02 Jan

Get Strong In a Soft Market

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Think about your own life and the services you find most convenient. Do you like to do business Monday through Friday from 9 to 5, or do you prefer doing business online 24/7/365? You need to think of the internet as an opportunity for your properties, facilities and companies to be open 24/7/365 as well. It is our job and our duty to our clients to capture as much traffic or service inquiries as humanly possible. It is called customer service. While your office may have the door closed and locked, the internet and your website should be open and ready for business. In essence your operation is open and available 24/7/365.  The cost is so miniscule compared to staffing, that it makes no sense to ignore the internet as a vital tool in your business.

The tools available are endless. The automation you can enable is endless. During these tough economic market conditions it is the time for PM and FM folks to take advantage of what they can do to get strong, even though the market is soft. 

In our effort to understand the dynamics of the Property and Facility Management industry, we at ManagerLabs.com have to look at the core of what our business is about. Our business is about helping your business grow, thrive and make money. If we cannot do that, we might as well go home. It is the same for you as a PM or FM as well. If you ask yourself that question about your property or facility, it is the same business model. If you can grow your property occupancy or improve the communication at your facility, you are then helping your building owner thrive which in turn is doing your job.

Why is it so difficult for us as PM and FM professionals to convince building owners of the basic tools they need to embrace to keep their buildings in top condition? Is it not the PM or FM job to attract tenants and keep the building customers happy?  Then why do we keep hearing that technology is so hard to sell? It is a puzzling dilemna.  Even the greatest minds are scratching their heads today asking why the industry leaders do not see it, nor do they want to see it. It is truly a paradox.

For instance there are a multitude of issues that you need to make your building owner/client aware of in today’s world of 24/7/365.  People do not just look for office space or apartments or industrial space or whatever their real estate needs are between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. People are on the internet while drinking their coffee in the morning, while riding the train to work,  and when they get home from work or after they put their kids to bed at night. How about on the weekend? People use the web to find almost everything today. So why not advise your client that they must have a website for their property or mandate that meetings be held online to save money or manage all of the data and information you handle via the internet. Why do we stop cold when it comes to letting go and embracing what is faster, cheaper and quite frankly, easier?

Google just announced FREE phone calling through the entire year of 2011? What would happen if you instructed a few of your folks to start making their phone calls via their computers? Would the internet service you subscribe to support this bandwidth demand? Are you using the right-sized connectivity for today’s needs? That may be the first place you need to look. If your ‘utility’ is inadequate, using the internet is not feasible. Think these steps through. Painful technology is worse than no technology; IMHO.

If you own or manage a property you should have your building address or your building name reserved as the domain name for that property, (check it out at NameCheckList)at a minimum, in addition to being a Google Place.  Names, numbers, phrases are truly a commodity as far as domain names go.  As a PM or FM you must have it in your budget to insure your name or location or whatever it is you refer to your facility as is reserved. Crazy as it sounds, there are only so many names left to reserve with the “.com” domain extension.  You need to do this immediately.  Once you have the domain name reserved, that domain should be part of the permanent file for that property. If and when the building is sold, that website should be considered part of the property. After the domain name has been secured, for a small investment, you can have some basic components on your website that can be a tremendous asset to the marketing and leasing of your property, in addition to a time saving tool for so many clever things you can automate today.

The basic items that should be on a property website include:

Name, address, contact information for both management and leasing.
After hours emergency information.
Description of property location/maps.
Neighborhood information so customers can relate to the area.
Demographic information.
Detailed description of the property.
Photographs.
Product information: if office – space available; if apartment – vacant unit information. Links can be obtained from sites like: www.catylist.com They can give your agents a portal for all of the listings you have to feed to your website.
Property or Facility newsletter should be online.
Information for existing property customers can be separate from a public area and should replace your paper tenant or resident handbook.
Frequently requested forms for vendors, tenants, general public should also be included.

When the phone rings, the automated phone system, receptionist or adminsitrator should be able to direct people to your website to save time and make things more efficient for the customers as well. Eventually people will become accustomed to this, but it must be reinforced to all personnel. It takes time, yes, but it is worth the effort upfront to save so much time into the future. The time to start is now. We are in slow times as far as market conditions go. There are so many folks out of work and available for less than you could hire them in prior years. It is time to take advantage of those things now, not later.

There are a multitude of additional tools that can be added to a property website, but the minimum should be done for every property you manage. The domain name should appear on all literature, signage, business cards and notices in and around the property. Most people prefer using the internet or email so it is not a hard sell.

If having a website is overwhelming to you, no problem, get a Facebook page, a twitter site or even a Squidoo page. How about a LinkedIn Company page, Yahoo Group or Google Groups page. There is no excuse why your property or company cannot be found online today. The best part is that most of these opportunities are either FREE or very low cost.

Questions, just call us at Manager Labs for a 1/2 hour discussion on taking baby-steps into today’s world of making yourself strong, while the conditions are soft. You will be glad you did!

 

02 Aug

Technology FAQ for Commercial Property or Facility Management

Q. How do I use technology to generate more business/client/traffic leads for my company or property/facility?

A. Notice, the word ‘leads’? Leads because they are opportunities for business. In this simple blog post, there is no way to tell you how to improve your business itself without knowing a whole lot more information about your business. Leads are simply people making your phone ring, so to speak. In other words, if there are 10 people in your market looking for a business to hire, or an office space to lease, you MUST be sure you get to see those people and at least expose your business to them.

