Posted June 22, 2011

Now that you have signed the lease documents and moved into your new office, you might be looking around and wondering how the building, commercial development, or shopping center works on a day to day basis. The property manager should be coming around to introduce him or her self, and to answer any questions or explanations you might need, but, in the meantime, here’s an overview of how things function that will support your successful business endeavor.

One of the first things a tenant and his customer may notice is how the property looks as he drives in. Hopefully, the developer has built a mix of utilitarian-parking lot, electrical boxes, fencing, curbs and sidewalks; and aesthetic-grassy areas, shrubs, trees, and seasonal planted areas, so that daily preoccupation with the stress of conducting business can be soothed with a glimpse of green. The importance of some beauty and order in the surroundings of a commercial property cannot be overlooked, but to keep it that way is a year around process with a schedule of planting and maintenance that can run into a lot of money. Depending on the size of the project, manpower and machinery must be used, so the landscaper has to keep his crew happy and busy and his equipment in good running order.  Many companies plant, mow, and trim spring, fall and summer; and push snow in the winter months so that their employees have work all year. It’s hard work, out in all kinds of weather. A newly built out property has the additional labor of installing all the plantings, and then making sure, for the first three or so years, that the new plants thrive. That means proper installation technique, mulching correctly, and assiduous watering if the weather is uncooperative. The landscaping contract is one of the most important documents that gets hammered out between the landlord and vendor, and the success of the way the property looks to the tenants, their customers and the general public depends on a good relationship, and the outlay of some serious money by the landlord.

Once inside the building, and going from day to day, the next important area of concern is the way the common areas are maintained. Unless restrooms and reception areas are enclosed in a suite arrangement, then tenants and their customers will be impacted by how the entrances, corridors, elevators or stairs, and common restrooms are looking. The collection and removal of trash from the building in a timely and unobtrusive manner is a very important matter. As with a landscape contract, the choice of janitor service can make or break the first impression. The cleaning business also relies heavily on personnel and equipment, and the landlord or property manager who has negotiated a fair contract, and has a good relationship with the vendor will obtain not only an attractive building, but also important feedback as to what is happening onsite on a daily basis.

The longer you stay in a building, the more likely it is that some annoying breakage will occur.  An important light fixture will go dark, a leak may develop in a window or on the ceiling, a door will begin to open or close improperly, a toilet will clog, a wall may need repainting-the list stretches into infinity. How your property manager resolves a repair situation is the ultimate test of whether that person is good at his or her job.  A good property manager will have either a maintenance department or a diverse group of independent vendors to call on, who will quickly and efficiently make the problem disappear.  Again, a good working relationship between the vendors and the property manager is key.

The main point to be made in this article is to underscore the high importance of a property manager who is able to communicate with and effectively manage vendors to maintain the appearance and viability of a property so that tenants and the landlord can be confident that their investment and ability to conduct business successfully are supported and protected at all times.  It’s a tall order, and it is vitally necessary to everyone involved that it is delivered because if it isn’t, a lot of heads will roll.