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Beauty is more than skin deep in property management.

There's an old adage that says the most important person in any organization is its receptionist. After all, that's generally the first person a client or customer sees upon entering an office, or speaks with when calling. And while that may be an overstatement, the point is well taken - first impression mean a great deal.

The same is true - if not more so - when managing an office building. First impressions say a lot about the quality of the building, often defining the ambiance and environment. This generally plays a significant role in how much interest and rent an owner eau get for office space within the building.

When designing an effective and cost-efficient property management plan, never underestimate the importance of curb appeal - it sets the tone. The exterior of the building and the surrounding grounds must create a most favorable image. Obviously, an interesting facade creates excitement, but don't overlook the need for a contemporary, updated and visually appealing landscaping plan. Colorful, seasonal flowers, a smoking area that's clean and constantly maintained, an outdoor seating area and clean windows can serve to create the most favorable impression among prospective tenants - or buyers.

Major capital improvements at buildings managed by CB Richard Ellis, including Plaza Nine in Woodbridge, NJ and The Sylvan Corporate Center in Englewood Cliffs, NJ for example, have created that exciting curb appeal. In both instances, however, we've also created a "tenant-friendly" environment that makes both properties stand out in today's very competitive New Jersey office environment.

While an attractive exterior will stimulate interest, it will be a strong array of amenities and an impeccable service and maintenance record that will keep tenants and attract new ones. This needs to be addressed from two perspectives.

First, identity existing problems within a building, recognizing the outdated design elements that make the building look old and "tired." Money invested in making the lobby look "dynamic" and different from other lobbies, creative, colorful and well-maintained floors, fixtures and wall coverings will more than pay for cost to modernize in high occupancy and optimum rent.

Secondly, the property manager needs to deliver a continuous level of tenant comfort. In most cases, 90 percent of the time tiffs translates into an effective HVAC system. The majority of complaints in building deal with poor air quality, no heat or air conditioning or drafts during winter months. The investment in an excellent HVAC system will pay for itself quickly, not only in client satisfaction, but also in energy and maintenance savings as well. At CB Richard Ellis, our owners-partners have consistently received a return on investment on average of 1.6 to 2 years from incurring these capital improvement costs. And, moving forward, the owner experiences continued reductions in ongoing operating costs.

Partnership Approach

While every building needs to be approached individually, each with different strengths and weaknesses, there's no question that prudent investment in capital improvements, combined with strong ongoing management, will translate into a well-managed, high occupancy office building. Listening to current tenants, tracking most frequent complaints, investing in needed capital improvements, and developing a strategic, cost-effective property management plan are crucial, regardless of the building. In addition, developing a partnership relationship with the building owner is a must.

Sophisticated owners often will encourage the partnership by embracing a shared saving incentive plan, whereby we are rewarded as we meet pre-determined cost savings. The owner-property management partnership stays focused on delivering quality service and support on-site, while reducing costs flint contribute to the owner's bottom line. The result: a win-win-win, for the tenants, the building owner and the property manager.
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Title Annotation:Focus on Property Management: Preparing for 21st Century
Author:Podstawski, Robert
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 21, 1999
Previous Article:Maintaining your edge in a competitive market.
Next Article:Remaining competitive in a regulated environment.

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