Owning a commercial property is a huge undertaking. Whether you are leasing out the space or buying it to operate your own business, there are many factors involved in operating and maintaining the space. To clarify, commercial property refers to sites like retail and office space, business parks, storage facilities, service buildings (like auto repair), and warehouses.
In addition to running the business (if you are), collecting rent, drawing up rental agreements, record keeping, and other logistics of owning a commercial property, an owner must deal with the physical building, both inside and out. This can be a lot to juggle, and often, the owner hires a property manager to oversee things. Ultimately, however, the owner is responsible for keeping the property safe, attractive, and functioning correctly. Some things you’ll need to do to keep on top of everything include knowing your space. This means understanding the unique needs of the property and understanding how the various systems work, like electrical and plumbing.
You must perform routine inspections to ensure nothing requires repair or creates a safety hazard. Have a proactive maintenance plan that includes pest control, a painting schedule, and annual inspections by professionals. This will keep everything running smoothly and help reduce costly repairs in the long run. If you’re wondering where to start, this blog will help to steer you in the right direction, with ten areas every business owner should know about property management.
1. Maintain the Air Conditioning System
Whether your commercial business is a restaurant or a warehouse, the last thing you need is for the air conditioning to conk out on a sweltering summer day. It can make for some agitated workers and will likely drive business away, costing you money. So it’s a good idea to have regular inspections and maintenance done by commercial air conditioning services.
A trained technician will visit your site to ensure everything works correctly. The tech will perform any necessary tune-ups like cleaning or replacing air filters, cleaning the coils, testing control panels, and sealing any leaks to make the system more energy efficient. They will check to ensure no vents are blocked, check the outside units, and clear them if there is any dirt and debris.
2. Have the Roof Inspected Regularly
One of the best investments you’ll make in your commercial property is that of the roof. A sturdy roof will help maintain the safety and structure of the building. It will also protect the inventory, electrical equipment, and interior from damage from water and mold.
Structural considerations aside, a lovely roof can improve the esthetics of your business. Curb appeal is always helpful in drawing in new business. When you first purchase your property, consider employing the help of commercial roofing services to check the roof’s integrity and see if any repairs are needed.
Once you find a reliable contractor, it’s wise to keep them as part of your commercial team. The roofer can schedule regular inspections and routine maintenance calls to hold the top of your property in top shape. Some things they’ll look for and repair include loose and missing shingles, damage to vents, leaky or cracked skylights, damaged joints and eaves, and cracked chimneys and pipes. They’ll also inspect the attic space for leaks and spotting, odors, and mold.
Other things you can do to maintain your roof are trim trees in the area and clean the gutters and drains regularly. Keep all downspouts clear and away from the property. This will keep water and ice off the roof and help prevent damage and flooding.
3. Take Care of the Parking Lot
There are so many reasons to take care of your building’s parking lot. Let’s start with the obvious safety issues. Flat surfaces with no cracks, potholes, or other problems are vital for your parking area. You don’t need anyone tripping in the lot, nor do you want people complaining that they have damaged their car.
Other safety issues involve having proper signage for traffic flow and brightly painted lines for parking spaces. You’ll need to ensure that you’re ADA compliant as well – with handicapped spots and ramps where necessary. If you’re having issues with your parking lot’s appearance, it may be time to call a commercial asphalt company to fill in holes and cranks and seal the area to help preserve the integrity of the area.
Consider placing some shrubs and bushes if you can; this will not only make everything look better, but it will help with drainage as well. Don’t forget to keep the lot clean and tidy. The parking lot is typically the first impression someone will have of your business; you don’t want it to be a shabby one.
4. Ensure HVAC is Up-to-Date
Your commercial building’s HVAC system encompasses everything concerning heat, ventilation, and air conditioning. It’s directly related to the climate, air quality, and comfort of your building. It’s vital to keep it in tip-top shape because nobody wants to read reviews saying their building was stuffy, dusty, or blistering hot.
As a commercial property owner, you may want to consider having a contract with a company that does commercial HVAC repairs. This will give you priority service in case of an emergency. You’ll also be scheduled for regular inspections and maintenance to prevent any issues. You’ll have a maintenance plan that will save a lot more money than just randomly calling when you’re in need.
For example, a contracted service may cost you $99 each time it comes for routine maintenance instead of $1,000 if something breaks and you need an emergency call. When the HVAC professional comes out, they will identify upgrades that will increase energy efficiency, like a Smart thermostat. They’ll change filters, check controls, calibrate the thermostat, clean ducts, and inspect the furnace. While reviewing the furnace, they may check the burners and ignition, tighten connections, clean soot and sediment, and bleed radiators.
