Building Engines and JEMB Realty Corporation recently joined Propmodo’s webinar discussion, “How Software is Helping Building Owners Lower Operating Costs.” Experts weighed in on the impact commercial real estate (CRE) technology is having on the industry as well as the top pain points commercial property managers are seeing. 

Throughout the discussion, experts answered questions such as:  

  • What can property teams do to reduce energy use? 
  • What equipment should be replaced first? 
  • What services do tenants value most? 
  • What can a building do to earn additional revenue? 

We have a full recap of their conversation and answers to those important questions.  

Introduction of the experts 

To start, an introduction of the two CRE experts on the webinar panel. 

Adnan Rugovac, Tenant Coordinator and Building Manager, manages five buildings in JEMB Realty Corporation’s portfolio – three offices, one residential, and one retail building. He oversees project managers, engineers, maintenance, and janitorial staff in all buildings. 

Daniel Russo, Chief Product Officer, manages product strategy for Building Engines. He builds software for people just like Rugovac, helping to run operations between buildings for project teams, engineering teams, and tenants. 

Top 3 pain points for commercial property managers right now 

Here are the top three pain points commercial property managers are seeing right now, according to the experts. 

1. Balancing labor costs 

Often when commercial property managers look at the labor force for each of their properties, cost reduction always seems to be part of the discussion. Reducing costs, however, does not always mean cutting back. In Rugovac’s case, it actually meant investing more. And he said mobile software for property management was one of his top investments to tackle the labor issue. 

“We have everyone using their cellphones. When we implemented technology, we spent roughly two months laying everything out so there was nothing left behind,” Rugovac said. 

For Rugovac and his team, leveraging property management software on a mobile app has led to streamlined workflows. Everyone knows exactly what’s expected of them any time they open they app.

“You wake up, you are the lead foreman for the day, you have the inspections come to you that morning, and you distribute them through their phone,” he added. “It is all laid out depending on what each person is doing. It is set up one time, it minimizes guessing and meetings.” 

“There is definitely a ROI for having a world class property team.” – Daniel Russo, Building Engines

For Rugovac, this mobile technology cuts down on administrative time and refocuses attention on the field work, which lowers overall time and money spent on labor. 

Russo agreed. “If you don’t have a software system that takes away from all that busy work, you might not be charging the tenant correctly and you can lose money,” he said. 

“All the things you can do to streamline connectivity is great,” Russo remarked. And it’s the streamlining that is so valuable to property teams. Connecting buildings from the inside increases efficiency, lowers labor costs, and allows property teams to buy back their time to focus on other tasks at hand. 

Building operations management: How property managers are streamlining workflows

Building operations management: How property managers are streamlining workflows

Here are the most important insights for property managers to know – according to the “Property management trends & technologies for 2023,” report – as they work to streamline their building operations management.

“Scale, reducing busy work, connecting property teams, that’s where the value and the savings are. If you can eliminate time and mistakes, your teams can be working on so much more for the tenants to make the buildings world class,” Russo said.  

So, as a commercial property manager or operator, reevaluate your current inefficiencies and find gaps where mobile technology for property teams can be used. 

2. Improving energy management 

Green buildings. Net zero. Decarbonization. These are all terms commercial property managers are hearing more and more in conversations. However, these aren’t just buzz terms. There are real sustainability mandates and standards commercial buildings are being held to. And failing to meet these regulations could result in costly fines. 

Russo said there’s a number of things CRE teams can do to move towards green energy and reduce buildings’ energy usage. His suggestions include: 

  • Choose to work with green suppliers 
  • Maintain energy certifications 
  • Replace all your lighting and get more energy efficient lighting
  • Repair or replace old HVAC units 

Additionally, indoor air quality is now a big topic for the CRE industry, especially in the office sector. However, Russo said that keeping air clean in a building can use a lot of energy. But there are software products that can plug directly into your BMS to monitor indoor air quality, make adjustments, and keep tenant comfort levels high. This software can help property teams manage their costs. 

Sustainability in commercial real estate: Top goals for 2023

Sustainability in commercial real estate: Top goals for 2023

Sustainability continues to grow in importance for the CRE industry, especially as governments implement more green building mandates and tenants increase their demands for such properties.

For Rugovac, tapping into sustainable solutions has saved him and his tenants a considerable amount in savings year over year. In fact, with property management software, Rugovac has been able to save his buildings 23-25% in energy costs since 2018. 

3. Focusing on tenant satisfaction and amenities 

Tenants are arguably the most important part of any building. Making sure tenants are satisfied and all their needs are met is paramount.  

“Customer service is number one,” said Rugovac. “With building technology, we have a record of all the tickets tenants open – whether it’s too cold, too hot, or a noise issue. Every week and every month I create a report for myself to see which tenant has the most requests. It helps me understand which tenant needs the most attention.” And the biggest impact tenant satisfaction has for Rugovac? Lease extensions. 

Russo also encouraged property teams to use technology built specifically for tenant satisfaction, emphasizing the importance of surveys.  

“Getting feedback from your customers, in my opinion, is mandatory,” he said. “In our product, we have done work around surveys as well. You can get feedback constantly from your tenants. I think it’s important no matter the industry.” 

Tenant Engagement Strategy: 3 Ways CRE Landlords Can Create Buildings People Want to Work At

Tenant Engagement Strategy: 3 Ways CRE Landlords Can Create Buildings People Want to Work At

CRE leaders are faced with an array of new challenges – including how to add value to buildings in ways that support every person who spends time in and around the workplace.

Another way to improve tenant experience at buildings is to include more tenant amenities fit for your specific property. Amenities are proven to increase tenant satisfaction and could also be profitable for commercial property managers. 

“There are a lot of building owners making a lot of money from building amenities,” said Russo. “In software you can create a list of things your tenants can book. You can have different prices for tenants depending on their lease, and at the end of the month you forward those extra expenses to accounting.” 

Addressing the biggest CRE pain points 

With the economy in decline, building owners are looking for ways to maximize property value, and property managers need to reduce expenses. However, occupiers expect more from buildings than ever before, such as carbon reporting and occupancy intelligence.  

Reducing staff might seem like the quickest way to save money, but the building’s performance and the service provided to occupants often suffer. Instead, building operators can use technology to keep operating costs down while increasing their ability to improve tenant satisfaction. 

With the right technology in place, property teams can do everything from reducing energy use to improving cleaning and maintenance schedules to streamlining the leasing process.  

Learn more about the impact of CRE technology by tuning into the free on-demand webinar or schedule a personalized discovery session today.