based on the requirements of the mix and the upcoming vacancies.
So there are many things to do when it comes to managing a retail property. The larger the property, the more challenging the workload and the diversity.
It should be said that the larger shopping centres will usually have a team of people splitting the key issues of the property into different disciplines. When that happens, the cost of the staffing structure will be built back into the recoverable expenses for the property. It is quite normal for the centre management cost structure to be a recoverable item within the lease documentation.
So here are some strategies to help Retail Property managers stay on top of the workload and the challenges of the job.
Create check-lists for processes. You can have check-lists across leasing, maintenance, reporting, tenant mix, tenant contact, budgeting, and landlord contact. The same process can apply when it comes to property handover.
Start the day early, and get the difficult documentation and paperwork out of the way. The first 3 hours a day should be devoted to paperwork and processes.
Where ever possible, delegate key tasks to members of your team. A successful retail property will be built around the strengths of the team, and the professionalism of communication.
Document everything when it comes to tenant and landlord contact. Over time the notes and the event recording processes will support you in the case of any litigation or negotiation.
At the beginning of the week, hold a team meeting where you can cross reference critical issues across the property, within the tenancy mix, and with the landlord. Create an agenda for the process, so that you can stay on track with critical issues. Follow things through where complex issues apply or negotiations are continuing.
The income and expenditure activities within the property will be important in many different ways. Tenant occupancy, lease structures, and critical dates will all have an impact on cash flow. Understand all of those factors as part of providing a top service to your clients. Stay ahead of the critical dates and be prepared for the negotiations that follow.
A successful retail property is one that is managed effectively, efficiently, and correctly. Give due regard to occupant and customer safety, as well as the rules and regulations that apply to building codes and essential services.
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A vacant tenancy in a retail shopping centre can be massive drain on retail business and customer sales for all the tenants surrounding it. For this reason a vacant tenancy has to be resolved quickly and efficiently.
If you have too many vacant tenancies in the one property it can set the foundation for a decline in retail trade. Customers like to visit a property that is attractive, vibrant, convenient, and that has the required tenant mix. Vacancies can impact that profile.
Over time a decline in customer sentiment will have an impact on market rental for the landlord. Your primary focus in leasing and managing a retail property should be to maintain occupancy at a sensible market levels.
To lease a vacant tenancy some real strategies are required. In a ‘rising market’ the leasing process is not so much of a problem, but in a ‘slow or declining market’ the vacancy challenge can be significant. Here are some rules to help the process.
Stay very close to the existing tenant mix and the leases supporting that mix. Some tenants will from time to time have challenges and problems in business or occupation. Keep communicating with the tenants regularly to understand their challenges and help them through any occupancy issues. In a ‘down’ market, a vacancy can be very hard to lease. It can be a drain on rent and outgoings for a very long time.
Make sure that you are working well in advance when it comes to lease renewals or option negotiations. Most leases will have time provisions that apply to the renewal or the option process. That being said, there is nothing to stop you working earlier with the tenant to achieve a satisfactory renewal or option agreement.
Some existing tenants in the property may require expansion or relocation. Be open to their business needs, and identify alternative locations within the property that may suit or solve the expansion or relocation problem.
Review other properties in the local area that may be competing with you and your tenancy mix. Look for the challenges and the opportunities existing in their tenancy mix. Approach their more successful tenants to see if relocation is possible.
Given the sales performance of your current tenancy mix, look at the segments that are quite successful and the others that are not so. There will be reasons for a tenants result in sales. It could be the product or service offering, the tenancy location, the tenant themselves, or the marketing process. Some of these things can be solved through careful management procedures.
Monitor the clustering affect within your property where some tenants seem to be feeding sales off each other. The mix can be improved through improving the clustering process. Identify the tenants that can work with each other with the same customer type. For example, a coffee type tenant could be placed alongside a ladies fashion tenant and a ladies shoes tenant. A coffee tenant would be extending the customers time in the general area and potentially the sales potential.
Consider the placement of the anchor tenants in the property and how they interact with specialty tenants nearby. Proximity to the anchor tenant will be a leasing advantage for some tenancy types.
