JEMB Realty Corporation, a progressive real estate development, investment, and management firm, has been long established in the real estate industry for over 30 years and continues to maintain a clear presence in several North American cities.
Adnan Rugovac, Tenant Coordinator, JEMB Realty, manages five buildings in JEMB Realty’s portfolio – three offices, one residential, and one retail building – and oversees project managers, engineers, maintenance, and janitorial staff in all buildings.
Rugovac recently sat down to share his experience with Building Engines software for his property management. In this Q&A blog, Rugovac explains how day-to-day operations have improved since implementing Building Engines technology along with specific areas where the platform has impacted the properties he manages.
JEMB Realty’s initial implementation of Building Engines software
Rugovac: When JEMB Realty implemented Building Engines software, we spent roughly two months laying everything out. There was nothing left behind.
Now everybody saves time, and we don’t waste paper or waste any time guessing, ‘What am I doing today?’, ‘What am I doing tomorrow?’. It minimized meetings. It minimized people standing around. They know what they have to do. Now I can generate a report to see what’s done, what’s not done, what passed, what failed, and what work orders came out of the inspections or preventative maintenance (PM) tasks.
Everything is like a moving machine. Nobody is guessing, nobody is wondering what they have to do that day, week, or month. Everything is laid out pretty much for the whole year.
7 areas Building Engines made an impact for JEMB Realty
1. Labor costs
Rugovac: What really drives labor costs is the lease language. And with the lease language and the Union guidelines, we came up with a formula that uses Building Engines software. We have inspections laid out; we have PMs laid out. We find where time is needed, where time is lost, where time is used least and most. And that helped us understand where all labor is going when it comes to the lead engineers, chief engineers, the cleaning janitorial staff, the maintenance staff, etc.
“Any time of the day we can find out where everybody is through Building Engines and we can tell you how long each PM takes, how long each inspection takes, and it’s not a guessing game anymore.”
Any time of the day we can find out where everybody is through Building Engines and we can tell you how long each PM takes, how long each inspection takes, and how much each job costs, and it’s not a guessing game anymore. With Building Engines software set in place, it lays everything out so for us. We can tell if we need more engineers or less engineers or more cleaning staff, less cleaning staff.
2. Mobile technology
Rugovac: Everybody was really receptive to the mobile app Building Engines offered. They took a liking to it. They liked the fact that there was no more paper, no more writing down for 20 minutes. It took away a lot of the communication issues. Everything is caught in the field.
With the software, you can see every aspect, every inch of every floor, every inch of the stairwells. So, you’re not missing anything. It actually made the building cleaner, and it gave everyone a sense of responsibility – down to the youngest janitor and up to the highest chief engineer. Everyone has a say, and everyone can create a work order. Nothing ever gets missed; everybody has full access.
With a simple click on the phone, you can see everything. And if you can’t pass an inspection or a PM, you can record that through Building Engines software and it will generate a work order automatically, you don’t forget it. You’re taking care of it that second. It costs you no time or extra effort.
Rugovac: The billbacks and the reports are amazing. There’s always accountability, there’s always back up, nobody gets ignored. The biggest thing that saved me multiple times is the fact that I can go back and track what happened four months ago or eight months ago if I can’t remember off the top of my head. That saved me so much aggravation. I can go into the software and find that keyword and it will pop up on my report. I use Building Engines to give the owners quarterly reports on all the billbacks and all the profits.
4. Vendor management and COIs
Rugovac: Whether it’s windows, buildings, electric, I put all that information in Building Engines software. And I can tell you how much a job costs, how much a similar job costs, and if the job wasn’t done properly.
For example, we repaired a steam line inside of a wall. We thought it was finished, but three months later the same steam line started leaking. It easily could have been missed that we repaired that already. Through Building Engines, I found that we already repaired that steam line only a couple of months ago. When you have many buildings, things get missed. So, when you have the research and the backup of how much that job costs, you can ask that same vendor to see if they will do a warranty or if they will come back and repair it.
“Whether it’s windows, buildings, electric, I put all that information in Building Engines’ software. And I can tell you how much a job costs, how much a similar job costs, and if the job wasn’t done properly.”
Building Engines helps me track windows and doors and all the items we repair throughout the day. With the inspections, PMs, and work orders, they’re set up where if I hire a new person, it reduces training because everything is sent out item by item, step by step, floor by floor, tool by tool. You can read it all off your phone. So that reduces time, training, wait times, and tracks costs from each vendor.
If I had multiple plumbers, I could put each work order side by side to see how must labor and material cost per job, and you can find which contractor was the fastest and cleanest. With pictures and documenting put in the purchase orders, you can see everything.
Certificates of insurance (COI) are hard to track too so we use Building Engines. A month prior to a COI expiring, it sends us a notification and we go after that contractor so they can make sure to update the COI. As long as we have that on our radar, we are good.
5. Energy savings
Rugovac: Between five buildings, we saved a lot. I have a proven record of saving a portfolio 23-25% in energy costs since 2018. Building Engines was a big part of that.
We used incentive programs, collected all the data, and reached out to tenants using Building Engines software. We let them know where we would be working, what we’re changing. There was no confusion and there were no lost questions. It’s a great software to track all the tools, costs, incentives, government documents, and tenant communications. It helped us make a budget for each building. It also helped us educate the tenants on who was using more energy, leaving units running overnight.
“Between five buildings, we saved a lot. I have a proven record of saving a portfolio 23-25% in energy costs since 2018. Building Engines was a big part of that.”
While reducing energy with incentives, and with Building Engines, we noticed that steam levels were spiking, and we didn’t know what was happening. We had to explain that in a report to the owners why more money was spent on steam this month than last. With Building Engines, we found out that the month that spiked, there was a gasket that was ripped and there was steam leaking out for four days. So, we ordered a new gasket, were able to shut down the unit, repair the gasket, put everything back together, and restart the unit. That cost the building $15,000, just for having steam leak out for four days. But due to the fact that we had backup on the work order that we created, the owners had no questions. That made the building operations personnel look amazing.
6. Tenant satisfaction
Rugovac: Customer service is number one. We have a record of all the tenant work order requests, whether it’s too cold or too hot, etc. All the requests that come to us, we can pull up that report. Every week and every month, property managers can create a report to see which tenant has the most requests and that helps to understand which tenant needs the most attention. If it’s wintertime and the same tenant keeps sending the same requests that they’re cold, we can go in person and investigate more. And it helps with lease extensions when the tenants are happy.
7. Risk management
Rugovac: Through Building Engines, we can show the banking lenders that issue us money how efficiently we run a building. We use Building Engines software to show them a risk assessment that we are responsible. It keeps our personal insurance down because we have procedures and backups that we can show a risk assessment banker.
Slip and falls, construction accidents, for example, when something happens today, we aren’t going to get a letter from a lawyer until a few years from now. When there’s a turnaround with upper management and they hold the records of all the incidents and data, that’s a big problem. We use Building Engines software to store all of our incidences. And through Building Engines we set up time for training. Building Engines was good enough to adjust incidents reports to how we want it. We don’t have to train every person; the system is training all these people, and nothing gets missed. You can always adjust it too. But the training saves you time, money and effort, and you never miss a document.
Building Engines software for your property
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