The Facilitator

Real Estate & Property Management (RE&PM)

By Paul J. Haley, IFMA NYC Chapter Communications Committee

Based on a company’s structure, Facilities Managers are always involved in Real Estate and Property Management (RE&PM) in some way, shape or form because RE&PM and Facilities are all interconnected and you cannot have one without the other.

In most, if not all, organizations, if a Corporate Real Estate Team (CRET) exists, then Facilities usually reports up to them. If such a group doesn’t exist, then Facilities reports to Finance. My situation with my current employer is a little out of the ordinary. We do have a CRE team, but I report to Finance, which - in many ways - also makes sense, but continues to raise eyebrows about the structure among my professional Facilities peers.

I am constantly working closely with our corporate CRE team, especially during capital budget season (which underway now actually). During this crucial time, we review all upcoming leases in the following year and budget based on what we predict may happen to each of those locations (office moves, consolidations, space give-backs, etc.) based on Executive Level business strategies.

Once these budgets are approved (after a lot of back and forth and justification), we run with them, keeping our mental fingers (and toes) crossed that we guessed correctly on those strategies. There is a very thick “union” line between Facilities and CRE in my organization. Well, there use to be, but the lines have definitely been blurred as of late.

The latter works with third-party brokers and internal attorneys to identify space, negotiate the leases – including any TI (leasehold improvements or as I call “kickbacks”) –  review, approve and execute leases. Facilities is periodically beckoned to give their professional feedback on potential space but that’s rare because usually CRE and Facilities are working out of the same playbook (what the ultimate business goal is per Executive Management).

Once the lease is signed, the entire project is punted over to the Facilities team, who have already been space planning, working with construction managers, furniture sellers, security vendors, signage, movers, etc. – in other words, lining up all the ducks to make the transition to the new space as seamless as possible. Also, the management of the lease immediately goes from CRE and Building Ownership to Facilities.

The CRE Team doesn’t pull a disappearing act entirely, though, they are usually in the (far) background and as air support in case conflicts come up with property management. I currently oversee NYC HQ and 40 national offices, totaling close to 500,000 RSF, and I depend heavily on my relationships with property managers to accomplish my goals, especially those in far-off distant lands because they know the lay of the land, have the connections, and hold the keys to the castle.

So, for example, I need a plumber in Walnut Creek, Calif., who already works in the same building, is landlord approved and meets the COI requirements. I am sure the PM knows at least two or three, giving you an opportunity to get some competitive bidding going on! Easy peasy!

As I have mentioned in past articles, the one of the keys of successful Facilities Management is the development of strong business relationships, especially and including in Property Management. Property Managers should be a trusted ally in trying to accomplish whatever task, goal or project in the space you are both ultimately responsible for.

Developing a strong, working relationship with PMs will help you get out of some jams too. Your staff forgot to reserve a freight elevator for an after-hours delivery? Despite “building rules,” this could be easily resolved if the trusting relationship with the PM exists.

Need lobby-turnstile badge-swipe utilization data (valuable information for Facilities Managers) that property management is often reluctant to provide? Again, nurturing a strong working relationship with the PM is essential.

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