As conscientious property managers, we take pride in being physically present on site often; whether its scheduling an appointment with a tenant (instead of emailing), dropping by unannounced, or doing the Property Manager Special (which is our way of describing a quick, 30–second drive through of the property. Side note: we have yet to figure out an appropriate acronym for this!). These can all be productive means of oversite and are staple elements in good property management. However, over-time we have found that standard regular site visits miss something...
A commercial property is more than concrete and steel or numbers on an excel document, it is like a living organism that has a pulse and daily rhythm. Tenants open their stores, employees park, clients come and go, waste collection comes, trades people take a look at something, local residents take a stroll through the plaza and turn on the exterior faucet to water their dog… wait a minute… Anyone is able to turn on the exterior faucets? I didn’t know that. We should protect these. We’ve had problems in the past with vagrants turning on taps in the middle of the night and costing over a thousand dollars in water costs. For considerably less, we can be proactive and switch the current faucets out with a more secure solution.
The point is, you will be surprised at the things you will learn if you sit and observe a property for an extended period of time. Instead of just seeing that there is a mess, you might see what the cause of the mess is! You will see tenants causing issues, parking problems, or deficiencies that you have become blind to over time; all things that are tough to see, when you are in and out as property managers typically are.
Our suggestion: On a nice day, take lunch and reserve 30-60 minutes at a property to sit on a bench, walk around, and observe. We promise there is value.