Kyle Crown is the President of Crown Commercial PM. He holds a B.S. in business from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
No commercial property management company is going to tell you they can’t deliver the highest possible profits on your investment or that they can’t maintain your property to the highest standard, but you don’t have to waste your time finding out the hard way. Instead, you can evaluate them by asking three simple yes-or-no questions. If they answer yes to all three, your property is in good hands. If they don’t, it might be time to try and find a property manager who does.
Now, just as I recommend that any commercial property owner who’s already hired a manager ask their manager these questions, I also recommend that any owner who manages their own property ask themselves these questions and answer as honestly as possible.
1. Do you have experienced and specialized staff working full-time, exclusively on commercial management?
A “yes” to this question means the management company you’re working with can devote the specific type of care your commercial property requires. You don’t want your property overseen by somebody whose attention is divided between commercial and residential management. The two are vastly different and require entirely different skillsets. A company can, of course, do excellent work in both residential and commercial, but only if each of its staff members is wholly focused on one or the other. I speak from experience. In the early years of our company, we had a team member with only a residential background working on the commercial side. But our current commercial property manager focuses solely on commercial, where she has over a decade of experience, and the difference is undeniable.
2. Do you have staff who are educated in commercial real estate investment?
I’ve written before about the value of investment knowledge for commercial property managers. This point is fairly simple. How can a company “manage your property as if it were their own” if they lack experience in actual commercial real estate investment? My own background as an investments analyst at an industrial real estate firm has proven so essential to my work in property management that I consider it necessary to do top-tier work in the industry. If your manager can’t review financial models and run pro forma analyses or quickly glean important details from lease abstracts for you, you’re settling for less than the best.
3. Does your company include an in-house maintenance branch that performs all repairs with a general contractor’s license?
Frankly, property management firms live and die by the efficiency of their maintenance teams. Some companies hire out repairs to the cheapest vendors available, resulting in shoddy workmanship, unreliable timelines and callbacks for jobs done wrong and you’ll end up footing the bill. From a quality control standpoint, companies with in-house maintenance operations are more reliable, because they can vouch for the skills and qualifications of their technicians. They can also do a better job of estimating the time a project will take and remain accountable to that timeline.
In the future, when commercial property management companies speak with a lot of jargon to try and make you think you don’t know what’s best for your investment, remember, it’s as simple as asking these three questions.