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Learning to Listen Effectively in Commercial Property Management

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Most commercial property management clients have different points of focus and priorities when it comes to their managed buildings and their investment plans.  Every property manager should take time to understand the client, the property, the tenancy mix, and the prevailing market conditions.  That is where listening and interpretation becomes so important.


There are plenty of things to monitor in a managed building today; mistakes can be made if property controls and stakeholder interpretation factors are overlooked.  The stakeholders are tenants, customers to the property, landlords, investors, financiers, and maintenance contractors.  It is a special formula for contact and communication to be optimized.



Asset Controls are Wise


So where does the process of control start?  The property manager needs to listen to the client and interpret the client’s investment needs over time from the very start of the property handover.  The client will have focus factors to monitor across cash flow, maintenance, lease management, and vacancy control.


Strategies and systems help control things; that is a complex issue in larger buildings like office towers and shopping centres.  Monthly reports and regular client communication systems can be put in place across those categories to prevent any problems or misunderstandings.


The property manager should connect with tenants and maintenance contractors in a regular and ongoing way.  That is where the professional approach in stakeholder communication works very well in commercial and retail property management today.  Meetings with tenants and maintenance contractors should be recorded as to decisions made and directions to be implemented.



Investment Complexity


A managed property is a complex category of investment, and as mentioned earlier, particularly so in the larger office buildings and shopping centres.  The tenants and customers to a managed property will produce problems, pressures, events, and opportunities.  Through all that change, the property manager should listen and interpret events and issues effectively and in a timely way.  A forward-looking approach to critical dates, leasing, and maintenance will also help with that.


Ultimately the property manager needs to protect the client’s position and follow the client’s instructions.  That can be difficult when any unusual or unexpected events happen on the property.  That is why instructions and events should be documented.  Avoid misunderstandings and avoid problems.



Set Communication Rules


All communications should be set with the various stakeholders to prevent any misunderstandings or unexpected outcomes in a lease situation or maintenance event.  Controls and systems allow the optimisation of a property under management.  Here are some of the major points of focus in a managed building.  All these factors can be systemized to a checklist approach:



  • Rent collection strategies – given the number of leases in a managed property, there will be rent collection dates and rent collection strategies to apply to each tenant for the client. Arrears will also happen as part of ongoing management.  The client may issue specific instructions about rent collection and arrears management.
  • Tenant communications – when you consider the varieties of communication coming to and from the property manager every day, record keeping systems are so important. Decisions need to be made, tenants need to be monitored, and the landlord should be kept fully appraised of occupancy situations and tenant negotiations.
  • Lease documentation – every property lease will be different and should be reviewed for critical dates, cash flow, and tenant or landlord obligations. That can be a complex task.  Many a property manager has overlooked a critical date from a lease situation, only to be embarrassed at a later stage in trying to resolve the situation for the client.
  • Maintenance controls and events – there are different situations of maintenance to monitor and implement. Safe situations should be created for tenants and customers through maintenance controls and safe work practices.  Economies should be achieved for the client through planning ongoing maintenance activity.  So, there is a balance to consider here as the property is maintained and occupancy is underway.  There will also be factors of unexpected maintenance to respond to regularly.


These are the main factors of concern in a commercial or retail property management today.  There are also many subsets to consider in each topic; develop a checklist approach in property management where the individual manager can ask the right questions and listen when attending any meetings with tenants, landlords, and maintenance contractors.

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