Using M2M to Improve the Bottom Line of Commercial Real Estate

One of the hottest investments over the past few years in many jurisdictions has been in the commercial real estate market, often in the form of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts).  The reasons are simple....many REITs provide a stable form of income to the investor.  For the owners/operators of these properties, their main concern now is how to continue to provide a strong return to their investors.  One way to do this is to optimize the operation of these facilities and M2M solutions are proven to do so.

How does an M2M solution pull off this cool trick?

Reduce vendor and contractor bills  When you operate any commercial facility, there is a lot of maintenance that has to be done, whether it is routine maintenance (such as daily cleaning), periodic maintenance (such as the cleaning of an air duct), unexpected repairs (such as someone stuck in an elevator) or man-made repairs (such as those caused by bored teenagers).  Regardless of the reason, one of the major roles of any property management company is to keep track of the work done.  This raises a major issue.....how do you know when work is done and how do you know if the bills that you receive are actually accurate?  To make it worse, some of this work is often done when no member of the management team is present. 

Luckily, there are a few companies that provide services to help you out with this.  These services will allow you to be notified when a contractor arrives and leaves (which also is helpful in the event of an evacuation in the event of an emergency) and can often let you know what work was done.  Even better, many of these use technologies that are as simple as scanning a bar code, so the user acceptance and amount of training is ideal.  Now, you’ll be able to easily compare actual work done to your bills, often reducing bills by as much as 30-40%!

Reduce legal liability  In addition to reducing bills, keeping better track of your contractors (and what work was done) provides another benefit in that it reduces legal liability.  Many tasks (such as inspections of fire alarms) are required by law to be done on a regular basis and keeping an accurate log of this is vital.  Many handset/portable M2M solutions allow for a user (such as a Security guard or maintenance worker) to scan a bar code in the vicinity of the device, to instantly log what was done.  These records can then be uploaded into a corporate database or CRM system to reduce clerical effort.  As well, non-scheduled maintenance (such as the clearing of ice/snow) also has to be done to not only improve the safety of the occupants but also to ensure that the company is not liable for unwanted slipping.  An M2M solution can help, as it will provide a record of key work being done (even when new snow covers this up).  These solutions have been used successfully in litigation to remove the liability from a property management company.

Optimize HVAC systems  In many places (especially the southern parts of the US), the idea of working in a building without air conditioning in the summer is unfathomable.  This means a huge electricity bill for the property management, as well as the expense of maintaining a solid HVAC system.  While you can’t turn off the HVAC system to save money, many smart companies are using M2M systems to optimize their HVAC systems through better synchronization of the units.  In some cases, companies have been able to use these systems to reduce their bill by 10-15%, in addition to being able to say that they are doing their part to better the environment.  The best part is that this is all done without reducing the level of user comfortability inside of the building.  These same systems are also being used to increase the “intelligence” of many irrigation systems, reducing unnecessary watering of green areas. 

Electricity sub-billing  I remember going into a friend’s condo during the middle of an incredible heatwave where the temperature was well over 100F.  When we walked inside, it was so cool that you could almost actually keep meat frozen (imagine that famous scene from the movie “Rocky,” except none of us were punching sides of beef!).  When I asked about how much it must cost to keep his place that cool, the response was that they were on a flat rate, so there was no encouragement to not keep their condo that cool.  One way that Property Management companies can encourage their tenants to be a little more environmentally friendly is to install sub-metering systems, which provide individual electricity (and other consumables such as natural gas and water) usage reports to each unit.  This would allow the PM company to provide incentives/disincentives to help better control costs, even providing the option of allowing the tenant to pay their own bills (which would encourage conservation even further).

Why not read another post by Larry titled M2M in Everyday Life!

As always, let Novotech know how we can help with any of your M2M needs.  You can check out our web page @ www.novotech.com.  Also, please follow us on Twitter @NovotechM2M and you can follow me personally @LBNovotechM2M.