The life of a commercial property manager is very different than a PM in the residential market. While there are a few similarities, you may find there to be more differences than you’d expect. Here are a few examples:
Commercial Property Manager Client Relations
A residential PM will usually work with two main clients- the landlords and the tenants. While the landlords are the actual customers, the PM needs to make sure the tenants are happy as well. After all, the tenant is essentially the customer of the landlord.
Luckily, commercial property management will typically have fewer clients to work with. Even though they’re still working with both the owner and tenants, there is typically just one owner per building. And even though there may be multiple tenants, working with businesses is very different than individuals.
For example, a business is more likely to customize a space to suit their needs. A dance studio will need a padded floor and mirrors on the walls. Restaurants need a complete kitchen including adequate ventilation and plumbing. Companies renting a warehouse will need to bring in shelves (assuming you don’t already have them.)
When a tenant invests in these renovations, they’re more likely to sign a longer contract. It doesn’t make sense for them to invest a lot of money in a facility they won’t occupy for a long time.
Building Maintenance in Commercial Property Management
When a single-family home has a maintenance issue, it may be a fairly easy fix. A quick call to the necessary contractor may have the problem resolved in a few hours.
With a commercial building, it’s a bit different. If it’s large enough, it may have its own maintenance team. In a way that’s a good thing, because it allows you to resolve emergencies quickly.
But the bad news is that a larger building means there is always work to be done. Maybe the roof drains get clogged often with pine straw or leaves. Perhaps the HVAC units are old and need constant maintenance. If the windows are all single-pane, installing double-pane to improve insulation is a major project that takes a lot of time if done in-house.
And if you don’t have a dedicated maintenance team? A lot of these things will still need to be done, but now you’re relying on outside contractors all the time for the work.
Certifications for Commercial Property Managers
While becoming certified is almost always a good choice for PMs, it may not be as important for residential property managers. In general, it’s easier to manage a few single-family homes than a large commercial building.
The most common certification route is to become Certified Property Manager (CPM). Becoming a CPM is respected in all fields of property management, and is a good route to take regardless of what kind of properties you run.
To become even more specialized, you can always become an Accredited Commercial Manager (ACoM.) Just as you’d expect, this credential is focused on the challenges associated with commercial real estate.
Finally, you should look into getting a real estate broker license. Not all states require it to become a property manager, but most PMs tend to have it. Even if you never plan on helping people buy/sell homes, preparing for it will help you understand the real estate market much better.
Tips to Succeed While Managing Commercial Properties
Communication is Everything– If something will affect every tenant, such as a major renovation or the water will be shut off for something- make sure everyone knows well in advance. Don’t just rely on emails either- physically visit each tenant to remind them.
Technology Sells– If your building has an old, outdated technological infrastructure, you can’t compete with the big players. Encourage your property’s manager to regularly update the building’s network to allow for fast, reliable internet.
Green makes Green– If you can help get your building LEED certified, you’re more likely to attract quality customers. A green building can save them money on utilities and help reduce your vacancy rates. It’s a win-win.