Maybe you’re a property manager, employed by a corporate chain. Or maybe you’re an investor who’s focused on building a commercial real estate portfolio. You might also work for a local company, overseeing a handful of properties. In any case, your job is a challenging one. You’ve got to juggle the needs of multiple properties, and possibly hundreds or thousands of tenants. Moreover, you need to keep each facility running smoothly, and at equally high levels of quality. And there’s only one of you.
There’s no doubt that commercial real estate is a highly specialized industry. You probably have significant training and talents to meet the daily challenges of a multi-property portfolio. At U.S. Lawns, we manage grounds for some of the nation’s largest corporations, who say that’s sometimes a good place to start improving operations. Here are some helpful hints we’ve heard from our clients in 28 years of business:
• Keep your staff small. Just acquired 20 facilities? Don’t go out and hire a hundred people. Maintain a core of employees that you trust, and communicate with them regularly. Expand your team carefully, as geography and other needs dictate. This reduces overhead and increases your efficiency. One simple way to do this is outsource. For instance, U.S. Lawns has 270 locations in 44 states, and can handle grounds care for all your properties, without adding a single person to your payroll.
• Be efficient. You’ll feel like you’re running a smaller operation if your facilities are maintained routinely, quickly and on-time. Because it’s impossible to stay on top of so many locations at once, don’t be fooled by maintenance companies that promise an “all-seeing” approach … claiming to fix problems before they even arise. Realistically, we’ve found that our multi-property partners want a responsive company—that is, an open line of communication with someone who’s always on the job, and can address any situation with immediacy. For us, being responsive also includes knowing what you want, and customizing your maintenance program for you.
• Keep your tenants happy. Our clients who rent to businesses and retail tell us that a lot of administrative time is wasted on tenant complaints. Sometimes, this is because responsiveness is lacking (see above), and irrigation systems are breaking or parking lots aren’t being swept. Other times, you’ll find that all tenants really want is an attractive, well-maintained facility, so that they in turn can attract employees and customers. Either way, at U.S. Lawns we make 100% Customer Satisfaction our top priority—which means if your tenants aren’t happy, you won’t be happy, and we’re just not satisfied with that.
• Reduce billing. Again, nothing wastes time like having multiple vendors and bills for each of your properties. At U.S. Lawns, we consolidate your invoices and give you one accounting contact—whether you’ve got 5 locations or 50. By reducing paperwork, you’re free to manage all the other important aspects of your properties. And if you work for a corporate chain, we know this type of streamlined process is exactly what you’re looking for.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice we can offer is to find partners you trust. Delegating allows you to focus on your job, not five other people’s. U.S. Lawns is a franchise, with expert owners managing grounds care for our clients. With that kind of personal service and trust, you can definitely check landscaping off your list of things to worry about, no matter how many properties you manage.