When you own commercial property, you are lucky to have an investment that could potentially provide you an income for years into the future. However, you could also be taking on a project that is much more than you can handle and find that you are spending most of your time attempting to keep space in your building rented, trying to keep up on repair and maintenance issues and running yourself ragged doing everything that needs to be done to keep your building profitable. If you’re like many building owners, you also have other business endeavors that are taking up time as well and your building management duties often become overwhelming.
When you invest in a commercial building, you must make some decisions on what you want to get out of your investment. For example, do you simply want to own the property or do you want to actually put time and effort into managing it? Do you want an actual office in the building so you can have interaction with the other tenants on a daily basis or would you prefer to not be on-site regularly? Remember, if you want to be hand-on with your property, you can expect a significant amount of your time will be spend on taking care of tenant issues, making repairs, dealing with issues like lawncare and snow removal and a number of other issues that you might not be prepared for. On the other hand, if you would prefer to leave the majority of the tasks to the professionals, you can probably free up most of your time to concentrate on your business or on other endeavors.
Fortunately, there are plenty of professionals in the Lincoln area who can take the work off your hands and ensure that your building is managed in a prompt, professional and profitable manner.
Here are a few to consider:
Property Management Companies
“Greenleaf Properties offers a full-range of building and asset management services from leasing to facilities management,” says John G. Linscott with Greenleaf Properties. “On the leasing side, we work to achieve 100% occupancy, paying attention to the best ‘tenant mix’ in order to ensure tenant satisfaction and retention. We also conduct tenant billing and collections, make vendor, tax and insurance payments, conduct annual insurance reviews, enter into vendor and service contracts, conduct regular on-site inspections, establish the annual operating budget, work with TKB CPAs to provide comprehensive accounting services and reporting, establish a maintenance plan for the property which includes an energy audit, as well as manage all construction and repair projects. We also handle maintenance requests and work diligently to ensure tenants are satisfied with all aspects of their experience at a property. Our staff is available 24 hours a day every day of the year to respond to any situation or need that might arise.”
Scott Vyskocil with NAI FMA, a local property management and commercial real estate company, states the benefits of working with a professional company such as his: “Hiring a company that specializes in managing and leasing commercial real estate offers a number of benefits for building owners/investors and ensures the longevity and vitality of their commercial real estate investment. For one, it allows the owner to fully focus on their primary business. Property management companies handle the overall daily management of the investment property from maintenance to tenant issues. They strive to maintain the property at the optimum level and apply innovative ideas to complex ownership issues.
Management companies can help find better quality tenants and handle rent collections to maintain consistent cash-flow. Tenant turnover is minimized by developing good relationships with the tenants and promoting occupant satisfaction with their environment. Ultimately, a good property management company will serve as a consultant to the owner, providing ideas and ways to preserve and enhance the overall value of the property, and to help the owner achieve their goals.”
Finding the best management company for your needs is important. John G. Linscott advises, “The best ‘package’ of property management services varies from owner to owner. Certainly the foundation of the ‘best building management services’ begins with a comfortable relationship with the management team. Once an owner finds a management company that he or she is comfortable with, a comprehensive consultation and ‘management proposal’ process will determine the best and most appropriate level of service for the property.”
Scott Vyskocil adds, “As a real estate owner or investor, it’s critical to determine what knowledge and experience the management company has of the property type concerned. Financial reporting (budgeting, rent collections, etc.) needs to be detailed, accurate, timely and reflect the owner’s objectives. Ask about the experience of the entire staff that will be handling the property. For instance, do they have specialized staff to handle the building’s specific HVAC systems? Do they have backup personnel, so that someone is always available for the owner and tenants to contact? Be sure to request references from current clients and find out if they are licensed. Check credentials and accreditations.”
Property Maintenance Professionals
If you have tenants in your property, it is critical that everything works properly and that if anything does need fixed, it’s attended to quickly. That’s why working with a professional maintenance company is a good idea. Some property management companies have their own maintenance division and can help with these needs. “We provide complete facility maintenance services ranging from HVAC, plumbing, electrical and general maintenance with 3.4 million square feet under contract,” says Scott Bahm with NAI FMA. “We currently have 12 full time and five part time associates in our Facility Maintenance Division to handle these duties. Most of our full time associates carry a fourth class Engineer certificate.
We provide day-to-day services to our customers by having them call us at our 24/7 phone number and also creating detailed Preventive Maintenance programs for the specific properties. Almost all of our properties have a different program as there are almost no two buildings alike.”
If a repair or remodel is on your to-do list for your property, you might also consider working with a company like The Restoration Pros. Scott O’Neill states, “The Restoration Pros can be of help from start to finish on any repair or remodel project. We will assist with the planning phase as well as the design phase and picking out materials and colors. We can assist with any size project small to large, whether it is hanging a picture to a full makeover. My advice to building owners needing repairs would be don’t wait to fix the problem! It could start out as a cheap, simple repair and turn into a costly mess fast. As far as remodeling your office or commercial space, it can be overwhelming to have your space in shambles, but it is my goal/job to make sure that any project goes as smoothly as possible.”
A commercial property must be kept clean, both for the tenants and for any guests or clients that may be coming to see the tenants. It’s unlikely you want to do the cleaning yourself and you don’t want to put this in the laps of your tenants, so hiring a cleaning company is usually the best option.
