— By Matt Dailey —
Creating efficiency in property management through technology.
It’s no secret that technology is changing the way we live, work and shop now more than it ever has. Tech has disrupted nearly every industry, and although a little slower to the game, it has finally made its way to commercial real estate. On one end, we know that tech is enabling retailers to customize shopping experiences with an added-level of convenience, resulting in increased foot traffic and ultimately higher profits. But tech implementation can be just as beneficial for retail landlords and property managers.
The idea of using tech to streamline management processes is fairly new, but with its major advantages, including the ability to solve problems quickly and efficiently and increase data security, retail owners and managers are diligently seeking new tech tools to increase overall shopping center performance. Let’s take a look at three areas where tech is positively changing how centers are managed.
One of the biggest benefits of property management technology is the ability to go paperless. Property managers are often filing a large amount of tenant and contractor paperwork, including everything from insurance certificates, lease documents (an average property managers signs 10 to 20 leases per month), work orders, project and property information, and more. In an IDC (International Data Corporation) white paper originally published in 2001 and updated in 2012, it was stated that information workers and employees in charge of creating, editing and managing paperwork for a company spent an average of 4.5 hours a week looking for paper documents that they ultimately would not find and likely have to recreate. Now, with the click of a button, everything is completely digital and immediately accessible via mobile devices. Documents are safely filed on the cloud allowing for a more collaborative workflow. With so much back and forth happening between tenants on a yearly, monthly, weekly and even daily basis, going digital can help to ensure that documents are properly stored and that only the correct documents are being viewed at all times.
A popular program for storing and sorting property documents is DocuWare, a digital document management and automated workflows system. The platform assists with all data tracking, and allows managers to seamlessly find what they are looking for with simple keywords. With this program, property managers no longer have to make offsite visits to get signed documents from third parties, and can make instant changes regardless of where they are located.
To further support going digital, tech is also safeguarding important documents. In the case of a fire or natural disaster, all files are secure and accessible on the cloud, making it that much easier for professionals to continue business as usual. In addition, a majority of digital property management tools today are password- and two-step-verification protected, keeping files locked unless granted access by the appropriate authorities. Landlords and managers can manage the tools and designate access to certain employees, which provides a layer of transparency in the event of a mistake.
Drone footage and advanced security cameras are also enabling managers to monitor the property around-the-clock. These features allow for inspecting parking lots, the roof or specific areas when a problem arises — all from an office desk or the comfort of one’s home.
Tech is making it much easier for property managers to stay current on property projects and upgrades. Commercial drones, 3-D imagery and construction management software programs are helping to streamline project management by providing quick and easy-to-read status updates on where projects stand, tracking tenant fit-outs and providing visual logs as construction unfolds. For larger developments and redevelopments involving outside contractors and vendors, tech programs are helping managers to better juggle all of the project’s components while taking the burden off the owner. The same can be said for tenant maintenance requests, where there are now software programs and apps that utilize GPS systems to manage and track the locations and hours of maintenance technicians.
Embracing tech is guaranteed to help retail owners and managers focus their time and energy on tenant and customer relations. With tailored programs and tools, landlords and property managers no longer have to spend time on tedious, administrative tasks and can get back to what’s important. The goal is to “work smarter, not harder” by implementing tech that enhances your day-to-day activities to boost overall shopping center performance.
— Matt Dailey is the GIS director at Metro Commercial, the industry leader for retail brokerage providing regional, national and international tenant representation to 150 individual and expanding retailers. Representing over 430 properties totaling over 32 million square feet, Metro also specializes in project leasing and landlord representation, investment sales, property management and development services.