Create a tenant retention plan that encourages ongoing occupancy for those priority tenants in the mix. The retention plan will also help you when it comes to replacement strategies and removing poor performers from the mix.
Leasing decision should be based on available occupied space, the prevailing market conditions, market rental, lease incentives, and occupancy costs. Stay ahead of these industry trends and challenges. Look for any new or upcoming property developments that could interfere with or change these factors.
If you do have a vacancy in the property, and a long term lease seems to be difficult to achieve, look at all short term occupancy opportunities with some of your other tenants, or casual tenants from elsewhere. Short term occupancy at a lower rental will still help you achieve the vibrancy in the property and maintain the customer’s interest.
Tenant retention is a critical part of retail property leasing today. Every good retail property should have a tenant retention plan in place to preserve and protect the income from the rental in the property.
Every commercial and retail property leasing specialist should have a specific approach when it comes to tenant retention and lease negotiation. It is a specialist process and it does command a good fee. Focus on the quality properties and clients when it comes to providing the service.
Here are some ideas to help you build a tenant retention strategy into your commercial and retail property agent’s services.
Review the current property market so you can understand the market rentals that apply to current lease negotiations with new tenants. That market rental will have some relevance on the lease negotiations with sitting tenants.
Identify the types of incentives that are available to influence new tenants to relocate. Those incentives are likely to be of interest to some of your tenants as they consider staying in your property or relocating to another. The landlord of your property will need to be prepared to provide incentives to sitting tenants.
Split the tenants in your property into the categories of good tenants and redundant tenants. At the time of lease expiry, it is the good tenants that should be encouraged to remain within the property on new favorable lease terms and conditions. The redundant tenants or those that are of little benefit to the property overall should be vacated given the circumstances of lease termination that apply. There is no point in keeping bad tenants in a property as it will have impact on the other tenants in the mix and the income profile.
Consider the requirements of renovation and refurbishment that need to occur in the common area and within certain tenancies. These factors will need to be merged into your lease negotiation, tenancy placement, and relocation plan. In many respects, a tenant should be responsible for their internal renovation requirements as part of ongoing occupancy. They may however try to push the issue to the landlord as part of a new lease negotiation.
Develop lease standards that should apply to most lease transactions. Those terms can be recommended to the landlord and approved for future use as part of renegotiating any lease or bringing a new tenant into the property. The lease terms should include market rental, the type of rental, incentives, rent reviews, and option terms. Making clear decisions with regards to these matters will help you when it comes to finding new tenants and understanding how they can integrate into the tenant mix and lease profile.
Look at the balance in the property between anchor tenants and specialty tenants. Carefully assess the tenancy mix profile with regard to each, and the stability of the anchor tenant as it applies to the local customer demographic. Stay close to your anchor tenant or tenants to ensure that they integrate well into the function of the property. Get your specialty tenants involved in the seasonal sales activity of the anchor tenant.
As a general rule, all rent reviews and option negotiations should occur early. This then says that you should monitor the critical dates in all current tenancy lease documentation for that very purpose. Stay well ahead of the critical dates that are coming up. Be prepared for the negotiations and brief the landlord accordingly.
So these are some other things to get you started with a tenant retention plan. You can graph the tenant movement and tenant profile in your property. When you make the right lease decisions in a timely way, the income for the property is protected, and the vacancy profile is minimized. That then produces a great tenancy mix.
In retail leasing, you really do need to know your territory and tenants. The retail business segment is under some pressure at the moment in many respects. The internet has changed the way shoppers buy goods, and the spending patterns of people have changed due to the global economy.
When times are tougher in retail shopping and trading, it is the ‘convenience’ type tenants that still do quite well. Convenience tenants are usually food and consumable related (baker, fruit and veg, butcher, chicken, and fast food).
To help your shopping centre trade and thrive in tougher retail times, you need to closely look at your tenant mix and the clustering of tenants. Everything has to be done to encourage more trade for tenants and between tenants. Tenants should be selected on the basis of relevance to your local shopper and their needs.