There is no difference in our work to lease or sell a property. If there are 10 opportunities to lease your space or your apartments, or your service centers or storefronts, don’t you push to be sure you see every single deal? The same holds true with your business. Just pretend you are a building owner and your business is a building. Why not push as hard for your business to feed it leads as you do your leasing or investment sales listings?

http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Google_search.jpg 708w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Here is a simple test: Search for your company or your building in Google Search. Did you find your company or your building? Remember, pretend you are the customer you want to attract. Now that you see what comes up, you need to work to see your business or property come up in that search! Once you see yourself come up in a Google Search, you have accomplished the goal.

Those techniques and tools are a must today if you are going to give your business a chance. In this blog post we share 1 single concept that reveals the most basic fundamental concept you MUST understand and have in place to give your business a chance to see those “new business deals” for your firm or property. If you are a start-up or an existing business, this blog post is of the utmost importance to understand.

Here is the key concept to comprehend………..drum roll, please.

Key Concept

    You must have at least one or more versions of your business name, reserved as a domain name.

If you are a new business or an existing business, a new property or an existing property, get the best domain name that describes what you do or the full name of your property. If you can get a keyword in your legal name, that helps tell what you do, that is even better. If your business is a destination or is geographically significant, add the location to your name or geonaming, (made up word) which means, add your location to your domain name or putting your location in your social media names and microsites.

It is difficult to put all of your services into a domain name without it being long. For instance, Property Management, Facility Management or Property and Facility Management, coupled with other services typically provided: leasing, investment sales, project management, consulting, etc., is much too long. I suggest you get your main name reserved, as well as micro-sites in many different configurations. Here are some illustrative examples:

Chicago Property and Facility Management Services, Inc. (super long, but it does say what you do and where you are!) Today, keywords and name searches are really important, especially for mobile use.

http://www.chicagopropertyfacilitymanagementservices.com (Main domain)
http://www.chicagopmfmservices.com (Micro-site)
http://www.chgopmfm.com (Micro-site)
http://www.chicagofacilitymanagement.com
http://www.chicagopropertymanagement.com
http://www.chicagopm.com
http://www.chicagofm.com
http://www.chicagopmfm.com
http://www.chicagoleasing.com
http://www.cpmfms.com

On top of that, you can add the .net, .org, .us, or whatever other category of domain name is applicable to your country or type of business. If your main domain is too long, simply use a shorter version of your name and just forward the other domains to your main site through your domain hosting service. If you use a domain registration service such as GoDaddy, this is super simple and takes a few moments to set up. Now when someone searches for you, no matter what they use, they will find you. Also, the micro-sites are a great way to see what is working in your marketing and promotions. If you know that you always use http://www.chicagoleasing.com for ALL of your “hire us for our leasing” promotions, that traffic is directly attributable to your leasing efforts and is now tracked through that domain.

This is a concept and not an exact blueprint for every business, but in concept, do not limit yourself to one single domain name. Many domain names cost pennies to own and they belong to you once reserved. With the internet exploding and growing, reserve these names now for future use; but always point them to your main site. If you have a long established name, it is also a great way to liven things up in your marketing; add other names that point to your firm. How about http://www.thebestpropertymanagerinchicago.com? or http://www.greatestleasingbroker.com, depending on your business service or http://www.bestplumberinchicago.com, http://www.bestjanitorialinchicago.com, etc. Today with tools like NameCheckList, it is so simple and NameCheckList does all of the heavy lifting for you! There is no excuse any longer as you can now see a complete picture of the name availability of your domain, across multiple opportunties. There is no excuse for any business today, not to be online.
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If you do not have the $11.00 to scrape together to reserve the domain name, at least do a Google Place page, Twitter site and Facebook Fan Page, or even Squidoo lens, which are all FREE. Every business should at least have a single page on the internet in some fashion. Reserving your domain name is really step one to embracing the technology available and insuring your company and/or your facility or property has a presence on the internet.

When it comes to your business or name, now is the time to set that up. This is not only your main domain, but your social media names as well. Our industry is so very behind the times, along with our properties. Each property or facility we manage should have their names and a location online to be found. The commercial real estate industry is in its infancy with the internet; so it is not too late. The point is to get your Facebook Fan Page (not Facebook account), Twitter Site, Google Places and domain set up now. Even if you do not have time to use it, at least get your names reserved for future use. Make a pact with your company to include a budget for each property in 2011 called Technology. Include an annual budget for a property website and domain registration. The budget should be at least $5.00 per month! Yes, you heard correct. I am talking about pennies here, just for a single page that gives the basic information. It truly is your job and responsibility to insure your clients and/or your company are not being left behind because you did not reserve the domain name for their company, property or facility.

Take this PM/FM Poll in trendycharts.com. trendycharts is the place to find out what other PM/FM think, so take the poll.

If you need help with this concept for your properties or firm, please send me an email or call me and I am happy to help. My personal agenda is to remind our industry to obtain a good domain name or social media name for their business or property and facility. It is a necessary business decision you must make today.