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Four Things Industrial Buildings Must Have To Attract Top Tenants

Prospective tenants have many buildings to choose from in hot industrial markets. So how does a property set itself apart? Transwestern VP Tod Harrison—who oversees the property management of 2.5M SF of bulk distribution, light industrial and manufacturing facilities owned by an institutional investor in Houston—tells us four must-haves owners need to stay ahead.

1) High-Touch Customer Service


“To be successful and competitive, your property management team has to be dedicated, committed to a high standard of service and always look for opportunities to raise the bar,” Tod says. “We often get too comfortable with email, but you have to get out of the office and focus on face-to-face interaction with the customer.”

A lot of the extra touches from property management are perceived to be confined to the office sector but are beginning to pop up in industrial.

“For instance, we hand-delivered lunch to every tenant in our portfolio—not just the company leaders, but warehouse workers and staff. Touches like that go a long way. They’re not huge-ticket items, but you get a lot of goodwill from them.”

2) A Strong Relationship Between Property Management and Leasing


Property managers have to maintain a fluid relationship with the leasing team to collectively decide what should be done to a vacant or partially empty property to make it as attractive as possible to tenants.

“You have to avoid making such decisions in a vacuum,” he points out. “Curb appeal is critical—you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Make sure the building is freshly painted, the parking lot striped, no debris is around the property and landscaping is nicely manicured.”

3) Being Ahead of Sustainability Trends


In Houston, industrial sustainability is picking up on two fronts—cool roofs (surfaces that reduce the amount of energy required to maintain building comfort, like on the Las Vegas Walmart property above) and energy-efficient lighting. “Sustainability is becoming more critical, and tenants are beginning to ask about it, even if they’re not ready to pay the premium,” he notes.

Many municipalities have required office buildings to report energy use, and he predicts that will expand into industrial—a unique challenge for the sector and a hot-button issue for BOMA's Industrial Committee, on which he volunteers.

“Transwestern rolled out a pilot program in my Houston portfolio to discover the best way to collect energy usage data,” he explains. “But as part of standard industrial leases, tenants have utilities in their names, which makes it harder to gather that data.” As more product lines get pulled into these municipal mandates, it’s critical for owners and property managers to be on the front end in figuring out such reporting standards.

4) Staying on Top of What You Can Control


Given the unique nature of the industrial sector—especially since many tenants maintain their own spaces—there are a lot of variables owners and property managers don’t control. But it’s important to stay ahead of what you can control, Tod says, including offering energy-efficient lighting, Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) sprinkler systems, high-speed Internet access and prominent signage for tenant visibility.