Servis Realty’s Comprehensive Guide To Commercial Property Management

comprehensive guide

Whether you like it or not, winter is coming.

The most important factor to consider when staring down the barrel of at least 3 months of sub-zero temperatures is preparedness. Here are a few helpful tips that will keep you (and your property) on track and worry free as we move into the holiday season.


1. Know your roof’s maximum snow load

When it comes to the weight of snow, the type of snow is as important as the depth of the snow. Fresh powder snow is typically lighter than wet packed snow, and ice is heavier than snow.

There are several contributing factors to the acting load on your roof that include snow drifts from adjacent buildings or mechanical equipment, heavy rain on snow, and melting snow that refreezes.

If you don’t know your roof’s snow load, hire a structural engineer to verify the snow load threshold of the roofing system. This information will be important after an event when determining if there is too much snow on the roof.


2. Prevent plumbing from freezing

  • Inspect and seal or repair all cracks, holes, leaks, windows, doors, and other openings on exterior walls with caulk or insulation to prevent cold air from penetrating the wall cavity.
  • Insulate and seal around attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, and electric and mechanical chases.
  • Make sure your pipes in hard-to-reach places like attics, crawl spaces, and along outside walls are insulated. Wrap pipes and faucets in unheated or minimally heated areas of the building.
  • Make sure your existing freeze-protection devices and alarms are in good working order.
  • Test freeze stats (low temperature sensing device) and valves before the weather gets cold.
  • Pipes leading to the exterior should be shut off and drained at the start of winter. If these exterior faucets do not have a shut-off valve inside the building, have one installed by a plumber.
  • Hire a licensed fire protection specialist to conduct routine maintenance on your sprinkler system. Discuss the systems exposure to winter weather and potential mitigation options.

 3. Winterize your landscaping and irrigation

  • Keep all bushes and trees trimmed and away from the building. Trees with branches near or hanging over your building can damage the roof cover, siding, and windows.
  • Pay particular attention to trees within falling distance of overhead power lines leading into the property. Avoiding a power outage can save a day or two of business interruption.
  • Shut off and drain irrigation systems and outdoor hoses.

 4. Maintain your HVAC system

  • Schedule preventative maintenance and make sure the system is operating properly and efficiently.  Be sure to change any air filters and check that exhaust gases are being ventilated properly.
  • Select a heating system repair service before an unexpected outage or maintenance issue arises mid-season. Loss of heat for even a few hours could significantly disrupt your business during a cold snap.
  • Have someone ready to come quickly – including after hours – and negotiate an emergency rate in advance.

5. Service your generator.

The time to maintain a generator is well before a major snowstorm or disaster strikes (when professional assistance may be unavailable, power lines are down, and access roads are blocked). Backup power can help maintain a consistent building temperature and reduce the risk of freezing pipes leading to business disruption and damage.


  • Permanent generators should have a proper maintenance plan that includes weekly, monthly, and annual checks. See the manufacturer’s specifications for more information.
  • Run the unit weekly on its maintenance plan to ensure it is properly functioning in case of an emergency. Individual units may have a timer that allows a programmed test to be scheduled. Qualified personnel should oversee these scheduled weekly tests.
  • Check the generator enclosure for loose debris or other conditions that could cause the unit to not function properly.


  • Store in a dry location.
  • Set up a maintenance schedule to include periodic test runs for the unit

6. Check your roof and gutters

    Water that does not properly drain off a roof has the potential to freeze, adding to snow load and creating ice dams. Ice dams can add significant additional loads to the roof and could cause interior water damage if left unattended. It is important for your team to maintain the roof drains and gutters.

    Low slope (flat) roofs:

    • Inspect roof and repair leaks before winter season.
    • Remove all debris and other items from roof and roof drainage systems that prevent drainage of water from the roof during the melting process.
    • Check that all flashing and seals are flush and secure.

    Steep slope roofs:

    • Inspect your roof and repair leaks before winter season.
    • Secure loose shingles.
    • Check roof-edge waterproofing and seal to prevent potential drafts.
    • Add extra insulation in your attic or surrounding areas.


    • Inspect gutters and ensure they’re secured to the building. Replace any missing gutter fasteners.
    • Clean gutters and interior downspouts thoroughly, removing all debris and unclogging drains.
    • Run test of gutters and downspouts to be sure water does not back up. This can be done by using a hose.
    • Check downspouts to ensure they divert water away from the foundation.

