A Retail Shopping Center Manager when compared to others working in our industry is perhaps the busiest person by job type and specialization. The type of retail property and the size of the tenant mix will place a lot of pressures on work load and business processes for the Center Manager. That is why property management fees and support team requirements are significantly higher in retail property when compared to that of office or industrial property.
Can you ‘hack’ the intensity of retail property performance and the specialization that goes with that? If you can, then the retail segment is a good place to work and grow market share.
Let’s look at the average working day for a Shopping Center Manager. They have plenty of things to do, and here are some of the most common:
- Tenant contact – Most tenants in a shopping center are of the smaller and individual type. They thrive when the shopping center is performing well; they struggle when the reverse is the case. For that very reason a good manager will keep in close contact with all the tenants in the tenant mix, and watch the integration of anchor and specialty tenants from a customer and client perspective. They look for the strengths and weaknesses and work with both.
- Marketing – A good shopping center will be comprehensively marketed to the customers and the local demographic. A market budget will certainly help that occur but the money for marketing has to be carefully controlled to the shopping seasons and the activities within the property.
- Competing properties – In any city or suburb it is likely that other landlords and Shopping Center Managers are attempting to draw on any good tenants that they find in other properties. For that reason it pays for a Center Manager to have a tenant retention plan and leasing strategy to help minimize the vacancy factor.
- Tenant mix – A successful tenant mix is one that matches closely the customer requirements and anchor tenants in a property. The larger the shopping center, the more complex the controls and choices become; there are then issues to consider with clustering of tenants, renovation and relocation issues, and market rents.
- Arrears – In the ‘real world’ of shopping center management it is the case that arrears will happen with some tenants from time to time; a lot depends on the success of the property and the permitted use or offering of the tenant. Look for arrears and catch them early before they do too much damage to the property cash flow.
- Lease updates and critical dates – Every lease will have dates to watch. Those dates will be critical from a leasing and rental perspective. If the shopping centre has plenty of tenants to watch, then the critical date management process will be all that more complex.
- Landlord reporting and contact – Some landlords require intense reporting on a daily or weekly basis; the end of month reporting can also be complex and significant. The Center Manager has to fully commit to the landlord reporting and contact process.
- Maintenance and Risk Management – In every property there will be maintenance issues to fix; to do that efficiently the Center Manager should have a reporting and response process to maintenance that takes into account the elements of urgency and damage potential as well as personal injury potential.
- Contractor – Some maintenance contractors are better than others when it comes to maintenance response, prices, skills, and knowledge. It is not unusual for the contractors in a large shopping center to be assessed annually for the services they offer given the demands of the property.
From these things it can easily be seen that the Shopping Center Manager should have very special skills and good business systems.