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How Robert Cort Properties brought their industrial estate management into the 21st century

jonathan circlke

jonathan skull

director, robert cort properties

Robert Cort Properties is an independent property firm mainly focused on industrial units and currently boasts seven industrial estates.

Jonathan Skull is the company’s director and oversees all operations, from purchasing and selling property, to leasing and redeveloping, and everything in between. But it is not just the day-to-day tasks that Jonathan’s focused on. He’s committed to keeping the firm moving forward and he’s using Re-Leased and Xero to make that happen.

From handwritten ledgers to an integrated, cloud-based system.

Managing seven industrial estates presented a raft of different challenges for Robert Cort Properties, with lots of moving parts and a lot of tenancies to manage. What made managing the estates even more difficult was trying to operate effectively and gain business oversight on a paper-based system.

We were using handwritten ledgers and excel sheets to record all the property management and accounting information,” says Jonathan.

The company knew this way of working would not be feasible going forward and made a well-overdue move into the 21st century by adopting cloud-based software to centralise all their information and make it accessible from anywhere. They implemented Re-Leased for property management and integrated with Xero to manage their accounting.

By the time Jonathan came on board, this robust system was up and running and it immediately struck him as a platform that was intuitive from the get-go.

Re-Leased was different from anything I’d used in the past. It was so much more user friendly and vibrant, whereas other systems were very clunky and looked quite outdated.”

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Connected systems for connected insights

It has been four years since Robert Cort Properties left the days of handwritten ledgers and Excel sheets behind, and their integrated system now supports how they want to manage properties, rather than hinders them.

With our industrial focus, we've got so many tenants and also a lot of smaller units that have shorter leases. Being able to easily manage the process of moving a new tenant in and out, and then understanding how much they’ve paid, and all the other information, has made our lives easier.”

As the director, Jonathan is able to closely track the overall performance of the business by having tenant data and the financial accounts instantly synchronised through Re-Leased and Xero. At the click of a button, he gets a real-time view into what is happening and who is in arrears, and this helps Jonathan operate with greater certainty.

We use the profit and loss and the budget versus actuals reports to understand where we are at any point in time. That’s especially important for the service charges on many of our properties as well as knowing where we are with the budget so we can work out whether we’re going to go over or not. 

“The property tracking feature is another simple tool which has enabled me to really dive into the details so I know what we're spending on each individual property. It's been really helpful.”

Being cloud-based has undoubtedly played a key role in ensuring Jonathan and the team have been able to continue working without missing a beat throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With two of Jonathan’s colleagues currently abroad, they have been able to log in to the platform and quickly see what is going on without having to contact Jonathan.

I couldn't imagine what we would have done if we had still been using handwritten ledgers. We would’ve needed to take our books home with us.”

Having a system set up for remote working has continued to pay dividends when it comes to the day-to-day operations, with the team embracing Re-Leased’s Property Manager mobile app

If we're out onsite and speaking to a tenant about a lease renewal or rent review, we can go on to the Re-Leased Property Manager App on our phones and all the property terms and documents are on there. It's effectively like bringing your laptop with you but not having to plug it in. It means that we don't go back and forth with tenants over emails – all the details are there.”

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With our industrial focus, we've got so many tenants and also a lot of smaller units that have shorter leases. Being able to easily manage the process of moving a new tenant in and out, and then understanding how much they’ve paid, and all the other information, has made our lives easier.

The confidence to expand their portfolio

While 2020 has been a year of uncertainty for many sectors, Jonathan believes the industrial property industry is in a stronger position than most. A number of tenants have seen a surge in business and that’s meant a demand for more space. But some have seen a drop in business and the company has been working with those tenants to work out different payment plans to help them out. As many tenants get back up and running, Robert Cort Properties is looking to expand their portfolio and their Connected Cloud of technologies will be integral to supporting that ambition.

“We hope that in 12 months’ time we’ll have a few more properties on the portfolio and, with Re-Leased and Xero, we'll be able to easily accommodate those extra properties and make sure we’re running the portfolio to its maximum potential.”

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