At Propmodo Live in NYC, a hot topic of discussion was reinventing the landlord-tenant relationship in the commercial real estate industry. That begs the question: what’s wrong with how it exists today? From the tenant (customer) perspective, the challenge can boil down to transparency and communication.
This is commonly seen in how buildings – whether it’s the landlord or property manager – handle incoming tenant requests. We are all so tied to our apps and automatic updates about what is happening regarding the topics and people we care about most. That expectation has seeped into the workplace. Tenants want constant, real-time updates on what’s happening with their service requests and building amenities. That’s the basics. The next level goes beyond simply reacting to tenant need. Instead, it focuses on predicting them. Humans can act as your best sensors.
You need to understand how occupants interact with the building as a first step to identifying the best ways to lower costs, boost efficiency and enhance the tenant experience. One of the examples shared at Propmodo Live was using thermodynamic sensors to understand when staffers start their day, break for lunch and head home. By assuming everyone is still working a standard 9-5 day, you could be heating or cooling a space that’s empty or nearly so. I bet most buildings – and individual companies – don’t know the ebb and flow of employees going in and out of the space during the day. By simply shutting off the fans during the time most staff leave for lunch, you can save millions in energy costs. This could be true for the tenant (if there’s a direct bill through from the landlord) or for the building if ownership absorbs the energy costs.
Gene Boniberger, Senior Vice President, Director of Building Operations for Rudin Management, detailed how the company worked collaboratively with BlackRock, an anchor tenant, to do this. He explained, “We gave Gary [BlackRock’s Head of Global Building Operations] a system which pairs thermodynamics of space with machine learning to provide energy savings to help BlackRock exceed their sustainability goals. A micro-suite of cloud-based applications is constantly fed by real-time data throughout their properties.”
This success was possible because the relationship between Rudin (the landlord) and BlackRock (the tenant) was truly collaborative. As Gene described, that starts with transparency. Landlords and property managers can’t try ‘hide the ugly’ from their customers. The same can be said for companies that outsource services to vendors. Again, you’re the customer. You have the right to see what work is being performed on your behalf, directly in the facility management solution of your choice. While that transparency on the surface may seem like the gateway to micromanagement, it actually lets you identify areas for performance improvements and proactively find solutions for them, rather than waiting until contract renewal.
At AwareManager, we try to embrace this spirit of collaboration in our customer relationships too. As the vendor to CRE landlords and tenants (sometimes both within a single building), it’s our job to find ways to bridge the information that often exists between stakeholders. That could mean finding integration points, ways to automate communication, etc. In addition, our customers are our best partners. We often work directly with a client or a subsector of our clients to develop a new feature, going directly to the users to understand what they need and how to make it as seamless as possible. That way, we all win.
As the expectations grow and needs evolve from tenants the landlord-tenant relationship will continue to change. As an industry, we will have to keep up with these changes and improve the relationships with our tenants to keep them satisfied.