By Amanda Coupe, Regional Managing Director, Property Management
Office buildings are no longer utilitarian symbols of a nation’s economy, they are tools for recruitment and retention of talent, living, breathing environments, and extensions of a company’s own corporate culture. An office building with the right location and amenity set brings value to its tenants that ultimately reduces downtime and future deal costs to the building owner. Property Management encompasses a wide range of services that, at its core, is about first-in-class communication, customer service, and coordination that contributes to the tenant experience. Liz Sheff’s recent article The Service Differentiator details why Property Management should never be viewed as a commodity, because service and people can always be differentiated, and that allows teams and service delivery to stand out from the crowd.
Value Starts with People
Having spent many years on the ownership side of the business before joining Stream, I interviewed many Property Management firms as new assets were acquired. What always set one firm apart from another was the people. Not only the people leading the platform or the market but the people who would engage with us every day, working alongside ownership, blending with our asset management teams to execute the vision and drive value.
At this stage in the investment cycle, amenitization, activation and live/work/play are all well-worn buzz words commonly used to describe a set of criteria most attractive to an office user. Having physical amenity space in an office building is now de rigueur: fitness centers, conference and tenant lounge areas, roof decks, and lawn games. In the tangible world of commercial real estate where leasing and improvements drive top-line values, Property Management emerges as the ultimate amenity.
Engagement Beyond the Asset
If the last year has taught us anything, it is that Property Management extends far beyond traditional brick-and-mortar stewardship. While maintaining value is critical, the ability to enhance and increase asset value through action is crucial as we move forward. Property Management teams, for office and industrial alike, have been a consistent voice for our tenants, especially during the past tumultuous year which brought many challenges in a compressed timeframe. Stream’s Property Management teams became the eyes and ears for owners unable to travel. We improvised with video meetings and asset tours but also found new ways to engage with tenants who were also relegated to home offices. We created a virtual customer experience team to engage digitally and socially with tenants in new and relevant ways.
Fostering a Sense of Community
As we move toward a post-COVID world, tenants returning to their offices appears all but imminent. Many have indicated their intention to return soon. Large corporations with facility management teams are readying for full offices in the coming weeks and months. Tenants are re-touring buildings with Property Management to ask health and safety questions, to understand new amenity use policies, and to educate their employees on the same. Property Management teams are hosting virtual town halls for tenants to ease the transition back to office life. The point of these meetings is not only to show off the latest building enhancements, amenity scheduling services, and janitorial needs upon their return but to foster a sense of community and peace of mind. My colleague Dorothy Hamilton recently examined what owners can do to make our workplaces healthier and more productive in her article Pathway to a Healthier Building. The article covers several options for building certifications at varying levels, from informal to the full Well Building Standard.
Creating Dynamic Environments
The static office building is no more: Property Management teams are creating a dynamic environment that none of us can replicate in a solitary, remote work setting. As office leasing volume ticks up in 2021, tenants should rely heavily on selecting an office building with a strong Property Management team to enhance their experience and support their decision to lease space.
We look forward to welcoming more of our office tenants back in the weeks and months to follow. Our Property Management teams will continue to lead the charge for each of their buildings with a renewed sense of energy and purpose as we create sustained value together.
Amanda Coupe is the Regional Managing Director of Property Management for Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso and has more than 20-years of commercial real estate experience.