Can you imagine how much money you would accrue if you were given a dollar for every time you’ve been interrupted at work? Interruptions have become a pandemic not only in our everyday lives as we scurry from place to place trying to get it all in, but also in our lives as property managers and in the workplace.

In recent research results it was noted that property managers spend up to 4.5 hours per week ‘being interrupted’. After each interruption, it takes up to 5 minutes to return to productive time, and coupled with dealing with email, tack on another 8.8 hours per week.

Of course, most of these interruptions to property management are due to continually processing and receiving requests for maintenance issues from tenants; owner inquiries; information received from clients; and inquiring brokers and tenants. What’s the answer to effectively dealing with and overcoming interruptions?

More property management companies are investing in high-tech computer email technologies so commercial tenants can submit everyday requests and urgent messages to their property managers as quickly as possible. It is an amenity that clients increasingly insist upon. Using technology, property management firms differentiate themselves in their markets – it requires a commitment and taking on additional risk. However, many management companies are experiencing how investing in technology is paying off.

Spending less money on technology is short-sighted: owners will ultimately find that they will lose market share or worse yet, have the need to rush and catch up with the market leaders – to maintain occupancy. Ideally property management firms and building owners must talk about becoming business partners and establishing mutually beneficial, long-term relationships. However, property management companies that are separate entities and that service a variety of clients and building types must determine how much technology to invest in? They are often unaware of any tangible benefits from such an investment.

Currently 60 to 70 percent of property management clients today are utilizing such technology and prefer making requests (via email) as opposed to placing a request by voice. The computer technology creates internal efficiencies in managing client’s needs and can increase billable tenant requests. It also puts the problem in written form eliminating the confusion a voice message can convey. The need for professional property managers with sophisticated management skills and extensive technical training increases more each day, especially with the growth the Lee and Collier County markets have been experiencing over the past several years.

We all swear by ‘gadgets’…cell phones, emails, faxes, PDA, Blackberry’s — it seems like everyday there is some new ‘gadget’ being exposed to the marketplace. Software solutions have also entered the world of property management in an attempt to reduce time lost to interruptions. Custom solutions can be costly, and off-the-shelf document management applications can be time consuming to administer. Many of the document management solutions available today provide some helpful functionality, however, property managers who only provide access to documents fall short of providing answers. When clients don’t have the access to seek the answer and obtain specific data, they will in turn interrupt the property manager for that information.

Recently, a new breed of software tool has been developed that combines the cost effective advantage of off-the-shelf document-management with much of the functionality of custom solutions. They use a ‘data dashboard’ to pinpoint the information by providing answers directly to the people who need them. These new tools reduce the number of interruptions and allow property managers to stay focused, work more productively and reclaim previously lost time.
Most of the information requested for any property manager falls within one of several categories, i.e. documents, dates, dollars, space, contacts, vendors, etc. By providing clients with the means to answer their own questions, property managers will reduce the number of requests they get from clients and decrease the amount of time it takes them to respond to the requests.

This type of software application brings tenant/lease abstracts, building information, tenant information, occupancy costs, vendors, all together in one easy to use platform. Ultimately, this helps property managers gain a competitive advantage to win and efficiently maintain more business while providing a higher level of customer service.