By Matt Giffune
For decades, spreadsheets have been a default retail lease management tool. While a well-organized spreadsheet can certainly help keep basic information in order, the format of a spreadsheet is too simplistic for today’s ever-changing real estate ecosystem. Consequently, commercial real estate executives who rely solely on spreadsheets frequently find it difficult to maintain efficient, accurate operations.
The biggest drawback of using spreadsheets in the modern retail lease management era is the static, disconnected nature of the spreadsheet layout. Yes, a spreadsheet can showcase data. However, it doesn’t have any data control or integrity features folded into the mix. Plus, trying to synthesize or audit the data across numerous spreadsheets can be cumbersome. It can also lead to the possibility of human error as administrators jump from tab to tab or spreadsheet to spreadsheet.
Why, then, do so many people involved in retail lease management keep using spreadsheets rather than embracing other industry-specific technological solutions, such as retail lease management software? The answer is an easy one: Spreadsheets are the traditional, legacy option. They’re comfortable and seem safe. They’re relatively easy to set up, too. However, they’re incapable of providing full, “clear pane of glass” visibility across all the data relevant to commercial lease management. This makes them a hidden liability, especially for professionals who intend to scale up their operations.
Evaluating Lease Management Software vs. Spreadsheets
More and more, lease management software in lieu of spreadsheets is becoming the preferred use of technology in property management. What is lease management software? It’s an automated property technology solution that provides the reliability, versatility, and single point of truth around real-time lease data that spreadsheets lack.
The adoption of lease management software can help teams move faster, forecast financials, and leverage the power of automation.
The adoption of lease management software can help teams move faster, forecast financials, and leverage the power of automation. In fact, automation is one of the most desirable components of lease management technology. From rent calculations to lease renewals, many of the time-consuming tasks associated with lease management can be handled without the need for human oversight or input. These duties happen in the background, alleviating employees’ workloads.
Another valuable aspect of lease management software is its ability to gather and retain critical information. Data remains within the purview of one system, reducing the risk of miscommunication, errors, and missing insights. Nothing compares with having centralized data to access and manage within a user-friendly, customizable portal.
Improving Workflows With Retail Lease Management Technology
If you’re involved in the retail lease management process and frustrated by the limitations of spreadsheets, lease management software is the answer. Below are just some of the strategic ways to make the most of the software solutions you bring into your workspace to benefit your team and company:
1. Look for ways to cut back on manual work.
Managing commercial leases is a time-consuming commitment that has plenty of moving parts. Every time one of your colleagues has to engage in manual, repetitive work, they are taken away from other critical tasks, such as strategizing your brick-and-mortar expansion plan or managing existing leases. Therefore, as part of your lease management software onboarding processes, seek out opportunities to automate as many manual responsibilities as you can.
For example, advanced software can notify your team of upcoming lease renewals that require action from you, the commercial retail tenant. This means you don’t have to monitor renewal information or dates. The technology can be programmed to flag leases that have critical dates, such as renewals, terminations, or expansion options. As you become more knowledgeable about and comfortable with your software, you’ll find other ways to free up time that’s better spent on strategic initiatives and business growth.
2. Use lease management software to improve collaboration.
Another important upside to implementing retail lease management software is that it makes collaboration and communication much simpler. When everyone is working with the same information on the same platform, they’re able to see and share key data. Through customization, you can provide the necessary stakeholders with up-to-date lease information and read-write access. This keeps everyone on the same page, no matter where they are.
With a wealth of leasing and portfolio management data at your fingertips, you can easily access critical, accurate data.
As part of your collaborative efforts, be sure to lean into the software to enhance your decision-making by tracking key leasing metrics. With a wealth of leasing and portfolio management data at your fingertips, you can easily access critical, accurate data. Why not allow that data to pinpoint trends and opportunities so you can make better decisions around occupancy rates, rental income, and other key considerations?
3. Stay ahead of compliance and forecast rent financials.
When it comes to risk management, retail lease management technology serves up quite a bit of security. For instance, this type of tool can forecast your rent schedule data and give your team insights into the profitability of a particular store. Not only does this ensure that leases are serving your business and contributing to revenue-generating activities, but it also empowers your team to strategically approach retail expansion goals.
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Remember that lease management software can be used for risk management reporting, too. That way, you can show an exact trail of how and when decisions were made. From an auditing perspective, you’re in a much better position when you can confirm and support your operational workflows.
Spreadsheets were suitable for real estate professionals in the past, but it’s time for their retirement. You’ll get more mileage and value from software designed with your retail lease management needs in mind, allowing you to keep up with all the changes in the industry.
Giffune is a co-founder at Occupier, a lease management software platform helping commercial tenants and brokers manage their real estate footprint and comply with lease accounting standards. Occupier’s software helps teams make smarter, more informed lease decisions by centralizing the way they work. In turn, teams ensure alignment between their real estate decisions and business successes. Prior to his work at Occupier, Giffune held leadership positions within commercial real estate and technology sales. He’s currently based in Boston.