5. Consider Upgrading the Bathrooms
Let’s face it: bathrooms are essential. We may not discuss it, but how many times have you been with someone they’ve come from the restroom, and their first words were either “That bathroom was a mess” or “The bathroom is so nice, go look!” A bathroom in your commercial space can mean the difference between a great review and one that ends with “but the bathroom.” So, you may want to consider upgrades if your restrooms are not up to snuff (or sniff). This doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul or gutting situation.
A few small projects and a little help from commercial plumbing services can turn your dingy dungeon of a restroom into an aromatic oasis. An excellent place to start is with a fresh coat of paint and some wall decor. This will create a warm and inviting environment. Next, upgrade the old mirror and add a colorful backslash behind the sink.
Consider installing touchless fixtures. In today’s germ-conscious world, nobody wants to touch faucets, tables, and soap dispensers. Commercial plumbing services can easily install these or sell them at a discount. Upgrade products used in the bathroom, like toilet paper and soap, while adding some hand lotion and feminine hygiene products. Finally, installing an automatic air freshener can keep the area smelling fresh.
6. Maintain a Safe Environment
Maintaining the safety of your commercial property is one of the keys to business success. Customers and employees should feel secure in and around the building. You also have a responsibility to protect the inventory of the company. Start with a risk assessment, identify weak entry points (doors, windows), and repair them. Install a security system that includes an alarm system and surveillance cameras inside and out.
Consider updating access with key cards or biometric authentication. Outdoor motion lights can do a lot to deter burglars as well. Don’t forget about the physical safety of others by maintaining the outside area. Keep any trees trimmed, keep a few commercial snow removal companies on call in the winter to clear walkways, and always keep the area free of debris.
7. Install and Maintain Landscaping
Landscaping can help improve the look of any commercial property, no matter how big or small. Installing some shrubs, bushes, and small trees can soften the building, create a more inviting area, and improve drainage. If you can’t plant colorful flowers, hang them, put them in pots, or install some window boxes. You can quickly get creative by matching the flowers to your business brand or using them to spell out the name.
While at it, do a bit of hardscaping by adding a few benches, decorative paths, or fountains. Above all, keep the area neat and clean. Add commercial lawn care to your commercial team for regular upkeep. A commercial landscaper will maintain a schedule of lawn care, trimming, mowing, plant care, and anything else your greenery needs.
8. Consider Expanding the Property
Occasionally, the opportunity to expand a business or commercial property will present itself. Perhaps an adjoining property has gone up for sale or one nearby. Before jumping in, ask yourself what you would do with the property and how cost-effective this project would be. While it’s a great way to build your income in the long run and will add to your real estate portfolio, you don’t want to go broke spending money on upgrades to a new space.
Start by inspecting the property with a local commercial general contractor. They can estimate all the work that needs to be done, from framework and electrical to plumbing and HVAC. Take that estimate and then estimate how much the property will cost to operate, including utilities and taxes. Pit that against how much you can lease the property for and make a decision accordingly. If you can swing it, extra space can give you the option to offer services related to the original property, more space for parking, storage, or the ability to start a whole new enterprise.
9. Upgrade the Electrical System
Think of your electrical system as being to your commercial property what the nervous system is to the human body; if it’s not working right, nothing else will be either. This could create a mess for your business, primarily if you rely on computers and refrigeration. Businesses like restaurants, markets, and even most retailers rely on electricity to safeguard their inventory and allow them to conduct business.
For example, if the lights go out and the registers won’t open at Target, it’s safe to say no sales will be happening. So it’s essential to have a team of electrical contractors perform an inspection before you even buy a property to ensure the equipment is up-to-date and code. You may consider upgrading your circuit box to prevent blowing fuses and insulating wires.
This will help avoid accidents and save money. Consider installing dimmer switches and snooze lights that automatically turn off when the room is not in use. These minor upgrades can save you headaches and high bills down the road. Commercial electrical contractors can typically make these upgrades in less than a day so that it won’t disrupt your business.
10. Know Your Financing Options
Now that you know what needs to be done to maintain your commercial property, you’ll need to consider how to pay for it. As a business/property owner, many options are available, not the least of which are business or commercial loans. You may be able to obtain these loans quickly; however, keep in mind that you will be creating debt and paying interest. Should something happen, and you can’t settle your banknotes, they can seize your property.
Another option, if you don’t qualify or don’t want a bank loan, is to find an individual willing to give you a private loan, like a parent or friend. If neither option is viable, consider taking on an investor or two. This will mean sharing the company with someone and giving up a share of your profits. But it could prove more profitable because you won’t pay interest fees and other bank fees.
Effective commercial property management is a crucial component of any successful business. There’s a lot to think of, so organizing a well-rounded commercial team of professionals to help you when needed is essential when planning maintenance and other issues. It may seem like a lot of money to spend on upkeep, but in the long run, it will save you from costly repairs, lawsuits, and loss of business due to sub-par conditions.