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.
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!