Working for a private company, it is easy to become narrowly focused - focused on the people who buy and use your product. It's kind of like election goggles. You become focused on solving specific and immediate problems, cutting costs and applying technology to real world situations - things with tangible and foreseeable results. I was lucky enough that James decided to incorporate the product that I support (Building Engines) into the curriculum, giving me the opportunity to watch people interact and learn about my product from a purely educational standpoint.
Over the past few years the job description of a commercial property manager has changed significantly. Much of this change is driven by high tenant expectations and a shift in how we view and use technology in the CRE industry. As a former property manager, I understand both the pressures that are mounting on CRE professionals to gain a vast skillset and the struggles that organizations are undergoing to find the right talent.
A Tsunami of Opportunity for CRE Professionals
A few years ago, there was about a five-year gap where no one was going into the CRE field. In a recent podcast we found that the CRE industry today is made up of about 60% Baby Boomers, 30% Generation X, and only about 10% Generation Y. As baby boomers start to retire today, we are experiencing a large movement of talent leaving the industry, creating a considerable skill gap on property management teams. And those hiring for new roles are struggling to fill these voids. In fact, almost a quarter of CRE professionals said their biggest challenges hiring employees is gaps in skill set.
On the positive side, this is creating a large opportunity for younger generations to fill those gaps. Gaining the right skill set will make property managers stand out from the crowd and more attractive to CRE organizations. Based on my previous experience and the direction the industry is heading, I rounded up a few key traits that commercial property managers should encompass if they want to be one of the few who is paving the way and setting new standards for the industry.
1. An Owner’s Mindset
Highly successful CRE property managers think like owners. They understand the owner’s investment and operating goals for the property and are able to manage accordingly. They can do this all while conserving resources when necessary and investing when appropriate. Additionally, they are strong negotiators, much like asset managers, and know when and how to professionally and tactfully say ‘no’ to tenants and vendors.
2. A Strong Focus on Customer Service
The CRE industry is beginning to shift toward more of a B2C way of doing business. As this shift continues to transpire, CRE organizations will require the talent to match new customer service requirements. Commercial property managers that have previous experience working in a customer service and customer facing role will be critical. These individuals typically understand what makes customers happy and loyal. They can quickly relate this to the tenant experience and focus on what makes them satisfied and renewing their leases.
3. Quick and Confident Problem Solving
Property managers are constantly dealing with unexpected issues that pop up during their days. In order to maintain control over the chaos that can arise, a critical skill the modern property manager needs to encompass is the ability to quickly and confidently solve problems – all while remaining calm and collected.
4. Great Communication
Whether it’s between members of their management team, vendors, or tenants, property managers are constantly connecting with different people within their building. This requires property managers to be strong communicators – clear, proactive, and able to listen as well as they share. They also have to be able to quickly shift how they communicate and what they communicate based upon the different roles they are speaking to within a building.
5. A Curiosity for Innovation and a Knack for Modern Tech
In today’s age of technology, property managers who are tech-savvy excel in the CRE industry. These individuals understand how to use innovations in technology to impose efficiency gains in their organizations. They are curious about the new tools available that will help increase productivity. They are also able to drive technology adoption among their staff who may be wary of changing the status quo. As technology continues to infiltrate almost every corner of CRE buildings, this skill will hold even greater clout.
New technology, tenant expectations, and owner needs will continue to evolve in the coming years. To keep up, property managers must do the same. The skills above embody a modern commercial property manager who is successfully keeping up with the changes and new demands we see in the industry. There is too much opportunity industry-wide to be left in the dust. Use these traits as guidance to sharpen your skill set and become an irreplaceable and critical member of your CRE team today and in the future.