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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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Tenant Management Tips for Commercial Property

Human shadow figures in a building uid 1461085

When you lease and manage commercial property today, you really do need to monitor the activities of tenants within the tenancy mix and be ready to respond to occupancy issues.  Be aware of the changes within the building and the activities of tenants in each of the separate premises.

(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)

Why worry about this?

It is better to be ahead of the tenancy problems before they become overly large or pressured, thereby impacting the landlord and the asset.  It is better to negotiate with the tenant through their trading or occupancy issue at the earliest stages.

  • Protect the tenant mix, lower the vacancy factors in your asset, and keep your good tenants for the long term.

Most buildings today with multiple tenants in occupation will have some form of tenant retention plan to consolidate occupancy and cash flow over the foreseeable future.  Within that document will be the necessary lease strategies, rental indicators, and tenant profiles.

So what is it?

It is a landlord based investment planner to help with occupancy planning.   Shopping centres and large office towers would have such tenant planning processes in place, and then they adjust the plan every year based on what can be observed and predicted in tenant occupation and known vacancies.

Tenant retention planning?

So the retention plan is a document that allows you to prepare at the earliest stages for the worst and best possible leasing scenarios, and control the best outcomes.  In other words, you can stay well ahead of the leasing and tenant mix problems before they get out of hand.  Isn’t that what the leasing strategies should be in any investment property?

 

  • Look for the indicators and the pressure points of occupancy.  Given the pressures of the economy and business today, tenants can sometimes suffer with pressures of cash flow emanating from variations of staff structure, seasonal sales, production, and intellectual property.

 

So what can you do here?

On a regular basis look at how the tenant and their business appears to be tracking, and wherever possible identify any weaknesses that could impact occupancy.  In simple terms, you stay close to the tenant in every way possible through a series of telephone calls, meetings, and email exchanges.  You take plenty of notes, and you negotiate through any issues as early as possible.

Here are some ideas to help you with that lease management strategy:

  • Inspect the property and the tenancy frequently so that you can see when changes are underway.  Where necessary, take photographs and plenty of notes to support your observations.  You can see variations with staffing, management structures, production, on-site storage, and business activities.  Look for the indicators and asked plenty of questions.
  • Stay in contact with the decision makers of the business so that you can identify when they are under any particular pressure of occupancy.  In any corporate structure there will be different levels of management to interact with.  Take notes and make observations when it comes to any meetings with tenants and management personnel.  A simple thing evolving from a meeting today can be a major issue in the future.  Understand the impact of a shift in rental or tenant occupancy within the asset.
  • Watch for any shift or change relating to staffing and management within the tenant business.  Are they still employing the same number of people? Has the management structure changed within the business?  When you see changes, ask questions.
  • The lease document will be important when it comes to enforcing lease conditions and rental cash flow.  Review the lease regularly for the necessary critical dates and methods of response that apply to the occupancy process.

Given all of these things, the landlord needs to be fully briefed on any lease issues and recent tenant meetings.  Those facts can be merged into the end of month reporting for the property leasing and tenant management updates.

(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)

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Time Management Tips for Retail Shopping Center Managers

shopping center management team meeting
Get your team organised.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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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