Jon Paolini, owner of ServiceMaster Professional Building Maintenance of Lincoln advises, “When selecting a cleaning service for a facility, several things have to be considered. Are they locally owned? If not then you will be dealing with branch managers or sales people who change often – ownership of businesses change much less frequently so locally owned can mean a more consistent service and a better long term relationship. Second do they have the expertise needed for the job? You may be looking for only cleaning now but eventually you will want floors refinished, carpets cleaned, walls or ceilings cleaned etc. It is much easier and cost effective to get this from your regular cleaning company as they know the building so well and have access already. Also you may have security needs or concerned, so do they have experience with banks or governmental agencies that require background checks? Lastly can I trust them? This one is complicated but there are telltale signs. Am I dealing with a salesperson (especially one from out of town) who is trying to get a commission or an operational person who will actually be around to work through any problems that may come up?”
“Once you get past selecting a company you can work with them to fit your needs. We often have discussions these days about budgets. We can go in and look at service options and make suggestions for reductions that can reduce costs without a dramatic drop in service level and make sure key areas still get full service. This can also be done at the front end. If you want to work with a company but their bid is a little higher than you hoped sit and have an honest conversation with them, if they know their stuff they can work with you to get your key services taken care of within a budget. Things like trash removal, dusting or vacuuming can be done less often without much issue as long as bathrooms, break rooms and lobbies are kept looking nice. Other items can be increased or decreased as needed as well to change cost structures.
Lastly when you are interviewing prospective companies, be honest. If security is a concern and you or your boss are worried about the cleaners being in the facility at night when no one is around, don’t be afraid of offending someone. Tell them and see if they have ways to alleviate your concerns. They should. If cost is really the biggest factor in the decision, be upfront about that as well. You will get pared down service proposals but that is ultimately what you need in that case anyway. Likewise if quality is really the highest concern, then say that. The proposals will be more expensive but good companies will put in more time for detail cleaning if they know quality is the biggest concern which can save heartache later.”
Part of taking care of your property is protecting it from a loss that could occur from theft, vandalism or water or fire damage. A loss such as this could be devastating both to you as the owner and to your tenants’ businesses as well, so putting a plan in place to keep it from happening is crucial.
The first step in creating a security plan is meeting with a professional who has experience and knowledge in designing commercial security systems. RJ Lipert with AlarmLink USA says, “We always meet with the building owner to put together a plan that incorporates all their needs as we don’t take a cookie-cutter approach. Some building owners may need something as simple as alarms if windows are broken while others want something as sophisticated as controlled access, video cameras and even climate control to save on heating and cooling bills. It all depends on their budget and needs.”
RJ goes on to say, “There are a number of benefits of a security system that every building owner should keep in mind The first is saving money—both in climate control if they decide to put in one of these systems and also in saving the money it will cost should a loss occur. The second is security and the peace of mind that goes with knowing that your assets and your people are protected. Finally, safety is a huge factor as no building owner wants their tenants, employees, data or assets to be in danger of a loss.”
Window Tint Professionals
Although many people think of window tinting as something you put in cars, it also has commercial applications and can offer your building energy-savings as well as security components. Keith May with The Tint Shop explains, “ Not only can applying window film on your building make it more comfortable for your employees and lower heating and cooling costs, but it improves the overall exterior aesthetics of the property by making every window look uniform. You won’t see half drawn blinds in one window and not the window next to it. Any clutter or personal items employees put on, or in front of, their windows will be unseen as well as be protected from UV rays and fading. Most 3M WINDOW FILMS are even Energy Star rated, which contributes to the energy efficiency of your building. Additionally, blocking out as much as 80% of the GLARE coming through the window will make computer screens easier to read and keep employees from squinting all day, which can lead to major headaches in some people.”
“3M’s most popular and effective films right now are their NIGHT VISION LINE and their PRESTIGE line. The NIGHT VISION films have an attractive “neutral” or “earth tone”, which makes the window look natural and blend in with the home or building. They also have “Night Vision Technology” which gives you non-reflective, or “mirrorfree” viewing from the inside at night or on overcast days, when lights are on. In most cases the interior side of the film is less reflective than clear glass. The PRESTIGE line is the most technologically advanced film available. Using the same technology that’s used to make flat screen TVs and smartphone screens, this is a virtually clear film that is unnoticeable even from the outside and is made up of 224 layers which absorb the heat coming through the glass and distributes it throughout all the layers until only a minimal amount of heat comes through the glass. A clear PRESTIGE film can block more heat than a film 3-4 times darker!
Another option that is gaining popularity is the Fasara Decorative line (or FROST films). This type of film is used in decorative or obscuring applications. It’s usually a white frosted type film, which does not allow vision in or out of the window, but still allows natural light to penetrate. In most cases it even brightens the room it is applied in. These films have dozens of uses, and provide a nice decorative feel to a building while hiding cluttered desks and cords or wires.”
Building owners have a huge investment, but they also have potential liabilities, headaches and tasks that go along with taking care of their investment. By working with right professionals, you can enjoy your investment without all the stress and provide your tenants and employees with a safe, enjoyable working environment.