Articles 7th August 2020 industrial property management

South Street Capital recently appointed Workman to tackle the on-boarding challenges. These were to manage four large industrial estates in the North of England and Midlands during the lockdown period.

Normally, managing four large industrial estates with 85 units in the North of England and Midlands is a straightforward task. It’s what we do. However, taking a new instruction on, effective 25th March 2020 was anything but routine. It coincided with one of the most challenging Quarters for rent collection as lockdown struck.

Based on our experience of on-boarding new management instructions, we have some clear priorities which we focus on in the first few months of any instruction. In this case we had to rapidly adapt to the circumstances.

A proactive approach to occupier engagement

Engaging with the occupiers to develop our relationships with them is always our main priority. Fortunately, we initiated this process ahead of the ‘go-live’ date of 25th March. We inspected the properties and met with the tenants to understand their issues, concerns, and gain insights into their businesses. This would have been extremely difficult to do had we waited until after the formal commencement of our instruction.

Establishing relationships with the occupiers early on also proved crucial in managing the rent collection process for rents due from 25th March. We were able to understand who was most affected by lockdown and have constructive, informed discussions on any concessions.

Despite only taking over the management on the actual due date, (one that was so significantly impacted by the COVID crises) we have still been achieved 94% of March Quarter rent collection and over 70% for June.

Effective transition management

Another key area of focus in the first weeks of any instruction is client communication. Whether with new or existing clients, regular dialogue, updates and meetings are the norm, to ensure the transition from previous managing agents is completed smoothly, feedback from discussions with tenants is considered and the client’s plans for the assets are shared and understood. In this case, this was all done remotely, but no less effectively.

Our property management and accounting colleagues were quickly working together with their client counterparts and the normal flow of management reporting was swiftly established.

While you wouldn’t choose March 2020 to take on a new management instruction, thanks to the team involved, this was another example of how we all had to quickly adapt to ensure ‘business as usual.’

By Anthony Boothman, Property Management Partner, Manchester