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:
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.
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.
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)
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The shopping centre management process is quite special in so many ways. That is why only certain brokers and agents take up the challenge of retail leasing, management, and sales. There are things to know and things to do. The benchmarks and the indicators are different in ‘retail’.
The goals and targets that are standard to the retail process are usually improving income, reducing vacancy factors, and keeping your good tenants for the long term. You could say that they are the major internal factors of property performance for a typical retail property or shopping centre today.
Know the Retail Factors of Influence
So what else do you need to think about? In addition to the nominated items, there are the ‘external factors’ that are harder to control. The external factors are typically shopper spending patterns, shop visits, frequency of shopping, and the amount of money spent on average per shopper. The marketing of the property will be part of the overall plan.
You can now see why a property performance plan is really important in any retail property today. So let’s put some of this together.
To keep all of these things in balance and on track there are a few business factors to implement in the running of a retail shopping centre. Here are some of them:
Develop a business plan – A business plan in retail shopping centre performance is and should be all encompassing, generally covering all the issues of the daily running of the property and the involvement of tenants, customers, and investors. With a good business plan, you can make choices when it comes to rentals, tenant movement, renewals of leases, and property expenditure.
Know your tenants and their priorities – Some tenants will be trading more successfully than others. Look for the differences to see what can be done with trading and sales. It is wise to look into gross profit and net profit margins with any tenancy group. The averages will tell you if a tenant is trading more successfully than others.
Review all of your leases – The shop lease is the foundation of income recovery and growth over time; with all leases you must know how they work and what is involved in enforcing lease conditions when matters of change or risk occur. Each lease is different so you will need to build a profile of the tenant’s lease and the critical dates. Track the critical dates so you can take action early in any issue or problem.
Establish a tenant retention plan – Differentiate your tenants so that you are protecting and encouraging the best tenants to stay in the property for the long term. They may need encouragement, so a tenant retention plan lets you set the rules to the process.
Watch the sales and trading figures – You can watch these figures if you have the cooperation of the tenants in the property. You can gain and protect that cooperation through the terms of the lease. From those figures you create graphs that show moving annual turnover (MAT) and sales in merchandise or retail segments. Ideally the tenants in the property should have to produce turnover figures for their shop on a monthly basis. From that point it is easy to see the retail segments that are selling products well, and also the other segments that may be struggling. That is where the tenant placement and tenant mix then has a valuable strategy for the property. You can build clusters of tenants around the property so that customer interest is encouraged and sales are boosted between like or complementary tenants.
Develop a marketing plan for the shopping centre – A plan of this type will allow for the retail sales seasons at different times of the year. There will also be themes for the local area and customer interest.
Reduce vacancies with a tenant retention plan – The only reason you need vacancies in a property is when you are about to renovate and move tenants around. A few vacancies will give you the flexibility to change the property. When you look at the total tenant mix in a property, some tenants will be more important than others to the future of the asset. That is where the tenant mix plan comes in; you decide who you want to keep in the property and for what reason. You then build a rent a leasing plan around those factors.
So there are some good things that you can do here with retail shopping centre leasing. Understand the property in a comprehensive way. Then you can match the property strategically into the location and the customer demographic.
In undertaking a retail shopping center survey, the questions that you ask will impact the results that you seek. Always plan the process. Understand the retail property for what it is, where it is located, and what you are trying to achieve.
Understand the property, the location, the customers, and the tenants as part of designing and implementing a retail shopping survey. You will then have some meaningful retail information to work with. You will then have something to work with as you improve the property over time.
So let’s look at how you can set up the key factors of information in the retail survey. Here are some of the most important questions to explore as part of undertaking the survey:
Where are the people (shoppers) coming from? – You will need to know where the shoppers are based. Are they local people? Are they visitors to the property or the area? Are they workers in the location?
What stores do they like to visit? – Some stores will be more popular than others. Your key retailers will be valuable to the factors that you structure into your marketing campaign.
How often do they visit the property and why? – Understand how often people come back to the property to shop and seek out their goods and services.
What days of the week would they visit? – Some days of the week will be busier than others from a shopping perspective.
What are their favorite shops? – Certain retail shops will stand out as ‘draw cards’ for the overall tenant mix and property.
What type of customer are they? – Customers can be groups into segments such as ‘young families’, ‘empty nesters’, or ‘retired’. You will soon understand why people come back to your property and who they are.
Are Vacancies impacting shopper expectations? – Be very careful with a retail property that contains reasonable levels of vacancies. Those empty shops or vacancies will impact customer expectations and shopping patterns.