     7. Create a business continuity plan

    • Have a plan for communicating with employees across multiple channels (text, email, phone).
    • Have an emergency/recovery plan that is communicated to employees, customers, clients, delivery, etc.
    • Create a snow and ice removal plan for all roofs and grounds.
    • Plan for emergency snow removal in event of heavy accumulation. Identify and supply proper equipment and check it in advance of predicted snow.
    • Some businesses rely on on-street parking, so develop a back-up plan for nearby off-street parking if the municipality imposes a parking ban on streets (for plows). This occurs more frequently in the north, even hours before snow is expected, so they can pre-treat the roads.
    • Purchase and be ready to add non-slip water absorption mats to all entrances for both your employees and customers to capture water and snow as they enter your business and to minimize slips and falls.
    • Test/practice the plan.

    8. Check your insurance coverage and inventory valuable equipment

    • Know what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t
    • Keep your insurance agent’s contact in your phone
    • If you have a loss due to a winter-related event, you’ll have to itemize your losses for your insurance company. Take a complete inventory of your home and store it somewhere safely offsite.

    NOTE: Check in with tenants regarding any maintenance requests or building concerns they may have. Living or working in your commercial property means they are on constant alert to their surroundings. If they see, hear, or smell something, ask that they say something.

    The term commercial property management can be a bit abstract – what exactly does it mean?

    This comprehensive guide will review everything you need to know, including the various types of property management, what a property manager actually does and other factors to look for.

    The Basics of Commercial Property Management

    Commercial property management involves overseeing a non-residential real estate investment. Whether it is an office space, retail location, or industrial building, the key is that it requires you to run an income-producing property.

    When commercial property management is done right, you can generate more revenue and ensure that your tenants are happy and willing to renew their leases. Similarly, it includes meeting with tenants and potential clients, working with contractors to service the property, building partnerships with real estate associations, and more.

    Types of Commercial Property Management

    There are four basic types of commercial property management: asset management, property management, development and construction, and leasing and marketing.

    Let’s dive into each of these categories in more detail!

    1.Asset Management

    Asset management refers to the strategic planning behind your real estate investments. This type of commercial property management looks at financing, lease negotiations, re-development and densification, and more. The goal of Asset Management is to protect the property’s value and increase it as much as possible.

    For example, the strategy will address the reasons why you invest in a particular property. What is the upside potential, and how long does the owner intend to own the property? What needs to be done to ensure that you maximize the return on investment for the owner?

    Answering these questions is essential to your success and will require analysis of future cash flows and sales values depending on your individual goals.

    2.Property Management

    The next category is property management, which is likely what you automatically think of when considering commercial properties. This includes much of the day-to-day responsibilities, like keeping the space clean and presentable or addressing any maintenance issues.

    Likewise, it involves managing tenants and leases to ensure smooth operations. That means it also requires experience with property accounting, collections, budgeting, and other reporting.

    3.Development and Construction

    Development and construction are also vital aspects of commercial property management. Land planning, supporting tenant construction, and having the ability to repurpose spaces will ensure that you are maximizing the ultimate value of the property.

    As a result, you must carefully manage tenant mix, construction timelines, scope, and budgets.

    4.Leasing and Marketing

    The fourth type of commercial property management involves leasing and marketing. You can’t have a retail space without tenants, so you need to curate a desired tenant mix, market to target tenants and negotiate good and fair leases!

    Leases can be complex and difficult to read, but it is one of the best opportunities you have to increase the value of your property. This is where working with an experienced property manager can make all the difference.

    So, what exactly does a Property Manager do?

    Many responsibilities fall under the role of a property manager. They can fall under any of the categories described above, like asset management and leasing, but the day-to-day duties will vary depending on the retail property itself.

    Here are some of the most common tasks a commercial property manager must complete:

    • Manage leases and tenant contracts
    • Supervise maintenance work orders
    • Marketing open units
    • Resolving tenant complaints or concerns
    • Collecting rent and completing property accounting and reporting
    • Oversee construction and repurposing projects
    • Track KPIs to measure retail assets and investments

    As you can see, while some of these responsibilities overlap with residential properties, retail locations have a broader scope.

    What Do Commercial Property Managers Look For?

    Now that you understand commercial property management, you may be wondering what commercial property managers look for.

    When you partner with Servis Realty Inc., our goal is to provide much more than your basic management services. Whether you need us to perform daily functions or help with asset management, we will work to increase traffic, occupancy, and property NOI.

    As professionals in the financial and retail property space, we will develop a custom solution that maximizes your returns. In other words, the goal of commercial property managers is to improve every aspect of your retail investments.

    Learn more about our commercial property management, retail property and asset management services and contact us directly to find out how we can help.


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