Commercial Property Executive October 2012 : Page 39

Property Management Troubleshooting Time To Prevail in a Tight Spot, Expect the Unexpected By Paul Rosta In the past year, U.S. commercial buildings have been the setting for any number of dra-matic incidents, ranging from the Occupy Wall Street protests to the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Yet such newsmaking events represent only a small percentage of the many issues that arise at properties. Problems are the daily fare of all professional property managers, and a knack for troubleshooting is an indispensible skill. Keeping the customer happy—whether the building owner or the tenants—means promptly and effectively handling the issues that come up. “The big thing is you should expect any-thing can happen,” asserted Joe Markling, a Los Angeles-based managing director of as-set services for CBRE Group Inc. and national chair of the Building Owners and Managers Association. Developing a solid response plan for both the commonplace and the improb-able is vital, experts say. “So much of the time The Takeaway ✔ Plan for a wide variety of events and establish a chain of command in advance. ✔ Communicate candidly with tenants, residents and owners. ✔ Empower managers to make on-the-spot decisions whenever possible. of a property manager is spent prepar-ing for things that may never happen,” Markling noted. “But when they do happen, you know how to react.” That principle hit home on the afternoon of Aug. 23, 2011, when an earthquake mea-suring 5.8 on the Rich-ter scale struck Louisa County, Va. Shock waves from the temblor reached as far as Maine, Georgia and Michigan, bewil-dering millions who had never experienced a seismic incident. Among those who were unsurprised was a CBRE property manager in metropoli-tan Washington, D.C., who had worked for many years in California’s earthquake coun-try. Given that experience, the manager was able to direct the building’s tenants and staff in the aftermath of the quake without hesitation, Markling related. Although the industry’s response to pre-paredness in the post-Sept. 11 era has var-ied widely, the terrorist attacks also continue to infl uence emergency planning. In August, BOMA published a new edition of its 10-year-old emergency preparedness guide, which covers four major stages of handling emer-gencies: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Topics run the gamut from natural disasters to public health emergen-cies and terrorist acts. Top property management fi rms likewise have developed their own in-house protocols. A working knowledge of a building’s systems is a must, as is hav-ing plans in place in case of an emergency, Markling said. Building a relationship with local suppliers who can provide emergency service or replace equipment on short notice comes in handy when a chiller fails in mid-July. While property managers are hired to rep-resent the owner’s interests, the team must also be ready to meet the needs of tenants or residents in a pinch. Supposedly improbable events require managers not only to plan for contingencies but to think on their feet. A few years ago, a driver lost control of a car near an offi ce building managed by Elliott Associ-ates Inc. in Eugene, Ore. The vehicle crashed | October 2012 39

Property Management: Troubleshooting Time

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