Commercial Property Managers – What Skills Do They Need and Why?

In commercial real estate agency, the property management division is a key part of the agency performance. In real terms the successful division can bring in significant and stable income to the agency on a regular monthly basis. That being said, a good commercial or retail property manager is highly skilled and should be selected for the property management role based on key performance criteria and hands on experience.

Far too many real estate agencies have average or poor performing property managers. In real terms this is a real threat to the stability of the division income, and the quality of the service provided to the landlords. Unskilled property managers do not last in commercial or retail property; it’s that simple.

Cadets and Training Processes

There is a place for ‘cadets’ that learn the roles and the skills of complex property management. The process itself takes a couple of years during which time the person should be exposed to all property types and situations under the guidance of an experienced manager.

So what does a good commercial or retail property manager look like and what skills will they have? To a large degree they will need to bring to you as agency principal, the skills needed for the managed property type and local area.

If the property manager does not know much about managing the required property type, then do not let them manage it; the errors made can destroy your relationship with the landlord and ultimately the management appointment.

Different Skill Sets

There is a large difference in management style and skill required between retail, office, and industrial property; industrial property being the easiest to manage and retail being the most intense and difficult. The skills required in a retail property manager is diverse and deep; they are the best in the industry.

Generally speaking, retail shopping centre managers today are also the busiest in the industry. The role is very hands on and unrelenting in intensity. Here are some core skills of a well skilled and placed property manager:

The ability to read and understand leases and occupancy documentation for all property types.

The marketing of the property to the local community and customers will be a factor that is critical to retail property. It this way sales are encouraged for the tenants; this underpins the rental for the landlord.

Sound skills in financial analysis and reconciliation so a property performance tracking process can be set up for all managed properties.

Good communication skills are essential. Property managers must be accurate, confident, and decisive, in keeping with laws, legislation, and the instructions of the clients that they act for.

Attention to detail is required in all property negotiations and tenancy matters. Without good records and accurate information, the ‘wheels fall off’ the division and its services. Landlords soon see through mistakes and inaccuracy.

Marketing of vacancies happens all the time in larger properties; importantly the frequency of vacant space is minimised and the times without a tenant are lessened.

Income optimisation and expenditure controls are at the centre of property financial performance. The manager must know what is happening and why in all managed properties, when it comes to the cash flow and reporting to the landlord.

All reporting processes and communications to the landlords we act for today must be detailed and accurate. Property compliance and maintenance, energy consumption, lease and vacancy matters, tenant and landlord lease covenants, outgoings performance, and environmental matters are just some of the factors that are controlled and reported on each month.

Computer technology needs are increasing in the available property performance and management systems today. The property manager must be familiar with, and comfortable learning more about all the software and computer based technology that is used in the industry.

Work hard and with focus each and every day. The hours that a manager will put in the job are long and intense; however they are the experts and should recognise the value that they bring to the job.

Maintenance decisions and controls are made daily and should encompass the instructions of the client and the laws of property ownership and function. The manager needs to know what is required and should competently handle the decisions and communications with contractors, tenants, landlords, and fellow employees.
So how do you find one of these highly skilled people? They are out there and should be carefully sourced. They will be an asset to your agency function and performance.

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