As a retail leasing expert you can get close to the retailers and the business community. This will help you find the right tenants and the successful traders.
Here are some ideas to help you build a matrix of retail leads and opportunities in retail shop leasing.
Franchise groups are a proven business model. Some of them will suit your property and shopping centre. Talk to the franchise groups to understand what it is that they need in a property to consider occupation and leasing. Find out what their business model is and the standard lease terms and conditions that they require. Some franchise groups may also not be located in your area and may be looking to enter the region. Make some telephone calls and ask the questions of the right people.
Business owners in the local area know so much about the local businesses and the community. Approach the business owners and the wholesalers or manufacturers of retail goods and services. Through that contact they may give you some leads for talking to successful retailers.
Existing properties in your local region will contain successful tenants and businesses. Check out those properties and talk directly to the tenants. Some of those tenants will be quite successful even in a slower retail cycle.
Shopping Centres and Shopping Centre Managers will offer lots of retail leasing leads and needs. Shopping Centre Managers will have leasing needs in their properties from time to time. Their tenant mix will change and the property may expand or undergo redevelopment. Either way, retail leasing activities will follow in some form or another. Most shopping centres have a business plan and a tenant retention plan, in addition to standard lease strategies and lease marketing efforts. Get to know your shopping centre managers for the leasing needs that will arise.
Landlord owners of retail properties and retail shopping centres need experts in leasing to help them. This is where specialisation in retail leasing is so important. You can fill that requirement with some specialised industry knowledge and leads.
Tenant retention today has become an important strategy in property performance, particularly with retail shopping centres and retail investment properties. Every commercial and retail leasing agent should provide a comprehensive and detailed tenant retention strategy to those property owners that need the service, or own the larger properties.
A good retention plan will give you as the retail leasing specialist opportunities for future leasing, renewal negotiations, tenancy relocations, and property changes. All of that means better commissions.
A leasing expert in this market is of high value to any landlord with a high quality retail property. This leasing churn produces fee opportunity and market intelligence. Most property owners and landlords will not have the tools or the market intelligence to design their own tenant retention strategy in this regard.
So a good tenant plan will have particular factors to help property performance, and strengthen the tenant profile for the landlord. Ultimately this will encourage rental income and lower the vacancy factors.
Here are some factors to help you establish the retention plan in properties and listings of suitable size and complexity.
Get to know the existing tenants within the property. This will normally involve meeting with those tenants to talk about customer activity, customer trade, and property requirements. In most circumstances, the tenants within a retail property can give you significant and valuable feedback to help your plan creation and consolidation.
Get professional surveys undertaken of shoppers using the property on various days of the week. In medium to larger shopping centres, it is quite common for the survey to occur on a quarterly basis. The survey would normally take two weeks to implement so that you cover the necessary variables in daily shopping. The results of the survey will tell you what customers are looking for and what they think about the property today.
Visit the local council or planning approvals office to understand the activity of other property developments coming into the market soon. Obviously you should look for new property developments that could destabilise the balance of supply and demand when it comes to tenancy leasing.
Review other properties in the local area to understand their factors of vacancy, market rental, and customer base. You can also selectively talk to some of their tenants to get feedback regards shopping trends and property performance. Obviously it should be said that this approach should be suitably confidential and sensitively handled. Many other property managers and property owners may feel threatened if you make this process too public or obvious. Simple questions asked in a creative way as you purchase a newspaper or an ice cream can give you some good tenant feedback to work with.
Given your existing retail property, determine the tenants that are more attractive and less attractive to the future of the asset. The attractive tenants will feature in the retention plan differently and more intensely. Some of the less attractive tenants will disappear from the plan when you can find better ones.
If you have an anchor tenant or perhaps a few anchor tenants in your retail property, it pays to talk with them regards property trends and sales. They will give you valuable feedback from their perspective as a major retailer. Most leases with anchor tenants go for many years. Make sure that the tenant is locked in for the longer term and that they are well integrated into the overall tenancy mix activity.
So these are some of the foundational factors that will help you move towards a good tenant retention plan. Over time you can consolidate our real strategy across the entire tenancy mix.