The main trends in the new paradigm of the real estate market are the “digitization” of shopping centers through an omnichannel approach and the development of a community feeling within business centers. These also represent the biggest challenges for the management of retail and office space.
As soon as you enter a shopping center, you can access the digital map of the location. The phone then notifies you of the discounts and promotions of your favorite stores, as well as the events about to take place in the following days. Today, through applications developed for office space occupants, you can participate in various activities, along with colleagues or other tenants from the building.
Mihaela Petruescu, Head of Property Management at Cushman & Wakefield Echinox – a company that manages shopping centers and office space in Bucharest, Constanţa, Suceava, or Târgovişte, having a portfolio of more than 150,000 square meters – considers that the change is from property management to “people management,” with the administrators’ efforts being centered on the experiences of building users.
“In the real estate market, we see developments in most areas and segments. The way retail physics has evolved over the past few years, how it has been redefined in order to remain attractive to buyers, has created new concepts and approaches, such as “retailtainment.” Therefore, we have to rethink the property management term into “people management”. Currently, I consider property management to be primarily about people and less about processes and procedures.”, says Mihaela Petruescu.
According to Eurostat, only 8% of the employees in Romania have on-the-job training, compared to the European average of 31%. In this context, Cushman & Wakefield Echinox created the first training academy in Romania dedicated to real estate professionals, called Drawing Business Value Academy, which responds to a need for specialization in all the sectors of the industry. In 2018, the academy organized trainings for local or national store owners (“People and Business – About Sales, Marketing and Profit”) and for management teams (“Touching People – Communication at the Workplace”), being also present and the first Education Corner of the real estate industry within ROFMEX. “Shop owners become aware of the need for innovation, to keep up with the changes in the retail or office market, with international trends, with the need for personal development and business planning, budgeting and evaluation to increase profitability, in an increasingly competitive and diversified environment.”
People are at the center of this process, either as employees or customers. “Why “people management”? As a property manager, the first thing you do after signing a management mandate is to take the owner’s responsibilities and establish the best possible communication between management and employees. Assuming these responsibilities requires a continuous personal education process, but also the team and partners’ ones.”
The way people work and shop is going through a process of fundamental transformation that also determines rethinking of property management services. The speed at which change is taking place today is different from 5 or 10 years ago, so owners need accurate and clear information to get the right decisions in time.
“Technology also changes the rules of the game and you must always be ready to integrate human resources with technology, without losing sight of the impact on final costs. Workforce heterogeneity also influences the property management services provided, because both tenants and building managers relate daily to both Y (millennials) and Z generations, as well as to customers with completely different needs and expectations. Real estate consultancy services require a new approach, creativity and effective marketing.”, adds Mihaela Petruescu.
Currently in Romania there are about 7 million square meters of commercial and modern offices, with about 4 million square meters in Bucharest and 3 million square meters in other cities. As far as the use of a building is concerned, the share at a national level is balanced between trade and offices, while in Bucharest the office stock is almost three times bigger than the retail price. “In the process of selling, renting and managing property and real estate assets, in a world full with irrelevant information, clarity means power. Information has always been the queen of the game, but things have changed. In our field, we rely on research services, and the quality of information and the clarity of sharing it help customers make the best decisions and investments.”, concludes Mihaela Petruescu.
Mihaela Petruescu – Head of Property Management CWEchinox – With over 13 years of experience in the real estate market, retail and property management, Mihaela is responsible for Property & Facility Management services at Cushman & Wakefield Echinox, managing one of the largest retail portfolios in Romania, approximately 150,000 square meters, being successfully involved in the leasing process of Mega Mall and other shopping centers. This article appeared in the Ziarul Financiar Who’s Who in Business – The Most Important Business People of 2018.