01 Jan

Have Property and Facility Managers Hit the Change Wall?

Image courtesy of  suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ID-10060668.jpg 400w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" /> Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Change seems to be a dirty word in so many industries and organizations. It seems that the Property Management industry leads the charge on this front.  In this day and age of do more with less, the Property Management industry needs to start making some big changes in how it provides infrastructure to its staff.  As leaders in this movement we want to probe this powerful human condition and find out how we can motivate people to understand that change is their friend.  Remind the folks you work with that in order to have progress there must be change.

For instance, customer service. Yes, that is what I said, customer service, you know tenants, or lessees or occupants or residents or whatever your customer type, they are the customers. The other customer is the building owner, often referred to as the client. It becomes crystal clear, however, pleasing the customer, may not please the client. If you hear from your customers that they have various needs to be fulfilled or cannot understand why certain things are the way they are, it is usually attributed to a mandate or philosophy of ownership.

How do you explain a property not having a website and a domain name registered in the name of the property? Is it the PM or FM not having a website or is the building owner not wanting to pay for a website? Is the PM or FM just afraid of the additional burden of more work to do with less time? It can be a variety of reasons, but no property should be without a website. It is not a website for the sake of having a website, it is a customer service portal, for goodness sake. It can save the PM or FM time and money, which in turn can make the client happy. Will it cost something, yes, but it will remain with the property and should in fact, make the property more valuable. The customers that occupy the building can communicate or make contact with the building via the website.  It can serve as the social hub of the property and the central source of information.  By making the website the one-stop place for all things, you are freeing up your staff and yourself from the mundane and routine tasks that just take up the most valuable commodity, time.

Look at the fact that time can be put towards a well written owner report, contribution to the property’s leasing effort, attention paid to the maintenance department and their efficiency. How about time to shop prices and get bids to make further building improvements?  To me, the website can free you up. Will it take time and effort to set it up. Yes. Is it worth it, absolutely.

There are a multitude of features that the website can have, but below we have listed the key areas that can help your operation and provide the most bang for the buck.

Important Telephone Numbers – Fire, police, paramedics, management office, security desk, maintenance, etc.

Building Profile – basic information that you would consider  putting in your Customer Handbook/Tenant Manual. Hours of Operation, Neighborhood Information, Elevator Procedures, Oversize Trash, Recycling, Security, Emergency Procedures, History of the property, in other words FAQ or frequently asked questions, etc.

Location – directions to the property, maps, site plan, legal address, etc.

Announcements – calendar of events, holidays, planned building project schedules, etc.

Leasing Information – contact information

Why is change so difficult? Do companies shoot themselves in the foot when they prevent change or innovation? What frustrates those who attempt to bring new ideas or technologies to the property and facility management industry? We want to hear from you. Please share your comments about what you find yourself up against when you think there is a better or faster or more efficient way to do things, but no one wants to listen to you.

19 Mar

The Circle of (A Property’s) Life

http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Puzzle-Pieces.jpg 735w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />There are business models in all shapes and sizes. There are retail stores, medical and legal practices, cleaning companies, general contractors, grocery stores, etc. So when you think about a business, how many business models do you know of where the business owner outsources the entire business to another party? For instance, if you visit your local grocery store, is it managed by a grocery management company? How about a retail store management company? So what makes the residential real estate investment business any different? Why are there so many property management companies and outsourced service providers to the property industry?

According to a colleague of mine, the answer is quite simple, “It is not easy, there is so much at stake, and there are many moving parts.” Also, when you think about properties as investments, there are often multiple partners and joint venture groups who own the assets. In those cases, the managing partner realizes they do not have enough time or expertise to do all of the functions required of them to maximize the value of the asset. That is what outsourcing offers.

As a property manager outsourced by these partnerships, the responsibility of managing that asset is crucial in so many ways. First of all you have been selected by the partner on the management of the asset. All of the actions you take as the manager or management company directly reflect onto the reputation of that partner or company that made the decision to hire you.

Next you have the individual people that make up the partnership. In each case, the goal of the investment with each partner is diverse. Whether there is one partner or 100, each one has their own individual investment objective. For instance, one partner may be investing because they have young children and the investment is intended to be a college fund. Another partner may be saving for their retirement. The point is that in managing the property there are many significant outcomes to decisions and actions of the property manager.

Remember, the actions you take need to be considered as part of a global picture. Each action impacts the value of the property. Now enter the customers. The actions of the property customers (aka tenants) also play a pivotal role in the value of the asset as well. For instance, if a tenant does not pay rent, the cash flow of the property is impacted. This is a business and the business must be financially healthy to exist. There are services and debts that the business is obligated to support as well. So if the rent is not collected in a timely fashion, there may be consequences to the service providers looking to be paid. The service providers are outsourced too. Those service providers need to be respected and considered as they are a vital resource to the property ecosystem and the operations.

The entire ecosystem of the property needs to flow in a healthy and respectful manner. If there are members of the ecosystem that do not respect the life cycle of the asset, there is imbalance. An imbalance is what causes tremendous pressure on the other members of the ecosystem. For instance, if a tenant does not pay, there is not enough cash flow to pay the electric bill. If the electric bill is late, there is a penalty. When a penalty occurs, it further erodes the income. When the income becomes eroded, other service providers suffer since the invoices cannot get paid on time. It is necessary to understand how all the actions of the parties involved will affect each other.

When issues arise, keep the ecosystem or big picture in mind. Each move matters and each party to the property ecosystem can make or break the healthy cycle. Hold every member of the ecosystem accountable. Follow up and follow through on everything! Make sure you have an excellent command of the property and your communication to all parties is crystal clear. As with all business habits, be fair and honest about how everyone must work together. If one party falls short of their obligation, be sure to put them on notice. Do not hesitate to follow the letter of the lease or contract or whatever you are obligated to enforce on behalf of the partners who own the property.

Being a property manager is exciting and rewarding, but it does require hard work and the ability to view the business from a holistic perspective. It can be a challenge to maintain the ecosystem, but as long as you’re always looking out for your partners’ (owners, tenants, and service providers) best interests, you will feel gratified about the work being done with the property. Your owners and investors will be pleased that you are increasing their properties’ value, and your tenants will be happy about their living situation.

“More content available at All Things Property Management by Buildium, industry leaders in Online Property Management Software.”