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Drive Time for the Property Manager

It’s an important component of the commercial property manager’s routine to get out of the office and put our shoes on the pavement.  Doing so gets us face to face with people (real humans!) and allows us to solve problems more effectively and solve others that we would not have known existed if we hadn’t left the office. 

That said, field work can quickly become not-work if we’re not careful. 

Despite our high degree of technological prowess, property managers have not yet figured out a way to teleport.  Site visits require transportation, and “getting places” takes time; and always more time than we think. “Just up the road” might be 25 minutes, but 25 minutes turns into an hour when you add it all up.  With a few site visits a week, it’s easy to see a significant chunk of your week disappear behind the wheel.   

It is important to acknowledge that driving in itself is not-work.  It can feel like a necessity, and therefore feel like work, but it does not itself drive results or make our clients happier.  It’s a means to an end, and therefore is something that should be done as efficiently as possible.   

4 tips for making “drive-time” more efficient: 

  1. Stack Activities:  When possible, get more done with one trip and get a few things done along the way.  Plan trips in advance and wait for activities to meet a critical mass to necessitate a trip. 
  1. A good rule of thumb for critical mass:  1 A priority, 2 B priorities, or 4 C priority items.   
  1. Don’t go.  Many things that initially feel like we need to go to site, can often be avoided to no detriment.  For example, vendors often want to meet onsite for quotes.  Although this may be necessary, maybe it’s not.  Sometimes spending 5 minutes making a drawing on google maps, can save the drive.  Sometimes a simple phone call when their onsite does the same. 
  1. Make driving more productive.  Many issues can be solved very effectively by getting on the phone.  If you can call hands-free, driving is a great time to get a few calls done.  Write a few names/numbers on a Post-It, stick it on your dashboard, cross some things off your list. 
  1. Avoid traffic like the plague.  Understand your landscape and congestion points and religiously avoid driving at those times.  A 1hr trip from the outskirts to downtown, will become a 2-3 hr trip at the wrong time. 

As simple as these concepts are, drive-time is one of the most common activities that property managers get wrong.  It has low visibility to others in an office setting, and is easily justifiable as work.  Accountability to others is low, and therefore is imperative to acknowledge that wasting time benefits no one in the long term. 

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