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Property Accounting
Connected cloud can supercharge asset operations

Business leaders want three things in 2022: growth, digitalization and efficiency.  Cloud software increases productivity and helps improve cash flow. It also offers additional benefits, such as the ability to access data from anywhere, anytime and on any device, and it brings all the daily activities into one centralized workspace for easy collaboration. Cloud software is designed to enhance the user experience, so it can provide tenants with value-added service. Additionally, with automatic data backups, which can be set to run daily, it eliminates the risk of a system failure, while providing leading-edge data security measures to keep data safe. With a pay-for-what-you-need model, it lowers the total cost of ownership and allows managers to scale to meet their needs now and into the future. Where are leading commercial property businesses focusing their attention? Property management and accounting are two mission- critical areas of a business. But are they operating in sync or in separate silos? What would it mean for your commercial real estate business if you could completely integrate property management tasks with your accounting function – in real time? It sounds great in theory but often is hampered by a disconnect between departments due to teams working from different information. Commercial landlords and property managers are now picking the programs that best meet the needs of each of their teams and connecting them in a specialized, fully integrated ecosystem – essentially creating one super platform. This Swiss Army knife approach maintains data accuracy and integrity across all departments while being flexible and scalable. What is the Connected Cloud?  The connected cloud, otherwise called an integrated best-in-class ecosystem is a network of SaaS products, chosen by you, that meet the exact needs of your business, both now, and in the future.  You are able to start small and expand your software as your business grows, change out services that aren’t working for you and choose software tools that are designed specifically for what your different teams require.   There is no need to commit to over-engineered “all-in-one” solutions that you need to change in the future, the connected cloud meets you where you are, and delivers specifically to your requirements.  When it comes to property management, if you try to be everything to everyone you will undoubtedly end up not serving one part of the party correctly. Accounting is complex with regional differences and over 100 different types of reporting standards. It needs specific tools, as does property management.  An all-in-one approach is like using a lawnmower to cut your hair, it will work, but it will be rough.  By using an integrated ecosystem you are able to select the best property management platform, the best accounting software, the best email platform, and connect them together to work as one.  The benefits of this include: 

Tips and Trends
Stop Applying Residential Approaches to Commercial Property Management

While the business of commercial and residential property management appears to have many similarities, they are fundamentally different and require a different approach to run successfully, from both a personnel and software perspective. All too often commercial property management is run with residential property personnel, and legacy software systems - a model that is increasingly agreed to be broken. As part of a recent webinar, we spoke with Wendy Thompson, owner of Wendy Who? a highly respected professional property consultancy, and Jason Luckhardt, National Manager of NAI Harcourts, the world’s largest network of owner-operated commercial brokerage firms, on why residential approaches don’t work for commercial properties. Watch the full webinar or read below for key takeaways: Why residential and commercial property managers are not made equal While it may seem like a simple transition, not every residential property manager is made for commercial real estate. And vice versa. At its core, the driving motivations between leasing residential and commercial assets are starkly different. “People don't have the necessity in life to have occupied commercial premises, it's a choice that they make, whereas people have a necessity of a roof over their head. So you start off with two very different bases in terms of property management. ” - Jason Luckhardt. These differing approaches then directly affect the service offering and landlord expectations associated with the role, which of course then flows through to the job description and ultimately the appropriate personality type of successful candidates. The role of a commercial property manager is extremely technical and complex, while a residential property manager is largely concerned with efficiencies around property maintenance and tenant satisfaction,  From understanding legislative requirements in every region they work in, to managing tax, completing accurate lease administration, and ensuring all compliance is met by both tenant and landlord, the role is extremely business development focused. Being able to interpret macro and micro level reporting and offer timely advice to landlords is another part of the role and requires a person who thinks critically, and is extremely efficient. Given the difficulty of the role, and the vastness of the responsibilities that fall under it, a key component to the long-term success of the property manager, and therefore the business as a whole, is the need for appropriate available software. The importance of fit-for-purpose commercial real estate software “It's so critical to have good systems to be able to help you manage and simplify complexities so that you can focus on the landlord’s investment and maximizing the income to the agency.” - Wendy Thompson. When it comes to commercial real estate management, good reporting is imperative. Whereas a residential property is bricks and mortar and contains one type of tenant, commercial properties can be much more complicated. A multi-level property may have stacking plans, different business usages, car parking - and unique utilities. In a property such as this the landlord will want to see a detailed breakdown of expenses, track the vacancies, negotiate leases and identify the efficiencies in order to be able to derisk their investment and maximise the value of the asset for the owner. This requires both a level of macro and micro reporting that residential software simply cannot supply. "You need a system that allows you to put data in and analyze it locally to look for efficiencies. That's really where you're going to win business” - Jason Luckhardt The complex nature of the amount of information required to manage a commercial property portfolio effectively is not only a brain tangle but hugely time-consuming. Having a software system in place that is fit for purpose also greatly reduces the amount of admin time property managers spend inputting information and double-checking data. A good software system will automate everyday reminders and critical events, ensuring you are reminded of upcoming activities so that you don’t miss a beat, which in turn frees up time to get on with building your business. “Having a software program that makes it simpler for you at the end of the day is so important.” - Jason Luckhardt Of course, there are many services that are the same in managing residential and commercial properties, and this is why so many businesses persist in using legacy residential software with a few workarounds. But given the many unique challenges that commercial property managers face, this model is the business equivalent of fitting a square peg into a round hole. Check out our latest FREE guide on the ins and outs of making the transition from Residential to Commercial Property Manager and our expert tips like the ones above.

