Spring cleaning your shopping center’s property management program

Spring is arguably the busiest time of year for property managers. It’s time to dust off the gloomy weather and prepare shopping centers for the activity of the spring and summer. Landscaping needs freshening up. Power washing makes sidewalks and facades look new. A fresh coat of paint and new line striping prepare the shopping center for the influx of consumers once the weather turns nice.

Spring can also be a good time to review and revamp your property management program.

Property managers drive the operations and financials of their assigned assets. They create budgets and report financials on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. They handle all aspects of routine maintenance, capital improvements, and tenant fit-out projects.

But the way they manage those aspects of the property can make a big difference in the value of an asset. Here’s how to enter the spring season with a stronger property management program.

Improve tenant relations. One of the biggest impacts property managers can make is to improve tenant relations. It starts with truly understanding each tenant’s business and its needs. Ask as many focused questions as possible to better identify what their goals are, how they specifically define those goals, and how they plan to achieve them. The biggest key here is to listen. With tenants, be as accessible, responsive, and transparent as possible. I always tell tenants I might not have the answer they want, but I’ll always give them a clear answer and explain how I arrived at that answer.

Focus on curb appeal. As far as the facilities themselves, curb appeal is where you get the biggest bang for your buck. It’s not something every shopper is cognizant of, but it creates a positive first impression of the asset upon arrival. Make sure all trash is picked up, fresh mulch is applied, and the landscaping looks inviting and well-maintained. These are the kinds of details that drive traffic to a property.

Prioritize projects based on your strategy. Implementation is very different if your strategy is a short term hold vs long term hold. The value of a property manager is to understand an owner’s strategy and know how to execute it. A short term hold strategy will require a focus on decreasing expenses with an immediate impact of increasing net operating income. While decreasing expenses is also the goal if the strategy is to hold the asset long term, the focus will be on investing in the asset to extend its useful life through a strategic five or 10-year capital improvement plan to reduce long term expenses that will increase net operating income as well.

Make use of available technology. Tablets like Microsoft Surfaces or iPads allow property managers to email, send photos, and do their jobs on location as easily as if they were sitting in their office. Contractors can use drones to provide aerial photos of project evolution and online project management services help track progress and promote collaboration.

Work closely with contractors. The biggest challenge in working with contractors is making sure they execute the client’s goals in a timely and efficient fashion. Communication is paramount. When speaking with contractors, the key is to be as detailed and clear as possible, leaving nothing to interpretation. Most important is that the contractor is on schedule and on budget.

Tap into the expertise of a third-party property manager. Third-party property managers add value by leveraging their existing relationships with consultants and contractors to achieve economies of scale, by knowing how to value engineer a project appropriately and understanding the needs of the tenants to increase traffic and maximize sales. Third-party property managers like Metro Commercial are adept at getting projects done as quickly and as inexpensively as possible, taking the brunt of the work off of the owner’s shoulders, all while making it as stress-free and seamless as possible.

Now that spring is here, it’s time to freshen up your property and your property management program. Metro has a long history of maximizing the profitability of assets. Learn more about how to spring clean your property management, and how Metro can help, by contacting James Savard at 856-222-3023 or jsavard@nullmetrocommercial.com.

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