This is the first in a three part series on strategies to close the operational performance gap; the 10-30% savings that can be achieved by enhancing the synergies of existing building systems.

In our team’s experience, high performing buildings typically have one thing in common; a strong collaborative relationship between the Property Manager and Engineering Manager. A collaborative environment keeps the communication lines open and leads to the sharing of ideas, creative problem solving, and continuous learning. From an operations perspective, this synergy often results in creative strategies that improve building performance and tenant satisfaction, and a motivated property team that embraces change and seeks continuous improvement.

On the contrary, contentious relationships between the Property Manager and Engineering Manager are quickly noticed by and impact tenants and can adversely affect quality of service, tenant satisfaction, lease renewals, building performance, and ultimately NOI. In this environment, team member contributions are not appreciated and job performance often declines.

In working with hundreds of property teams across the country, we have identified the following common practices of highly successful property teams.

Blurring the lines
Removing the firewalls of traditional roles and responsibilities for Property Managers and Engineering Managers can have a profound impact on building operational and financial performance. When showing spaces to prospective tenants, the Engineering Manager can add significant value by extending the tour to the central plant and engineering office, highlighting measures taken to improve tenant comfort and reduce operating costs, and showing how utility costs are closely monitored and requests for additional services are processed. Prospective tenants notice and appreciate a cohesive team that is responsive to their needs.

Cross training
Expand your comfort zone by taking an interest in tasks and responsibilities outside of your job description. As a Property Manager, learn how variable frequency drives (VFDs) control fan and how outside air economizers operate during the “shoulder” months. As an Engineering Manager, learn how invoices are coded, budgets are reconciled, and the property’s marketing strategy. This cross-training will cause both parties to be more in-tune with tenant needs and enable collaboration when developing strategies to improve building performance and tenant comfort.

Sharing the love during budget season
Close coordination between the Property Manager and Engineering Manager when creating or reconciling the annual budget causes all parties to have a greater stake in the property’s operational and financial performance. Moving beyond the engineering budget, engage the Engineering Manager in the decision making process for other essential properties services, including security, landscaping, waste, and cleaning vendors.

Attend trade association and business meetings together
Invite your Property Manager to an IFMA luncheon to learn more about the newest lighting control system. Invite your Engineering Manager to a BOMA luncheon to learn more about market leasing trends or to your quarterly meeting with Asset Management. Attending these events and meetings together will give you greater appreciation for your colleagues’ contributions.

Building a strong collaborative relationship with your colleagues and tearing down the boundaries of traditional roles and responsibilities empowers and motivates the team to achieve common goals, improves building operational and financial performance, and closes the operational performance gap.