The Retail Revolution & Revitalising Town Centres

For reasons we know all too well, the world of retail has shifted on its axis in the past year. Many lessons have been learned, often the hard way, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Some existing trends have been accelerated, while some new developments have pointed towards the sort of retail landscape that may emerge once the pandemic has receded. Speaking to some of our tenants in recent months it is clear there has been a shift towards the local consumer. The pandemic has resulted in the growth of what one might call ‘village locations’, where strong town centres and high streets have re-emerged up and down the country. These have outperformed city centres like London, which have seen the usual mix of customers – everyone from office workers to tourists – stay away because of COVID-19. While high streets are essential, they need to be re-thought. They do not need to be a row of fashion stores. They need to reflect what people want, a place people go to because it is useful to them. That could be more food outlets, more pharmacies, a wider offering of amenities, more experience, more convenience, and more inclusivity. Much of this is in the hands of local government and the planning environment. Despite their best intentions some local authorities have created a situation which has allowed large shopping centres and big retail parks to decimate the high street. A complete rethink around this is needed. This could involve a range of strategies, including incentives to make high streets places where businesses want to operate and residents want to visit. Meanwhile store formats are also likely to change. Once we come out of the pandemic there will be a desire to shop, but the way we do it will evolve. People will want a different experience when they go to a store. Store format development may move towards smaller, more intimate surroundings, catering more to the local customer, and less homogenous than before. The flip side of this scenario is the return of the flagship store. Many of us want a big retail experience in a space which reflects that. The caveat here is that, thanks to the costs involved, the number of flagship outlets a brand can operate will likely diminish. It might go down to one or two for really big brands. And that’s obviously going to have a huge impact on how the city works. The shift to an omni-channel approach was already underway before the pandemic, but as a result of COVID-19, what should have taken 10 years to happen has come about in 10 months. This revolution could see stores become less about actual buying, and more about growing awareness and presence. People might not buy anything when they visit, preferring to buy later on online. However, customer loyalty will be achieved, built up and maintained by that physical presence. As we emerge from the pandemic there are things we can address to improve the prospects of our high streets and the stores we want to see on them. The planning regime needs reforming, and more stakeholders need to be involved in determining what our high streets will look like. There needs to be greater recognition that retail as an asset class is still viable. Valuations need to be realistic and leases need to be more flexible. Ideally there needs to be more cooperation – and a greater understanding – between landlord and retailer. Times have been tough, but lessons have been learned. The prospects for high street retail have not diminished, they have merely shifted. Download the full report here:

Guides and eBooks
New Property Management Software: How To Make The Move

Congratulations, you’ve decided on a new property management software to boost your commercial real estate company’s performance! But before you start seeing the benefits, you’ll need to get the system setup and running.  This process can have many names – implementation, onboarding, migration – and it can be an unknown if you’ve never gone through it before.  The ideal scenario after you’ve purchased your software is that the implementation runs smoothly, you get to learn the ins and outs of the platform, and then you’re ready to hit your target go-live date.  In this blog, we’ll outline 4 steps to get your company ready for the move and get up and running without any headaches.  If you haven’t quite settled on your new software of choice, read through our guide to selecting the best platform for your company here.  Understand what’s involved in the implementation  Firstly, it’s important to know you will have to commit time and effort to the project during implementation. Having someone in your office who will own this on your end is key. They will act as the bridge between the software provider’s implementation specialists and your team.  There will typically be a kickoff call with the software provider and this is where they will outline what will happen each week and the training sessions that will take place. A standard implementation can take three months, so having buy-in from your team is critical to keeping the momentum going as you progress through the onboarding.  Working together with your software provider and asking for transparency in each stage, helps to stay on top of the implementation. While some companies might be looking for a quick fix when it comes to bringing on new software, the reality is that you have to be prepared to commit to learning and understanding a new system to get the full benefits. Clean up your data One of the main questions companies have when moving to a new system is, ‘What should I do with my data before migrating it?’ The simple answer is to clean it up by making sure everything is correct and up to date. Often, businesses are not as vigilant as they should be in ensuring data accuracy. But, once again, putting the effort in before making the move will streamline your data migration and the overall implementation.  Important data to check and update: Inspections and maintenance tasks that need to be closed off Reviewing owner and tenant profiles - name, contact number Rent reviews and lease renewal dates Outstanding invoices that need to be paid Check your whole database - have you got information in there that you don’t need? Attend the training sessions No one expects you to become an expert on a property management system straight away. That’s why it’s essential to attend the training sessions and get familiar with how the different features, workflows and dashboards work.  These are some of the typical sessions you will have with your provider: Introduction to core features and functions Property management functions Tenancy management functions Expense recovery Trust Accounting functions   Before or after these sessions, your software provide might also direct you to their Knowledge Base or Help Centre which will have articles and videos with comprehensive step-by-step guides on how to use specific features. The Knowledge Base is a valuable resource that should be taken full advantage of to help speed up your learning.  Inform your clients, tenants and owners of the change While you would have communicated the system change with your staff internally, it’s just as important to notify your clients, tenants and owners.  This is a great opportunity to reach out to your clients and let them know all of the benefits they’ll now experience with the new software, such as access to a mobile app or online portal, or greater visibility of a property’s performance.  Keeping clients updated avoids any surprises on their end when they see some of these changes.  Going live Reaching the end of your implementation should mean you are ready to go live with your new software. But don’t fret that you’ll be left on your own, the implementation team will be on-hand for that first month while you get fully acquainted with the system. After that, you’ll have access to the customer support team who will be your port of call for any issues, guidance, or questions you may have as you start a new chapter. Check out our in-depth guide for more tips and insights on streamlining the implementation process so you go live in time for the new fiscal year.  Get the guide

