In any retail property the tenant management process is quite specific and special. The success of the tenants in any property will reflect in the stability of the tenant mix and the recovery of valuable market rental. So because of this it is easy to see that there is a link between tenants, the landlord, and the property manager when it comes to retail property performance. All stakeholders should work together.
Here are some ideas to help you build a tenant management system in your shopping centre management office:
- Keep your contact detail up to date with all of your tenants in the property. You must know who the tenant decision makers are and how to reach them (on site or off site). Those decision makers should also know who you are as centre manager and feel comfortable in approaching you on any property matter (be it good or bad). A shopping centre that is out of control is usually a reflection of a poor property manager.
- All tenant communications should be supported by file notes and an exchange of emails or letters as the case may dictate. Tenant relationships can change over time, and the ‘paper trail’ process is really important to tracking the real facts and actions of the parties. Any conversations on key matters should also be documented in that way.
- Tenants in a shopping centre will talk between each other and share information (and sometimes attempt to derail certain property activities or matters). For this very reason the property manager or centre manager has to know all the tenants very well and be in regular ongoing contact. Any festering problem in the tenant mix should be handled quickly and effectively in a professional way.
- A tenant ultimately occupies premises under the terms of a lease agreement and supporting documentation. It directly follows that the lease documentation for each and every tenant should be fully understood and enforced in a timely and accurate way. That is where the lease efficiency and knowledge of the property manager becomes very important and special. Stay ahead of all critical dates in every lease; they will include rent reviews, options, renovations, and relocation provisions, insurance and risk, and make good provisions.
- Most shopping centres will have a rental management account where income and expenditure are processed for the property. That account will be impacted by arrears and vacancies in a property. On that basis the financial status of the tenants rent, the income performance, and the maintenance payments for the property should be checked every day.
- Carefully watch the ‘permitted use’ provisions of any lease and the tenant’s ability to comply with those provisions. Don’t let the tenant stray from the allowable facts of occupancy.
- Stay ahead of lease expiry dates so you can address the requirements of finding a new tenant. To control that activity it pays to have a tenant mix plan and a tenant retention plan for the property; they are both part of the business plan for the property.
In saying all of these things, get out into your managed property frequently (in some cases that is a daily requirement) to understand what’s happening and what the tenants are thinking and doing. That is how you stay ahead of any problems with tenants.