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5 Technology Investments Commercial Real Estate Owners Should Make

Jeri Frank is the Co-Founder & CEO of STRATAFOLIO, a software solution for companies that own and manage real estate with NNN leases.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way commercial real estate owners and operators do business. Tenants demand the same level of amenities as before but with maximum lease flexibility executed through contactless remote technology. Gone are the days of physical space showings, paper checks and handshakes. Today’s commercial landscape is filled with smart technology, paperless transactions, AI, interconnected monitoring systems and virtual showings to increase efficiency and decrease human interaction. All of these changes invite the question: Is your commercial real estate operation ready to thrive in this new environment, increase its bottom line and grow? Here are five technology investments aimed to help you do just that.

1. Virtual Showings And CRM

Technologies like virtual 3-D tours and real-time showings have disrupted the commercial real estate (CRE) leasing process entirely. Contactless space viewing was once unheard of but is now the norm, particularly in the residential space. This technology investment is essential to stay competitive in today’s hectic mobile market, especially as potential customers experience limited ability to travel. But how will you influence a prospective client without an agent present? A cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system instantly connects with prospective renters and buyers and increases chat and email communication during the process. All internal sales team members can see leads and move them through the closing pipeline with less focus on tedious tasks and greater emphasis on the bigger picture.

2. Going Paperless With Automation

Providing a mechanism to digitally store signed documents is an investment must. Even more important is automating invoicing and payments through an automated clearing house (ACH). This allows your CRE management team to stay on track with tenant payments and annual increases. Your technology investment will pay for itself in no time. Relying on spreadsheets for current rent escalations or for common area maintenance reconciliations often results in lost income.

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3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Today, tenants expect a high level of monitoring when it comes to safety, mechanical systems and energy efficiency. Commercial real estate owners and operators can delegate routine chores like monitoring building security and temperatures to interconnected AI. Cameras and smart thermostats that use a central application increase property surveillance and comfort. From a marketing perspective, AI can be used to generate leads and collect applications. This technology investment redirects time and energy away from traditional calling and emailing, so marketing staff can focus on vetting applications and moving qualified prospects through the later stages of the sales pipeline.

4. Tenant Management Portals

The last decade has proven overwhelmingly that current and future tenants demand a staggering level of transparency within the CRE industry. A key technology investment is in a tenant management portal. These portals automate maintenance requests, access to leases and amendments and rent collection. Landlord-to-tenant transparency answers questions before they are asked, saving time and energy normally spent on returning calls and emails.

5. Reporting And Business Intelligence Through Data

High-quality data is more accessible than ever. Many trackable numbers are available through both internal software and third-party purchases. Understanding your operation’s real-time earnings, forecasts and historical performance leads to powerful decision making. This type of clarity directly affects bottom-line results as you control expenses, maximize annual rent increases and minimize losses due to local market changes. Commercial real estate portfolio software platforms offer customizable dashboards to visualize your unique operation and market. They can also alert you if key metrics change and allow your team to collaborate in a cloud environment. A technology investment of this level drives net income and sets you apart from your competition.

Final Tip: Centralize Your Portfolio In One Location

Your portfolio of real estate assets is the lifeblood of your operation, which is why it should be centralized, accessible to all and richly enhanced by data. Look for a cloud-based commercial property management platform that does exactly that. (Full disclosure: My company offers this service, as do others.) By managing your portfolio you can quickly and accurately react to any negative expense trends. Cloud-based technology will allow you to manage documents in real time without unnecessary paper files or physical drives. You will experience less stress when preparing to meet with lenders as financial statements are created with ease in minutes instead of days.

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Setting your company up for success means adopting technology so you can answer more questions more quickly and from any location. It is time to grab the future!

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