How confident are you that you would be able to quickly react to an incident in your building the moment it occurs?

A whopping 49% of property management organizations surveyed just last year on their risk management practices revealed that they don’t conduct Emergency Scenario Training sessions, which are geared towards improving emergency response times and quality.

It is an unfortunate state of affairs, but there is hope.

Back in our school days we learned how to duck and cover, and where to go in the event of a fire, weather, or safety emergency. Sure, it wasn’t always taken seriously (we were kids, after all), but it provided us with a basic framework for incident response.

Times have changed and technology has improved, but we are still not immune to risk. We throw around our “stuff happens” sayings, and leave things up to chance, but simply put: luck isn’t a strategy.

Property management teams need to know that building incidents can and will happen, and it is up to teams to know how to manage risk, and to know how to respond appropriately to emergencies as they occur. This responsibility is essential to providing tenants with peace-of-mind, and minimizing organizational liability.

So. How do you plan to respond to building incidents the right way?

  1. Develop a Plan

    In 2014, real estate organizations reported that they were vulnerable to 4.1 million workplace injuries, 2 million incidents of workplace violence, and $2.6 billion of property loss from non-residential structure fires, to name a few.

    That is a heckuva lot of incidents.

    Property managers, owners, and teams can mitigate and manage risk, and know how to respond in a crisis, by developing a comprehensive emergency response plan.

    Emergency Response Plans should include:

    a.    Active Training Scenarios for property management teams, and with tenants (if possible)
    b.    A Crisis Management Team, ensuring that there are enough commanders to respond in an emergency
    c.    Establishing a relationship with local public entities like fire and police departments

    It is also important to re-evaluate your plan following major incidents, to ensure that it continues to offer full coverage for your properties.

  2. Communicate & Distribute the Plan

    The best plans often go unfulfilled because they are not adequately distributed to those who are meant to take part in their undertaking.

    In fact, 37% of CRE property owners and managers openly admit that they don’t have a centralized database for employee, tenant, and vendor contact information that they can easily access during an emergency. That’s a huge problem if an emergency takes place in your property and you need to notify people.

    Here is where your Crisis Management Team really comes into play.

    They will be needed to:

    1. Know emergency preparedness standards and expectations
    2. Identify people who are trained in first aid, CPR/AED, and provide adequate training to employees
    3. Regularly conduct drills and exercises to make sure people know what to do
    4. Communicate to tenants, employees, vendors, and staff, while tracking responses during and after an emergency
  3. Enforce Consistency

    Let’s go back and think of all the times you participated in fire and safety drills in school. Sure, they were boring and dreary, but you always knew what to do, right? They enforced consistency!

    That same consistency is crucial to your property management team’s risk management strategy. Having a plan, and communicating that plan are all well and good, but unless you can rely on a near-standard response, your results may vary more wildly.

    As J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in ‘The Hobbit,’  “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.

    Human nature is that dragon – we all want to avoid extra work if we cannot see the immediate reward for doing it, even if that extra work can protect us from incidents and injury. That just won’t do.

    However, these things can be overcome with the right attitude, and a great set of tools built to help you enforce consistency, gather actionable data, and manage risk. Tools like Building Engines Property Management Software.

    Building Engines can empower you to manage risk by:

    1. Automating the COI process, helping to reduce administrative burden and reduce the risk of compliance failure
    2. Capturing incident report data digitally, in-the-moment, so you can track long-term trends
    3. Keeping track of visitor access in a secure, and cost-effective manner
    4. Giving you the latest tools to keep up with Fire & Life Safety requirements
    5. Helping you digitally broadcast emergency communications to tenants, vendors, and staff

Building Engines is also available to help you manage risk on the go, with the BE-Mobile app for iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices.

96% of our survey respondents planned to implement new processes or tools to help manage operational risk in 2015. Will you lead the charge, inspire confidence in your tenants, and respond to building incidents the right way in 2016?