This month’s customer spotlight shines on Chad Miller, Assistant Property Manager, Harsch Investment Properties in San Francisco, where he started over 8 years ago as a temporary receptionist. Working his way up the ladder at Harsch’s landmark 450 Sutter Building, Chad has implemented numerous modernized amenities to keep the historic 1929 medical high-rise as sought after as its contemporary peers (it’s 98% occupied!). Some of these amenities that have been implemented include free electronic waste removal, confidential document shredding, on-site yoga classes, adding a 24/7 answering service, electronic lease document signatures, and the launch of Building Engines.
Chad was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to speak with us…
What has been your biggest success in your current role?
My biggest success as an Assistant Property Manager has been navigating both my company and our tenants onto modern technology platforms that have led to phenomenal results for everyone involved. As more and more services we provide to tenants become “On Demand,” having the tools to provide those services efficiently and effectively make all the difference. Seeing a work order submitted online from a technology-resistant receptionist was a particularly proud moment for me, since I previously had a very difficult time helping that same receptionist set up her outgoing voicemail.
I’m in a unique environment where the majority of our medical and dental practices have been doing business the same way for over 30 years and they are (understandably) resistant to change. If I had run a hugely successful business the same way for decades, I would likely be just as critical. I was asked by one tenant during our implementation of Building Engines, “Why can’t I just fax you like I have been?” Being able to help our tenants understand how modern technology can make their lives easier, while simultaneously making the lives of my engineers and janitorial staff easier, is a huge success.
You seem to have really embraced technology. What motivated you to do so?
I don’t want to contribute to the stereotype that growing up as a “Millennial” has given me a predisposition to embracing technology, but I will say that I recall playing the original Nintendo (N.E.S.) when I was two years old. My mother thought it was hilarious I would sit next to the edge of the television screen (as far as the cord would allow) in an attempt to see what was coming next before Mario ran into it. I grew up with computers to type my homework on, the Internet to do research, and instant messaging to keep in contact with friends after moving to a new school. Embracing technology is something I’ve literally been raised to do.
That being said, my motivation for embracing technology in my career comes from witnessing the fantastic successes and epic failures of my peers (more on the failures of my peers later). When brainstorming with our Vice President and Senior Property Manager, we asked ourselves “What are the premier buildings in San Francisco offering their tenants?” and “What is preventing us from offering those same amenities?” The vast majority of those amenities were simple technology-based solutions to common tenant problems, such as knowing when the building’s conference room is available for a meeting and booking it instantly. There is (usually) no reason we can’t have the same amenities that our brand new neighbors have.
How important is it for senior real estate professionals to stay current with CRE technology and advances?
I spent a year doing some part time work for a residential property management firm (we’ll call them Company Z) who avoided newer technology because as a 3rd party management company, they really only cared for saving the owner money and didn’t reinvest any profits back into their operations or properties. As you can imagine, the results were disastrous. The employee turnover rate at Company Z is massive, tenant repair requests were rarely followed up with (leading to unhappy tenants), and there were no easily accessible tenant files from Property Managers. While not upgrading to current technologies wasn’t the only problem that Company Z faced, it could have been a great solution to a lot of their issues.
What kind of impact has technology made for your clients and customers?
Living in San Francisco, I see on a day-to-day basis how technology has changed (and is continuing to change) everything in my clients’ and customers’ personal and professional lives. There are rarely aspects of their day that aren’t tied to a smart phone, whether it’s an alarm clock to wake up, appointment reminders throughout the day, using accounting apps to manage transactions and bank accounts, video conferencing with customers, keeping track of diets, being taught exercise routines, or making reservations for dinner. Technology’s impact has blurred the lines between the personal and the professional, making us all more productive and accessible.
Accessibility is one of the more notable impacts I’ve witnessed. Since switching to electronic document signatures, we’ve noticed the vast majority of lease signatures we gather are done well outside of business hours, when tenants can sit at home (or while working late into the night) and have a few chance to actually review a lease without their work day distracting them. There are also a lot of tenants that put in Work Orders online after our offices have closed as well. This accessibility is making us into better landlords because we’re adapting to the schedules of small business owners, who are ultimately the reason we’re here.
What are three words that describe your experience working with Building Engines and why would you recommend our software to your peers?
Smart. Responsive. Non-Defenestration. Building Engines makes doing my job MUCH easier. Placing all of our Property Management services into one system and automating tasks allows me to focus my time and energy on more productive efforts, like bringing in new tenant amenities, applying for the BOMA TOBY Awards, and finishing legally-required ASHRAE Audits. Implementing Building Engines for your properties will give your staff professional, high-quality and in-demand tools for easily managing all aspects of your tenant relationships, leading to more productive employees, happier tenants, a happier landlord and ultimately (and most importantly) a happier you!
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