How to Manage Multiple CRE Properties in 2021

How to deploy globally and configure locally with an all-in-one platform for the workplace.

When it comes to commercial real estate, no two buildings are the same. Not only are there obvious differences like location, layout, and leasing terms—there are also more subtle ones like tenant demographics, needs, and expectations. Tenants may benefit from bicycle storage at one location, for example, while it would be wasted on another (say, urban vs. suburban); and while some buildings may require a rigorous check-in process, that kind of security may not be as much of a concern elsewhere.

Given this kind of local variation, the way property teams manage those buildings is going to vary as well—leading CRE owners and operators to adopt a variety of workplace tools and technologies. 

But with so many different technologies in play, it can be hard to maintain a consistent brand experience for your tenants across all of your properties, not to mention the flat fees and subscription costs that ramp up for each piece of software. Add to that the hundreds of additional hours your staff has to pour into managing these incompatible technologies and the drawbacks become truly apparent.

In this post, we share four pro tips to ditching this “Frankenstein Tech” approach to manage your portfolio of commercial properties efficiently and effectively.

1. Keep “Tenant Experience” Top of Mind

To accommodate the needs of your tenants as they vary from one property to the next, you need to be thinking about more than just the typical, B2B property management factors like how much office space you’re filling or how much you’re charging for it. On the contrary, you need to be thinking about the B2C tenant experience you’re creating at each of your properties.

Are there events you can host that’ll be engaging or otherwise beneficial to your tenants? If one of your properties leases predominantly to startup companies, for instance, you could organize networking events for founders to connect with one another and potentially meet new investors.

Relatedly, what content can you create and share that your specific tenants will find valuable? This can be as simple as sharing recommendations for the best local restaurants to host a business meeting.

Last but not least, what functionality can you offer that’ll make the day-to-day experience for your tenants more positive? Think mobile access to allow tenants to effortlessly tap into rooms with their phone, or mobile bookings for easy reservation of conference rooms and fitness studios.

2. Keep Branding and User Experience (UX) Consistent Across Your Properties

Although content, events, and functionality may vary from one building to the next, brand and user experience should not.

If one of your properties is set up with an intuitive and powerful tenant experience platform and another is still using a legacy platform with single-use tools tacked on, the experience tenants associate with your brand is going to be inconsistent.

From the visual look and feel of the mobile app your tenants use (UI) to the actual user experience (UX) you offer within each, consistency is key. The workplace experience platform you invest in should offer great built-in features that make deploying out-of-the-box possible, while also offering deep customization functionality for you to truly configure your systems at the building-level.

“The workplace experience platform you invest in should offer great built-in features that make deploying out-of-the-box possible, while also offering deep customization functionality for you to truly configure your systems at the building-level.”

In short, you need a technology that allows you to configure locally, but deploy globally.

3. Invest in the Best Communication Technology

When it comes to communicating with your tenants, posters, flyers, and lobby screens simply won’t cut it anymore. In all other aspects of their lives, your tenants communicate seamlessly via mobile and desktop apps. So why not at work? Today’s modern professional expects push notifications, in-app reminders, and more of the smart, mobile-first functionality they enjoy in their personal lives.

Beyond tenant expectations, it’s also important to consider the overall scalability of communications across your portfolio. If you’re operating buildings globally, the messages each building receives are likely going to be different.

To achieve this, your workplace communication technology should be able to:

  • Send targeted communications at the tenant, building, region, and portfolio level
  • Communicate and manage return-to-work protocols across your entire portfolio
  • Maintain consistent branding, while being able to tailor content to specific groups
  • Use content, templates and media assets across multiple properties to save time

4. Streamline Operations with a Single, All-in-One Tenant Experience Platform

Consistent branding, dynamic communications, quality of experience—all of these are crucial to successfully managing multiple properties efficiently and effectively. To put each into practice, however, you’ll need to invest in a workplace experience platform that can pull all of the different aspects of workplace management into a single, easy-to-use command center.

But keep in mind, if you try to roll out a portfolio-wide tenant management system that lacks building-level configurability, you’ll find yourself stuck with a product that doesn’t work for all situations.

To choose the right workplace technology from the beginning, we recommend focusing on five core elements:

  1. Configurability, where functionality can be set globally, but tailored down to the most location-specific use cases.
  2. Permissions, where asset and portfolio managers are given the ability to send communications and make core changes portfolio-wide, whereas regional and on-site building teams can communicate and make changes at the local level.
  3. Scalability, to ensure the platform can handle millions of users in real-time around the world.
  4. Admin user-friendliness, in the form of drag-and-drop, no-code editors so anyone on the property team can easily create notices and update information without needing to bring in costly developers.
  5. Comprehensiveness, which ensures the feature set is broad enough to cover the majority of your use cases, while offering seamless integrations with others services and tools to maintain a single sign-on, command-center-style experience.

“If you try to roll out a portfolio-wide tenant management system that lacks building-level configurability, you’ll find yourself stuck with a product that doesn’t work for all situations.”

With Lane, you can easily balance property-by-property configurability with brand consistency and scalability up to regional, national, and global levels. You can also configure permissions based on other forms of “tiered” admin levels and different property types as needed.

Workplace experience technology: One building or many?

While you’re test driving a new property management platform, the question remains: should you trial it at just one of your properties, or many?

On one hand, it’s nice to test the waters with a single “pilot” building and apply the learnings there to roll-outs at future buildings. But on the other hand, it’s not only cheaper per square foot to turn on more properties—it also gives you the experience of managing multiple buildings at the same time, which is part of the task of the portfolio or asset manager.

Last but not least, launching across multiple buildings at the same time allows you to create even bigger fanfare around your new workplace experience technology and deliver a consistently branded experience to your end users portfolio-wide.

Wrapping up

Managing multiple properties efficiently and effectively starts with the core platform you choose to run everything through. If your technology allows you to deliver a great user experience that’s tailored to each building while maintaining a consistent brand experience across your portfolio, you’re off to a great start.

To learn more about how Lane can help you manage your entire portfolio more efficiently, get in touch with the Lane team to schedule a product walkthrough today.