Tips and Trends
Why Creating The Right Leadership Culture Is Really Important

We always hear about the importance of leadership in business, but seldom does it seem that typical business management pays attention to the fact that leadership, or the lack thereof, can be instrumental in influencing talent in a business and keeping the churn out. Traditional management techniques tend to suggest that team members are easily replaceable, requiring little more than a new job listing to fix the gap in the chain. But as a lot of leaders can attest, people bring with them skills and knowledge outside the job description. So this means businesses and therefore its management need to create the right infrastructure to harness good talent. This is now as important as ever, as the workforce trends to a younger average demographic with differing expectations, the demand for alternate management styles is at an all time high. But in the past, the peak of management was seen as to plan and command. But the modern workforce wants something different, and for businesses stuck in the past, managing without leading is an expensive mistake. Let’s get to the facts... More than 30% of the workforce is now made up of Millennials, according to Pew Research Center. Millennials want to work somewhere that shares their values. Indeed’s Job Hunt report found that a recommendation by someone in your professional network, not including a colleague, typically accounted for how 26 per cent of people found their next job. And then 19 per cent of job hunters are looking for greener pastures because they’re dissatisfied with their current job. And just 36.7% of employees are engaged at work, according to Gallup. In this particular Australian report by job searching site Indeed, we can see that employees who are not engaged do not do their best work and are at risk of leaving your company. They want to feel like their work has a purpose and makes a difference – they want a good culture fit. A global Deloitte report looks at how today’s organisations exist in a glass door era, where every corporate decision and interaction “is immediately publicly exposed and debated”. Recent research shows that in most companies, engagement levels are low. According to Gallup, under 15% of the global workforce is highly engaged. These numbers demonstrate that there is a lack of refined process around measuring engagement – things like performance reviews and the determination of career growth prospects – that is ultimately resulting in low levels of employee confidence in their organisation’s ability to drive the desired culture. There is an interesting school of thought that says companies should treat employees as customers and consider them as volunteers in their position, not merely workers filling a role. It may be a left-of-field concept but with the birth of websites such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor and even Facebook in some instances, the power of transparency is at the fingertips of the employee. With this global shift, as outlined in Deloitte’s report, employee motivations have changed and there is a legitimate focus on purpose, integration and work-life balance. And now more than ever, we can see that an organisation’s cultural reputation is paramount. True leaders build reputation and nurture talent Clearly this shows that reputation – both formally and informally – counts. And one of the best ways for a business to tarnish reputation is by bad management and poor leadership, while one of the best is to be seen as a standout in the jobs field for work-life balance and strong management. Employee motivation is central to driving success and business leaders motivate their employees. Managers that fail do so by making common mistakes, whether that’s to downplay and pigeon-hole talent, devaluing creativity, individuality or critical thinking. Google is a great example of a company people want to work at. Why? Because it treats its employees as more than oil in the machine, giving them an exceptional work environment, whether that’s free snacks, drinks and meals, or chill out time and space, or hire scooters, for example. Google applies its data analytics to staffing, finding, ”periodic one-on-one coaching which included expressing interest in the employee, and frequent personalised feedback ranked as the No. 1 key to being a successful leader” for its staff. Okay, so why is toxic culture so bad? Management is the group that builds and cultivates that culture, so when leadership is lacking or management's bad the culture becomes toxic. We’ve all seen it in workplaces from across the jobs market: people leaving unannounced, the new hires get left sitting at their desks without proper on-boarding or, worse still, are simply thrown in the deep end with high expectations on instant output. When culture is bad, people pack their bags and leave. It’s that simple. Projects are disrupted, plans are dropped, and expenses balloon out. The costs of turnover can run from the tens of thousands of dollars to more than two times an employee’s annual salary. Not only is there a financial cost, but also the danger and difficulty of finding someone who can fill the void of the past worker.

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