What age group are they in? – Age is very relevant in positioning a retail property and the marketing associated with it.
A retail property and particularly a shopping centre is a special asset in many different ways. It takes skill and knowledge to make something of property performance.
There are numerous things to put in the retail ‘balance’. Special strategies are required. Are you up to the retail challenge?
Understand the retail facts
So what are the variables that make this so challenging? Consider these for starters:
Tenants struggling to make sales – Some tenants will always struggle given that they may not be offering the right products or services. They may also be inexperienced in retail trade and sales. If you have a difficult tenant in a property it is perhaps better to move them on at the end of their lease (assuming that they can trade until the end of lease)
A tenant mix that just doesn’t work for one reason or another – A poor group of tenants with weaknesses will quickly slow customer interest and repeat visits. That weakness then leads to sales decline. You must quickly fix a retail shopping centre tenant mix if you have issues that are weaknesses and impacting property performance.
Vacancies currently in the property or those that can be expected – When you have empty shops to resolve, ensure that you are coming up with immediate strategies such as creating short term occupancy and placing marketing material in the empty space. Customers will see the vacancy so build some ‘vibrancy’ into the empty space.
Market rentals and strategies for the property – Understand what the rents are doing for the property type in your region. How does your property compare?
Outgoings recovery from the tenants – The lease documentation will be important when it comes to outgoings strategies and recoveries. The rent types used in the property will also have an impact.
Customers and their spending patterns – At different times of the year the sales results change for the retail sector. Watch the process and how it is impacting your tenant mix.
Lease documentation that is complex and critical to occupation – Understand all of the leases in the property. Some will be better than others.
Landlord net income requirements – The landlord will have expectations when it comes to the net income they achieve. The expenditure in the property will place pressures on cash flow. Understand how those things work in your retail property.
Retail sales patterns for the region – Always look at shopping and sales trends for the region. Understand if your property is being pressured by other properties locally. Understand why that is the case and try to fix the weakness.
The configuration and presentation of the property – It is a fact that any retail property will be higher in upkeep so costs and strategies will be required. The presentation and functionality of the property has to be at the standards expected by customers. In that way the customers can keep coming back to the shopping centre. A retail property will soon be in decline if maintenance and presentational factors and lacking.
Every one of these issues can demand specific focus and effort from you as the specialist broker to bring about a resolve for all concerned.
In retail property and shopping centre performance today, the tenant mix and the income created from the tenants in occupancy needs to be shaped and improved over time. That is where ‘tenanting mix orchestration’ is a useful skill to learn and to feed into the property investment strategy.
The suggestion here is that the tenant mix can be shaped and improved. That is certainly the case in retail property performance. That is your job. The landlord will benefit greatly over time by a well-considered and controlled tenant mix.
Every lease and every tenant in occupancy should be looked at in balance with the surrounding tenants, the shopper clusters, and the customer profiles. The terms and conditions of each individual lease should be negotiated to standards that match the investment targets of the landlord.
Anchor tenants – You have to start your assessment around the stability and business activities of the anchor tenants. Look at the lease conditions that apply to each and every anchor tenant in the property. How long are they in occupancy? What are the terms and conditions that apply to their occupancy? How can they integrate their business activities into the success of the overall property?
Customer profile – You can’t move your property to another location. On that basis your customer demographic will be specific to certain incomes, employment, and family profiles. Understand your customer base and how those customers like to shop locally. You may need to undertake a marketing study through the local area to get the most recent and up to date information about customer activity and or future needs. When you understand the customer, you can set the strategies in place for the ideal tenant mix and property profile. You may also be pulling in the customers from outside of the area through tourism and transient people.
Property design – Every property will have factors are designed to understand and integrate into the tenancy plan. Entrance points, common areas, congregation points, and transport drop off points all influence foot traffic and potential retail sales. The tenancy mix should be designed for customer interaction and sales improvement. That base strategy requires you to put the right tenants in the right locations. You will have a mixture of small and large tenancies to consider. You will also have tenancy locations requiring special consideration such as food retailing, fashion retailing, entertainment, and services. You can get plenty of ideas by looking at other comparable properties locally or regionally.
From these three simple concepts, you can set in motion a comprehensive tenancy mix plan and retail sales strategy. Understand the property, the tenants, and the customers. Balance at equation so that the landlord can optimise rental returns and minimise vacancies. That is what tenancy mix orchestration is all about.
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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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