When you work as a commercial real estate property manager, there are certain things that need to be done every day to help you stay in control of the portfolio and clients that you work for. This segment of the industry is quite busy and challenging in many different ways. You will be balancing issues relating to the landlord, tenants, property performance, maintenance, and cash flow.
It is no secret that you will be very busy most of the time, and yet the high priority issues still need to be done. In most cases, they cannot be delegated. For this reason, property managers need to be highly efficient and effective when it comes to personal time and task management.
A career in commercial property management is very different to that of sales and or leasing. Whilst a property manager may get involved in both sales and leasing, they do it from a different direction and with other priorities. In most cases they are seeking to improve the property performance and the cash flow for the client, so most of their decisions will be based on that focus. Whilst the commission of the transaction is of some importance, the client’s position and targets are more important.
Here are some things that should be high on the manager’s agenda for each working day in commercial or retail property management:
- At the very beginning of the day it is wise to check the inbound emails and messages to see if there are any matters of critical importance relating to your clients, property performance, risk, maintenance, or property damage. Matters relating to potential personal injury should be dealt with immediately. If you have a good group of maintenance contractors to help you, maintenance issues can be ‘actioned’ quite quickly with a telephone call and a suitable job order number.
- Most tenant management and maintenance issues can wait till later in the day. It is simply a matter of acknowledging the tenants request for attention or action, and returning to the issue when time permits. Document all of your communications with tenants in case you need to refer later to the events and actions that were taken. Tenants can sometimes ‘modify’ the facts and use it to personal advantage.
- The collection of rental monies and arrears should be checked at the start of each day. From time to time you will have tenants that are struggling with rental payments and in some cases you will have established a ‘payments plan’. When that occurs, you need to check the progress of incoming payments and the tenant’s commitment to the plan. Also pay attention to the normal rental payments required under the terms of existing leases. When the rental arrears situation arises, act on it immediately.
- The leases in the property remain the backbone of the cash flow for the landlord. For this reason the critical dates of each lease should be understood and tracked continually. Pay particular attention to the rent reviews, options, renovation and maintenance requirements, insurance, rentals, and outgoings. When a critical date is coming up, act on it as early as possible. The greater the number of tenants that you have, the more challenging this requirement will become. A good property management software program will help you with the controls behind these critical date issues.
- Communicating with the landlord in a timely and efficient way will keep them fully briefed on income and expenditure activity. Document all of your communications with the landlord. Understand what they require when it comes to reporting and income. Show the landlord that you really are in control of all matters relating to property performance, the tenants, and the cash flow.
So the message here is that you need to remain organized and efficient. Develop a system that works for you from a property management perspective. It is a known fact that personal control in time management is one of the biggest challenges you will strike in this part of the industry. You will be very busy on a daily basis. You need to control all the things that you do and the way that they are undertaken.
Commercial real estate agency has significant attraction and opportunity for agents and salespeople that are looking for the potential of higher incomes and a good career. That being said, results that you achieve will only come from directed effort. Each and every day you need to do particular things to help you build market share, listings, and quality property enquiries.
It is interesting to note that many agents choose an agency or a brokerage to work for, and then expect to be fed listings and opportunities. If only the industry was that easy. It is a fact that most of your income opportunities will come from personal effort in prospecting, marketing, and negotiating. The agency or brokerage that you work for only has a small role to play in those factors.
If you are starting a new career in commercial real estate, or if your career has failed to move ahead with good results, now would be a good time to look at goal establishment and personal business planning. This is a specific process that will help you get traction when it comes to attracting listings, converting clients, and closing more deals. The goals you set will help you understand where you are headed, and the business planning process will give you the tools to take the required actions.
It is a fact that the property market will change throughout the year. The business plan that you create will need to be reviewed on a monthly and quarterly basis. In that way you can make the necessary adjustments given the prevailing market conditions. You cannot control the market but you can control your responses. Directed actions will always help you grow market share under all types of pressures.
So here are some rules to help you with goal establishment as a commercial property agent:
- Determine the reasons that you are working in the industry. It is wise to be quite clear when it comes to working and controlling your market share. Be quite precise when it comes to understanding where you are heading as an agent or broker and why you are doing it. Perhaps you have an income focus, or perhaps you have a professional target as a top salesperson. Either way be quite clear and specific when it comes to your reasons to be in the industry.
- Determine your market geographically so that you can focus your prospecting efforts inside the zone. Get some maps of the region so you can determine your primary location of business opportunity; outside of that zone will be the secondary precinct that will also feed some listings to you. The primary business precinct should have plenty of activity or opportunity within it. A full 75% of your business should come from within that area. The area should be reasonably local and you should also have a good knowledge of the property types and the market activity. Any listing or business opportunity that comes to you from the secondary business precinct will be the other 25% of opportunity that you will generate throughout the year; it will come to you as a result of luck more than directed effort.
- Understand the property types within your primary prospecting precinct. Ensure that you have the necessary knowledge of the market and the property types when it comes to sales, leasing, and property management. Be prepared to talk across all three disciplines as required in any client or prospect conversation or meeting.
The goals that you set based on the three previous points should now be determined on criteria that you can track. Here are the most common numbers that form a goal tracking process for individual salespeople and agents:
- The number of outbound prospecting calls made as part of a cold call prospecting process.
- Meetings generated from that cold calling activity. You should be talking to property investors, business leaders, tenants, property developers, solicitors, and accountants. These are the groups that will give you the best opportunity to act on in the industry.
- The conversions of listings or transactions from those meetings.
- Track the differences in listings when it comes to open listings and exclusive listings.
- Track the time on market relative to the listings that you control as exclusive listings. Open listings do not need to be tracked.
- Monitor the commissions that you write in both sales and leasing activity. Break those commissions down into size of sale and size of lease transaction. In that way you will see where you should be lifting your focus to better quality properties.
- One factor linked to all of the above will be that of your database. The size of your database should be monitored and its quality improved. The database is the one thing that can help you grow market share and close more transactions.
Taking on all of the above points, you now have some meaningful information to merge into your personal business plan as a commercial real estate agent. Set the right numbers relative to your property marketplace and the history of the area. Over time you can see where you are improving and then you can adjust and grow your skill base.