Automation Building Owner Customer Service Property Management Websites Technology

Have Property and Facility Managers Hit the Change Wall?

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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.

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The Greening of Property Management

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This photo, “sun scoop + greenwall” is copyright (c) 2014 sun scoop + greenwall by Rob Deutscher and made available under a Attribution- Creative Commons Generic 2.0 license

When your day is spent trying to revolutionize an industry, it can be rather exciting yet a little frustrating at the same time. Not only do you have to get the word out to millions of people, but you also have all of those who ignore you when they hear ‘change’. Those people may agree with you that they want everything to be done faster and cheaper, so long as it stays the same. We always start out by reminding them that there can be very little progress without change, but it is hard for them to swallow that part of progress as it relates to changing anything. Progress they want, change they do not want. In order for a property manager to be able to say, Yes and Now to each customer, building owner, staff member, vendor, leasing broker or anyone they encounter, there must be a monumental change within the industry to make this dramatic progress a reality. We are hoping, like so many people, that by adding Greening to the concept it might take off. It seems that anything about Greening or The Environment is popular. As property managers we need to start Greening ourselves.

For us to become a green industry our effort will be more than just recycling, it will have to include creating standards, minimizing training, eliminating redundancy, identifying the appropriate tools and stopping the madness of starting over every time a new property is assigned to us and minimizing the horrific pain when a property is taken away or sold. If and when, we as an industry, empower ourselves as property managers to provide Yes and Now solutions, there will be a great efficiency or greening of the property management world. The greening will take place throughout every facet of the physical property as well. The greening will impact actual costs and improve customer retention, lower employee turnover and increase the actual value of the property if we all pull together and green this industry.

For over 2 ½ decades I have been in property management, with the majority of those years in the field, at the frontline. The frontline is an appropriate description of those persons in a company who deal with the customers. When you are at the front, the demands come from various directions. Those challenges come from the general public, existing customers, building ownership, the local municipality, the corporate office, vendors or even our own property staff, and usually all at the same time. There is a constant barrage and an endless flow of expectations, with internal conflicts. Herein lies the problem or dilemma.

For instance, the customers expect us to be at our desk at all times to answer their questions or answer the phone when they call. The building owner wants us to walk the property each day and insure all things are in top condition, while watching every single penny spent and every single penny collected. The property manager is also held accountable for each member of the building staff and the assurance to ownership and our corporate office that the staff is being supervised with eagle eyes. Those high standards are expected at the on-site office we are assigned to, in addition to the other 6 properties we manage.

The corporate office wants reports done on time so the accounting department is insured immediate response to their inquiries or needs. When a broker inquires about space available, those tenant rep brokers want the answers now. The local municipality expects us to be at the ready and drop everything, on a moment’s notice to do a full building or fire inspection so we comply with all codes and ordinances. All of the vendors want to be paid immediately after performing their services and the vendors will call repeatedly until we can tell them the exact time they will be paid. Simultaneous to this we are listening to the property leasing broker on the other line who is impatiently waiting for feedback on a 7 page, lease proposal that he/she needs to have our feedback on within the next 15 minutes. All while there is another tenant standing in the office appalled that the illegal car in their parking space has not yet been towed, along with the staff member who wishes to find out why their paycheck was shorted 1.5 hours overtime.

All of the above scenarios can be made less painful if we pull together and start a grassroots effort to revolutionize the property management industry and take the property manager out of the line of fire by igniting a movement towards creating an environment whereby the property manager or the frontline staff, can truly find the time to provide excellent customer service. In addition, immediate responsiveness to the general public, our customers, the building staff, the government, the corporate office and the vendors who all believe they are entitled to receive answers now and make us a Green industry.

Because the industry is bogged down with redundancy, limited standardization, dysfunctional tools, insane repetition and wasted motion, we are the biggest culprits of waste and ineffiency. Today, with all of the creative electronic gadgets and sleek cell phones, why is a property manager ordering 3-part NCR work order pads from Peachtree, bulletin boards to post notices, reams and reams of paper to print statements, newsletters and other legal notices, cases of timecards for the staff to punch in and punch out, binders to store records and logs, and tons of envelopes to mail out the paper coupon books, paper invoices, vendor paper checks and paper remittance stubs and letters imploring the vendors to provide the paper certificates of insurance or other vendor compliance requirements? The reason is simple. We are not creating cohesive systems or systems of any kind. With cohesive systems that communicate, the redundancy will be gone, the manual task will be gone, the errors will be gone and the service will be improved.

There is a group tackling these challenges right now. If you have heard of the organization Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE) you are on the right track. This group is taking the challenge head on. OSCRE understands the key is to create standards across all firms. OSCRE is doing this very task in a very impressive fashion. As a group, those of us at are studying the OSCRE standards and investigating how we as web developers and technology innovators can embrace this profound effort to standardize the property management industry. In a conference call with one of the OSCRE leaders last week, we were given an overview of the various standards already in place. will continue to monitor the OSCRE processes and keep spreading the word about this important step in the process of improving the property management industry. If you take the standards and connect this to all of our systems, we will all be able to share data across any database, no matter what accounting system, work order system, commercial listing service or lease abstract system.

Our mission at is to connect all of these dots so things can truly be ‘touch it once’. Every aspect of managing any asset should be treated as a giant template. Once this template is in place, simply change the names and fill in the blanks. If we, as an industry can start looking at standards, practices, systems and procedures as templates, we can truly be a much Greener industry.

For more information on OSCRE or to join this group, visit

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