Commercial property management can be an incredibly complicated business. Property managers need to:
- Track income from renters;
- Monitor multiple types of expenses (property maintenance, taxes, utilities, etc.);
- Manage industry-specific amenities for different renters;
- Ensure compliance with federal and state regulations;
- Keep common areas in good condition;
- Handle renter turnover so properties don’t sit idle; and
- Balance the distribution of commercial businesses in each property to ensure that direct competitors aren’t put too close to one another.
To achieve each of these goals, property managers often use commercial property management software. However, finding the right property management solution can be difficult.
When searching for the best commercial property management software, knowing what to look for can help. Some important features to look for in a commercial property management solution include:
Property Manager to Renter Communication Features
Communicating efficiently with renters is a key part of being a top-tier property manager. Effective communication helps to keep renters happy as well as to comply with key federal or state regulations concerning commercial property management.
For example, if you were to set up an inspection of a commercial property, you would need to notify the renter ahead of time. This isn’t just a matter of common courtesy—it’s a legal requirement. Or, say you have a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system specialist scheduled to visit the property and run maintenance on the building’s climate control system. In this case, being able to reach out to renters and alert them ahead of time that the HVAC system might shut down for part of the day can help keep the event from being a surprise and let renters take precautions, such as opening windows or setting up extra fans to beat the heat (or advising employees to pack a jacket if it’s cold outside).
Looking for commercial property management software with communication features that make it easy to send mass emails to your current renters and their employees or to use other communication channels can help you improve renter relations and keep commercial renters apprised of important events.
Check for Commercial Property Management Software with Online Bill Pay
The easier you can make rent, utilities, and common area maintenance (CAM) fee collection on your renters, the better. Using hardcopy bills and waiting for mailed checks (or worse, cash), is inefficient, slow, and terrible for your property management company’s cash flow. So, looking for commercial property management software that has online bill pay features is important.
Beyond simply being able to submit a bill, look for software that makes it easy to itemize expenses for each renter as much as possible. This way, they can see what is being spent on basic rent, CAM fees, emergency repairs (if renters are responsible for these fees in the agreement), and utilities. This eliminates surprises and helps make billing seem less arbitrary to renters.
Commercial Property Marketing Software Features
Vacancies are an inevitability for commercial property management. Whether a commercial renter has their business go under or simply packs up and moves for “greener” pastures, the result is the same: there is now a vacancy in your commercial property that needs to be filled ASAP.
Having a commercial property management software that features marketing services for vacant properties can help you fill such vacancies sooner rather than later. When evaluating marketing software features, consider how the marketing works. Does it post the vacancy to popular real estate listing sites such as Zillow.com? Or, does it generate a mass email that you can send to a list of business owners who might be in the market for a new property?
In your marketing, it may help to mention any permanently-installed amenities that are suited for particular business types. For example, natural gas connections may be worth mentioning to attract food service industry businesses, while high-speed fiber optic internet connections may help attract office or tech-oriented businesses.
Application Processing Software Features
After you’ve generated some interest in a commercial property through online marketing efforts, how do you “seal the deal?” This is where the commercial property management software’s application processing features can help. A couple of key things to look for in these software features are:
- Renter Vetting Processes. Performing a financial and criminal background check can help you identify the best-fit renters for your commercial spaces—ones who are likely to provide stable rent payments and avoid controversial actions that may negatively impact property values.
- Lease Signing and Documentation. How does the solution present the lease agreement to the renter? Can the renter sign the lease online? Can they review important lease agreement documents in a renter portal? Having online lease signing and documentation available can help speed up lease closures—which, in turn, gets renters moved in and paying rent faster.
Income and Expense Tracking Features for Commercial Properties
Accounting software features are common for most commercial property management platforms. Having a way to track where your expenses are going and what each renter is paying is crucial for maintaining solvency for a commercial property management business. If you have renters or properties that are consistently consuming more in maintenance costs than they generate in rental income, then it’s obvious that there is a problem.
Being able to track income and expenses for each commercial property that you manage can help you identify dead-weight properties (or renters) that you need to either apply a major fix/remodel to or take off your books entirely. This can help you maintain the long-term financial health of your commercial property management business.
Balancing Property Management Software Costs and Benefits
Cost is always a concern when licensing a property management software. However, determining costs can be very confusing—especially when many property management software providers choose to withhold pricing information until you’re committed to a call with one of their representatives.
Some software platforms base their pricing on the number of registered users; others base their fees on the number of managed units. A few commercial property management software platforms charge separately for different features and modules—applying a “basic” version that does the bare minimum and then tacking on additional fees to access certain features.
Honestly, the best advice here is to shop around as much as you can and to let the software developers know that when you talk to them. Compare the quotes each one gives for what your monthly, quarterly, or yearly costs will be, what features you’ll be getting for those costs, and how easy or hard it will be to switch later if you change your mind. This can help you identify the best commercial property management software for your needs.
One note: There’s one feature that you won’t find in any commercial property management software—the ability to access a network of thousands of vetted, background-checked property maintenance professionals. For that, you’ll need a dedicated property maintenance solution like Homee On Demand. With Homee, you can access on-demand property maintenance services that are billed by the minute—not the hour. This saves you time and money while helping ensure effective maintenance for the commercial properties you manage.
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