Business Basics: Property Management Primer

Experts from the Institute of Real Estate Management share their knowledge to start you down the path of management professionalism.

April 1, 2009

Core Skills Every Manager Needs

  • Service, service, service. With building owners, excellent service means careful planning for property improvement, backed up by clear financial goals and benefits. With tenants, it’s all about well-executed maintenance tasks and frequent face-to-face conversations.
  • Multitasking. One minute you’re working on a complex budget and the next you’re responding to a stalled elevator. Property managers must be able to turn on a dime. Good organizational systems help.
  • Relationship building. Managers don’t oversee bricks and mortar. They work with owners, tenants, and employees, many of whom have conflicting goals.
  • Street smarts. Managers regularly face challenges they’ve never encountered before.

How to Generate Business

  • Study Public records. Use public records ( to find commercial real estate parcels that are facing foreclosure or other legal action. Contact the law firm handling the receivership and offer to do a management plan at cost.
  • Zero in on a niche. Specialize, be it in a geographic area, property type, or business model. Look for a specialization that fits your strengths.
  • Network with brokers, owners, and business people. They’ll know which businesses are expanding, which tenants are considering a move, and which properties are not meeting their leasing goals. That will help you pinpoint owners who are looking to make a management change.

 Biggest Mistakes of a New Manager

  • Failing to communicate. Too often, making that call to connect with a tenant or owner gets overlooked. Schedule specific times each day to make regular contacts.
  • Being a know-it-all. If you don’t know the answer, don’t act like you do. Never hesitate to ask your peers for advice.
  • Not doing homework. Managers sometimes let their enthusiasm and desire to make operations run more smoothly trump the numbers. Take the time to do a cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate how a suggested change will make the property more competitive and profitable.