What to look for in a commercial property manager

When you own a commercial property asset, having an experienced, reliable, and proactive property manager on your side is one of the best ways you can maximise your return on investment.

As our nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the commercial property market, the importance of good property management cannot be understated. If you’re a landlord, now is not the time to “put up with” sub-par service, according to Mike Elgar, Director – Property Asset Management at MRS.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there’s been a sense of uncertainty associated with offices and certain other asset classes, so it’s really important that tenants are aware their building is being looked after, as market perception is very important,” he said.

“There is a lot of ‘set and forget’ when it comes to property management, and too many landlords are putting up with low service levels because of it.”

At MRS Property, our Property Management team — located in Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane — is responsible for the property and asset management of a large portfolio exceeding 700,000 square metres in lettable area.

From CBD office buildings to industrial facilities and shopping centres, our experienced team knows a thing or two about what good property management looks like and can provide expert advice, no matter the type of tenancy.

“There’s three elements to property management,” explains Mike. “The physical management of buildings, financial management to ensure your property is delivering returns, and lease management, to ensure the tenant, and landlord, are fulfilling their obligations.

“A good property manager understands those elements and undertakes all three at all times.”

If you’re a landlord in the market for a new property manager or you think it’s time for a change, we’ve outlined the four key skills all good property managers should possess.


Matched expertise to your property or asset

One of the first things you should look for in a property manager is whether they have experience working in your sector or industry.

Buildings across sectors vary, and specialist knowledge of these nuances will prove invaluable when it comes to managing your property.

“You tend to find that some property managers have experience, skills or specialist property knowledge within a certain sector or industry,” said Mike.

“For example, the services that are associated with multi storey commercial buildings are different to the sort of systems you’d find in an industrial building, and you’re dealing with a different clientele.

“So, it’s important to find a property manager that’s comfortable working in the sector you’re working in.

“At MRS, because of the technical nature of buildings, we proactively match the properties in a portfolio to the skill set of our property managers, and try to keep a property manager on a particular portfolio for an extended period of time.

“There’s intellectual property in knowing how a building operates, and you want consistency and longevity: tenants who are happy, and owners who are comfortable,” he said.


Someone who acts with integrity

As a landlord, you want peace of mind that your asset is being administered correctly and is in safe hands.

“You want someone who does what they say they’re going to do, which is acting with integrity,” said Mike.

Integrity lies at the heart of MRS Property’s operations.

“We really treat each and every property as if it were our own and are accountable for our actions and decisions.”

But it’s not just property managers who should be acting with integrity. The entire property agency should be transparent with their policies and procedures, and open communication should be encouraged.

For example, at MRS Property, our in-house accounts team maintains accurate records at all times, ensuring that rent and other monies are collected and distributed in accordance with leases.

We also have robust systems in place for timely rent collection and managing arrears and making payment of all expenditure items as required for each property.


Someone who understands legal and regulatory compliance requirements

Depending on its purpose and intended use, every commercial property comes with a set of services and facilities and associated risks that need to be managed.

This requires a property manager with a sound knowledge and understanding of legal and regulatory compliance requirements.

“You want someone working on your behalf who understands and acts on all the compliance requirements within your building and ensures that you’re mitigating risks where possible,” said Mike.

“We reinforce to our staff that it’s vital to always go the extra mile, ensuring that we regularly visit properties in person, and being certain that we are really managing the property as if it was our own.”

Many of our larger buildings are serviced by our in-house facilities management team to ensure the safe and efficient operation of all services, including repairs and maintenance, vertical transport, security, access, cleaning, electrical services, fire services and mechanical services.


Personal, flexible, tailored approach

Just as every property is different, so is every landlord — and you should expect your service to reflect that, believes Mike.

“Some landlords are very hands-on, while others leave us to it, and trust that we are managing their property diligently,” explains Mike.

“We take the time to fully understand each property and really get to know our clients’ expectations personally, identifying what your requirements are, and then formulating a suitable strategy to meet your needs.

“We pride ourselves on providing a personal level of service to our clients,. We have consciously remained local in order to be able to provide nimble customised service to meet the requirements of particular landlords,” said Mike.

“At MRS, we’re able to be fairly flexible and accommodate the requirements of the client at short notice.”

“For example, sometimes if there’s a payment that needs to be made that’s not scheduled, we can turn it around quickly because our accounts department is local — with some other firms, it could take weeks.“


The MRS difference

Finally, according to Mike, good property management all comes down to the MRS difference: our focus on people, relationships and trust.

“It’s what we look for in staff and property managers that makes us different,” he said. “Personal, proactive service is what we deliver.”

“We try to be as proactive as we can, which allows us to foresee and address any problems or issues in their infancy.”

“The personal nature of our service is really demonstrated by the fact that we’ve got some long standing clients who have been with us since the inception of the company almost 20 years ago.

“I think that speaks volumes to our ability to build, and maintain, personal relationships.”

Don’t settle for second-rate service. If you’re a landlord, our property management team would love to have a chat to see how we could help increase the value of your commercial assets, and ensure you’re getting the best property management service possible. Contact us today to learn more.