Posted by Will Lewis

Posted 6 March, 2015 OBI BLOG

1So you’ve got a top notch city centre building, designed by a respected architect, with the requisite sustainability credentials. Double or triple height reception, stunning views, broadband as fast as you can realistically offer. Nothing can go wrong, surely?

Actually, it can. Time and again down the years we’ve seen decent buildings fail to let, suffering long void periods and for one reason or another failing to catch the imagination of the occupier. You can have two new buildings next to each other, with similar space offered at the same rental level, and one might fill in months with the other lagging behind. Why? Quite often, it’s down to the quality of management.

It’s not uncommon to hear people in property to use terms like the ‘softer side of things” when talking about occupier relations and listening to occupiers. In our view, this massively underplays the importance of the relationship. Occupiers have choices, property costs are a major outgoing for them, they deserve to be looked after.

Quality, proactive property management can make a massive difference to a building and make things better for everybody involved. One of the big buzzwords of recent years has been “community” and what better chance do you get to create a community than one in which the home address is the common factor?

Manchester’s Chancery Place is a case in point. Since buying the building in September 2014, NFU Mutual has made a point of offering more, listening to what people want and creating a community.

Some of this has been as simple as a box of donuts hand-delivered to each occupier at Hallowe’en. But the good feeling was really stepped up in December: there was a 12 Days of Christmas countdown, with small gifts on reception for each of the last 12 working days of December, building up to mince pies and mulled wine to finish. A gingerbread house was raffled for Guide Dogs for the Blind.2

The building collectively took part in Mission Christmas, collecting presents for children living in poverty – over 200 toys were collected at Chancery Place. This phenomenal effort goes to show what a virtuous circle can be created – people respond to a positive environment in kind. It’s nice to be nice and it’s nice as well to be a part of something.

Alongside this, the level of services on offer to occupiers has been improved – refurbishment of showers for those who cycle or run to work, concierge service to sort out those niggling bits of personal admin – dry cleaning, toiletries – you might not have time for. A great deal of attention has been paid to the ‘front of house’ so occupiers are assured that their visitors are being looked after.

As David Hidderley of NFU Mutual says: “Occupiers who seek the best buildings, in the best locations, are increasingly seeking the business class lounge experience. The meet and greet, the concierge service, along with events and discount cards are just a few of the new services now offered to our tenants at Chancery Place. Feedback has been exceptionally positive.”

Good management pays. To take for granted the people who pay their money to run their business from your building is not just negligent, it’s stupid. The upshot of all the above is that there’s a nice buzz around Chancery Place. Manchester in general is on a roll, and that positive energy is doubled in the places where landlords get it right.