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The Boy Scouts Were Right

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Property managers keep workplaces buzzing, be it routine issues or emergencies. (Can they figure out who steals our egg salad from the fridge?) As we heard at this week's Bisnow DC Property Management Summit, you never know when a quandary will arrive. So be prepared.

The Boy Scouts Were Right

How about earlier that morning? Brookfield's Jackie Duke said she received a call just before 1am about a water main break backing up Connecticut Avenue. Water had started to seep into her firm's 1250 Connecticut Ave, and retail tenants needed to be notified, Jackie says. But because of regular drilling and emergency preparedness systems in place, engineers were on their way to the property shortly after the news broke. Props to Jackie for even making the event after what she calls "about two hours of sleep." (Water mains are like babies: They leak all the time and never let you sleep.)

The Boy Scouts Were Right

Of course, they don't take snow days either. Vornado/Charles E. Smith's Joan Berman (snapped with Golden Triangle BID chief Leona Agouridis) tells us that responding to the elements starts well before any snowflakes fall. During the recent white stuff, Joan's engineers were in by 6am for snow removal and other maintenance, since every Vornado property remains open (even if some tenants have decided to close). The landlord has a proprietary radio network that connects her office in Crystal City with property managers and engineers at every building in the 25M SF local portfolio. During 2010's "Snowmageddon," Vornado enlisted engineers with four-wheel drives to pick up teammates and have buildings fully staffed. The teams "are our unsung heroes," she says.

The Boy Scouts Were Right

CBRE had back-up plans for engineers who might not be able to safely travel to work sites, like arranging for overnight stays in nearby hotels or setting up service provider relationships to supplement staff, says Kathy Allgier. The firm also runs through anticipated scenarios ahead of time and uses tech to communicate instantly with colleagues and tenants. Kathy, who oversees CBRE's 42M SF local property management portfolio, also says the "proliferation of cost-effective mobile communication devices" is one of the biggest things transforming the industry, helping the firm be more responsive. It also sets the expectation for tenants and clients that managers and engineers are "always on."